The Hindus in Mauritius – Jagdish Seebaruth Reality Check

Namaste

There is a general perception, especially in India, that the Hindus in Mauritius are very well-off. That, because of their numerical majority, these descendants of the Indian Emigrants, the Indentured Labourers, are in control of the affairs of the Island.

But, this perception is deluding, if not simply erroneous. The apparent political supremacy does not equate to supremacy in the general fields of life for the Hindus. Indeed, in practically all spheres of life, the Mauritian Hindu is treated as a 2nd, even, 3rd class citizen.

Judge for yourself ……

— Mauritius is the 3rd of the only 3 Countries in the world to have a majority of Hindus in their populations — 48.5% of Mauritians are Hindus.

— Less than 10% of land-ownership is in the hands of Hindus. (Compare: more than 80% of whole of arable lands belong to French colonial descendants representing less than 2% of the population.)

— The quasi totality of sectors of Economics and Finance, Banking and Leasing, Trade and Commerce, Business and Industry, Hotels and Tourism, Smart Cities and Shopping Malls, Newspapers and Media belong or are controlled by others than Hindus.

— For all his needs – from milk-foods for his infants to his mobile phones and cars, from electrical energy to blocks and cement for his house, to the mortgage financing of the construction of the said house – he is compelled to rely on and BUY from others than Hindus.

— In the private sector, despite of his superior intelligence and qualifications, despite his superior abilities and merits, he is compelled to work under and obey the dicta of very likely less able non-Hindus.

In the political field

Thanks to their up to now numerical majority, the Hindus do still have a say in the outcomes of Elections and even on who is to occupy the Prime Minister’s seat. Indeed, except on one occasion, the PM has always been a Hindu. But, unfortunately, their influence stops just there. They have absolutely no say in the orientation of the economic and development policies of the Government. Contrary to the Hindus, the descendants of White Oligarchy have decisive roles in Government actions. Indeed, from even before Independence to the present day, all governments had followed, and still follows, the dictate of this Oligarchy. They use their role as the major – at time the sole, in the private sector – providers of jobs, to blackmail the government to comply to their demands: “If you don’t comply, we’ll close the factories and thousands of workers would be jobless.”

That was true when the Sugar Industry was the main economic pillar of the Country; it is equally true since the sugar-barons had diversified to Hotels, Services and other Industrial sectors.

It can, indeed, be said that the influence of this group – and in a lesser measure, influences of some more recent-rich Creoles-Mulatres, Chinese and Muslim – completely direct the actions of the Government, and of the Hindu Prime Minister who is in post.

The only field where Hindus have managed to maintain a certain presence is in the Civil Sector, even if, here too they have to submit to political decisions dictated by the other communities-groups. Be it said that this “presence” is not the result of any political backing or favour, but the fruit of sheer hard-work, competence and merit.

It would, therefore, not be correct to convey the impression that the situation of Hindus in Mauritius is satisfactory. Though there is no open discrimination, the Hindus are victims of a form of apartheid. The tragedy is that the Hindus seem unaware of this; or are simply victim of their own proverbial tolerance and their own jayide attitude.

Personally, I feel that it is high time that the Hindu wakes up to the grim reality; and fights for his rights as equal citizen with equal rights and duties. He must claim his just and fair share in the Country he has, more than anybody else, and that since the first Indentured Labourer set foot on this soil, help to build and enrich.

Jagdish Seebaruth

kanush@intnet.mu

23059734860

Source: World Hindu News (WHN)

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