Points to Ponder
The International Court of Justice, Kosovo & Rodrigues
A First Point: Kosovo is a rather small territory and until recently, it formed part of Serbia. Kosovo seceded and declared its independence from Serbia. The International Court of Justice was seized of the matter and the Court has delivered its finding. Serbia had claimed that, in declaring unilateral independence, Kosovo had violated the territorial integrity of Serbia. This claim was not upheld by the Court.
The President of the International Court of Justice, Hisachi Osada, said that there was no provision in international law which prohibited Kosovo from declaring its independence. It therefore came to the conclusion that “the declaration of independence on the 17 February 2008 did not violate international law.”
Kosovo is made up of a majority of ethnic Albanians and when it declared its independence in 2008, it was supported by the United States, most of the European countries and a total of 69 countries. However, Russia is on the side of Serbia and supports the theory that Kosovo is part of Serbia. Now, with the judgment of the International Court of Justice, many countries which have so far not yet decided whether to recognize the independence or not will follow the judgment. But it seems that Serbia, Russia and China will not give up their views that Kosovo cannot be considered as an independent country.
This judgment of the ICJ will have a bearing on Mauritius. We all know the case of Rodrigues. There are politicians in Rodrigues who have voiced their feelings and their opinion that they are waiting for the propitious moment when they will fight for the independence of Rodrigues. At the moment, they have a sort of quasi-independence and they are waiting to get some more power so that they will be able to say that they are ready to be an independent country.
The Rodrigues Regional Assembly is now part of our Constitution. Rodrigues has a Regional Assembly, a Chairperson and elected members, and the powers of the Regional Assembly include, inter alia, the passing of laws. Rodrigues has an Executive Council and there is established in Rodrigues a Capital and a Consolidated Fund.
Believe me, this idea of independence is very much on the cards in Rodrigues and especially as we know that so many foreign countries are ready to pounce on this territory of ours because they want have a foothold in the Indian Ocean. Who can prevent them from having such ambitions?
But Mauritians themselves are to be blamed. I mean all those involved, from far and from near, who have encouraged this ambition of those Mauritians living in the island of Rodrigues when they passed the Rodrigues Regional Assembly Act, should take the blame. History will not forgive nor forget them.
I heard people in the north of Mauritius saying that if such would be the case, they will ask for the setting up of Northern Regional Assembly with the aim of asking for its independence eventually and if independence will not be given, then they will declare unilaterally the independence of the northern region of the Island of Mauritius. This is to be taken seriously, but the future demand for the independence of Rodrigues cannot and should not be taken lightly. Politicians cannot say that they have not been forewarned.
Trinidad: Kamla Parsad Bissessar wins, again
A Second Point: Let us find out what is happening in Trinidad after the general election of 24 May last. The People’s Partnership, made up of the UNC under the leadership of Kamla Parsad Bissessar and the COP under the leadership of Winston Dookeeran, both Indian-dominated parties, had obtained a resounding victory against the People’s National Movement led by Patrick Manning and dominated by the Afro-Trinidadians. The PP won 29 seats as against eight for PNM.
After the general election, the then leader of the PNM Patrick Manning resigned from the leadership of the party and Dr Keith Rowley has been chosen to succeed him.
And now there have been the local government elections in Trinidad. Here also, the PP under Kamla Parsad Bissessar won a memorable victory. The PP won 11 corporations and the PNM under Dr Keith Rowley only three. The Minister of Local Government, Chandresh Sharma, seems to have done a good job.
Now both the central government and the local government are now controlled by the People’s Partnership and the members of this alliance have to work hard to give satisfaction to the people, especially in matters of law and order.
Delinquent parents and teachers
A Third Point: A lot has been said about delinquent children and delinquent pupils. What about delinquent parents and delinquent teachers? Yes, there are delinquent parents and teachers as well. One of the reasons for these delinquent persons is the policy of the authorities and the lack of adequate measures to address these problems.
In so far as the parents are concerned, we can say that they have no one to answer to when they do not do their duties as parents properly. Previously, the social set-up of the community used to look after its welfare to the best of its ability, but at the same time without impinging on the rights of the parents. I know that every person in a village had to be a member of a Baitka and the Baitka was caring for the member and the member was caring for the Baitka. Both the member and the Baitka were satisfied, but now the system of Baitka has disappeared and replaced by what? Nothing, and the parents spend their time doing things that will not contribute to the welfare of the family. And with the authorities treating all Mauritians as if they have just one culture and one language, we should not be surprised if the parents are becoming delinquents just as the children are.
