Loving Humanity

A Tribute to Vijay Kumar Joypaul


Sunita Ramgoolam-Joypaul has brought out recently, ‘Loving Humanity’, which serves as a tribute to her late husband Vijay Kumar Joypaul – a long-time diplomat, who was also widely known and recognised as a man of culture, of intellectual and moral elegance. ‘Loving Humanity’ brings together a collection of tributes interspersed with reminiscences and anecdotes from dozens of former ministers and colleagues, newspaper editors and close friends as well as a few of his own writings.

After completing his secondary schooling at the Royal College, he went on to read sociology at Patna University and thereafter followed courses in diplomacy at Oxford University. On his return to Mauritius, he was offered a post in the Private Office of the then Premier, Dr Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, and thereafter served in the administrative and diplomatic service at a time when sons of the soil had taken over from the former British administrators and were entrusted with the formidable task of nation building and transforming the country after its accession to independence.

The economic diversification of Mauritius was launched in a world that was still heavily barricaded by pervasive trade barriers and had therefore to be facilitated by a proactive diplomatic service. The backbone of that diversification drive was a committed and ingenious civil service, which we were fortunate to have and which was listened to by the country’s political leaders. Those civil servants were men and women of conviction and driven by the ambition to make things happen for the country. Had it not been for the path-lighting and sound contribution of Vijay Joypaul’s illustrious predecessors, that of his own generation of top civil servants and some star performers thereafter, we could have lost our way and ended like many of the countries in the neighbouring continent.

Vijay Joypaul was also recognised as a man of words. In his tribute to his RCPL mate, former President Cassam Uteem recalls his ‘eloquence in and mastery of both English and French languages, as well as his love for literature, (which) were his hallmarks, and it was a real treat listening to his off-the cuff declamations of the famous lines from well-known authors… or his prepared speeches always in perfect English and equally flawless French’.

Usha Dwarka-Canabady, whose first steps in the foreign service had been under the guidance of then Ambassador Joypaul also remembers how ‘many of us stood in awe’ whenever the artist that he was would quote lengthy extracts from books, speeches and poems faultlessly and with style.

‘During the 5th Francophonie Summit held in Grand Bay in 1993, Ambassador Joypaul even had the temerity to quote from the chronicles of La Paille et Le Grain to the author himself, President Francois Mitterrand. This prompted the President to turn to him and ask, “Mais qui êtes-vous, Monsieur?”, and swiftly was the reply, “Monsieur le Président, je suis fils de laitier.” He clearly left no one indifferent.’

Other tributes – past and recent ones – have been paid to Vijay Joypaul by Marcel Cabon, then Editor-in-Chief of Advance in 1969, Shyam, former Indian Foreign Secretary, Vijay Makhan – former Secretary for Foreign Affairs and thereafter Deputy Secretary General of the OAU/African Union, Viyay Joypaul’s brothers Suresh, academic, and print/audio-visual journalists Jugdish Joypaul, Manda Boolell, Alain Gordon-Gentil, Yvan Martial, Joseph Tsang Man Kin, former diplomat and Arts and Culture minister, Prof Lindsay Edouard, former senior adviser with the UN Population Fund, educationist Oudaye Joypaul, Dr Ouma Seebaluck, former airline executive and writer, Shrishti and Bill Joypaul, Bipin K. Rudhee, former Chief of Protocol, Mariame and Tibye, and Sunita Ramgoolam-Joypaul herself.

Besides telling us more about the diplomat and man of culture that Vijay Joypaul was, these contributions also provide a useful insight into the early years of nation building and much of what went into the remarkable transformation of the country, including the role played by the political leadership, the private sector and the civil service itself.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 16 December 2022

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