A major Hindi writer who has enriched the world of literature in Mauritius is gone. His demise summons memories of the evening spent at his place in Triolet on the occasion of his 60th birthday. It sounds a long time ago but the cheerful atmosphere remains a vivid memory, with him looking evergreen and smiling surrounded by all the guests who were much younger but felt so comfortable and at ease in his company that we shed convention and felt free to refer to him as Abhimanyu.
His wife blessed the evening with warmth and grace. Amidst the merry-making, bits of conversations, jokes, comments on books, stories and anecdotes resurface in our memory. At one point, he discussed Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things with us. Two years ago, during a visit to him, it was saddening to see that he already had poor health and a failing memory.
Shri Abhimanyu Unnuthji is an illustrious son of the village, a prolific writer in Hindi who has honoured his country and the world of Hindi literature. Twenty-years ago, on the occasion of his birthday, we were elated that India recognized his talent as a writer, valued his works and honoured him with prestigious rewards. And of course, reminiscences of childhood memories were shared.
He used to be a Hindi teacher at a school in Triolet and often came home to visit our parents. So I reminded him of the sweetest memory from those bygone days when he came home with a gift for our mother. We all gathered around the table and were excited as the gift was unwrapped – and we marvelled at the sight of a most beautiful plain salmon saree which he had painted with slender green leaves and red flowers here and there: his own design and creation. We looked up at him with admiration. Smilingly, he gave us the basic technique of his art.
The works left behind by Shri Unnuthji are a precious legacy which will be cherished and studied in the field of Hindi literature in Mauritius and overseas. We express our heartfelt gratitude to him and our deepest sympathy to his wife and family.
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Public concern over internal security in the country was raised in the wake of hostility and verbal violence displayed by street protesters of the capital against an organized march of LGBT members and sympathizers last Saturday. What drew attention and raised an alarm is the alleged link of the protest march organizers with a terrorist organization, the so-called Islamic State given that such leaders and propagators of radical terrorist ideology are arrested, kept behind bars and sued at Court in other countries where terror-related insecurity is taken seriously. That includes countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Indonesia along with others that have adopted an iron-fisted policy to weed out the least signs of terror threat on their territories.
There is strong public resistance to the obscurantist ideology propagated by terror-linked groups and respective governments deploy great means to ensure the safety of citizens. Yet, multi-party political alliances at the helm of some countries feel obliged to make a few concessions to their ultra-conservative partners for social cohesion. In the long run, while security is ensured by governments, the ideology that leads to outbursts of violence is difficult to control. Algeria is such an example of tight-rope walking, an effective crackdown on the prevention of terror acts while tolerating propagators of extremist views on social mores.
In Mauritius, official attempts to play down the level of insecurity simply by putting leaders of radical movements on strict surveillance may not sufficiently reassure the public. In public opinion, it means that the ideology they stand for and which they openly claim to propagate will spread around unhindered as long as there is no official ruling against it. And if there is any, it might not be enforced with authority and firmness. Precisely, because compared to the above mentioned countries Mauritius is far more a democracy and a free society, doubts arise on its will to apply rigorous principles to curb the freedom of dangerous trouble-makers.
Europe is not the way to go, Mauritians know it fully well. Governments in Britain, Germany, Belgium, France, Holland, Sweden and so on, propped up by capitalist interests and supported by pro-migrant leftist ideologues, have transformed the image of Europe against the will of the people. It has become an issue of Government against the People. Why? Because there is an increasing trend of migrant population from North Africa, the Middle-East and South-Asia to make wild claims based on religious beliefs in total disregard of local cultures and their propensity to unscrupulously live off social welfare benefits and fill prisons with a high rate of delinquency and crime.
So as regards the issue raised in Mauritius, the question is how far the authorities will sacrifice national interests to accommodate the demands of certain groups. Broadly, successive governments up to now have acted responsibly in matters of national security threat, and civilian community groups also act as watchdogs to prevent politicians from making undesirable concessions to some lobbies. What is at stake in people’s minds is not only security but the type of society we’ll live in in the future.
The point is how effective the government is going to be in taking the right measures to deal with death threats made to a woman, a foreign organizer of the march, and the Mauritian organizer. Whether LGBT march is right or not is a secondary issue to most people.
In the meantime, the authorities had better take the issue seriously to avoid external pressure and worse economic boycott by developed countries in the sector of tourism, finance and exports. Supporters of the anti-LGBT march in press comments refer to advanced countries, the EU and US as godless and sinful.
Tunisia is down on its knees since the terrorist attack on British tourists. Hotels and restaurants beg the rare customers to consume and stay. Egypt has hardly started to raise its head from economic chaos. Tunisian young men risk their lives on rough seas to reach godless Europe.
Views expressed on social networks and anonymously, and in press comments should be analyzed. The world press as well as mainstream Mauritian press have a propensity to favour a group of people who are very vocal in peddling the victimhood discourse using different names and promoting their one-sided view. What matters foremost is that no Mauritian citizen wishes to see the country’s name sullied at international level and its economy falling apart.
* Published in print edition on 8 June 2018