GEMS FROM SSR

 

Quotes from SSR’s speeches

 

WELFARE STATE, HEALTH, SOCIAL SECURITY, FAMILY PLANNING

 

… Services such as pensions for aged people, sickness benefit, national insurance. These are the social services which should be provided and which are the only guarantees of the working class in a civilized society.

 

Government should inaugurate a system of old age pension benefit and include in this budget some measures that would provide for those workers who are becoming old and decrepit and who, when they have ceased work though no fault of theirs, must be given something which would enable them to go on.

 

It is a fact that Government is spending huge sums of money on other things and I see no reason why it should not try to introduce some scheme to give the workers free treatment to keep them in good health and good physique, to make life easier and give a little happiness to them.

 

We cannot encourage sugar estates or help them by subsidies or loans to build slave camps which they alone control. The way in which people live is a national concern. One solution is the building of houses and the demolition of slums. Slums survive because people derive big profits from them.

 

We must create children whom we can look after properly. We should not perpetuate the situation whereby men are unemployed and anaemic women die because of bearing too many children.

 

Education and health services, a social service and a better distribution of the national income based on a sound economic policy have all contributed towards a welfare state in which people can breathe freely.

 

 

 

THE REGION

 

I can hardly say that on the much greater stage of Africa and Asia any divisions will have consequences the gravity of which I need hardly emphasize to this important assembly. We must not be led into fighting among ourselves under the illusion that we are protecting ourselves.

 

We want the Indian Ocean to be a zone of peace. The big powers have in the past made a holocaust of much of the world. They should let us live here in peace.

 

President Julius Nyerere’s adage “we cannot allow our friends to choose our enemies” is our common justification in our fight for the defence of the sovereign rights of peoples and states from the encroachment of greater powers, the elimination of economic exploitation and for the reinforcement of international security.

 

The superpowers in this part of the world should understand that peace is paramount and goodwill still more necessary for us to survive in  an age where poverty is rampant, where the world is saying peace, peace and peace, as Cleopatra used to say to Anthony, “men, men and men.”

 

This ocean is no longer a European lake, and we intend to reopen the old communications which linked Africa and Asia. Perhaps we Mauritians have the special privilege of fulfilling this task as this island is really a microcosm, a world in miniature, in which almost all the features of Africa and Asia meet and mingle.

 

Mauritius, although it does not have the size and resources of our sister states, can still make a substantial contribution to the Afro-Asian community of nations. More than anywhere else, this is the meeting point of the two great continents.

 

We are merely trying by constitutional means to re-establish the prestige and self-respect of Indian languages in this country, so that we may no longer remain a stranger to our ancestral hopes and fears as expressed in our art and literature which are the envy of many nations. We cannot be invited to forget our language, culture and religion, and adopt those of others, however fine these may be.

 

If we are to survive at all here and make our valuable contribution to our country’s needs, our language and culture must be allowed to grow side by side with those of others without any discrimination.

 

We have learned to coexist because we all adhere to values like peace, freedom and harmony.

 

We must not allow our voyage to be shipwrecked on the reef of African disunity. We must not allow ourselves, the people of Africa, to be diverted from our prime objectives by such an occasion as receiving our agreement of association.

 

 

SOCIETY / SOCIAL JUSTICE

 

We have built up the fortunes of others, but have continued to be a poor and exploited class. Suffering is the badge of our tribe.

 

We are going to continue that dogged fight for the improvement of the lot of the working classes with the hope that truth will come out and our cause will triumph in the long run, however difficult the barrier may be before us.

 

Today we are a nation, dedicated to the ideals of peace and brotherhood and it will be the constant objective of my government to ensure that every Mauritian, no matter his creed or class, enjoys alike the privileges accruing to him as a citizen.

 

I am not here a bird of passage. I have been born here, and I would like everything here to be done in a way that would be in the best interest of the country to which I belong.

