In Memoriam: Professor Jagadish Manrakhan
He was a person of great versatility. Professor Jagadish Manrakhan was usually known for his academic involvement, his fame in this field having outlived his term as Vice Chancellor of the University of Mauritius. During his time, the University built up a strong international image for itself, extending the number of faculties at work.
His basic training was in Agriculture and Agricultural Economics, from the Mauritius College of Agriculture but he earned his degrees more extensively from the University of Reading in the UK. He became widely known for his involvement in various institutions such as the Sugar Insurance Fund Board, the Mauritius Research Council, the Agricultural Marketing Board and various educational establishments such as the Mauritius Institute of Education of which he was the Chairman in the early 1980s.
Jagadish Manrakhan’s professional career spanned such a broad field that this alone should have given him a deep sense of fulfilment. The great moment came when he pronounced his dissent over the recommendations of the Avramovich Commission of Inquiry into the sugar industry. That was in 1982-83 when a newly formed MMM government had commissioned an inquiry to look into the state of finances of the sugar industry and to consider whether the export duty that was applicable to it should be abolished in view of the stated fragility of the industry. Mr Avramovich recommended in favour of the industry but it was not convincing whether the financial statements the sugar units produced before the Commission to stand up their claim was reliable enough. At this time, there was a generalised feeling in the population that the sugar industry was on the lookout for a hand-out from the newly constituted government under the powerful sway of the MMM. The dissenting voices of Prof Manrakhan and Rama Sithanen made sense to the population at large.
Prof Manrakhan was a keen observer of current events. Readers of Mauritius Times will recall the various occasions when he penned down his views on certain burning issues. Not content with prose, he had even accustomed our readers to read some of his poetry. His demise in Germany on 1st March 2013 by the side of his daughter will create a gap that it will be difficult to bridge. Our only solace is that he lived a full life whether at the level of the family or in his professional capacity and that he is one of those who will be remembered for his highly scintillating path at the national level.
* Published in print edition on 8 March 2013