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Sunday, June 20, 2010

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What makes us young? Column Chetan Ramchurn L’express weekly/ 11.06.2010
•June 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment (Edit)

[Column ] What makes us young? /Chetan Ramchurn L’Express Weekly/ 11/06/10

Monday evening. I’m cruising through Curepipe’s cold streets. The traffic, as I most hate it, loud and slow. For once, my windows are up… lest I lose some of that John Legend’s soulful music amidst the blaring horns. I am musing on the fact that this subject could be penned from several viewpoints. But my thoughts go back to decades ago, to Curepipe’s fateful tryst with our country’s first political assassination; Azor Adelaide’s martyrdom reminding me that being young back in 1971 also meant risking one’s life.

The condescending way in which the present young generation is viewed shall be the first of my themes. An outer view would thus be a good starting point; how our more seasoned peers tend to view GenYers as self- obsessed whiners that sulk all the time, that are more concerned with their latest Facebook avatars than the numerous societal wrongs they witness every single day, believing that they know best when all they’ve done is put their minds to sleep. Too often are we seen as modern Oblomovs… unwilling to do much, caught in indecision… Our critics are partly justified.

For the current Mauritius’s absence of ideologies and celebration of status quo should also be attributed to those at its helm… those that were brimming with leftist ideals back in the 70s.

And this is what reassures me. The Che- inebriated generation so long touted as the creators of a new world order are also those that left their dreams for the comfort of capitalism. Maybe, and I’m hoping that this is the case, our less vocal young generation might have a more telling change on the society. For has anything changed for real? Sartre has been replaced by Houellebecq, Rock has been replaced by Hip Hop and racism is still ubiquitous. The form of rebellion has certainly changed, but the philosophy has sustained the test of time.

Youth gone wild?

What should be of real concern to those who care and have the ability to change things is the rotten state of some of our country’s academic institutions, meant to act as vivier d’idées. How on university campuses across the island, racism is openly preached and practised during election time; how the vulnerability of young minds has not been alleviated with the greater imparting of moral values and education on the myriad of cultures gracing our land; how meritocracy is often forgotten and forsaken by young graduates whose first instinct is to use the easiest and cheapest of moves to secure a monthly paycheck…

Everyone is the age of their heart.( Guatemalan Proverb)

But being young is not solely about age. That which makes us youthful is also that which prevents us from falling prey to fear. And it is fright that manacles our minds, that turns well irrigated brains into dried ones, which makes us see change as an insurmountable hurdle and that forces us to see a foe in the one who is different. But being young is most importantly about being true to one’s human values and being tolerant of others.

Here’s my appeal to the naysayers: Understand that the youth of today has its share of contradictions. The pettifogger deeply engrossed in trying to increase the number of virtual friends and the thinker trying to change the world. Helping the second of these facets to bloom would do our Motherland a lot of good.

And here’s my advice to my young comrades: You don’t age unless you choose to…

Chetan Ramchurn

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Nil desperandum by Chetan Ramchurn/L’Express Weekly 14.05.2010
•May 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment (Edit)

“ Nil desperandum”

Hardly a week has elapsed… the gash in most purple hearts still hurting.

Still, neither have our heads gone down nor has our resolve flinched. And if there was any misunderstanding on where the MMM stood on the political spectrum, it has been cleared. Those with real militan blood have, to the best of their socialist drive, managed to fight for that which they believed in; a bona fide democratisation of the economy, greater transparency in public affairs and real change in the education sector.

I know not all the answers to the MMM’s defeat. What I know is that playing the ostrich game would do us no good and party heads might, in line with our long history of participative democracy, want to ask for the input of the soldiers on the battleground on how to correct some of the mistakes made over the last month.
My reading of things is that Mauritians in the third millennium need to assess whom they are giving the golden ticket for a power ride to. Churchill, as gifted he was a leader as talented he was with words once said “ The best argument against democracy is a five- minute conversation with the average voter.” Lest I be condescending, I would rather believe that we never were able to reach the majority of voters.

Yes readers, the much hyped majorité silencieuse is not only mum but also, and on an even more unfortunate note for the MMM, suffers from some form of hearing impairment.
For some of the results are baffling; former political nominees that were horrendous when at the head of institutions have been offered the green light by the venerable pep admirab to further tarnish the political playfield, non- descript candidates winning their respective battles against talented ones and let us never forget the use of racist speeches; all adding up to turn May 2010 into the most grotesque of months in recent times.