 

I am the son of a man who has suffered in this country. There can be no one who carries more that badge of slavery, humiliation, abuse, than I.

The people in this country have contributed with their blood and flesh so that others may live on their bones and flesh, so that others can live like royal families in this country, live on the bones and flesh of other people.

 

We want to make war against want, disease, ignorance, bad housing and unemployment which are the lot of the working classes.

 

We should abandon the policy of begging for favours for the Indian community from those sections of the population who are bent upon hindering our political progress.

 

The Indian people are restless and impatient because they wish to see a better ordering of the political affairs of this colony in which they would cease to hold a position of inferiority.

 

We want to build up a society which will not be your oyster. We want to renew humanity, and in this natural process your skeleton is required for the museum of the future, so that posterity can realize what monsters you had been, and how stupid we had been to allow you to usurp our heritage for so long.

 

My class is the backbone of everything in society and without it all your big monopolies and trusts and combines, with their tentacles and vast wealth, would be reduced to naught.

 

If nature has poured its charm upon them by providing them with all the best things of life, it has, on the other hand, been most unkind to us by leaving us only the husk and the crumbs from their tables.

 

How can I with my thumb mark dare to take a seat with you on the same platform? I must stand and wait outside with my hat in hand. That was the tradition. That was the custom.

 

Our ragged fragments must be your strength… for the time being only.

 

Evolution will take place. Before the Homo sapiens there was something else, and after the overthrow of the present society, there will be born a fresh and vigorous society which will be a boon to both of us, however much you may decry it.

 

I think the workers have been given less than they deserve. We want to see that redress is made, that things work properly from now on. There must be unity, harmony and prosperity among all people.

 

Common duties and common rights should be respected by all classes of the population. Before Members of this Council ask the worker to discharge his duty and shoulder his responsibility, they must begin by respecting his rights.

 

The idea that the proletarian class should be relegated to the background and live below subsistence level is abhorrent. There is no reason why the individual workers, the toilers in the fields, who are the real producers of wealth, should always be regarded as the dregs of society.

 

 

 

 

 

RIGHT TO VOTE

 

If, at the age of 18, they (young people) can make the supreme sacrifice on the battlefield, honourable members will agree with me that they should, at least, have the right to say yes or no.

 

Their values will take time to change and they will only learn to use the vote well by using it. They will make mistakes as even educated voters do at times, but they will learn something from their mistakes and gradually build up some stock of political wisdom.

 

We believe that the right to vote is the birthright of every man and woman…, that inalienable right we are not prepared to surrender. We will push it forward with all the forces at our command.

 

I think that until and unless changes have been effected to His Majesty’s Government which would create a condition of affairs in the island that would enable every man who is able to read and write in his language and who has attained manhood to have a share in the shaping of Government’s policy, you will not be able to satisfy the wishes of the people.

 

The right to vote based on property qualifications and educational standards for which facilities were never provided in the past to workers or small planters will never serve the end we have in view.

 

We are not against female suffrage if it is extended to all the country without distinction of creed or class.

 

If the workers of this country are able to send their wives or sisters to toil in the fields, I am sure they will not object to their going to the polling booths to record their votes.

 

Adult suffrage would mean more than an increase in the number of electors; it would give the right to vote to a class of people who have not hitherto been represented at all because they have never been given the chance to qualify as voters.

 

 

 

POLITICS, DEMOCRACY, SOCIALISM, CAPITALISM

 

You have planted the rule of law in Mauritius and you are now being invited to complete the process by establishing full democracy.

 

Democracy survives as long as the people have faith in their elected representatives, and the elected representatives have faith in the people’s basic intelligence and ability to think for themselves.

 

I do not know whether you want to change this law merely because it is French, but whatever the case, knowledge, progress, civilization are not a depository of any one nation in particular. France has as good a constitution as Russia or England.

