Chit Dukhira’s new book
Chit Dukhira’s new book ‘Indians In India, Mauritius and South Africa’ (2014) issued by Osman Publishing Co Ltd, will be soon circulated. It follows upon two of his earlier works, namely ‘Local Governance in the Global Village’ (1998), on grassroots democracy in some 50 countries, and ‘History of Mauritius: Experiments in Democracy’ (2003).
In the author’s presence, the pre-published version of this book was presented in Durban in 2009, twice in New Delhi – on the occasion of Overseas Indians’ Day on 10 January 2010) and in October 2011 by the Indian Institute of Public Administration -, as well as in Mauritius in October 2012 by GOPIO International at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute.
To make for easier reading, this multi-disciplinary, large-formatted and two-column page publication, which is illustrated with maps, pictures and tables, contains throughout copious foot and marginal facilitating remarks together with academic or explanatory notes. It traces the worldwide emigration and settlement of Indians, irrespective of region, religion or tradition, underlining their epic struggle for integration. Multilingual and pluralist India, with its most ancient civilisation (7000-5500 BC) at Mehrgarh, now in Baluchistan, Pakistan (Wood, Michael – The Story Of India, BBC Books, 2008), is sketched from time immemorial. The Partition has not been neglected; an entire chapter is devoted to the carving out of Pakistan from the Indian subcontinent in 1947.
The author’s ancestral district Ballia, in Uttar Pradesh, illustrative of pre-divided India’s districts left behind by the migrant adventurers, serves as a case study and is dealt with in a supplement to the main work. Much larger in size and population than entire Mauritius, this district is famous in many respects throughout India’s long history. The first place to be independent in 1942 – though only for a week — five years before the whole of India was freed, it is the cradle of the huge Bhojpuri belt, the very seedbed of the large majority of the Indian Diaspora.
Chit’s involvement in his country’s pre-independence politics at local and national levels, and later collaboration with politicians of various hues during his 37-year career as village, rural district and urban council top official, have helped him offer a platform to understand the struggle for freedom in India, Mauritius and South Africa. This work gives a balanced account of the life of Mahatma Gandhi as well as of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam and Nelson Mandela both of whom paved the way to the sovereignty of Mauritius (1968) and South Africa (1994).
The author applauds the rare patriotic qualities and zeal of Indian, Mauritian, South African and other activists, while sympathetically exploring the motives of men and women of conscience within their historical contexts. Today’s Indian Diaspora is briefly described in many countries, but more extensively in Mauritius and South Africa, while to a lesser extent, with due regard to the whole population of each country, in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Reunion, the Seychelles and Trinidad-Tobago, where it is noticeable for specific reasons.
Promoting Unity in Diversity in plural Mauritius since the early 1960s, Chit suggests in this work that the Indian Diaspora, conspicuous for its adaptability, can contribute to make the world a happy global village, with peace and tolerance prevailing. Secular India, the world’s largest democracy, also noted for its special, uniquely inclusive culture, now well on her way to become a superpower after long being colonised, can lead as the focal point for such integration.
Reference is abundantly made in Parts I, II and III, each containing five chapters, also to inhabitants of non-Indian origin in the several countries concerned.
* Published in print edition on 12 September 2014