My disenchantment has somewhat been alleviated with competent minds such as Kee Cheong, Obeegadoo and Boollel perfectly placed to be our voice in what promises to be a cauldron of a parliament. The next five years shall be determining, for Mauritius first of all but also for the MMM as a party. First and foremost, it is key to rethink and rejuvenate ourselves, convince with bold ideas those constituencies and voters that have remained immune to our leftist words that there is an alternative. And I have no fear that this can and will be achieved.

The time is right to draw significant teachings from our past defeats and on finding the best of strategies and tactics to be the most dominating force in Mauritian politics once again.

Campaigning for the greater regulation in political financing should be high up the agenda for these elections have showed even more than the previous ones that the defining rule in politics in our era is ‘ Pay to Play’ . A real commission on the fairer distribution of wealth would also do much good to the MMM, so long and unfairly accused of siding with part of the private sector.

2010 was the year where incompetence prevailed, the slugfest of ideas was replaced with that of insults and our country’s date with destiny was missed.

2015 shall be the year of the purple.

The “ majorité silencieuse” is not only mum but also suffers from some form of hearing impairment.

Posted in Uncategorized
Tags: Chetan Ramchurn, Elections 2010, Labour Party, MMM
Revey toi n ti poem avant elections
•May 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment (Edit)

Revey toi…

Mone lire ene jour ki somey ek la mort presk identik

Dayer dans Illiad, Hypnos ek Thanatos c’est deux freres jumo, fils de Nix

Pou conscience aussi imper mem trik

Pna difference entre ene kine endormi ek ene kine mort so sens civique

Kamarad, pas laisse toi fermer par ban lespri racistes

Tous dimoun pareil dapres dna so helix

Anou empeche nou pays vine encore pli triste

Mercredi to ena sa chance unik sanz disc

Ek choisir vote pou competence au lieu ene clique

De petits copains ek jouisseurs sans moralite ou ethique

Ki to appel Stephanie, Vijay, Yogen ou Faeza

Nou tou zenfan sa pays la, pou nou li ene mama

Si tone comprend sa ban mots la bien

To leker p bat mem rythme ki moi, parole ene morisyen

Ki le 5 Mai pou change avec so vote nou Maurice so destin.


Posted in Uncategorized
Tags: Chetan, Ramchurn, Revey toi
Economic Order: Now is the time for change/L’Express ID/27.04.2010
•April 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment (Edit)

Economic order : “ Now is
the time for change”


Like a few others in Mauritius, I have always had a thing against staunch market fundamentalists who live and die by the invisible hand. I fear they might come to me one day and say smilingly, “ Dear Chetan, we have evaluated the market demand for socialists and it stands at nil at the moment. So we have decided, with the consent of the Society of Mauritian Liberals and Proponents of Economic Inequality, to terminate you while waiting for better market conditions for humanists”. I fear, more seriously, that they might continue to put economic concerns before human ones.
There is no invisible hand. Nobel Prize winners in Economics Daniel Kahneman and Vernon Smith explained that the predictability of human behaviour cannot be ascertained with enough precision and subsequently the fundamental economic concepts do not always apply in real life. And in this young democracy of ours, what has been dubbed as “ simplistic market economics” seem to have won it against the need for a stronger government that would act as a facilitator and regulator of economic affairs. Thus, with several of our governments being led by a neo- liberal agenda, government intervention has been kept to the strictest of minimum with the few continuing to benefi t and the many continuing to suffer.
Our colonial past and post- independence years bear testimony to an economic environment marred by inequalities.
Few have tackled the socio- economic divide and tried to bring the Gini coeffi cient within acceptable norms.
Unfortunately for us, the Ramgoolam/ Rama tandem was not one of them with the gap between the rich and the poor that has widened and a large part of the private sector that has fl ourished to indecent proportions. The last government using levies, with as much aversion as a world- relinquishing monk would use money, has never been able to bring some form of equilibrium in the distribution of wealth. But then again, we had been compelled to accept that this was the only way and that Sithanen was the economic maestro that had salvaged the destiny of our motherland from the brink of doom. Few opposing voices, that included the likes of Bizlall, Subron and Kee Cheong Li Kwong Wing, were heard as the ideological warfare was being won by free marketholics.
Now is the time for change.
Any country with real concern for its citizens would follow in the footsteps of Bhutan which has decided to forgo the traditional GDP measure for a more people centric one using its now celebrated Gross National Happiness Index to gauge the prosperity of its nation. If it sounds like a term borrowed from Lewis Caroll’s book, think again. For economic thought leaders as celebrated as Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz consider it as a more than credible alternative to the now passé GDP. What we need at this defi ning moment of our country’s destiny is a Welfare State that truly ensures that basic human needs are catered for. With our public schooling that has increasingly lost its sheen in favour of an expensive private one, the absence of price control resulting in the loss of purchasing power, the huge costs of insecurity resulting in the loss of human lives and an inbred form of fear and despair, the mood of Mauritians demands to be uplifted with a more caring government.
Policies that are in dire need are those that would upgrade the levels of services offered with real benchmarks of quality and effi ciency. Measures that would encourage the greater participation of entrepreneurs could include the offering of a safety net and more public- private sector partnerships that would enable the fostering of innovation and help in the creation of new sectors.
Singapore, often cited as an example to follow by our Prime Minister, is a State where the government remains, still today, a key partner in economic affairs offering a form of paternalistic benevolence in a global economic sphere where cold capitalism reigns. Lee Kuan Yew believed that high quality schools, health care and public services should be foremost in the country’s agenda. I’ll end this column with a quote from the coronation address of the King of Bhutan in 2008 : “ Our most important goal is the peace and happiness of our people and the security and sovereignty of the nation.” Qui potest capere capiat… Let him accept it who can…

