The virtual event will be the first interaction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President Wavel Ramkalawan of Seychelles. President Ramkalawan came to power after landmark victory in October 2020 elections in Seychelles. His party Linyon Democratic Seselwa has 2/3rd majority in the Seychelles National Assembly.
During his tour of Indian Ocean countries in 2015, Seychelles was the first destination of PM Modi, after which he also visited Mauritius and Sri Lanka. This was the first prime ministerial level visit to Seychelles after a gap of 33 years. It was during this tour of the Indian Ocean countries, the PM had pronounced India’s vision of ‘SAGAR- Security and Growth for All in the region’.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was the first Foreign Minister to visit Seychelles after assumption of office by the newly-elected President Ramkalawan. During his visit to Seychelles on 27-28 November 2020 where he carried a personal congratulatory message from PM Modi for the newly elected President of Seychelles.
President Ramkalawan is of Indian origin. He has his ancestral roots in Gopalganj district of Bihar. He visited India in January 2018 as a part of the PIO Parliamentarian’s Conference and also visited his native village ‘Parsauni’. There are three ministers—i.e. Devika Vidot, Billy Rangasamy and Naadir Hassan—in his cabinet with Indian origins.
Projects to be inaugurated
1) The 48.9 m Fast Patrol Vessel: It has been built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineering Ltd. (GRSE), at a cost of INR 100 crores. The ship will be used for multi-purpose operations, such as patrolling, anti-smuggling, anti-poaching, and search and rescue (SAR). The FPV has already been delivered to Seychelles with assistance of Indian Navy on March 16, 2021 and will be handed over by the Prime Minister to the Seychelles Coast Guard during the virtual event. Christened as ‘PS Zoroaster’, the FPV is the fourth ship to be gifted by India to Seychelles. The other vessels gifted by India include PS Topaz (2005), PS Constant (2014), Patrol Boat Hermes (2016). Over 50% of Seychelles’ maritime and air assets and around 70% of capacity development in terms of training, exercise and human resource expertise are provided by India. These HICDP projects are aimed at implementing small people-oriented projects which contribute significantly towards the socio-economic development and improvement of local communities. 29 projects have so far been taken up for execution under this MoU.
2) The Magistrates’ Court Building: This project is a landmark project and will help bring Magistrate courts spread over different locations in Mahé into a single building. It is situated next to the Supreme Court of Seychelles built by Chinese assistance in 2013. The Magistrates’ Court Building houses eight court rooms spread over three floors; waiting areas for the public and parking space for court users, police vans and magistrates; separated holding cells for men, women and child accused; multi-functional conference rooms, meeting rooms and video rooms.
3) The 1 MW solar project: It is in addition to the installing of solar systems at 146 government building rooftops and domestic households which has already been completed and commissioned. The 1 MW solar plant project will generate around 14 lakh Units of power annually meeting electricity consumption of around 400 Seychellois houses all-round the year. The plant is also expected to save an annual consumption of 3,25,000 Ltrs of fuel for Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) of Seychelles resulting in overall savings of around SCR 3.5 Million (approx $2.25 lakh) per year to PUC.
4) Covid Assistance: Seychelles has also been one of the first beneficiaries of India’s Covid assistance. Seychelles received over 4 tonnes of life saving medicines including 50,000 tablets of HCQ under Mission ‘SAGAR’ in May 2020. Seychelles was the first African country to have received 50,000 doses of Covishield vaccine doses from India on January 22, 2021 under India’s Vaccine Maitri initiative.