Points To Ponder

Why discriminate against girls?

A First Point: The results of Cambridge School Certificate are out and many students are happy with their performance. One matter that has surprised us has been the remarkable performance of the girls as compared to the boys. 82% of the girls have passed their examination whereas only 71% of the boys have succeeded. We have to congratulate the girls for their remarkable performance and we hope that they will keep it up. I find it discriminatory that in matters of education, we still are with the system of having one list for the boys and another one for the girls for the Higher School Certificate examination. This finds its importance for the “laureates” who then study on scholarships. I know that sooner or later, the system of laureates will be abolished and the money that is now spent on the laureates will allocated to many more students who do well in their Higher School Certificate Examination or other equivalent examination, provided they will study at the local universities. I am all for this system and this will lead to the further democratisation of our higher education.

So long as the system of laureates exists, the discrimination between boys and girls will remain. However, as is the policy of the government, those who work hard should reap the benefit of their hard work, and this should be a natural consequence of their act. As things are going, the girls are doing better than the boys, therefore they should get more scholarship than the boys. There should be a common list for both boys and girls and those who come out among the top students should be given scholarships.

When those boys and girls, after their education and qualification, join the job market, especially in the public sector, they are not recruited on a discriminatory basis. They cannot be favoured because they are boys or contrariwise, because they happen to be girls. People at the Public Service Commission go for the best candidate in the circumstances. And that is why we see so many women in the government service. And they cannot complain of being discriminated against because of their gender. So far as I know, they are given a fair treatment, as distinct from the private sector.

In the private sector there is rampant discrimination, and this is well known to everybody. Men of the Indo-Mauritian community are discriminated against in favour of men of other communities, but more than that, women of all communities also are discriminated against, and we need not talk of the level of discrimination against the Indo-Mauritian women. Should this not be looked at by the authorities?

So government should do away with the discriminatory treatment of girls at the Higher School Certificate level for the purpose of awarding scholarships. Let the best students get what they deserve and everybody would be happy. And this pernicious system would prevail till a new system of scholarships is established, to be tenable locally. We expect that the new system will not be discriminatory in any way, not even with what has come to be called ‘positive’ discrimination.

Hunger strikes

A Second Point: I am writing on this point rather half-heartedly. It concerns the Secretary of the Association des Consommateurs de l’Ile Maurice (ACIM), Jayen Chellum and the fact that he was on a hunger strike. A hunger strike is a good weapon if it is properly and judiciously used. It can otherwise be the worst weapon available to those using it.

It is said that the hunger strike is the weapon for those who are weak in their arguments, those who cannot fight a straight battle and those who resort to underhand methods. If the Secretary General of the ACIM thinks that he is right in his fight in claiming some money from the government and government is refusing to give that money, the proper course for him would have been to seize the Court, be it the District Court, the Intermediate Court or the relevant division of the Supreme Court. If he is sure that he is right, then I am sure he would win his case. In these circumstances, there was no need for him to resort to a hunger strike.

He says that government owes him a subsidy. If in fact government owes him such subsidy, why did the organisation not lodge a case against the government claiming what is legally due to him? Could it be that he knew from the very beginning that he would lose such a case, and that is why he has decided not to fight the case in the Courts? I do hope, sincerely, that he does not mean to send the signal that he does not trust our legal system. Jayen Chellum will not say it, he will deny it, but his action speaks louder than words. There are a few people around him, those who are en mal de publicité.

Can I ask the associations and other organisations which have sympathised with the ACIM’s official whether they are really satisfied that he has been doing what strictly he should have done according to the rules and regulations? Do those men in religion who have made themselves seen and heard with respect to this matter know for sure that they are not helping some political cause that is not geared towards promoting the interests of some political party which happens to be near to their heart, in other words, are they not indirectly lobbying for the opposition?


