Bihar to market brand Bhojpuri to woo diaspora in Mauritius

By Imran Khan, IANS

Patna : Bihar is ready to market its Bhojpuri brand to woo Mauritians of Indian origin, most of them from Bihar itself.

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Nothing but Bhojpuri will be the main campaign of the Bihar delegation headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visiting Mauritius from Thursday.

"Bhojpuri will be the USP (unique selling proposition) of the Bihar delegation visiting Mauritius to strengthen the cultural and emotional bond between India (Bihar) and Mauritius," a senior official in the chief minister's office, who is closely monitoring the official delegation to Mauritius, told IANS here Wednesday.

Nitish Kumar and other members of the delegation will hard-sell Bhojpuri to Mauritians of Indian origin to trace their roots. "When we use Bhojpuri, we mean the entire culture, not only language in the narrow term," officials said.

Nitish Kumar, who is heading a 30-member strong contingent, left Patna Wednesday morning for New Delhi en route to Mauritius for a weeklong visit. He is visiting Mauritius on a special invitation of the Mauritian government. He will attend the Bihar Week there and address the National Assembly of Mauritius. Mauritius University will confer a doctorate degree on him.

Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam invited Nitish Kumar to inaugurate the Bihar Week celebrations being organised by the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) in collaboration with the Mauritius government.

"The week will mark the contribution of the people from Bihar to the island nation. It will also showcase the cultural bond between the two places," officials said.

The Bihar Week celebrations, a first of its kind outside India, will help attract investments to the state and establish people-to-people contact on a bigger scale, officials said.

"Nitish Kumar will not only deliver his speech in Bhojpuri in a special session of the Mauritius Assembly, he along with other members of delegation will use Bhojpuri to impress Mauritians of Indian origin," official sources said.

According to official sources, senior IAS official Manoj Kumar Srivastava, known for his expertise in Bhojpuri, has prepared a special speech of Nitish Kumar in the language.

The chief minister will also attend a conference of Bhojpuri speaking representatives from 12 countries during his visit.

The importance of Bhojpuri is more evident in the fact that half of the delegation consists of a 15-member team of artistes led by Bhojpuri film star Manoj Tiwari, who will present special Bhojpuri songs and dances to the Mauritians. The artists will also present a special cultural show 'From Bihar, to Mauritius'.

In a bid to influence Mauritians of Indian origin to trace their roots, Nitish Kumar is carrying soil from a village of Buxar district, regarded as the ancestral village of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, former Mauritius prime minister. "He will present the soil to Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam," officials said.

The Bihar government had announced early this year that it would install a life-size statue of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, who was the first prime minister of Mauritius from 1961 to 1982. He is considered to be the father of the nation as he led his country to independence from Britain.

Other gifts carried by the delegation include water from the river Ganges, 1,000 copies of Hanuman Chalisa, Madhubani paintings and silver, wooden, and stone handicrafts unique to Bihar.

The delegation will promote the 'Trace your roots' scheme launched by the Bihar government to encourage Mauritians to visit Bihar to find their roots.

Nitish Kumar said his government would collaborate with Mauritius to prepare a comprehensive database of all Biharis who had migrated to the island nation in an effort to help them trace their roots.

A large number of Biharis, known as Girmitiya labourers, had travelled to various parts of the world, including Mauritius, in the 19th century to work in sugarcane and rubber plantations.

About 70 percent of the 1.2 million population of Mauritius is of Indian origin, a large number of them from Bihar with Bhojpuri as their native language.