A NATION OF BROKERS : How to build a Mauritian unity

National unity is another burning issue on which I claim that we have been oiling the engine of destructive creation during the preceding decades. Despite the mushrooming of institutions and generous government subsidies to religious bodies and NGOs, the failures in nation building are ubiquitous. The inspiration for the next generation from the colors of our national fl ag is evaporating. If remedial actions are not taken, the colors would soon portray red as bloodshed or economic vampires sucking the blood of our population, blue as the lucky blue-eyed families, yellow as golden beaches in the grips of foreigners and political agents, green as forced emigration for Mauritians in quest of greener pastures in foreign lands.
Our Mauritian identity would soon be synonymous with ‘ a nation of Brokers ’ when an honest analysis of our economic and political developments is undertaken. The economic and political structure is creating a gang of mediocrity and nurturing a culture which glorifi es and generously rewards extremists, ‘transfuges’, self-interest elites and economic vampires . Any rebel to the system becomes unfi t and is left with two options either to rot or join the emperors by switching to a YES or Buttering mode. Let me highlight some examples before putting forward the possible solutions for nation building.
The case of some trade unionists comes to my mind using tax payers’ money and members’ contribution to turn into economist/ analysts under the cover of NGOs licking the boots of politicians. They are consistent, not in their borrowed or downloaded arguments, but in their loyalty to some political leaders. Their shameful actions would surely be rewarded either by a position as chairman or ticket for Parliament.
A give and take relationship
The arms-length relationship between our politicians and sociocultural leaders has never been so incestuous, business-based and conditional as nowadays. Our nation is drowned in the mud of casteism and communalism. Today, sociocultural groups are used for political nominations, bargaining contracts, pocketing state lands and wealth accumulation. It is a give and take relationship which benefits only the few leaders at the cost of the national unity. The consolation is the fact that these leaders do not represent the majority view and the solutions to eradicate these would be given below.
Another disturbing fact is the role of some media and international links which is destructive to national unity. The fashion of going back to sources is creating more division, which is counterproductive. Instead of consolidating a community or the nation, these links bring in more segmentation. The proliferation of such links creates diversity but not unity. Back to origins should consolidate a nation instead of dividing it. For effective nation building, it is primordial that we are proud of our origins. A weaving of our common links is needed instead of a demonstration of our differences for political and other gains.
Other factors which have failed to enhance national unity are our educational and political systems, business structure, recruitment systems and government policies.
Our educational system is becoming more and more segmented with strong bias of religious faith governing the educational institutions particularly, in the private sector. This predicament has also perverted tertiary sector with the mushrooming of cowboy universities and institutions through religious and communal connections. Worst is the quality of those universities jeopardizing the future of our young generation. Education has become a money spinning business devoid of genuine goals of excellence and social mobility which cannot be a platform for enhancing national unity. While the private sector universities backed by big corporate boxes are luring the students in terms of job prospects in their companies and taking a heavy toll, some other universities supported by religious faith are propounding communalism.
The political system needs no analysis and it is a closed club for a few. No efforts are being done to democratize despite all the talks about electoral reform. No single leader of the major parties is agreeable to the limitation of the mandate of the PM and MPs for obvious reasons. The average Mauritian fi nds himself or herself excluded from a system which is being more and more dynastized. The old generation has already prepared its offsprings or close relatives to jump into this lucrative business.
In Mauritius when all top jobs in the public sector is reserved for few families and in the private sector, some expatriates from South Africa and Europe rule the roost, then how can we build up the nation? This is known as Doing business index?
A series of solutions
I do not wish to lament on the problem of national unity as it is common knowledge and let me highlight the series of solutions which can form a platform for a debate among interested readers and policy makers. These solutions are not all entirely my creation but I share all those who believe in them.
1. Subsidies to all socio cultural groups and religious organizations should be stopped.
2. Ban all the communal and casteist groups.
3. For all NGOs and religious or other organizations benefi ting from government grants or statelands etc, the Registrar of associations must come up with the new rule that the governing body, in particular the executive members, should be on a rotation system and limit it up to 2 years.
4. Ban all educational institutions with a religious bias.
5. Revisit the employment of expatriates and all tenders and contracts should have a clear employment policy and should be under the control of the government.
6. Introduce a social service for all Mauritius of 1 year at the age of 18 and this should be mandatory for university studies, job application and all government facilities. Imagine when all Mauritians in batches have stayed together for one year, nationalism would automatically flow with the realization that we are all the same despite our religious differences.
7. Introduce a transparent and examination- based recruitment system. Introduce a system where the citizen is paid a salary according to his qualifi cations and training instead of the institution being employed. There should be benchmarking of salaries to increase equality and recognition.
8. To stop allocation of state lands to individuals or political agents.
9. Introduce a land bank and land reform.
10. Come up with a reservation system for all the poor in this country for one generation with the guarantee of access to education, grants and a job.
11. Electoral reform and limiting mandate of PM and MPs.
12. Democratisation of politics by allowing any Mauritian to take part in politics as candidate or to be members of political parties even if he is a civil servant.
13. A Wealth tax and mechanisms to reduce inequalities should be reinforced.
14. A policy of two meals per day to the needy and one job per family.
15. Access to law and order to all Mauritius. Introduce an independent Fraud and corruption offi ce to monitor politicians, political agents and corrupt businessmen.
16. Come up with a Mauritius house and ban all these centres of shame.
17. Monitor the role of secret associations and international ones from India and Arab countries and elsewhere.
18. Award of President medals should be banned or reworked based on more transparent criteria instead of political connections.
Nelson Mandela, when conferring the honorary degree at University of Mauritius, defined democracy as access to public institutions and when a normal citizen can vow and identify himself with any institution. Do we feel so in our paradise island?
To conclude, nation building is a noble work. But there are many people, institutions and families including NGOs who benefi t from promoting communalism and casteism for their own survival and benefit. This is the major obstacle for consolidating national unity .
Glory to Mauritius and National Unity.