Uncertain and hard times ahead


Although it may seem that life is going on as normal, the reality is that there are global and local undercurrents that threaten peace, prosperity, stability, and security in all countries. And this despite the fact that nearly 60 countries are to hold general elections this year. In fact, in Bangladesh, Cameroon and Pakistan they have already taken place. Not unexpectedly in the latter two countries there has been violence in the process, with a bomb blast in Pakistan that has killed several people. In the same country, though, ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan who was a serious contender to the PM post has been jailed by a judicial process within a seemingly democratic set-up and barred from standing for elections.

The point is that democracy is suffering in many countries, and we have seen this in our own polity too, where strong-handed arm tactics have been repeatedly used to try and gag justified criticisms of measures that are destabilizing to our national institutions, so that even their guaranteed constitutional prerogatives have been effectively curtailed. No less than a bulwark of the safeguard of the citizen’s freedom, namely the office of the DPP, has been practically ‘under attack’ – something which should be and has been a great cause for widespread concern and worry among both professionals and the population in general. And again, this has been done in the very so-called temple of democracy – the Parliament.

Perhaps this is a natural corollary of what we have been witnessing in the matter of discussions and exchanges among the MPs in the Parliament. Since these are now available on live, citizens have had the opportunity of a quasi-ringside view of the happenings within the august house, and to say that they have been repeatedly appalled by the level of interactions is to put it mildly. Further, suspensions and walkouts, which ought to be exceptions, seem to have become the rule, as well as refusal to provide answers to PQs on several issues of national importance. There is no indication that even as we ourselves are in an election year, the replies will be forthcoming before they take place.

On the other hand, when this will happen is also a question mark, although the PM has declared that he will abide by the law in the matter, it being his prerogative to decide on the date for the general election. Undoubtedly, the largesse that has been seen in the matter of pensions to the elderly and the increase in the minimum wage are calculated moves with a view on the forthcoming election. However, much of these increases have already been gobbled up by the rising prices, and these are set to increase further as the conflict in the Middle-East deepens and the Ukraine war prolongs without any end in view in a foreseeable future.

In fact the overall situation globally seems poised to aggravate even more, with the EU having voted to grant almost 50 BN USD in support to Ukraine, the rationale being that they are defending the sacrosanct freedom that Russia doesn’t respect. More aware analysts view this as the triumph of the military-industrial complex with its eye on profits. In fact, several arms manufacturers gleefully announced an upshot in profits – that have been passed on to the CEOs etc – within months after the Ukraine war began. And they have now been given a shot in the arm! Never mind the disruption of supply chains that has affected the poorer countries.

And as if this were not enough, they are now further at risk with the attacks by the Houthis in the Red Sea. The counter-attacks by the combined US and other forces have so far not been able to contain the situation, and in the months to come we will no doubt be witnessing further increases in prices and likely inflation and impoverishment in, again, the poorer countries.

But we must not think that we will be spared either. Definitely, the times ahead are going to be very trying for all of us. How will we prepare to face them is the critical questionboth as individuals and as a country that stares at us in the face.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 9 February 2024

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