Mauritius Times – 60 Years
During the course of the last fortnight three great men connected in a way or another to Mauritius died. Raja Sir Maharajsingh, ex-governor of Bombay, Shri J. A. Thivy and Mr Aboo Bakar. The men who have left their imprint in the history of Mauritius.
Raja Sir Maharajsingh came from a royal family. He joined the Indian Civil Service and gradually climbed the steps to a position of great prestige.
Indian emigration to Mauritius was subject to bitter criticism both in India and in Mauritius. In order to inquire into the matter and also into the conditions of Indian indentured labourers settled in Mauritius, the Government of India appointed Sir Maharajsingh who was at that time Deputy Commissioner of Bahriah (UP). He landed on our shores on the 19th December, 1924.
As it was the first time that such a high official was coming to Mauritius from the mother country, the enthusiasm of the Indians ran very high. People of all ranks flocked to meet him or to acquaint him with their grievances. He visited the remotest villages, estate camps, attended scores of religious and social functions and talked to thousands of people.
Sir Maharajsing noted with satisfaction the devotion of the Indians who though practically cut off from their motherland, were devoted to their language and culture in spite of the strong European influence prevailing. He was pleased to find that caste and provincialism were not so marked as it was in the mother country itself. By dint of hard labour and thrift the ex-lndian emigrants had made good economic headway. That was another factor which struck the eminent visitor.
Indian emigrants who were not satisfied with their lot were returned on the recommendation of Maharajsingh. It was on his recommendation that further emigration was stopped. He made certain other recommendations among which were: better housing for estate labourers, employment of Indian doctors in estate hospitals, prohibition of employment of children in factories, workmen’s compensation, morcellement of lands, reduction in the sale of liquor. It is thought that the teaching of Oriental Languages in Government Aided Schools and the appointment of Indians in some high posts which were so far denied to them were made at his instigation.
Though Maharajsingh stayed here for only six weeks, yet his name is still remembered with pride by thousands of Mauritians who came in contact with him. He infused in his countrymen settled here the spirit of thinking and made them shed the feeling of inferiority. As he was a Christian, the Indo Christians too took a pride and interest in his arrival and his activities.
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Mr John A. Thivy was a born patriot. During the epic struggle for Indian independence, he played a very prominent part. When the Second World War broke out, Mr Thivy was in Malaya where he was practising at the bar. When Subhash Chandra Bose appealed to the Indians of Malaya to help him, he was one of the first to join his vast organisation. In the Azad Hind Government, he was given a portfolio. When his army was defeated Thivy was thrown in prison. We are told that his heart trouble from which he lost his life was due to ill-treatment suffered in prison.
For the valuable services rendered to the Motherland, for his ability and for his vast knowledge of the problems of the Colonial people. Thivy was appointed Commissioner. During his term of office though he was laid in bed for months, yet he left behind two living monuments in the form of the Indo-Mauritian Association and the Indo-Christian Association. He was instrumental in bringing closer the Indo-Mauritians and the non-Indians.
Indo-Christians, who thought or were made to think that they had nothing in common with India and its culture, were startled to learn from him that they were as good Indians as any other religious group living in India. To restore that confidence, Thivy formed the IMCA which became the pride of the Indo-Mauritian community.
Thivy had a number of very active lieutenants among whom was Mr Aboo Bakar, the president of the Indo-Mauritian Association.
Mr Aboo Bakar was not only a learned man, but he was endowed with a quality which marked him above the crowd — he was very rational in his outlook. While the Hindu-Muslim unity was shaking on its very foundation, Aboo-Bakar remained unperturbed and went on with his cementing work of bringing closer both communities. He was one of the founders of the Port Louis Gymkhana Club, which is the pride of the Indian Community. Aboo-Bakar is no more but his memory will live in the mind of both Hindus and Muslims for decades.
6th Year – No 253
Friday 19th June 1959
Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 27 October 2023
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