Inculcating a sense of patriotism

Points to Ponder

A FIRST POINT: It is said that Mauritians do not have a patriotic feeling. I think that by this it is meant that we feel that all of us do not belong to this country, that we are not prepared to defend our country or lay down our lives for the sake of the motherland.

Are we satisfied with this state of things? Of course we cannot and should not be. The authorities should instill in every one of us a patriotic feeling to the extent that we shall feel proud to be Mauritians, irrespective of whether we are here or outside the country. I have noticed that when Mauritians leave the country, they become conscious that they are citizens of this country. They start feeling proud, they miss the atmosphere, the people with whom they never agree and, in particular, they have no neighbours and other friends with whom to quarrel. This is another trait of Mauritians.

I have a suggestion to make Mauritians start to get a feeling of patriotism. The government should proclaim a « Patriotism Week » which will be part of the celebration of government itself and in which the private sector would be expected to play its part. All government officers will be expected to take an active part as well, especially those in the education sector. The children are most in need to feel that they are proud to be Mauritians above anything else. People should feel that they are Mauritians first and foremost before they affirm their religious or ethnic belonging.

Every Mauritian must feel that that he has no motherland other than Mauritius. The first matter that must be addressed is the question of double nationality. Mauritians who hold a double nationality must make a choice between keeping one or the other nationality. They cannot have both. To which country is the person concerned more loyal? I will say that it is difficult to choose between two countries but the hard fact is that a choice must be made.

Illegal and immoral business in Quatre Bornes town centre

A SECOND POINT: Quite a number of persons have talked to me about the degenerate atmosphere in Quatre Bornes. I refer to the moeurs or morals of certain persons in the vicinity of the Municipality. As soon as night falls, the belles de nuit, as some friends of mine call them start to stroll along the main road as well as the side streets looking for clients.

We have no quarrel with these people, provided that they do their business elsewhere than in Quatre Bornes. I can understand the reasoning of the inhabitants of the area, the more so that Quatre Bornes is more or less a conservative town. People do not want their town to become like the centre of Rose Hill or like some areas in Port Louis.

The first authority we would like to address our remarks to is the Police, starting with the Commissioner of Police, and then to the officers who are responsible for law and order, especially those who work in the two police stations in Quatre Bornes. Do they know that prostitution has increased by a hundred-fold and yet the Police seems to turn a blind eye, allowing those belles de nuit free rein to carry on their trade? Are they aware that the belles de nuit use the various road trenches being dug to ply their business?

If it is the duty of the Police to look after the law and order situation, what are they doing whilst these immoral acts are taking place under their very noses? Are they waiting for the situation to worsen or for some persons who have at heart the good name of their town to seize the Supreme Court before they will act? Police Officers are surely aware that wherever there are prostitutes there are the pimps, and all sorts of criminal activities, don’t they? Is this what the Police would like to see in Quatre Bornes?

And what about the government. I feel that Members of Parliament who have been elected from Quatre Bornes should take up the matter, perhaps the best bet of the three – the others being Duval and Ramano — is Nita Deerpalsing. May we request her to raise the issue with the Police? At the very least the two others could put a few questions to the Prime Minister, and ask for the authorities to take action?

There is another matter that the Police must look after. This concerns the sellers of briani on the main road near the municipality. As soon as night falls, they park their vans and start doing their trade. Buyers park their cars haphazardly to the great embarrassment of the other road users. Here I would not appeal to Nita Deerpalsing. I am therefore requesting the Police to do their duty without fear or favour.

As for the municipality’s role in all this, it seems that it has simply given up its duties and responsibilities. In which case what are all those officers and others paid for?

It is the duty of all relevant authorities to keep Quartre Bornes clean in every sense of the word but unfortunately the authorities do not seem to be interested.

Why are milk and flour so expensive?

A THIRD POINT: Do we still have a minister who looks after the welfare of the consumers, otherwise known as the Minister of Consumer Protection? If we do, he does not seem to be around. Consumer protection associations apparently do exist, but they are not functioning to the satisfaction of the consumers. Who can tell us about the profit margin of traders on the different items of food that they sell?

Milk is one such item that is considered as a necessity. We produce very little of it, and therefore we have to import it, but the price that we are made to pay is too high. How is it possible for those at the lower rung of the economic ladder to buy the milk that we get in commercial circuits?

Milk and its derivatives are of universal usage, and for some they constitute a fundamental part of their culture. Sometime ago some people were importing milk from India, but I am informed that it was boycotted by certain firms, not least by certain supermarkets, thus putting a stop to the to the importation. When people do not appreciate pure milk with the original taste because they are used to adulterated milk in different forms, and they are motivated by their racist ideas, we cannot expect anything better.

How is it that a product that is normally sold for seventy rupees in certain outlets is sold at forty five rupees at some others? – and it does not mean that no profit is being made! What is the duty of the Minister responsible for Consumer Protection when the consumers are being fleeced by the importers and other traders? We agree that it is not possible to have a price control regime, but we cannot understand why the government is not imposing the maximum mark-up system, and that too on foodstuffs and other goods of prime necessity. This should not be difficult.

Another item the government must consider directly concerns our health. The health authorities strongly advise the consumption of whole wheat flour for making chapattis, faratas and bread. What measures has government implemented to encourage the greater availability of wheat flour? There must be a greater collaboration on this issue between the ministries concerned, for the benefit of the population at large as a matter of urgency. This is particularly important because, given the official advice to use wheat flour rather than white flour, government is in contradiction by allowing whole wheat flour to be sold at a higher price than white refined flour, to the benefit, I presume, of the manufacturers and traders. I would not like to think that the authorities and the dealers are in the same boat and defending the same cause!

* Published in print edition on 7 September 2012

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