The untimely death of Vishwa Mootocurpen on Friday last came as a shock to all of us. We knew that he had been ill for some time, but we were expecting a quick recovery. None of us thought that he would leave us so soon.
Our relationship dates back to more than three decades during which we had developed very friendly ties. Our phone calls which had become regular over the years and any opportunity to meet turned out to be enriching interactions on the burning and important issues of the day.
As a friend Vishwa was great company, someone who was inspirational, always ready to share his vast experience, thoughts, ideas and laughs. He proved to be an outstandingly generous friend and guide. As a journalist he wrote sympathetically, always careful about his sources and facts before putting forward his opinions and these he did with an independent mind. Whenever he met a friend his conversation would usually start casually with a pleasantly provocative question followed by a big laugh, and the response was material for an interview which would hit the headlines.
His interviews in Le Mauricien were always incisive, informative and many of them had decisive impacts on local politics. His vast experience of election campaigns and the political sociology of Mauritius enabled him to write the most accurate and perceptive accounts of forces behind the facade of flags and buntings during election campaigns. His pre-election pieces, especially those in relation with the 1983 and 2005 elections, contained large predictive elements.
Vishwa was a man of conviction, an intellectual who liked excursions into history to illustrate the problems of the day. The journalistic skills he had honed in Le Mauricien and his innate professionalism led him to work for several publications. He developed a practice of bringing academics down from their ivory towers to engage in public debates.
A passionate liberal voice rang from his opinion pages as he was always on the side of the underdogs, fighting against injustices of all sorts bequeathed by history in diverse aspects of national life such as economics, politics, education, language, culture and religion .He was always fighting for a better and just Mauritius. Inspired by Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, he was exasperated with the failings of government and the failure of the State‘s policies to protect the least privileged — economically as well as politically. He wanted the elites from whatever social groups they belonged to accept a moral responsibility towards other classes.
He set the example by engaging himself on all great issues which mattered to the Republic, from equality in the education system to democratising the IPPs. His views and advice were sought by many individuals as well as organisations. Within his own community, many of the religious associations looked up to him for a sense of direction and he was the decisive voice on many burning issues. In addition to his interest in literature, he enjoyed anthropology, history and philosophy.
We will all miss him a lot and we present our condolences to his wife and his two children, Arvind and Emma.
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The Mauritius Times joins Sada Reddi in this tribute to Vishwa Mootoocurpen, who had been a long-time friend and well-wisher of this paper. The numerous tributes paid by his former colleagues in the press since his demise – tributes which come from the heart, not in the name and for the sake of ‘social correctness’ — testify to the real esteem and appreciation that was legitimately due to Vishwa at the personal and professional levels.
After his departure, we will miss the sharp, perceptive thinking that could capture and put into clear perspective the subtle nuances of politics and societal issues. This is the kind of stuff which went into his weekly editorials. But we will miss even more his warm friendship and great kindness.
* Published in print edition on 21 June 2013