Of Showbiz Politics and the local ‘Guignols’

Naming a local private radio programme ‘Le Grand Journal’, a blatant imitation of the French private TV channel Canal Plus, shows the extent of French influence which seriously hinders creativity and innovation in the minds of citizens in former colonies, however much the formerly-colonized desperately make fruitless attempts at being original and innovative in the use of the language. Just bet that as soon as private television channels are authorized, there will be a rush to imitate popular programmes that French television offers. Local duplicates of Canal Plus’ ‘Les Guignols’, which is itself an imitation of an English TV programme in the 80s, will have a field day in portraying their favourite targets negatively.

Following the hullabaloo raised over an interview on a private radio, you just lose a few minutes of your precious time and log in to see for yourself what all the fuss is about. Why only part of the interview is available online is quite a mystery. The first part lasts about five minutes 10 seconds starting with a lengthy introduction of the topic by the journalist. It all boils down to two journalists doing their job as journalists and breadwinners: shuffling a topic they raised in the written press first, and conveniently dishing out the same topic on the radio to the audience. Media is both information and big business. Fortunately, the journalists in the local Grand Journal do not display the Gallic temperament characterized by incessant interruptions, shouting and yelling that offend the ears of cool-headed Mauritians.

It was a tit-for-tat interview. The Labour MP played her part as her party and their followers expected her to do. The arguments she used and defended were not surprising at all. There was nothing rude, vulgar or hysterical about her attitude and language. Probably it would have been a bit vulgar if she had said instead that presumption is the mother of all ‘f… – ups’.

We presume that allegations regarding the purchase of the newspaper copies by a political party came after the interview had been aired. The president of the party took offence. Fair enough, other epithets such as ‘ridicules, absurdes, insensés, choquants’ would have been more appropriate than ‘grossiers, vulgaires, hystériques’ to express his fury. Again, there is nothing vulgar in the statement. A shocked MP, that beats the cake! Foul language in Creole when they demonstrate in front of newspapers’ headquarters is quite common. The acquisition of a bungalow worth Rs 40 m in Grand Bay by a politician who started his career as an ordinary civil servant and ended up at the Assembly some years back is no secret, nor is the purchase of bungalows in the same area by his fellow companions from the same group. Bungalow owners on the coast usually sell their property to their own people. So what do they gain from selling them to MPs is anybody’s guess or presumption… If anything, to the average Mauritian, conflict of interests has been the rule rather than the exception in the style of governance for decades.

In any society role models inspire others to follow their path and build self-confidence in the people. Leaders are expected to reflect the public intellectually and culturally. India’s PM Shri Narendra Modi is a committed hardworking patriot who is rallying people around him to combat corruption, poverty, casteism, machistic behaviour and male aggressiveness, and is leaving no stone unturned for implementation of the right measures to address the ills that plague society. As an RSS activist at the age of 17, he is said to have felt the spiritual call to take the helm of the country one day at an early age, which explains why he left his wife and his home after an arranged marriage at 18 and advised her to go back to her parents’ and continue her studies. Which she did, became a schoolteacher and remained his wife all these years in the Hindu tradition.

No doubt, the straight look and the set jaws reflect his seriousness and determination to gear the country towards progress. Nothing of the complacent smiling that today’s leaders wear since the advent of television and talk shows which turn politics into showbiz and politicians into stars.

We are not aware of the nocturnal activities of the Indian PM, but we presume that the deep sunken eyes that we see on television illustrate his reputation as a workaholic, not the after-effect of whisky, merrymaking and late night partying.

* * *

Recruitment policy in national companies

Why local private and public companies ignore the application of Mauritian nationals for high-paying jobs should make an interesting topic on radio programme. Guests should be chosen among politicians because it is their responsibility to promote qualified people in the right jobs.

The hotel industry hiring Europeans as chefs and managers and offering them a handsome salary package at the end of the month is revealing of the apartheid mindset.

Politicians should have set rules to compel hotel barons to recruit and promote local qualified people. They shirked their responsibility in intervening in the private sector. When they do, it is at times to the detriment of deserving people.

Currently, the case in point is the recruitment of pilots at Air Mauritius following the interview of Dominique Paturau. It is not the mandate of the PM to be shocked – rather, it is his job to ensure that that a healthy and fair policy is laid down and followed in the recruitment process. Mauritians are not selected for very high-paying jobs out of sheer male jealousy from many of those who are in a position to recruit. The latter simply do not want other brownies like themselves to earn a lot and have a lavish lifestyle. They reserve self-enrichment through any devious and crooked means for themselves and their cronies in closed circles. Yet local role models in every sector are badly needed to guide and inspire the younger generation.

Why private sector bosses and politicians are anti-people can be traced back to the colonial mindset that defines bosses. It is the same warped mindset that colonized people have imbibed in the treatment of their fellow compatriots once they find themselves in the shoes of former colonizers. In dealing with such a topic, it is imperative that journalists should also invite psychologists and psychiatrists to participate in the debate and justify their programme as ‘Grand Journal’.

* Published in print edition on 29 August 2014

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