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 850,000. This year the Reunion Island is celebrating the 350 years of habitation (1663-2013).
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 people of Indian origin constitute over one-third of the inhabitants of the island and according to some associations, they number upto 280,000. Indian passport holders are estimated to be around 200, mainly married to Indian origin French nationals, Priests in temples and businessmen.
In the last 40 years or so, 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, by and large, done very well for themselves as they emphasized on education and are active in all spheres of life including senior positions in the civil services, teaching, 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.
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.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma, the Hon'ble Minister accompanied by his OSD, Shri Navneet Soni 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. The Indian Community arranged a lunch meeting for the Hon'ble Minister at Hotel Mercure Creolia which was attended by over hundred leaders of Indian Community and officials of Reunion. The Hon'ble Minister had 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