Trial alliances

A Third Point: All of a sudden, there is a lull in Mauritian politics. We do not hear of the different moves that the various political parties are trying to make. We do not believe that all this is due to the fact that we have had Thaipossum Cavadee or the Abolition of Slavery Day. The reason must be found elsewhere. Is the MMM going to fight it alone but with its mini-allies Union Nationale of Ashock Jugnauth and the MNSD of Eric Guimbeau? These are more or less one-man parties just as you have one-man companies, and in the circumstances, the leaders will have no problem in accommodating so many candidates and the MMM will have an easy job. But if the MMM wishes to be in an alliance with the Labour Party, will the MMM still have as partners the UN and the MNSD, being given that the MMM will have very few seats, barely enough to satisfy its sitting members plus a few more?

Or are we about to witness a remake of the MMM-MSM alliance of the past? It can very well happen, and in this case those who were with the MSM but are now with the MMM will have look elsewhere for an electoral ticket. The MSM will not have to sideline any member as no MMM member has crossed over to the MSM. On this score, the hands of the MSM are clean. Has such a situation arisen because the MSM does not want to have within its ranks any member who has been in another party or could it be that no MMM member has ever shown any interest to leave his party for the MSM? I do not know.

What are the MMM and the MSM waiting for to tell us what their future plans are? These parties will not talk to anybody because their future does not depend on them. It depends on the Labour Party or rather on the Alliance Sociale. And the leader of the Alliance Sociale is keeping quiet. At the moment, maybe he is saying “entre les deux, mon coeur balance”.

In certain societies, with a different social outlook from ours, when a boy and a girl decide to get married, they undergo through a trial marriage to start with. The boy and the girl stay together as man and wife but only for a certain period of time, just to find out whether they will be able to adjust in the long run with each other. If both decide that they will be able to form a couple for a long time, then they inform the parents that they are made for each other and the marriage is validated. Otherwise, the couple just part company. Can such a temporary union between two political parties exist in real life? I wonder. A trial alliance of any type?

Or maybe the Alliance Sociale is seriously contemplating talking to both parties, then find out whether the one or the other gives more satisfaction and tie the knot with the one that will be faithful. Or maybe both would give full satisfaction and in such circumstances, it will be difficult to reject either of the two. Therefore, the Alliance Sociale will have an alliance with both parties. One man can manage two wives with great difficulty but how can the Alliance Sociale manage with two partners? With difficulty, somebody said. But it can be done.

As we are approaching the general election, we get the clear signal that Navin Ramgoolam is getting more and more popular among all the communities. The Hindus, who have always been with the Labour Party, most of the members of the Muslim community since the last general election, of the Sino-Mauritian community and now the General Population as well look upon Navin Ramgoolam as their political leader. This is not wishful thinking; this is a fact that can be verified by independent persons who want to know what the situation is.

This is the main reason for which the MMM as well as the MSM want to go in an alliance with the Alliance Sociale. But at the same time, both of these parties in the opposition do not want to see the other as the ally of the Alliance Sociale. Each is working very hard against the other, but such work is done in a very subtle way, as if neither is interested in what the other is doing.

Let me quote an example. The other day, the President of the Republic hosted a lunch in honour of the ex-President of Mozambique who was here on the occasion of the Abolition of Slavery Day. We were told that the lunch was private matter, not an official one.

Paul Bérenger was not invited, and he took it very much to heart. And he was very critical of the fact that he was not invited. The butt of his criticism was Pravind Jugnauth who happened to be a guest at the lunch. He used words against him that I cannot use against my worst enemy. We know that in politics you do not have enemies but only adversaries, how could Paul Bérenger ever say such things about Pravind Jugnauth? Was Paul Bérenger really sincere with Pravind Jugnauth when they were the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister respectively? Who was the greater hypocrite?

But I do not understand how Paul Bérenger can consider other politicians so low that they can be considered as less than human. Does he think that he himself is “sorti de la cuisse de Jupiter”? If his sous-fifres and other followers think that Paul Bérenger is their god or some demi-god, such does not have to be the case with others. They can send him to hell any time anywhere. This theme should be visited anew.

So is politics. We have to wait for a month or two; we shall then be fixed with the various alliances. We shall also then understand what the minor parties and the individual politicians think of doing.



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