We want partners, not predators

Indeed, the dismantling of a family business which took fifty years to build is a sad day for the CEO and his relatives who are witnessing all the prosperity vanish into thin air but also for their Mauritian employees who were happy to have found promising careers at all levels, and for the population at large for whom the group represented a diversification of wealth creators in a country where economic power is still largely in the hands of a small group of people hailing from a closed circle of descendants of the former colonial plantocracy.

Amid what seems to be a blatant mismanagement of companies’ funds, questionable practices and allocation of sky-rocketing salaries to family members, no clear reply has been given to the question as to why government institutions rushed to withdraw more than one and a half billion rupees from the Bramer Bank, which sent the boat rocking in a tempest-tossed sea and let it sink deep into the abyss.

Ultra liberal capitalist system is anti-democratic as it encourages predator behaviour and concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. Remember what a former Indian PM, Sri Vajpayee told potential European investors when the country opened its doors to foreign investors: ‘We want partners, not predators.’

In our post-colonial multi-racial society where the same group of people is three hundred years ahead of the rest of the population, the democratisation of the economy should not have remained a hopeless vague project. Ethnicity is a reality and the government should not be seen as a puppet of a small group who lays its hands on every sector and dictates rules to the detriment of the population.

Other stakeholders should be encouraged to merge and apply highly ethical standards and modern management techniques to big business.

* * *

As regards the highly sophisticated Apollo Bramwell clinic and its conversion into a hospital centre for medical studies with investment from the French government, we hope that the centre keeps an English name and that English remains the main language in the courses delivered to students. Undoubtedly, rigorous French standards in the training of doctors and nurses will be most appreciated. Recently, a Mauritian woman who has spent years in France came back to retire in a nice stylish house she built for herself and her visiting relatives in Cap Malheureux. After some health disorder, she went to SSR hospital in the North and was told that it was all due to anaemia. She finally flew back to France where she was diagnosed with cancer.

This may not be a common case in our health sector but there are cases like this. Having sold all her property in France to build her house in Mauritius, she finds herself now with no other choice than sharing her daughter’s small apartment in France while she undergoes treatment. Just one example among others. Though a lot of progress has been made in the quality of medical care in local hospitals, it seems a huge task still lies ahead to overhaul the standard of healthcare.

French standards in medical training of nurses will also be most useful in creating a more professional, caring and human atmosphere as regards the interaction of nurses with patients in hospitals.

This being said, the French have a high propensity for patronizing locals in small countries. They have to be kept in check; otherwise, if they have their own way, they are likely to behave as if they owned the place and would consider Mauritius as an extension of their DOMs in the Indian Ocean island.

The arrogance displayed by some of its nationals in the management of Mauritius Telecom after the partnership with France Telecom in 2003 is one such example of Frenchies treating everyone else as subalterns. The public was taken by surprise in 2001 by the most unwanted partnership which the new government rushed into hardly a week after assuming office. It would appear that the substantial profits made by Orange in Mauritius have been invested in other countries in Africa to the detriment of Mauritian interests.

This sort of transactions speaks volumes about some lobbies which waste no time to jump on new opportunities whenever supreme political power is likely to be more friendly to their interests.

* * *

Those who have not yet been rewarded with a Légion d’honneur are probably expecting to get one, judging from the praises on the French Revolution published in the press.

From the point of view of the British, other northern European countries and certainly most Asian and African countries, the French Revolution was a most horrendous and brutal type of revolution. Understandably enough, to the British sense of compromise in settling disputes, the execution of the royal couple was a most shocking and barbaric solution. It entailed a légion d’horreurs unparalleled in the world history of political uprisings. Alain Finkielkraut, the French philosopher wrote in one of his books that France committed suicide on that fatal day: ‘En tuant son roi, la France s’est suicidée.’

Praises are also heaped on the Century of Enlightment in the local press by the admirers of French ideas. The ‘thinkers’ promoted belief in men as individuals, encouraged a rationalist thinking just as their scientist counterparts across Europe rose vehemently against Religion in its philosophy and other aspects. For the past two decades, more voices among the French intellectual élite have been expressing their views on the ténèbres aspect of the Siècle des Lumières and the hapless legacy it has left on the French psyche. Even Descartes is debunked; the l’esprit cartésien the average Frenchman is so proud of has been qualified as being good for the ‘simples d’esprit’ ! Eh bien, dites-donc !

The French are known to be world’s highest consumers of sleeping pills, which means that finding sleep at night is a daily challenge. No relation whatsoever with conscience or psyche…

With an Alliance Française in every nook and cranny of Mauritius, not only is the language propagated but so are the ideas of its people, too. Nothing alarming, though. So far, Mauritians have no problem with falling asleep…

  • Published in print edition on 17 July 2015

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