 

The problems that confront us are difficult, and they cannot be solved by running away from them or by giving way to despair. Our approach must be a socialistic one, based on socialistic ideals and planning. Socialism is the pattern we have set for ourselves and we are not going to depart from that.

 

Our aims are clear and precise. We hold that the people of this country should have a greater share in their affairs and we want to see the natural unhampered development of a sense of responsibility in our constitutional setup.

 

My whole point in writing anything at all was to put before our readers how the working class movement was being made a subject for ridicule and how a well-thought plan was afoot to divide the workers so that their political development and their newly won constitution were nullified.

 

I have no confidence in the capitalists. They do all more or less think that they are being charitable persons. On the contrary, I think of them as exploiters of the workers and nothing else.

 

The only safeguard of a working man is his right to strike. It is the only bargaining power that he has when facing his employer who is socially and economically better placed that himself.

 

The situation facing us today is a challenge to the working class of Mauritius. These very workers have in the past always risen as one man on similar occasions. It is my firm conviction that faced with such a challenge the workers of Mauritius, irrespective of creed and colour, will oppose with all their might the sinister attempt to undo the achievements of their epic struggle for political, economic and social justice.

 

The greatest evils of capitalism are unemployment and poverty. God did not say that those who have must continue to exploit economically, socially and politically those who have not, the unemployed and the poorer classes.

 

The small men and women forming an army of the needy, whose standard of living has been steadily rising, cannot be switched back to the old days of dire want and poverty and become the “ostracized victims of capitalist unscrupulousness”.

 

I repeat that we want justice and fair play for everybody. With unrelenting energy we shall press forward with our plans, transforming our island home into a better and richer habitation for everybody.

 

We have decided to agitate against the Barnwell Report because it doesn’t provide any safeguards for the minorities.

 

The capitalist system is not an ideal economic system, it is a system that has brought up with it such a political domination of the people that, without a political solution, there will be no chance of changing the situation.

 

I is high time that the workers of this colony were given a wider franchise so that instead of being compelled to perish in passive acquiescence they might have a say in the government of this country.

 

NATIONHOOD AND NATIONAL UNITY

 

As I stood at the Municipality on polling day, and looked into the faces of my countrymen as they came up the stairs, I felt that I could read in their sparkling eyes, courage, determination and honesty of purpose.

 

The question whether we are Hindus of Muslims never enters in our daily lives, and at times it is encouraged by third parties; we ourselves look upon all such fanaticism of creed as a clog in the wheel of Mauritian progress and development.

 

We Mauritians, like to magnify our differences outwardly, we even like to fight for our views with great gusto and passion, but after a decision is taken either way, we settle down to our work like good Mauritians.

 

W all know that at the very basis of our diversity of opinion, there is that main unity of purpose behind us all the time.

 

We must cultivate the spirits of service, brotherhood, love and unity.

I think that we have done our level best to be Mauritians rather than a section of the community.

 

As you know in Mauritius we have people of African origin and of French origin. Here you find East and West meet and they have in this country, over the years sublimated their thoughts and hearts and brought about an amalgamation of all the cultures which have met together in this small island.

 

The New Year is likely going to usher in important changes which will give a new direction to the destiny of our island home and it is my fervent hope and prayer that we can unite together and work for the common good of our beloved country.

 

It is the crying need of the times that the two great bodies that compose the Indo-Mauritian community should work hand in hand for the advancement of the people.

 

I think I can say with confidence that we have achieved a high national identity which cuts across the barriers of race, caste and religion, and presents a unique example of peaceful coexistence.

 

This unity which has been a great motivating force in our fight over the years has continued to inspire us and will lead us into a more brilliant future.

 

The working class’ only strength is its cohesion and unity and an ordered society in which it can develop the industries of the country to the benefit of society as a whole.

 

It is up to us to keep our torch burning bright, and rally the people for a better purpose and a higher ideal.

 

We all live here in perfect harmony with our fellow Mauritians and are all united in the common endeavour to create a prosperous future for this island.

