Critics within and outside the mainstream parties will have to raise the decibel in the coming months to replace the old order and bring in the change that Mauritius needs
By Rattan Khushiram
From economic slowdown to the choking of the main engines of growth, wayward macroeconomic parameters to vested interests, cronyism and undermined institutions to a perennial lack of new ideas and initiatives, critical challenges await the next government. Besides the mess that it will have to clear up, the task ahead of it is indeed daunting. It is time for a new, strong and decisive leadership to reshape the agenda and the future of our nation, refashion the idea of Mauritius and steer the narrative towards a new economic model, a new model of development which will have to be an emphatic radical departure from the past.
If we miss this opportunity now that the forthcoming polls is offering to the generation that is waiting in the wings to prove itself, we will have a long wait ahead before we can take another crack against the old guards. The old guards and dynasties are staying put because the public does not see an alternative. We can overthrow them if we can convince the public that an alternative exists. It is time to get rid of dynastic politics and take advantage of the clamour for change, for a new leadership and for new ways of doing things.
Most of the mainstream parties have been reduced to a shadow of their former selves and even splintered into different factions and separate outfits. Now is the opportune time for the new generation to make the bid for a takeover. This generation wants a change and wants new and younger leaders. The old guards are not prepared to be accommodative. Many of the leaders, living in their own bubbles, do not bend with the wind; they want to fight till the end for they know that otherwise they will be unceremoniously dumped. The new and younger contestants must maintain the pressure, for the forthcoming polls offer the opportunity for a renewal. Critics within and outside the mainstream parties will have to raise the decibel in the coming months to replace the old order and bring in the change that Mauritius needs.
Who will bring in that change? It’s the new generation. Lots of our young people, though novices in politics, but more sophisticated and professional, having the right kind of talent in terms of experience and expertise, should be given the opportunity of assuming the mantle of leadership and control. This can be seen as part of a generational shift that would be one of the healthy developments in our political landscape. Similar changes should be allowed to take place in all walks of Mauritian life. And Mauritius will be the better for it as our old guards, the ageing stalwarts incongruously dominating most fields, have become short of ideas in the stewardship of the economy, in innovating, in crafting a new vision – one that will make a sizeable difference to the younger generation in building a society that brings forth the inner capacities we all possess and in which the joy of living is shared by all.
There comes a time in the life of a nation when it needs some spark, a vision… for change to happen. Now younger entrants are rising everywhere, bringing with them energy and new ideas. They are ready to take over, bringing in fresh ideas and visions for a new and better Mauritius. They are here to stay; they are not looking for greener pastures elsewhere or joining our diaspora that regime after regime is trying to win back at their expense. They are ready to acquire the skills and capabilities necessary to drive innovation and the nation forward.
But now, they are more empowered to demand change, thanks to ever-greater access to the internet and mobile connectivity. They want to be a shaper of the future; staying put is not an option. Most of them are seeking a radically different development path and a desire to create more capabilities for growth and new solutions while ensuring that the benefits of growth are extended to all members of society. They are on all fronts – civil rights and racial discrimination, jobs, and immigration. And we’re seriously impressed with what the younger generation is doing to fight climate change. More than 91 percent of young people around the world agree that science has proven that human activities are responsible for climate change – in fact, climate change and the destruction of nature is their top concern. They aren’t just worried about climate change; no, they’re taking action now. They want to make a difference to the world around them.
Can we rely (some may say, gamble) on this new generation to deliver, on their new leadership? Can we trust them? Yes, we can and they are the only alternative, the only hope for real change. Have a look at the reaction of the old guards to the Mauritius Leaks! Most of them are on the defensive, clinging to “acquis” of the tax-centric global business sector. Compare that to the reaction from one of the younger generation, Kugan Parapen: “Those who are fooling themselves in believing that our offshore sector is correct must now awaken to the new reality that billionaires and corrupt businessmen are stealing billions of dollars from Africa.”
And in an article titled ‘Why Mauritius needs to embrace an alternative economic model’, he questions the incestuous relationship between the political elite and the corporates that have continuously had recourse to the depreciation of the rupee to boost their prospects at the expense of the Mauritian consumer. Another evergreen mutative stalwart of our local politics but still young in outlook who could thus be counted as part of the younger generation – Dev Virahsawmy – in a topical article ‘Let’s get our priorities right!’ comes up with new ideas and also calls for a paradigm shift in our approach to the economy
That’s the mettle of which is made our younger generation! We can rely on them to alter the political matrix by demolishing the shibboleths of dynasty, communalism, and caste. We can trust them; we can expect them to make mistakes but they are more likely to be working selflessly for the nation. They will earn their credibility on the strength of their proposed programmes and policies and more importantly they can give us hope — hope that things will be different by and large. They have a narrative and they are firm about living up to their commitments, and are not the type to fool the electorate with mere alliances and empty promises. If they are given the chance, it could turn out to be so transformational, challenging that it would create a moment to come together and re-turbo our commitment for a new and and advancing Mauritius. The yearning for change will be our greatest ally.
* Published in print edition on 26 July 2019