India & Reunion Island Bilateral

India & Reunion Island Bilateral

Reunion Island is an Overseas Region of France in the Indian Ocean, situated in the southern hemisphere, about 200 kilometers southwest of Mauritius. Reunion is also one of the Overseas Departments of France and forms part of the European Union and Eurozone. It has a population of about 885,700 as on 1 January 2024 

The first Indian settlers in this island were believed to have been a group of 14 women from Goa brought around 1669 for marriage purposes with the early French settlers. From around 1672 to 1827 several groups arrived as slaves and later many came as indentured labour between 1829-1848 mainly from Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. Towards the end of the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th century, Gujarati traders arrived in Reunion to sell food and textiles. Some jewellers also arrived from Madagascar and settled here. It is estimated that there are about 300,000 people of Indian origin in the Reunion which is more than one-third of the total population of the island. 

In the last 5 decades, the Indian origin people formed cultural associations, built temples and mosques and began to re-establish their cultural links with India (Earlier, the labourers were only allowed to build small shrines on the plantation by their owners). Indian origin people have immensely contributed in the overall economic, social, educational and cultural development of the Reunion. They have succeeded in all spheres of life including senior positions in the political set up and civil services, education, medical profession, business, etc. Some of them have been elected to the General Council and Regional Council of Reunion, Mayors of municipalities and some of them were also elected to the Parliament in Paris. Indian origin business persons also play an important role in the economy of Reunion.

Shri V. Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs made official visit to the Reunion to participate in the Economic Summit on 23-24 October 2019. Hon’ble Minister was accompanied by an official delegation and a high level business delegation led by the President, CII. Hon’ble Minister also met and addressed Indian diaspora besides visiting Lezaret museum, the place where the first indentured labourer set foot on the Reunion Island.

Goodwill visits of Indian naval ships and aircrafts to the Reunion is a regular feature almost every year as a gesture to showcase defence cooperation and people to people ties between India and France. 

Dr. Mahesh Sharma, the Hon'ble Minister for Culture visited Reunion on 06th October 2016 as Chief Guest for the inauguration of the new Indian Cultural Centre in Saint-Denis and for the inauguration of a memorial of Indian Ancestors at Barachois, Saint-Denis. Hon’ble Minister interacted with the leaders of Indian Community and associations and officials of Reunion. He also held official meetings with the following dignitaries of Reunion:

1. Mr. Gilbert ANNETTE, Mayor of Saint-Denis

2. Mrs. Nassimah DINDAR, President of the Departmental Council of Reunion

3. Prof. Frederic CADET and Mr. Serge CAMATCHY, Vice-Presidents of Regional Council of Reunion.

4. Mr. Dominique SORAIN, Prefect of Reunion

5. Meeting with France-India Business Group

6. Meeting with Civil Aviation authority of Reunion

Dr. Karan Singh, President of the ICCR (Cabinet Minister rank) visited Reunion on 01-02 October 2012 as Chief Guest at the seminar on Non-Violence/ Ahimsa arranged by the Consulate General of India, Saint Denis in partnership with the ICCR and ARRCC, a local Indian cultural association. Dr. Karan Singh had meetings with the Acting Prefet (Prefect) and Mr. Didier Robert, President of the Region Reunion/Regional Council. From Reunion Mr. Didier Robert led a large delegation of 56 delegates to Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry from 11-15 June 2013. Ms. Nassimah Dindar, President of the General Council and several elected members of the Regional and General Councils were in the delegation.  The delegation held meetings with the Governor, Chief Minister and Speaker of Tamil Nadu and the Lt. Governor, Chief Minister and Tourism Minister of Pondicherry.