We shall have to learn to understand our neighbours, to appreciate that the cultural differences between us are sources of richness, heightening our capacity to appreciate life to the full.

 

We must resist any outside influence which seeks to create divided communities in our young nation.

 

We are now well set on the path of success and the country knows that in a multiracial society like ours, we must forge unity out of diversity. This must always be an essential part of our national policy.

 

Violence and intolerance will inevitably lead to a halt in our continued and well-ordered social and political progress.

 

Let us all work together, for the country belongs to all of us, and let us contribute our share in the building of a strong, free and happy Mauritius.

 

Peace and stability are the prerequisites of progress and advancement. Violence and intolerance anywhere, and more so in a small country like ours, will throw up more problems than they will solve.

 

We in Mauritius have a long tradition of mutual respect, tolerance and understanding, despite the occasional evil exploitation of our diversity. Our social customs and habits have transcended racial and cultural differences.

 

We cannot tolerate and we must eradicate for ever, policies and programmes of segregation, apartheid and racial discrimination.

 

We are, if I may say so, a remarkable model of a working multiracial and multicommunal state, where descendants of Indians, Pakistanis, Europeans, Africans and Chinese, professing all the religions in the world, cooperate and enrich our everyday life and maintain a working democracy.

 

We have drawn freely upon our cultural heritage and we are basically a peace-loving, non-violent people.

 

We must never allow our ship to wreck on the reefs of communal discord.

 

 

 

MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS

 

Every merit must be measured by an appropriate yardstick.

 

Man is an animal that can make prophetic endeavours.

 

Class struggle is a trap door to a hell from which there is no return.

 

Don’t let us lose ourselves in little things, but let us come together and solve this problem which is facing us.

It is not for the public that I must give explanation. They know of what stuff I am made. I may have some defects, but no charge of servility to anybody, still less to the authorities, can be levelled against me.

 

You can stick any labels on us. Our class is humanity itself, and we would not be worried about them, had it not been for the minority that you may entrap like vampires in your hypocritical embrace.

 

What child does not know the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the Bear which grew big teeth to eat her better. Your stomach is bursting with iniquities, and your brain is getting delirious with what is coming to you.

 

Although it would be futile to lay down any rule, all Mauritians know by now that at no time in our history their interests were in better and safer hands.

 

This country is going to go the same way as other countries have gone: this country is going to evolve as other countries have evolved. It is not going to stand apart.

 

We want responsibility because it is only with responsibility that we can tackle all the basic problems of our country.

 

If there is an advice I can give to these people who have run this country in their interest in the past, it is this: that the time has come that they should a little bit adjust themselves to the changing conditions of life and events and not bury their heads just like the ostrich in the sand.

 

Without a healthy, educated and contented nation, it would never be possible to develop the resources of this country.

 

A man who is an honest worker should be taken into account as he is performing a very useful economic function. Let it also be remembered that it is only through a policy of give and take, through discipline and cooperation that we will be able to achieve the fundamental unity for which we are still striving and striving so hard.

 

Parliamentarians should beware of the capitalists who used every means to buy off or divide the representatives of the people in order to retard the wheel of progress.

 

False ideologies, personal advancement, and insincerity have never held people together.

In their own interests the leaders of the industry must adapt themselves to a new way of thinking and doing and so pave the way for a prosperous and well-planned country in which man may be proud of his heritage and can look to the future with confidence and hope.

 

Mahatma Gandhi told the Indians that they should not perpetuate slavery by creating more slaves.

 

The workers of this country are a very docile race; whether they are attached to factories, cane fields or estates, they are very docile and yet this docile race can awake. They can awake against the background of inequities, falsehoods, miseries and sufferings.

My service is to this Assembly and to my country, which I honour and love, and in which I would like every Mauritian to live in amity and happiness, with the feeling that his rights are secure and that law and order are respected from one end of the country to the other.

