[Opinion] The Mauritian Majority and Minority Complex

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Mauritius has a national identity but we can't forget that Mauritians are not homogeneous. We belong to different religious communities which are unevenly distributed throughout the country. And we pride ourselves in that diversity.




Pawena Kaniah

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This even though, three Hindus as candidates in Plaine-Verte, three Muslims as candidates in Cassis/Vallijee, and three Creoles as candidates in Triolet will never be rational.

This even though we have many different ‘Associations Socio-Culturel’ based on ethnicity instead of one 'Association Mauricien'?

This even though we had our soccer teams named: “Hindu Cadets, Muslim Scouts, Tamil Cadets."

This even though we call each other "Lascar, Madras and Malbar" behind each other's back.

After 45 years of independence, ethnicity remains the stratifying factor. Multicultural policies through funding religious groups are considered as empowering minority communities to voice out.

In reality such policies have empowered not individuals but their "leaders" who owe their status and influence mainly to their affiliation with the government which benefits in its turn by manipulating the population and projecting their conventional image to the public through such platforms.

Successive Governments seem to have failed to find 'a Mauritian solution within the framework of a Mauritian Unity.'

Tribal Polity is divisive, its emotional basis energizes ego-centrism and prejudice. It sets people in the "us" and "them" groups. Thus, self-glorification turns into detachment and intolerance, whereby not only ego-centrism manifests itself, also chauvinism and Communalism, race-centrism and racism.

At the 473rd anniversary of Maharana Pratab Singh and the creation of the Indian state of Rajasthan on Sunday 19th May 2013 at Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre, Phoenix the ex-Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam said:

Diversity should not be divisive. We are from different parts of India, but we are in the same boat. We should not make any difference between us.

As a remedy, several solicit a secular state- a clear separation between religion and the state. Recently in the limelight, the Best Loser System was designed to provide “balanced” ethnic and political representation.

Boasting about being “one nation, one people,” through our National Anthem what is it about this “balanced” ethnic and political representation?

Across several decades since independence, haven’t we evolved and gained enough maturity to catabolize our ‘minority or ‘majority’ complex?

The Mauritian psyche is accustomed to doubt the unfamiliar and see “external” social groups as a menace. This demeanor is a real threat to national integration, peace, progress, and development. This mentality is derived from fear, suspicion, and mistrust in the country. To the newest generations, the 1999 riot in relation to Kaya's death could be the reason that took a tragedy to uncover the truth of existing communal tension.

Pretending that all is well in the society means doing very little to instill social cohesion.

Despite everything, for some, Mauritius has a marvelous timeline of peaceful cohabitation. We need not go back at the time of independence where we stood together as one nation to steal a glance of that. April 2013 marked the flash floods which affected Mauritius causing large-scale disasters. The Mauritian solidarity and unity that we were to witness in providing the huge aid to the victims in need were indeed commendable, proving that we may have different religions and skin complexions, but we all belong to one human race.

Alfred Adler said:

There is a Law that man should love his neighbor as himself. In a few hundred years it should be as natural to mankind as breathing or the upright gait, but if he does not learn it he must perish.

Thus it seems imperative that all Mauritians should bury their petty differences and work collectively. We must create the foundation of a new Mauritius. We cannot be satisfied with the partly biased idea of a harmonious society, pressurizing us to believe in a stable nation.

Unity in diversity is not a slogan. It is a way of life.

Pawena Kaniah