Mauritius Times 60 Years – 2nd YEAR NO. 32 – Friday 11th March 1955
Executive Committee for 1955
Hon. President Mr D. Burrenchobay
President Mr R. Ruhee
Vice President Mr S. Dhanjee
Secretary Mr G. Ramloll
Treasurer Mr P. Meetarbhan
Team Manager Dr V. P. Poonoosamy
Members: Messrs L. C. Obeegadoo, S. Suntah, P. Padayachy, E. Chundun, D. Bacha, G. Vadivelloo
Auditors: Messrs K. Seebaluck and K. Pyndiah
(M.Times – 11 March 1955)
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Live and Let Live
Human nature is such that people fear to face truth simply because it does not fit in the existing order or because it conflicts with their emotional prejudice or liking. For example, to the orthodox Hindu who still believes in caste system or to the European who is puffed up with the master race complex or to the devotee Christian who believes that Christianity is the only true religion, any contrary opinion will outrage their sense of personal feeling. These good natured souls will roll themselves up into their shell and refuse to listen to or read anything which is in conflict with their established belief very often for fear that it might be true and that they might get convinced.
There is the risk that these emotional persons may become fanatics in their conviction. Now if it happens that somebody who has the moral strength to face reality and to say or write something which does not fit in with the popular belief he is immediately branded a heretic worthy of public scorn.
The comment of our contributor Mr Peter Ibbotson on the pastoral letter upset many good persons. Polemics raged around the article for several weeks; and now when passions have cooled down, we are tempted to draw a parallel.
A somewhat similar incident happened in London last January. Mrs Margaret Knight, a rationalist and teacher of psychology, in a series of broadcast on “Morals without religion” outraged some religious minded people by advising parents not to tell their children that they must be good “because God is watching”, “because you will go to hell”. She also advised not to tell children fairy tales about religion and God. She pointed out that some day the children will find it out as being untrue and there is a risk of destroying their moral basis. About Jesus, Mrs Knight thought parents should not tell children that he was the son of God born of a Virgin and that he rose from the dead but tell them that he was a real person and was crucified by the Jews. Several papers – the Sunday Graphic, Daily Sketch, and the Daily Express among others bitterly criticized her.
The Bishop of Coventry’s rudeness for calling her “that bossy female” was resented by many sensible persons and papers. On the other hand some great papers defended her right of free speech. Raymond Postgate of the Reynold’s News remarked: “Mrs Knight was clear, sensible and inoffensive – at least to anybody who was not hysterical or bully…”
The most thought provoking comment on the incident came from the respected independent paper The Observer.
In its leader of January 16th it wrote: “Mrs Margaret Knight’s broadcast talks on ‘Morals without Religion’ have been attacked in some newspapers with brutal vehemence. She has been headlined as “The unholy Mrs Knight” compared in a cartoon with a horned devil at the microphone, and told by her politer critics that her pernicious and effronting opinions should not be allowed on the air.
“We deplore these displays of intolerance, more specially since they claim to be inspired by Christianity. Aggressive Christianity always seems somewhat anomalous and these attacks give play to aggressiveness by dressing it up by righteous indignation. There is a great gulf between attacking opponents with insults and resisting them with strength and gentleness combined.
“Both the rationalist and the true Christian ought to be on the same side of this gulf, if rationalism means the use of reason and if Christianity means following the example of Christ…
“We need not devote space to the abusive attacks on Mrs Knight, but the politer criticisms deserve more attention. They derive largely from an attitude fashionable in Right Wing circles today, which insist that the outward forms of religion should be respected while it sets little store on the essential Christian virtue of kindly understanding behaviour, even towards persons held to be in the wrong…”
(M.Times – 11 March 1955)
Maj Gen B. Chatterjee vilified
The aims and the standard of l’Epée and by whom and how it is run are no secret to anybody. Its readership is almost composed of a section of the population which thrives on sensationalism, on slander and vilifications. So far we or our contributors have ignored the repeated vituperations of l’Epée.
But when we find that this paper is attacking a diplomatic body which is defenceless or which is not expected to sully its reputation with such a paper as l’Epée, we think it is our duty to draw the attention of Government and of the public as well. Normally one would have expected any unbiased paper to condemn the action of l’Epée. For example we have seen with what vigour the Gazetiny Malgasy of Tananarive has defended the Indian Consulate of Madagascar against the vile attack of Tana Journal. The attack of l’Epée is no new phenomenon. Since the arrival of the first Commissioner for India a certain section of the press and some public men have carried a campaign against the Indian Commissariat. India being the senior partner of the British Commonwealth, its security should, we think, be the concern of the local government.