Now we have delinquent teachers as well. Most of the teachers are not like that, they attend school though they may not be doing a full day’s work to the best of their ability. What makes them become delinquent teachers? Lack of discipline in the schools and maybe lack of motivation. We do not accept that teachers who are no good should be given the better classes, that they should be given promotion simply because they are senior to the very good teachers, that they are drunk even in school, that some do other work than teach the pupils in school and for which they are employed. I mean they work for some supposed trade unions and they neglect their teaching duties.
If somebody wants to do union duty, by all means let him do so, but this must be done outside working hours. But no, they want to do it during working hours as they are busy outside working hours giving private tuition. By the way, who looks after the classes and who teaches the pupils when teachers are busy with their union duties, keeping in mind that they draw a full month’s salary for work they do not do?
Many teachers are not interested in enforcing discipline in the classes, because they might then have some sort of a problem with the head of the school, with the authorities or even with the parents. He is simply not interested in enforcing discipline. Who then is to be blamed? The authorities of course, and in the circumstances how can you blame the teacher? The parents should also accept part of the blame for such a sorry state of affairs.
But that should not exonerate the teachers from blame for turning into delinquents. They should attend to their duties regularly at the time set, and work for the whole day to the best of their ability, that is they should earn their pay by working and not by staying idle. If they cannot teach properly and to the satisfaction of their pupils, they had better leave the profession.
In all cases, blame is to be shared, it seems. You have the authorities on the one hand and on the other you have the teachers and the parents. Would all the persons involved agree to share the blame? If they do, would each party agree to make the necessary amends? The question is being put to them.
A Fourth Point: Singapore has always been a country known for the discipline of its citizens, for their respect of the laws of their country and their non-tolerance of criminal behaviour among their fellow citizens. People understand their social responsibility and they get fully involved in the education of their children. Traditional values are respected; religion, as such, is properly understood, be it Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism or Islam, and practised as it should be by the different groups.
It is not surprising that the country has been achieving economic and social progress right from the sixties. It is no wonder that the people are well educated, that they have a medical system that can match the best in the world and the people are proud of their roots and their culture, especially of their language. And we can say that Singapore is the envy of the rest of the world.
What about Mauritius? Our people have no respect for the laws of the land, and, on the slightest pretext and occasion, they are ready to violate them. Take the case of the Road Traffic Act. So many persons go against the law; a few can get caught but the vast majority never think that what they are doing is not in the interest of the country and that they should change their attitude.
And people adopt the same attitude in so far as other offences are concerned. Can anybody talk to them about this attitude of theirs? They just could not care. And people want the country to progress both on the economic and the social front at that?
So long as the Hindu community was well attached to its culture, it knew where it was going. Granted that the community was then not as well-off as it is today but the culture put it on the way to economic progress. Because of hard work and because of the culture of saving, it started to make some economic progress; it had its young members educated, but at the same time it started moving away from its culture and its language. And this will cause the downfall of the community if it is not careful.
At one time, the lingua franca of the whole of the countryside and of a large part of the urban areas was Bhojpuri. People who were conversant with the Tamil language used that language and some of them were very good in Bhojpuri as well. But then, with the passage of time, people speaking Tamil stopped speaking that language completely and for good. I am personally aware of this fact. And as they say, if you lose your language, you lose your culture. In Singapore, they have preserved their language or languages and their respective cultures are well preserved.
We have not been able to preserve our languages nor our cultures. People have adopted the Creole language and culture. I am putting a question here. Is Creole language a real language? Is Creole culture a real culture? I will say that, so far, they cannot be considered as such because it does not have a vocabulary of its own, all the words that are used are mostly a corrupt form of French, nor does it have a proper grammar. And Creole culture is simply an adjunct to French culture.
We have adopted what some persons are pleased to call the Creole culture or rather a Euro-Creole culture which can be considered as a subsidiary culture of French culture. The Creoles of Mauritius can very well claim back their African-ness, their African languages and their African culture. And they had their own religion which they had practised for thousands of years, i.e. preceding the birth of Jesus Christ by thousands of years. They have given up everything that was theirs and have adopted what belongs to others, and it would appear they are very proud of this fact.
How do you expect a country to progress when its citizens live on borrowed languages and on borrowed culture? The culture that will keep you within bounds is absent, is lacking because you have adopted the foreigner’s culture. You have no benchmark that will provide the necessary guidance, and here I will say that every Mauritian can, if he so wishes, follow what his culture dictates and very soon he will be on the path of personal progress.