Certain things are happening in the Kingdom of Mauritius – beg your pardon, we mean the Republic of Mauritius – that seem to point out that we are moving back to the days when Coolies were immigrating to this land of ours.
We wish to refer to a book entitled ‘Indians in a Plural Society’* by Burton Benedict, an American social anthropologist who, between July 1955 and October 1957,  resided for extended periods in different localities of Mauritius in order to undertake several surveys to study the island’s ‘multi-racial’ society.   
In this book we come across a number of very important and interesting features/facets of the History of Mauritius. Some people, pseudo-historians at that, maintain that we should not look at past happenings, but look at the future instead and forge ahead. How stupid can some people be! History is at the base of just about everything – like the foundation of a building or the roots of a tree – and we need to know our past in order to understand the present so that we do not repeat the same mistakes in the future.  
To get back to Burton Benedict’s book, we wish to cite the following lines (page 23): ‘Immigrants were defined as either ‘old’ (i.e. having completed one period of indenture) or new (still under first indenture). All new immigrants had to carry tickets and were liable to arrest as vagrants if found without them or if found in a district of the island in which they were not employed.’ Further on we read ‘In 1867 the pass system for old immigrants was introduced, reputedly to control vagrancy and crime, but also in an effort to compel old immigrants to re-engage. This was coupled with drastic police control leading to mass arrests.’
At this point Burton Benedict cites a few lines from a work by Sir A.H.Gordon **: “In one year 12,000 coolies were imprisoned for desertion or illegal absence out of an Indian population of about 250,000 while 9,000 – 10,000 were convicted of vagrancy.”
Burton Benedict avers, therefore, that ‘It became hazardous for an Indian to attempt to visit a friend or relative in another district of the island. In an island as small as Mauritius this represented a very severe restriction of movement.’
And now the supposedly dynamic tandem made up of Ramgoolam and Bérenger want to force this new ID Card down our throat, by threatening with fines and jail-terms those who do not have this ‘pass’ like in the olden days, when our ancestors, coolies and slaves, had to live in fear. This vile idea of a ‘Biometric Card with fingerprints’ reminds us of the episodes of ‘a piece of yellow chalk to be kept in each car’ and ‘new yellow license plates for all vehicles’. What a farce! Time to go for an Airway coffee…