Probably in the absence of any complaint on the part of the aggrieved party the local government has been powerless to take any action. But without imputing any motive to the Government of Mauritius, a recent incident makes us wonder whether it has not been too lenient towards those who are bent on degrading the Indian Commissioner. Last year a goonda slapped Mr Sahay. Though the incident happened in the presence of the police, it appears no serious attempt was made to arrest or to prosecute the man. A man who, we are told, obstructed the police officer who wanted to arrest the culprit was not prosecuted for obstruction.
After the incident, fantastic stories were invented. It was published in some local papers that Mr Sahay wanted to obstruct a procession. But for the equanimity with which Mr Sahay treated the incident a riot could have flared up. As no official communiqué ever appeared to give a lie to the stories, there are many credulous persons who still doubt Mr Sahay’s behaviour.
In December last the wife of Herr Oskar Schlitter deputy chief of the German Embassy in London at a Christmas Party said something which offended British sentiment. There was an uproar in the British press which forced the ambassador to be called back to Germany. Had any Consular representative of another country in Mauritius met with the same treatment as the Commissioner for the Government of India we would have probably witnessed a grave incident. We reproduce below the three “editorials” of l’Epée for the information of our readers. All sensible persons will agree that any diplomatic body, whether it is Indian, French or Chinese should be treated with due regard and that the writings of l’Epée are condemnable.
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L’Epée of 5 février 1955
Le Docteur Ramgoolam a raison
Le Docteur Ramgoolam est furieux d’apprendre qu’un certain Chatterjee est nommé Commissaire de l’Inde à Maurice. Le Docteur ne veut pas que Sahay aille, sinon les occidentaux croiraient qu’une gifle Bissoondoyaliste pouvait changer le cours de la politique de l’Empire Indien !
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L’Epée 10 février 1955
La seconde prise de l’île
Une stratégie d’attaque indienne mal camouflée.
1. D. Yash Dev vient et sème la haine anti-impérialiste dans le cœur de bien de ses coreligionnaires.
2. John Thivy lui, vient détruire le peu de chrétienté qui subsistait encore dans bien des âmes sincères.
3. Anand Mohun Sahay, grand disciple de Bose, vient tenter ici ce qu’il n’a pas réussi en Guyane britannique : Propagande nocturne, grève de parler français, créole ou anglais ; librairie roulante pour distribuer les « armes et munitions » et la préparation pour recevoir le grand général après son départ.
Et enfin le Major Général Chatterjee, ex-secrétaire privé et conseiller militaire du Président de la République indienne, nous arrive bientôt pour contrôler militairement l’océan Indien. « Ils » doivent croire que les temps sont venus…
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l’Epée 2 mars 1955
Le Général indien à son poste
Vendredi dernier le Major Général D. Chatterjee de ‘l’Armée coulou’ (Général sans biographie, car le Who’s Who de l’Inde et du Pakistan, de 1948 à 1955, ne souffle pas mot sur le passé politique et militaire de ce singulier personnage inconnu) de l’Inde, est venu personnellement prendre la charge des opérations de la bataille de l’océan Indien dont J. N. Roy fit mention dans la déclaration qu’il a fait à l’Hindustan Standard le 10 janvier 1955 pendant sa visite aux Indes.
Comme aux temps des Français…
Abercombie désigna le Major Général Ward pour discuter les termes de la capitulation… Nehru désigne le Major Général Chatterjee, son envoyé militaire, pour occuper le poste de Commandant-en-chef de l’océan Indien…
(M.Times – 11 March 1955)
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Was Hon Chadien’s motion sponsored by L. Party?
(Just before going to press a friend has sent us the following note. As it carries some weight we recommend it to our readers’ consideration. Ed)
“Hon Chadien presented a motion to the Council last Tuesday and after the debate when division time came he withdrew it.
Hon Chadien is the Secretary of the Labour Party and Hon Dr Ramgoolam, an influential member of the Labour Party, is the Liaison Officer of the Education Dept. When a member of the party presents a motion, especially when that member happens to be the Secretary of the party, does it not mean that he has got the support of the Party?
It would have been interesting to see the members of the LP voting on such an important question. Dr Ramgoolam as the Liaisor Officer seems to owe a duty to government and a duty to his party. What stand would he have taken torn as he is between two affections? Would the other members of the Labour Party had let their Secretary down or back him up?
And the irony of it all is that Hon Bissoondoyal and Hon Boolell were for the motion. They stood for some principle, regardless from where the motion originated and that is to their credit.
Does not this debate indicate the urgency of establishing party discipline in the LP?”
(M.Times – 11 March 1955)
* Published in print edition on 11 April 2015