 

It is better to forego a little luxury and to make some small sacrifices now, in order to ensure the future happiness of a nation, than to lose all our savings because the Opposition is ignorant.

 

I am very proud of our workers, proud of the great sacrifices they have made. They are never dismayed by the self-denigration of pseudo-intellectuals; they will fight and win.

 

Our resources, the most valuable being our manpower, can still yield the wherewithal of continuing progress.

 

It has always been an exciting journey full of challenges but followed always by fulfillment. We begin today yet another journey in a mood of heightened self-confidence. Let us steer clear of the hidden dangers and sail boldly on to a glorious future.

 

The heart of man is the noblest shrine to which a hero can aspire.

 

As if you have repeated history, Sir, you are coming after the great cyclone Gervaise, which visited us a few weeks ago and you must have seen, as you were saying to me, the place looks very green compared to some of the Far East you have just visited. You see, in Mauritius there is a great deal of resilience among the people, a fact about which we Mauritians are very proud.

 

It is my submission that, even when our internal problems appear irreconcilable, through mutual effort and determination we can reach a peaceful settlement.

 

The workers are now sufficiently enlightened to pierce through their veil of hypocrisy, however artfully they can hide under their masks.

 

The cult of our civilization cannot continue to be forever a closed book to us.

 

Freedom to go forward, freedom to allow the people to develop, freedom of speech, is something I have great respect for and it is something for which I am prepared to pay anything.

 

The workers are the sinews of our society.

 

If we cannot get the whole, at least let us see that we protect, gather and collect the shreds or fragments which are left of that freedom or liberty of which we have so pompously been told in this country.

 

We say our prayers in the morning and then forget all about that until we come back at six in the evening to do the same. Then we realize, then we feel like Marcus Aurelius, that we have not been nice to our neighbours.

 

 

 

JUDICIARY

 

We are moving more and more towards the idea that the judiciary, instead of being an isolated, neutral body working in a vacuum, must reflect the opinion of the people so that the people will have confidence in what the judges and magistrates are doing.

 

All reformers of law and social workers in every part o the world are trying their best to bring about a state of affairs in which justice does not just become synonymous with the punishment of criminals, but is a kind of mercy granted to them to enable them to look after their fellow men.

 

 

UNITED NATIONS

 

In all fairness, it would be an exaggeration to say that if there had been no United Nations, the whole world might well have been plunged into chaos.

 

The United Nations family, working in a better spirit of cooperation, may then fulfil our most earnest hope that the day will come when man will be one and peace will prevail.

 

Wherever injustice exists, wherever democracy is being trampled upon, wherever disease, ignorance and poverty prevail, wherever there is an unlawful occupation of one’s land by force, let us wake up to our responsibilities and strain our energies towards finding solutions based on equality and natural justice in accordance with the ideals of the United Nations charter.

 

I stand here in all humility as the symbol of my people’s hope that through the effort of the United Nations, mankind will really see the ultimate fulfilment of the principles and purposes to which men and women in this august Assembly have dedicated themselves.

 

 

 

INDEPENDENCE

 

As I received from Mr Anthony Greenwood, the representative of the English Government, the Constitutional Instruments which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has so graciously asked him to hand over to me, I have been moved by the deepest emotions, for my hands seemed to have been joined by hundreds of thousands of hands of labourers, artisans, social workers and political leaders who have sacrificed and suffered for the liberation of this country.

 

We are a nation united in one common purpose, the establishment of an egalitarian society in which poverty, ignorance, want, will be things of the past.

 

I am sure that the war that is being fought today is not for the presentation of things as they are, but for a new order that would do away with the demolition of one class by another and of one nation by another. Let those who stand in the way of our rights bear that in mind.

 

The Britishers in the colonies and the settlers have always agreed in principle to grind the weak and keep them in poverty, for imperialism and freedom have never been good friends in history.