Friday, March 19, 2010

Femmes, je vous aime/L'Express Weekly 19.03.2010

Femmes, je vous aime…and it is solely because I respect you immensely that I do not believe that quotas are needed for you to prove to the masses that there should be more women in parliamentarian positions...provided they are competent. As a firm proponent of equal opportunities, I am in favour of choosing the best candidates irrespective of caste, creed, colour and gender and thus firmly against any system of seat allocation on criteria other than merit.

Le vrai débat de fond that would have been of interest to voters, instead of the petitioning for one out of three candidates in constituencies, would center around the betterment of the lives of Mauritian women in society. How, in a non-demagogic way, we would find ways to provide protection to women from falling prey to humiliation of any type that would encompass the inequality of pay, the poor treatment of women in some communities, or sexual predation of any kind. All of these real issues have been forgotten, sacrificed I dare say, on the altar of gender equality for the selfish needs of a few.

Of X Chromosomes and quotas…
Global female representation in politics stands at a low 18%. Shares have been introduced in a number of countries across the world and have taken the forms of voluntary, constitutionally guaranteed ones and reserved seats. The results? Mixed. Legislators in Rwanda saw in quotas a formidable way of ensuring that women, who had been heavily victimised during the genocide, would be given the needed aid to ensure that they would play a greater role in the Rwandan society and help soothe some of the great pain that had been caused to them.

Albeit Rwanda, where there were pressing needs to be dealt with, the imposition of quotas has not been commensurate with the greater emancipation of women in these societies. Has this rationing helped in altering the lives of women in other legislations for the better? I doubt. Did Indira Gandhi’s Prime Ministership create greater equilibrium between genders in India? Certainly not.

A number of reasons could logically be drawn against quotas. Besides flouting the very pillars of equal opportunities, they cast doubts on the mettle of those women chosen. Yes, Mauritian politics remains a male citadel but this bastion can be broken by encouraging more competent women to make their voices heard in the political cauldron. Before I get assailed with accusations that I am leaving the fairer sex in an unwinnable battle, let me reassure you, it is as difficult and even more so for an opinionated male member to be heeded on issues such as political financing or corruption in any of the leading parties in Mauritius.

Trop facile…
Simplistic solutions offered to a most pertinent issue, but truth be told, this has all been part of the Mauritian pre-elections landscape for long. Offering rabble-rousers supremacy above thinkers and allowing those with egotistical motives to impose themselves on other grounds than competence.

The one out of three candidates per constituency campaigners would no doubt enhance their credibility with additional information on why should this be done with details on how it will improve the lives of women in the Mauritius.

Let this show médiatique be replaced by more thought provoking debates.

Absit invidia.

Chetan Ramchurn