Doctor Soondron’s Lucky Find
What a delight of a read was the contribution from Dr Soondron last week (MT 25-May-2018). He was reminiscing about one particularly fruitful day from his childhood 50-years ago, but made it sound like it was yesterday. A fortuitous day on which the young doctor-to-be found 25-cents by the roadside. A fortune in those days!
Growing up in the 1950s, when money was in short supply and my wish list long, I can well understand the good doctor’s excitement upon finding this “glittering treasure.” Back then, I was quite happy to receive 5-cents daily for sweet money. Several of my classmates were not so lucky because their parents were either unemployed or worked as on-off casual labour.
In these affluent times, it is not unusual to find 5, 20, 50 cents or even R1 coins on the road. What we have, we tend to spend with such gay abandon that Max the Martian could be forgiven for thinking there was no tomorrow on Earth. During a recent exchange with my cousin Dhaneswar, I wondered how come so many people — in spite of earning good money — are unable to afford a small plot of land whist our grandfathers were able to buy a decent plot on so little. “Dimoune longtemps ti pe vive avec l’economie, bhaya,” was his succinct explanation. And no doubt treated 25-cents like it was a small fortune not to be squandered!
Electoral Reform: Leave “better the devil we know” alone!
With reference to electoral reform,“Les nombres d’élus importe peu, si la qualité prime sur la quantité. Mieux vaut un nombre restreint… plutôt que pléthore comprenant des roder-boute,” dixit Yvan Martial (MT 18-May-2018).
Being a firm believer in 1-man-1-vote single member constituencies (Total 30-40 MPs), I could not agree more. To borrow a phrase from PRB, we do not really want to add to an already overcrowded House with several “intellectuellement limités” members. Among others, think of the ignorant lady MP who, during a debate on abortion, apparently stated that a girl cannot fall pregnant from rape!
Every recommendation from the “experts” — some self-appointed — has been to retain the present anomalous 3-member constituencies (Total 62 MPs) and add +20 PR MPs. No one has deigned explain to us, the paying public, how the additional cost will result in a better legislature, and a better governed country as a result of their proposed reform.
The present system has served us well enough for 50 years. The rule of democracy in any forum is 50-plus-1, be it a corporate board meeting agenda or a parliamentary vote. So it is with the FPTP operating in all mature – and not so mature — democracies. Until a more efficient system is found, it is better to leave “better the devil we know” alone!
Global peace is a distant dream
Over 196 countries are members of the United Nations. Only 11 countries in the world are actually free from conflict, one of them being the scenic island of Mauritius. Conflicts around the world cost 13% of world GDP. 50 million people are refuges from global conflicts. At least 120 million people were killed in wars in the 20th century. Estimates of the total numbers killed in wars throughout human history range from 200 million to a billion people. More than 700,000 Americans have been killed in combat.
Genuine peace, which countless generations have expressed their visions for, is not within the reach of nations. If we continue to flirt unhesitatingly with war, we will surely transform our earthly habitat into an inferno that defies description. It was Moshe Dayan, who in an interview with Newsweek (17 October 1977) said: “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends, you talk to your enemies.”
Peace cannot be bullied into existence, peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding. It was President John F. Kennedy who offered these profound words on 16 Nov 1961: “No one should be under the illusion that negotiations for the sake of negotiations advance the cause of peace. If for lack of preparation they break up in bitterness, the prospects of peace have been endangered. If they are made a forum for propaganda or a cover for aggression, the process of peace have been abused.”
In this hair-trigger nuclear era, intractable problems confronting many nations have fused into one common concern for the planet, failure to stem the tide of conflict and bloodshed would be unconscionably irresponsible. The United Nations has been unable to exorcize the spectre of war. Aggression and brutal combat have come to characterize our social, economic and religious systems. We have succumbed to the view that such behaviour is intrinsic to human nature and therefore ineradicable. It was Martin Luther King who said: “We have learnt to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together like brothers”