 

Colonials lead a subhuman existence and are poor because they are exploited and exploited because they are poor and ignorant, but the day they have understood their rights under the sun and imbibed in the Christian principles that their masters seem to follow they will rise and engulf all in front of them.

 

Independence will enable us to think as a nation, for our country will be our hope, and our people our first concern.

 

We have come to the end of an arduous road, and it is only after years of tribulations and struggle that this nation is being born to assume its rightful place among the democratic countries of the world.

 

In a colony like ours, we must strengthen ourselves to fight the battle until we have obtained a constitution which will give us the opportunity to fulfil ourselves in every sphere of life.

 

We want freedom; we want equality; we want our people to stop suffering in this country.

 

I don’t think today in this country we can take freedom, liberty and progress and shut them in a room or anywhere else.

 

The natural evolution of a people cannot be thwarted. That will be accomplished naturally as day follows night.

 

Workers will have power. They are like a wedge; they will split asunder anything, any barrier that lies in the way of their progress towards the appointed goal, which is that of achieving a better life.

 

We have given shape to the future of Mauritius, and have brought it from the darkness of the past, riddled with poverty, disease, ignorance and want, to a stage where there is some sunshine in the lives of people.

 

The ordinary men and women are no longer the slaves of capitalism, of strangling traditions, of inequities and social injustice.

 

An independent nation has to shift its priorities and assume new responsibilities befitting its position in the world.

 

Only by studying how we endured foreign rule and exploitation shall we discover how we acquired the strength to be free men, makers of independence, makers of new nations.

 

As we open a new chapter of our history we shall always remember that we are the inheritors of a great tradition which is vested in the history of our land.

 

I give you the assurance that the government which you have elected does pledge itself to carry forward the task that you have entrusted to us. We have an unshaken faith that our countrymen will be able to rise to the challenge of their great destiny.

 

In spite of many obstacles, most of them originating from our colonial legacy, we have succeeded in shaping a new social and political order, in which freedom and welfare have been well enshrined and fair opportunities have been ensured for everybody.

 

On Independence Day, 12th March 1968, a new and powerful creative force breathed a new spirit into the body politic and people felt that they were not going to work for foreign masters but for themselves, their families, their community and their country.

 

I appeal to the nation and youth in particular, to keep their eyes open and to ponder on the meaning of the independence we are celebrating today. I ask you not to fall a prey to the cynicism of those who wish to sap the nation’s will to succeed in its tasks.

 

Colonialism has always been tied with social injustice and racial discrimination, which today has come to endanger world peace.

 

Man must be free, and my country unreservedly condemns any form of society that denies human beings their basic rights.

 

We are gradually becoming our own government of this colony in the best interests of the people – in an atmosphere of fair play and tolerance which have been handed over to us by British tradition.

 

 

EDUCATION

 

We consider the introduction of compulsory education at the earliest possible moment as being one of the urgent tasks facing the people of this country.

 

Education is not something we can learn at school, it is a life apprenticeship.

 

Our main purpose in sending boys and girls to schools or colleges is to teach them something which they want to know, and to prepare them for life. That chief aim we should not forget.

 

The education system does not give satisfaction to the community to which I belong, because my community is not given the very facilities that are given as a matter of course to the other religious bodies which are quite in a privileged position which gives their faith a prominent place in the education of our children.

 

I think we should strike a happy balance somewhere and see that some sort of textbook teaching is given to the children in the primary schools, especially in geography and history, because I believe these two subjects are quite necessary if we are to build up men and women who are fit to be citizens of this country.

 

In the modern world, education has a vital role to play in the life of a nation, particularly in developing countries, where people are becoming more and more conscious of their duties and responsibilities in shaping the future of their countries.

 

The most urgent task to which we must all direct our attention is the adaptation of our educational institutions to the changing needs of society.

 

Our salvation truly lies in educating and training our men and women in such a way that they are better equipped to face the great battles of life.

 

It is no longer right that our children should continue to be brought up to attach more importance to the history and values of other countries at the expense of a proper study of the history and ideals of their own homeland.

