Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly, 10 June 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on June 10, 2011

Pdf weekly 10 june

These modest souls

“Modesty died when false modesty was born,” said S. L.
Clemens, a saying which never sounded truer or more
appropriate than this week. Take our friend Showkutally
Soodhun. Isn’t it wonderful for a minister to have the
modesty to refuse to take on more than he can chew? He accepts, on his
own initiative of course, to relinquish the portfolio of commerce. Far from feeling humiliated, he reiterates his “allegiance to the government” or, in other words, his desperate call to be allowed to keep the bone which has been stripped of the meat by the prime minister’s sharp carving knife.
Cut down to size, Mr. Soodhun will spend some time nibbling at the
following bare bones: Industrial Technology and Development, the Mauritius Standards Bureau, the Mauritius Accreditation Service, whatever these mean and (please don’t laugh) the Jewellery Advisory Council. In other words, he will cause no further harm. As to his dreams of becoming the PM of this country, well, maybe in another life.
Then we have some members of our Legislative Assembly who are so
modest that they believe that they can do two major jobs simultaneously
better than if they were shared between two people? If one is drawing a
salary and still has time to take on another job, the chances are that one is probably underworked and the problem should be tackled immediately. I hope the bill goes through and that opportunities are opened up to a wider circle of people instead of being restricted to those who hog up so many responsibilities and do not tire of reminding us of the sacrifi ces they are making for the country.
The same principle should be extended to some of our indispensable
civil servants like our chief government valuer who is so unique that he accepts, for the sake of serving the country, to do two jobs simultaneously with such gross confl ict of interest that one can only wonder where those who are paid to protect our interests hide in such circumstances. The parastatal bodies are perhaps the worst demonstration of the monopoly some have on our institutions. Some of our well-connected compatriots have been sitting on boards for years and will never, out of their own volition, go back to their
profession because, if they have one, they are so poor at it that they cannot pay their bills by exercising it. Some are being moved from one board to another and are too modest to stop sacrifi cing themselves and take up a regular job where they are called upon to actually work to make a living.
And this modesty is not the monopoly of the rich and powerful. Take
the inhabitants of the integrated village of La Valette. This project of social integration was an excellent initiative by the National Empowerment Foundation: it provided accommodation to the most vulnerable sections of our population in exchange for them committing to taking up employment, sending their children to school and settling their mortgages. Today, it is clear that many of these people have no intention of working, caring for their children or doing anything other than smoking, drinking and, for some, taking drugs. The situation has reached such proportions that the minister for social integration himself sent a clear warning to those who think they are too good to take up employment like the rest of us; a warning which was supported even by the Non-Government Organisations working in the area.
This overweening arrogance has become our national trait. Modesty is
indeed dead and buried.


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