Of the so-called ‘l’hegemonie hindoue’ & the Civil Service

This is the term used by l’express newspaper of Sunday last. It comes out as part of an interview of one Roshni Mooneeram appearing in the paper. The latter has recently joined as Group PR Manager of Lux Resorts, which is itself part of the GML Lagesse Group, the first of Mauritius’ top 100 companies by total assets and turnover.

According to the interviewee, she is only confirming what she stated to the same paper a couple of months before. She has expanded the term ‘malbarisation’ to connote a situation in which, according to her, a new form of colonialism has set in in public life in Mauritius, mirroring Hindu omnipotence, which would have succeeded the previous colonialism. It would be manifesting itself in a self-centred view of development intended to defend the exclusive prestige and economic interests of this so-called Hindu hegemony to the detriment of the rest of the population.

Let alone the pejorative tenor of the term ‘malbar’, malbarisation’, etc., which was used by large property owners in the past to belittle and intimidate our ancestors of the Hindu fold, the l’express newspaper has gone one step further to allow it to be applied to the whole of the Civil Service, a counterfactual statement, a cheap generalisation which bears no resemblance to reality. It is in fact tantamount to insulting a whole community by accusing it to be nursing a plot to enrich itself at the cost of everybody else. Not even Noel Marrier-d’Unienville (NMU), a virulent anti-Hindu Franco-Mauritian press campaigner of the pre-independence days, had gone that far to impute false motives and cast insult upon the majority community of the country. This may well reflect the private views of l’express’s convenient interviewee – like using a diamond to cut other diamonds — but it does not excuse the paper peddling such insulting statements against an entire community.

It is a lucky thing for l’express that such insult and inaccuracy have been hurled through the columns of the paper against the Hindu community of the island. Hindus are tolerant. No doubt, many Hindus form part of the public service of the country today. When Simpson, Craig, Hinchey, etc., headed the public service of Mauritius, there was no question of a British hegemony; these guys did their work with excellence. The sterling rules of conduct of the service they laid down are still here and very helpful for the healthy upkeep of Mauritius’ public service. Most of the island’s other permanent secretaries almost exclusively resided at one time in the Beau Bassin-Curepipe belt. No one accused them to be involved in any scheme to set up a communal hegemony; the Duval-Adolphe-Esnouf-Maudave-Commarmond and so forth string of the country’s top Civil Servants which reigned supreme at one stage were never suspected of holding a brief to overturn public service rules for exclusive private communal benefit. They were there and we accepted the same as a fact of life in the circumstances. No less capable were the Tirvengadum-Burrenchobay-Pyndia-Ghoorah-Ramdin-Vadamootoo-Rosalie-Bheenick-Zamanay string of top notch public servants who worked simultaneously with some of the previous ones or came afterwards. Today’s permanent secretaries Mansoor-Ramsamy-How Fok Cheung-Nababsing-Beeharry-Ramlugun-Pather-Phokeer-Simonet-Jeanne-Oozeer-Fong Weng, etc., are not part of any communal plot by any stretch of the imagination.

Where then is this so-called ‘malbarisation’ and Hindu hegemony coming from? And how come l’express newspaper is publicizing such an outrageous view to bring ignominy upon the whole of the majority community? Did all those Civil Servants belonging to the Hindu community get there because they were the products of some occult communal plot? Were they appointed by the relevant authorities in charge of recruitment in the public service not because they deserved but because of private communally-based unfair selection? All of this is implied by the article of l’express. It would no doubt have been totally unacceptable for the past string of Editors of l’express publications – the Dr Philippe Forget, Percy McGaw, Yvan Martial, Jean-Claude de l’Estrac, amongst others — to allow such unwarranted, gratuitous and insulting stuff to be published under their care and responsibility.

It looks like the playing out of an old agenda to create a conscience of guilt upon Hindus is being repeated. In the days of NMU, the masters of the game hid behind the likes of Gaetan Duval and the PMSD to state ineptitudes like ‘Malbar nou pas oulé’, to foment communal hatred. In today’s context, the old anti-Hindu Establishment might be using its platforms and undercover agents to spread out an anti-Hindu psychosis once again. The objective is to undermine confidence, to deprecate, denigrate, impute false motives and foster inter-communal animosities. It is also probably an attempt to rally those who may be splintering away from past coalitions of minority groups, something which the plantocracy of yesterday showed it was most adept at. The same old exploitation, the same system of staging up protagonists from the very fold it is intended to destroy, the same wolves lurking behind the sheep’s fold.

* Published in print edition on 2 August  2013

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