Mauritius: an inspiration for Gandhi
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
Did you know that when Gandhi designed the Indian flag he had in mind all religions. The saffron was for Hindus, the Green for muslims and the white for every other religion in India. He did not have in mind Modi's India, and he actually got inspired by all religions living side by side in peace when he visited Mauritius in 1901.
Gandhi mentioned the unity in Mauritius as a symbolism of religions able to live peacefully together. When he visited Mauritius, he was hosted by the Muslims in Taher Bagh, he witnessed Nalletamby as the first Mauritian of Indian origin in the legislative council. Many years later, Gandhi recalled being a guest Governor Sir Charles Bruce. He also mentioned Mauritius several times and devoted a few pages to Thambi Naidoo, a Mauritian established in South Africa in his famous work, 'Satyagraha in South Africa.' He built strong relationships with the Chinese community in Mauritius which he remained in touch with for years.
Gandhi himself was inspired by us and not the other way round.
In 1942, the Mahatma wrote a letter to Marshal Chiang-Kai-Shek, the Chinese national leader, in which he revealed that between 1905 and 1913, he had been in close contact with Indians and Chinese settled in Mauritius. In 1947, at the height of inter-religious riots in India, in one of his post-prayer morning speeches, Gandhi mentioned that in Mauritius, Hindus and Muslims lived in peace and harmony.
More than two decades later, Professor Basdeo Bissoondoyal accurately explained that: "As many as 46 years after his visit to Mauritius, he was so kind as to tell his countrymen that this tiny island could teach India something".