Political and social stability imperative for nation-building

Events in the Middle East, both in the past and the ongoing ones in Syria and Egypt, confirm if need be the fundamental importance of political and social stability in any country. Our long struggle from the time of Adolph de Plevitz, which has been relatively free of bloodshed notwithstanding some tragic incidents such as that of Anjalay, has only confirmed this premise. On the whole, as the editorial in a recent issue of this paper showed, the power situation issuing from the elections of 1967 and 1983, was such that the governments of the day were able to bring about spurts of major development that all competent sons of the soil participated in.

As pointed out, the strength of these governments derived from the comprehensive political majority they enjoyed in the House, and the internal cohesion in the majority community acted as a bulwark for these governments. The government of 1982 which sought to marginalize the majority of the people paid a heavy price for their miscalculation: an implosion within 9 months of their being in power.

It is based on this perspective, of events that go back to the beginning of the efforts at nation-building and of those in the recent past as evoked above, that the prime necessity of political and social stability must be looked at. And in this context, the majority community has a major role to play, as one of the bricks that constitute our country.

All the bricks must be strong so as to support nation-building, but it goes without saying that the larger the brick, the stronger it must be too. And politicians of all hue have an interest in ensuring that this be so, and stop playing games of vote-bank politics by kowtowing to factionalism. It is unfortunate that this is present across the board, but is less so in the other communities which have more internal cohesion and are able to articulate more coherently their stand.

The premise of strong governments has been to seek out the best and the most competent Mauritians, and to make them assume responsibility and captaincy where this was required to take the country forward. They were not of the yes-men type, but had strong convictions and principles which they would not compromise on. It is this mindset which must be restored.

A further, and critical, point is that ‘unbiased policy decisions’ and the rule of law were a sine qua non in the development process. Accommodating all and sundry makes for vulnerability as the government becomes hostage to groups and parties and their misdoings.

It may be recalled that a furore was created many years ago following a remark made by late Sir Satcam Boolell at Petit-Raffray to the effect that the presence of a Hindu majority had to a large extent been responsible for the social stability that our island enjoys.

In its wake, we had commented: ‘In a plural society like ours, the bottomline of social stability – which, more than a catchphrase, is an imperative – is the desire to coexist, mutual respect and understanding, and no group or community imposing on any other its mode of thinking or way of living. Social stability is heavily dependent upon and influenced by the way that political power is articulated.”

It was also observed: ‘Because the State is also responsible for social stability, it is its duty too not to yield to pressures that make a mockery of institutions and the rule of law which are the people’s guardians of such stability… No true patriot would want his country to be branded internationally as a rogue state not respectful of the rule of law.’

The time has come for all of us, especially activists, groups and parties belonging to the majority community, to ponder with seriousness on this issue of political-social stability and to act accordingly for the sake of the country at large.

* Published in print edition on 27 July  2013

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