Dossier Independence, Dev Ramano, News on Sunday, 11 March 2011 .pdf


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43 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

MAURITIUS 1968-2011 & BEYOND

News on Sunday, March 11 - 17, 2011

|

8

Dev Ramano: “a break

from mainstream forces, prisoners
of ethnic and sectarian lobbies”

We must not be blindfolded and say that
there has not been a drastic change of the
Mauritian society since we acceded to independence in 1968. From the dawn of colonisation, the country has evolved into the era of
neo-colonisation along the path of modernisation in terms of economic growth, infrastructural development, and our general way
of life. In the last twenty years, we have
become embedded into the global economy.
However, this trend has not been accompanied by more social justice, equality and the
enlargement and deepening of democracy. In
the late sixties and early seventies, with the
profound political aspiration of the young
generation at that time, the horizon targeted
was that of a better social order characterised
by social justice and a true sense of
Mauritianism. But, three years after the advent
of Independence which, incidentally, was
obtained on a plate in exchange for the political stabbing of the Chagossian people and the
ceding of Diego Garcia to the British government, the Labour Party/PMSD political
alliance in power gagged the Mauritian
people with a repressive legal regime made
up of the Public Order Act, the Industrial
Relations Act and the Labour Act. The right
to strike was snatched from employees.
Freedom of expression was muzzled. The
MMM, the street political Opposition at that
time and, as from 1976 the Parliamentary one
backing the unions, was hailing the dream of
‘enn sel lepep enn sel nasyon’ (‘only one
people only one nation’). Unfortunately, in the
short span of a decade only, that party had
jumped on the bandwagon of those which it
could not beat and finally has become like
them in many ways.

Today, the political economic policy in the
country is characterised by the trilogy of privatisation, deregulation and stabilisation. As a
result, the gap between the poorest and the
richest members of society has widened obscenely. The working masses are underpinned by
the new “hire and fire labour” laws (eg the
Employment Rights Act 2008) which have
brought in their wake the denial of so many
acquired rights. Mauritius remains vulnerable
to manifold global crises (economic, ecological,
social, climatic, and energetic) while people have
lost their sense of solidarity, are entangled in individualist and egoistic reflexes and seem indifferent to an environment where corruption and
communalism are rampant. All these are of deep
concern after forty three years of independence.
We have also lamentably failed to implement a
real agricultural diversification and are brought
on our knees under the serious threats of inter-

national food security crisis.
This country needs a break from the traditional political mainstream forces which are prisoners of ethnic and sectarian lobbies. These guys
have run out of ideas and strategies to pull us
out of the crisis we are in. Our society can no longer bear the brunt of an unplanned economy
which subscribes only to the sole ‘productivist’
and profit logic. If we continue to leave the political kitchen to the mainstream forces, they will
cook us still the worst political dish for which the
majority of the population will certainly pay a
heavy price in terms of loss of purchasing power,
increasing poverty, unemployment and democratic deficit among others.
In the years to come, the challenge is to draw
the outline of a new economic and social order
within the framework of a new republic resting
on a new constitutional pillar. There is a need for
new social norms and reflexes transcribing into
reality a real and genuine equality between male
and female citizens of our society. The deepening
of the democratic tissue (by discarding the Public
gathering Act and the anti-democratic Labour
laws) would help to enhance greater liberty and
freedom. To respond effectively to the effects of
the global food security crisis, an agricultural
diversification policy drawn along the line which
answers to the social food needs rather than
sticks to the commercial profit logic would surely be a socio-political wisdom. Moving along
this path demands the crushing of the communalism and corruption hydra in all their forms.
Of course to embark upon such a wind of
change, the efficient construction of a new political force amalgamating quality and quantity
and answering to these aspirations is an imperative. It is a wakeup call for the Mauritian population to get out of its slumber.

Dr Issa Asgarally: “Transcend multiculturalism in favour of the intercultural”

Since Independence, our achievements have gone hand in hand with our
share of disillusionment. That is the reason why, at a meeting held at
Archbishop Ian Ernest’s place to talk
about his recent famous Letter, I said
that we have moved a long way in 43
years but that there is still a very long
road ahead.
A few examples of our achievements: the status of an Independent
State, the advent of the Republic in
1992, the move away from a monoculture (sugar cane), birth control, successive new democratic governments, an
independent judiciary system, the continuing modernisation of the country, free
education, growth and diversification of
literary production, the preservation of
ancestral cultures after a long colonial
period...
Failures include the potential risks of
interethnic riots (after what happened
in 1968 and in 1999) triggered by feelings of frustration and injustice, a system of political representation based
upon a multiplicity of ethnic groups
which could breed deadly reflexes, the

limits of the judiciary in spite of the
goodwill of the main players, successive governments which are by and
large similar, a type of modernisation

which has led to an almost crazy consumer society, powerless institutions supposed to prevent the squandering of
public funds, an educational system
which is a selection process machine
and which generates a piling up of
knowledge and know-how without facilitating any links between them, the
exacerbation of our food crisis, literary
production of varying quality, a State
multiculturalism which compartmentalises cultures and individuals.
I think what we should have in the
next ten to twenty years is the organisation of debates at regional and national levels by each political party around
their respective political manifestoes at
least six months in advance of any elections (municipal or general), the democratisation of access to culture which
must be the first objective of any cultural policy worth its name, the transcending of multiculturalism in favour of
interculturality which is not only about
how we live in harmony and the introduction of an intercultural education in
schools, etc.

DR ISSA ASGARALLY


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