 

We want the schools to train our young people to take advantage of every opportunity to develop their tastes, their judgement and their critical sense, so that they may adopt positive attitudes and exploit their creative potential.

 

Only through education can the proletariat raise itself from the primitive level of existence to which it has been condemned and integrate itself with dignity in a democratic society.

 

As long as the people are ignorant, they will be exploited by society. Only through the spread of knowledge is it possible for the ordinary man to appreciate his heritage and at the same time master the environment in which he is living.

 

 

ECONOMY AND DEVELOPMENT

 

We had always understood that manpower was the essential factor in the production of wealth, and that before banks and the discovery of metals which you value so much, there were men who roamed over this earth and cultivated lands and nourished whole communities. But that is a truth you will either refuse to see or not be in a position to grasp, because it will leave a sour taste in your mouths.

 

We pay tribute to a class of people who, by their thrift and industry, have made this country prosperous.

 

It is time that the employers of labour realized that they should revise their policy and that they should cultivate a new outlook that would contribute to the prosperity of this country which depends so much on one industry.

 

To my mind the purpose of development is not only to increase the total national product of the country but to make certain that the increases in income really lead to an improvement in the people’s standard of living.

 

Development is not only an economic but also a social problem. Development implies change – change in thinking, change in living habits, change in consumption, change in attitudes to work, to saving and to investment. Change is a social phenomenon and this aspect of development cannot be forgotten.

Whether a party wins or loses an election, it should see to it that it is in the interest of all concerned that we lead our country to steady growth and prosperity. Measures directed towards these ends should get the approbation of everybody. A country cannot be run by palmistry and fortune-telling.

 

I know that with the budgetary proposals I should incur unpopularity in some quarters, but any course would have been a shirking of our responsibility as a Government. I have to put the interests of the country before sectional interests.

 

We should not jeopardize the reputation and the precious heritage of this country. We must create the necessary climate for development so that we can work in peace and harmony. It is in such a climate that this nation is beginning its new life; I hope that no Mauritian will be in its way.

 

Banking as an instrument of economic growth is a concept little realized. For some time, a change has been on in the world in the concept of banking. A bank is no longer thought of as merely a money-lender, but as a force for stimulating economic development.

 

Government has initiated a great mass movement with emphasis on social enlightenment, and it is only by stimulating these efforts that we can ensure harmonious relations between capital and labour.

 

 

CULTURE, VALUES AND LANGUAGE POLICY

 

Art and Literature know no barrier of race or religion. They are the common heritage of Black, White, Brown and Yellow, and all who, at one time or another, have made their contribution to the stock of human happiness.

 

Whether French or English or any other language can become the medium of instruction is a matter which must depend on the wisdom and the capacity of the people who conduct the affairs of this country.

 

I do not think the question of language can be solved by heaping indignities on groups in a community… but by understanding each other and respecting each other’s language, culture and civilization.

 

That Indians here look up to their country of origin for their inspiration and guidance cannot be denied. Because we have made this our home, we are not going to throw overboard all our culture and tradition so as to safeguard ourselves against any irresponsible accusations.

 

Human values, if they are to have any meaning, must be respected by all classes.

 

I should like the Government to see that the Indian languages are put on a better basis than they are at present in primary schools… I think it is only reasonable that this country and that we, Indians, are not pushed further back into our scale of life so that when our children grow up they will not be able to speak properly their own languages.

 

My section of the community wishes to see that Indian languages are taught to our children as a matter of right. Any change that will bring about the suppression of one language or another is undesirable and will have a detrimental effect on that section of the community.

 

We should teach English more than we are doing today because it is the language of the Commonwealth and because it is a language which is becoming more and more universal. The medium of instruction should be English.

 

Our ancestors came in difficult circumstances. They had no weapon with which to fight for their rights. They suffered a great deal. They toiled in the fields like beasts of burden. They let their bodies languish but they kept their heads high.

