Legacy of the Brits


Evolution and change are inescapable facts of life and new challenges keep cropping on our pathway to a better life as a collectivity. The British left us with a mixed legacy, a number of seminal independent institutions, a sense of pragmatism and fair play as historian SaddaReddi points out in these pages and a basic infrastructure of education, health, roads and other civil engineering works. And of course, the live Chagos and Diego Garcia issue, still as intractable as ever even after decades of international legal challenges against the British have confirmed our sovereign rights over those territories, illegally excised and presented in those pre-independence days as a fait accompli.

Most of the displaced original islanders may have passed away over the past sixty years, part of their progeny lured to accept dual or UK citizenship, but the rules-based world order both the UK and the USA claim elsewhere, has yet to light our way to the recognition of our sovereignty rights over those islands strategically located in the Indian Ocean. How can our diplomacy take steps and make smart moves to displace the cursor should be a matter for a high-level confidential brainstorming of our best minds and outside legal experts for a non-partisan cross-party approach on an issue of obvious national importance, but we lack either the organic structures or the political willingness to rise above our bickering, gamesmanship and shallow perspectives.

Mature democracies may have cross-party national security commissions or similar high-level non-partisan briefings on major issues as a normal pragmatic feature, although one would be tempted to quote Seychelles as a counter-point when India a few years ago sought a mutual security treaty with that island state. With the current regime exhibiting no haste to walk that path, whether such an organic change in structures and outlooks would be on the agenda for the Opposition remains a toss-up as yet.

Independent institutions and commissions were a hallmark of the British colonial period and part of its legacy at independence. Against some predictions of doom and a vast exodus of cadres to other shores, an array of institutions overseen and manned by dedicated personnel charted our way into the welfare state, the universal free education, the first national university and set the scene for an educated workforce and staff that could sustain the opportunities of economic development from delocalised textiles in the mid-eighties. Since then, we strategised new pillars of growth and strengthened our economic fundamentals enough to weather the most damaging worldwide financial crisis of 2008-2009 without the population or the national currency being at the brunt end of policies. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 16 September 2022

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