Thoughts on Mauritian Unity

Mauritius Times – 60 Years

By Indra Nath

People talk of ‘Entité Mauricienne’. This is good. The need of the day is a Mauritian unity. For an all-round development of our country, it is necessary that we should feel and do the same thing. We may see our country from any angle: social, cultural, political, and economic, we feel that for progress and prosperity we must be one. The Five-Year Plan will have little chance of realization and success, if we are not united in all things which affect the country. The last general election was an experiment in Mauritian solidarity. It is gratifying to note that to a large extent our people gave a solid proof of understanding. That most of them gave up communal prejudices to vote for a party, is known to everyone. But that was a sudden awakening, and that the spirit died down is clear from the last by-election. But political solidarity is no substitute for a Mauritian entity and to achieve the latter many factors should be taken into consideration.

To establish Mauritian unity, all kinds of barriers must be removed. The high and the low, the rich and the poor, the white and the dark must mix with one another without any complex. Superiority of race, colour or wealth must not exist. There must be a free mixing in marriages, birthday parties, funeral processions, and other social functions. Does this exist? Much has yet to be done. A sympathetic and friendly outlook should be adopted. This can be possible, if circles and clubs are established in every village and town on the basis of the Village Councils with some changes and improvements. All the people of a locality must feel that they are one and they should share the pleasures and sorrows of one another. Some sort of relationship must be established to cement affections and all causes of hatred, jealousy, envy, and bitterness must be removed. The philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi ‘Welfare of All’ should be adopted which embodies the greatest good of all the people irrespective of class, creed and colour.

The greatest barrier to unity is the language. We need a common language here. A section of the population is after French. I do not think it is reasonable to accept this language as such. I request all those who advocate French to be broadminded and to give up their language prejudice. This is doing greater harm to our cherished idea of oneness. The Hindus, the Muslims, the Chinese and the French should accept English as their common language. This will bring all the people to a meeting point, and they will develop mutual understanding and tolerance. So long as this is not done, our idea of Mauritian unity will not materialize. At the same time, there must be a mutual appreciation of all religions. No particular religion should be exposed, and no community criticized or considered inferior.

In fact, we are all equals, and we all love our respective religions. Any criticism will breed hatred and ill-will and the population will be divided into several watertight compartments.

The division of our population into communal sections is seen everywhere. Every section thinks of its own interests, and this shows the immaturity of the people. Some believe in communalism and others are made to believe in it, and this is causing much harm. This mostly happens in politics, and it should stop. The people must subordinate their sectional interests to the interests of a party and the leaders should not appeal to their group feelings. Everyone must know that he is a party-man and as a rule he must vote on party discipline. If X is a Labourite Hindu, he must vote for Y (a Labour Muslim  candidate), even if Z (a Hindu candidate) stands in his constituency. I am of opinion, that some public men have done some harm to the cause of Mauritian solidarity. They have been dividing the people into sections to suit their purposes with the result that the population is divided.

Unequal distribution of wealth has also contributed to the division of the people. Greater control should be exercised over the wealth of the rich, and the poor should get their due. A hungry man makes an angry citizen. So long as a section of the population has the monopoly of wealth and becomes rich at the expense of the poor, it is useless to think of Mauritian Entity. There should be legislation to control and distribute the wealth of the country. If this is not done, the people will nurse the idea of revolution and all attempts at establishing good relations among the people will be futile.

In such a case government legislation will be of great help. Besides, the economic philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi can serve the purpose whereby the rich are required to be trustees of their property. I believe a change of heart is necessary to make people feel that there is no exploitation anywhere and one section is not exploited by the other.

Favouritism in the government also belittles the chance of unity. There is no denying the fact that a section of the population is the favourite of the government. It should be brought home to everyone that all communities have equal rights and that the same should be respected. There must be no communal or racial discrimination in the government service, and people from all communities must be given employment in the banks, private firms and on the sugar estates. They must have a share in everything which deals with the economy of their country.

The minority communities should be made to feel secure, I want that much consideration should be shown to them, so that they may feel that they are not discarded, and they should not be exploited in any way. It is only when they are satisfied that they will wholeheartedly cooperate with the rest of the population in the development of the country, and the establishment of a Mauritian Entity.

I have given a good account of how to establish ‘Entite Mauricienne’. I believe many agencies can help in this field. I suggest that the government should start with the nationalisation of all our industries. This will remove causes of exploitation, and wealth will be fairly distributed among the people. Then government should show due consideration and appreciation to every culture, language, and religion. All voluntary organizations of every community should work in this direction. The intellectuals should have greater responsibilities.

They should meet from time to time to discuss common matters. This will inspire and encourage the common people to do the same. Besides, the leaders of every community should preach Mauritian brotherhood and they must not criticize any community. Clubs and organizations should organize symposiums on religion, language and culture and speakers from all sections of the population should take part. The Consul de France, the British Council and the Indian Commissioner can do much in this respect by organizing cultural functions to make the people appreciate the values of different cultures, languages, and religions.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 10 May 2024

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