 

Our forebears preserved their religion and culture with all their might. They could save their souls because they had a language to give them solace and strength. They spoke Hindi, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Tamil, Telegu and Marathi. These languages are the repositories of a rich culture of wisdom and literature. Through their languages our great forefathers retained an unbroken link with their culture and religion.

 

Indeed the time has come for orientating the minds of our people to a wider appreciation of other values and interests besides those of the countries with which we have been linked so far.

 

Our African inheritance was too long neglected and a conscious effort must now be made to rediscover it and bring it into the light of day. There are African words in our Creole speech; there are African traditions, half-buried in our folk tales, and there are African rhythms in our dance, the sega.

 

Gandhi’s dream was to see all Indian languages develop in a spirit of unity. We are seeing here his dream come true. This Institute (Mahatma Gandhi Institute) is responsible for promoting the teaching of Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Telegu, Marathi, and Chinese. By promoting unity among these languages we are paying our tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.

 

Without in any way underrating the importance of the cultural heritage of the West, which is part of the total heritage of the world, we are determined to give due weight and importance to the inheritance of Africa and Asia.

 

It is our belief that if all the languages of Mauritius are preserved, it will help preserve the essential cultural values of our different communities. Through the synthesis of these various cultures alone will be created a united culture of Mauritius in which all can cooperate.

 

I strongly believe that Hindi is the language of love and unity. It has always been the people’s language. It has always given the message of freedom and has opposed cultural slavery. Hindi made a valuable contribution to the independence of both India and Mauritius.

 

We are determined to ensure that the cultural heritage of the people of Mauritius should not be lost or neglected.

 

 

We are conscious that the ocean waves which break over the coral reefs beyond our shores have rippled from the shores of Indonesia, China and Malaysia as well as from the coasts of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In the other direction we look out to the vastness of awakening Africa. Though we stand far away from the continents of the world, in this age of jet travel the world is fast becoming one.

 

It is indeed true to say that although Mauritius has drawn its cultural inspiration from Africa, Asia and Europe, yet it has succeeded to a remarkable degree in evolving a distinct Mauritian way of life.

 

Indeed, it has been the privilege of my small country that its citizens have inherited the influence of the best traditions of the East and of the West.

 

The people of Mauritius have been trying to promote the maintenance of contrasted cultures within the framework of a wider community to which each group could contribute in its own share.

 

We, in Mauritius, have a long tradition of mutual respect, tolerance and understanding, despite the occasional evil exploitation of our diversity.

 

 

 

COMMUNITY SERVICE

 

Instead of wasting their energies in personal squabbles, they should try to collect their thoughts together and work for the common good of their people.

 

It is only by the subordination of self and selfless sacrifices and endeavours that this great community will be saved from being a burden unto itself.

 

We must first decide what is needful and honourable for our people, and not bury our heads in the sand. We must cultivate the spirit of service, brotherhood, love and unity.

 

These politicians who have missed their boat may cry sour grapes but our achievements are a pointer to our endeavour and high sense of duty towards the people.

 

A man who has the real interest of his country in his heart or is fired with the ambition to serve his people must first develop that breath of sympathy so essential for the development of the nation, and must be prepared to understand and work with the humblest and most misguided of the land.

 

 

YOUTH

 

No real progress can be made today without the participation of the youth.

 

It is the duty of all the states of the world to help towards a fuller participation of young people in the different spheres of society.

 

I have great faith in the youth of this country and in their ability to contribute to its development.

 

 

LEADERSHIP

 

What is wanted today in this country are men who can serve the people, and not impose upon them their leadership from public platforms in a language that leaves everything to be desired.

 

Supermen have never led people anywhere except in the wilderness.

 

Our leaders must not lose sight of themselves in the cause that they are championing, and go to it with thrust, earnestness and humility. They must learn to serve the people before they can pretend to lead them.