I very much enjoyed Samad Ramoly’s (im)pertinent article on the Best Loser System (BLS): “Faking change in shameless fashion” (MT 05-Oct-2018). It is indeed mega-hypocritical to pretend that we Mauritians are not a communal/casteist society. Indeed all our political leaders, and many others, derive their legitimacy from it. I seem to recall a certain NCR stating at one time that the PM must a member of the majority Hindu community. Nor can I forget the MMM’s fixed deposit formula. It is the communal nature of our society that encourages these reflexes but, used positively, it also makes for healthy competition and advancement.
At Independence, the BLS was enshrined in the Constitution to ensure minority communities an adequate representation in Parliament. Clearly it was a communal requirement, but please let’s not give the dog a bad name just because some of us want to shoot the poor thing. Though not perfect, the First Past The Post/BLS political system has provided us with post-Independence stability that has resulted in socio-economic progress which would have unimaginable 50 years ago.
However successfully challenged by Rezistans ek Alternativ with-what-not at the UNHRC, every government has been scurrying like Cambrezi crabs on a white sandy beach to replace the much-maligned BLS. The current Lepep Government wants to replace it by another Best Loser Seat, but no one is saying how it will be implemented. Up to now, the allocation of BL seats has been based on the 1972 population Census which is clearly out of date. The rightful thing, therefore, must surely be to carry out a new Census which a vociferous minority are set against. For the life of me I cannot understand what some people find so terrible about finding out how many Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Chinese, etc., there are in the country. What difference does it make? Will it make us more communal than we already are? It really is time to stop the hypocrisy!
Anyway as Samad Ramoly points out, a population census is not only about BLS. It has several other uses that include academic study and research. Above all it is a must-have tool for Government to formulate its social policies – e.g. language education — that are geared towards the advancement of each and every section of our society.
* Published in print edition on 12 October 2018