Touria Prayag's Blog

Growing pains 13 March 2014

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on January 23, 2015

So we enjoyed the day off, the prime minister’s
and the president’s fanfares were played and the
fl ag of the republic of Mauritius was hoisted at
full mast, followed by a 21-gun salute. Police
helicopters fl ew past, local artists displayed their
talent and a splendid fi reworks show followed.
And, we felt a tinge of pride creep into our lives
as we sang the national anthem as enn seul pays,
enn seul nation, enn seul destin (one country, one
nation, one destiny). Congratulations Mauritius!
You have just turned 46.
As a nation on the wrong side of 40, we are no
longer the carefree young girl who can get away
with silly giggles and misplaced pride. We are
middle-aged now and are accountable for our
acts and their implications. So, we choose to be
harsh on ourselves and question the disconnect
between the values we shout on the rooftops and
how we practise them in our daily lives. And we
choose to be harsher on ourselves when we try
to hog the limelight with fancy slogans which our
immediate actions undermine. We choose
therefore to refl ect on an issue which, at times,
undercuts our nationalism.
Two highly mediatised actions stood out as
soon as we started thinking about nationalism.
First, Resistans ek alternativ’s appeal before the
Privy Council (PC), to write new legislation
into our laws which would allow citizens to
stand for election as Mauritians without having
to disclose their ethnic appurtenance. Second,
the equally high profile case of Rajah
Madhewoo, who took legal action against the
new identity card, threatening to go all the way
to the PC. Never mind if the fi rst action – even
if it were to result in a positive denouement –
would not put an end to the Best Loser System,
let alone make a dent in our inherently
communal-based politics – just attend any
press conference on Saturday and fi nd out for
yourself. Never mind if the second action is
futile and irrelevant. What these two cases have
in common is that the initiators both claim that
their motivations are of a national nature. In
the same breath, however, both want their
issues resolved outside the nation, in the British
PC! Isn’t it ironical that to prove our
nationalism, we resort to the last vestige of
colonialism to determine our national policy?
The ultimate irony was that, in the fi rst case,
it was the PC itself which had to point out to
us that it had no locus standi; in other words,
our national policy is none of their business
– a little slap on the wrist which cost the
Mauritian taxpayer three million rupees…
On this anniversary, we would like to refl ect
on the need and pertinence of retaining the
option of going to the PC. We are now grown
up and should follow the example of other
former colonies, which have revamped their
judiciary, opted out of the PC and have taken
full responsibility for their own national
decisions. Even dominion states – like
Australia, Canada and New Zealand – which
still accept the queen as their head of state –
have opted out. As for republics like India,
Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia, etc., the issue
was settled in the 1990s.
At the age of 46, we should look each other in
the eye and ask ourselves one question: In how
many countries in the world do citizens have to
obtain a visa to gain access to their fi nal court?
If the answer deals a blow to the pride we felt
singing our national anthem, let’s use the
opportunity to grow up. Isn’t it time?


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