The capitalists know that the danger is not communism but that the workers will soon claim their legitimate rights
I have before me a copy of Mauritius Abstract. It is a recent publication on art paper containing 69 pages and 30 beautiful pictures of Mauritius. It is printed by Esclapon Ltd and purports to come from CIDI — I believe these letters stand for the fantastic and illusory body known as centre International de Documentation et d’idées.
It is obvious that the publication is not meant for sale: it is a private publication presumably meant to be circulated abroad. We can see that there is no attempt at “documentation” according to the high-flown title of the organisation. There is very little as regards facts and figures that every educated Mauritian does not know. It is at first sight only a fond and lavish display of money – easily earned money which could more usefully have been lying in the coffers of the income Tax Department!
Reading it over we find that it emanates from the capitalist clique and has for aim a series of misstatements to blacken the Indians.
In page 34, it says: “The Indian seldom likes his boss and he disparages his work, quite convinced that he could take his place because in school he has got some rudiments of learning. Excited by political leaders, he hates his betters and is ready to cross the Rubicon, forgetting that himself and his family will be soon in dire want if the rupture of the old order has for sequel a lesser production.
The Indian has been known to take to any work that comes his way. It is not true to say that he disparages work or that he does not like order and discipline. But it is true that he does not want to be bossed any more. It were nearer the truth to say that in these changed times, the boss does not possess any convincingly superior qualities that will impress the worker. The evolution of the boss is not at all commensurate with that of the worker. The new boss wants to build up his halo on moonshine and the intelligent worker can see through this horrible hollowness. Hence the old order has crumbled down. As regards the effort of the Indian, no one has ever complained that even the bumper crop of 530,000 tons last year was not cut down, loaded and harvested by manual labour within the fixed delay. Is this not an acid test of the hard work and devotion of the Indian workers?
As regards the taunt of rudiments of learning, the writer of the booklet knows very well that the Indian community within only two generations has produced people who can match with anyone in every walk of life. The urge to be educated and to play an effective part in the affairs of the country is affecting the whole world. This is the basis of the policy of self-determination of the Commonwealth. Why could the Indian accept to remain in the position of the indentured labourer when every country and every people is standing to forge ahead toward progress? And what is this antediluvian walk of boss and worker when our relationship should now be on the basis of critical partnership?
The Mauritius Abstract is talking the language of the seventeenth century and so appears to be as ominous as a voice from the grave.
On page 62 the Abstract says that only 137,000 of the 459,000 immigrants returned to India. That would mean 322,000 remained. It also says in another place that one of the dangers of the island is that the Indians being too prolific have a tendency to outnumber others.
Is it not true that the sponsors of the CIDI had raised a hue and cry when Indian Immigration had stopped in the first quarter of this century? Is it not true that they are dead against any form of birth control? If 322,000 Indian immigrants did not return and if 335,327 was the figure of the Indo-Mauritian population in 1952 as quoted by the Governor, then what is the percentage of increase during more than half a century?
Let us verify the “prolific” idea by means of actual figures of the last half a century.
Year G. Population Indo-Mauritian Population
1901 111,937 259,086
1951 162,466 316,402
Incr: in 50 yrs 40,429 57,316
It means that the increase in the General Population has been of about 35% while that of the Indo-Mauritian at only about 22%.
In connection with the Indian immigration, the Abstract says: “The rest established themselves with their family in this island, where they lived as free men liberated from the cruel caste-system in India. Would they have stayed if they were persecuted?”
Why did not the Franco-Mauritians return to France? Is France a worse country than Mauritius? Why is it that many Franco-Mauritians who went to settle in South Africa had to return? The Indians did not return principally for three reasons:
(a) having sweated to build the prosperity of the colony, they thought that they has as much right as anyone else to remain here.
(b) being in great need of labour, the Franco-Mauritian planters has brought pressure on them to stay on.
(c) the lot of the peasantry in dependent India being as bad as the lot of the workers here they thought they had little to choose.
The propaganda document continues: “If those poor Indian coolies, who often landed in a pitiful state of health, had not been well treated by the employers, how could their offsprings have acquired so much property? If their pay had been inadequate, if their employers had not benevolently given or lent them money to buy a cow or a bit of land, how could the Indians in Mauritius, in the course of only four generations, have come to own about 40 percent of the productive land of the island, hundreds of flourishing shops, countless buildings of all sorts and at least half of the road vehicles in the island?”
I think the best answer is given on page 60 of the same booklet: “The Indian has kept his instinctive love of the soil, his frugal habits, his ability to save, his eagerness for money and the acquisition of property.” The hard work of the Indian and the capacity to save out of even Rs 5 a month, which he used to earn as indentured labourer, has little parallel in the history of the world. After hard work on the estates, they were able to supplement their wages by rearing animals. From their savings they satisfied their “instinctive love of the soil”. I must add that benevolence has never been the weakness of Franco-Mauritian employers. Throughout the labour history of the colony, the workers have never obtained anything without struggles some of which have ended in bloodshed. The Mauritius Abstract adds: “It seems that at present through the agency of Indian nationalism, under cover of what, for propaganda reasons, is called the Labour Party – though it has nothing whatsoever in common with the British Labour Party – the island is moving towards communism, a danger which may become serious indeed in an overpopulated agricultural country where the population goes on increasing while the land is fully exploited.”
Mr Fenner Brockway, MP, during his visit last year answered to these allegations. He said that he was convinced that the two Labour Parties had the same ideologies and the same aim. He also said that the cry of communism was the last trump card of the Tories. It shows that they are at the end of their tether and will now crumble down. It is no secret that the Deputy Leader of the British Labour Party gave all advice and assistance to our delegation in London. We also know that the British Labour Party has taken an official decision about the extension of PR to Mauritius. It means that those who are going to govern Britain tomorrow do not believe in the capitalist lies and are solidly with us in our struggle. But the Mauritius Abstract is a cry of agony. The capitalists know that the danger is not communism but that the workers will soon claim their legitimate rights. If the capitalists have to part from their accumulated privileges and monopolies, the applecart will be upset. As capitalism in the world has never been associated with foresight, they have, in their tissue of lies, let the cat out of the bag.