Friday, February 23, 2018

After Navin Leaves

The party which turns 82 today will have to go back and have a good look at its glorious past. Especially the one which ended in June 1982. The one which played the biggest role in improving the lot of the many by rolling out our welfare state. The party which was the driving force behind the independence movement. The one who proved Meade wrong. The great party who was against proportional representation and party lists. Or double candidacies.

But don't count on Arvin to do that. He's no different from Navin who not only actively revised the history of the LP when he was in power but invents new Party DNA when he's not. The LP might not be able to do this for some time. That's OK as voters are becoming increasingly sophisticated and they will eventually get what Mauritius needs.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Two Nobels Were Not Mistaken About Mauritius

Kot zot pu kav vo nu bann lider sa!
Camille Moutoo at a SELEX dinner

Certainly not James Meade who submitted his famous 1960 facts-based report a few months after visiting Mauritius. Incidentally he landed here exactly eight years before 12.3.68 and about ten days after a pretty little thing called Carol had spent five days checking us out. Start to read the clear report and it won't take you long to appreciate – if you'd been led to believe otherwise – how bad a hand we had been dealt five decades ago. You might even then be able to connect the dots and understand that he and his team were proved wrong by a group of exceptional men and women who saw far and loved this land of ours like nobody did since.

Likewise Vidia – the V in V.S. Naipaul – made some really sharp observations about Mauritius. The kind of insights that would make the day of any policy wonk whether it was in 1973 or forty-five years later. Don't like it too much that he called us an Overcrowded Barracoon? Well, we had one of the highest population densities in the world back then – we still do sitting at no. 007 – and you've surely not forgotten what are the two things Malcolm said we grow here. As a matter of fact it would be far too generous a compliment if someone used these two words to describe us today. Given how much we've regressed.

And then there is Stiglitz who found that everything was going on swimmingly in our island. His 2011 visit occurred a few years after a toxic bean-counter had done extensive damage to our economy and to the lives of thousands with his flat tax and reverse Midas touch. The massive irony of course is that Joe was part of the successful economic team of Bill Clinton who had reversed the harmful tax cuts of a bunch of Voodoo economists led by one Ronald Reagan and the first Bush President – this had caused US debt to balloon from $1tn to $4tn in twelve short years.

The least he could have done was to share his experience and recommend that we make an economic about turn. After all the Sithanen toohrooh had grown to Rs116bn by the end of 2010. A huge amount roughly equal to our GDP for the last six months of 2006 but only one tenth of the level it reached last December. But he didn't preferring to put his foot in his mouth and spraying us with excessive doses of flattery. I don't think this made him gain any new fans among those who had raised at least one eyebrow when he got that prize – which is as old as our independence – from the Swedish central bank.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

MMM Siyn Enn Gran Lakor Elektoral

Pu eleksyon zeneral le 13 Septam 2024. Wi, MMM pu al ansam ek Parti Malin dan enn lakor a la Palestinyenn. An efe, Lider Parti Malin, Danrajsingh Aubeeluck, finn anons sa a so promye konferans de pres trimestryel pu lane 2020 ansam ek Paul Berenger. Aubeeluck pu PM pandan 4 banane ek 51 semen ek Berenger pu PM pandan leres letan. Berenger sir zot pu gayn tu bann siez ek sa pu permet zot met zot proze fer Lil Morist vinn enn pei far an pratik.

Dimunn pa pe tro konpran kifer Ton Polo pe kontan kumsa parski MMM inn gayn zis enn tiket ek enn pos kuma PPS dan enn evantyel guvernman PM-MMM. Bon se pa fos ki apre sa gro tranbleman de ter dan dernye eleksyon zeneral – elekter finn vot zis bann bon kandida ek finn gard enn pake politisyen ek bann ledan kat pus edmi an deor parlman pu enn lot sinq banane – li paret ki MMM inn gayn enn ase bon deal. Par kont zot pe dimann zot sipa zot pe apel sa enn lakor Palestinyenn parski tu le de lider tiena enn keffiyeh otur zot liku.

Lider MMM finn avwe ki bann negosyasyon pa ti fasil. Inn pran Aubeeluck ek li trwa mwa pu resi tom dakor. Obstak prinsipal sete partaz post siprem. Berenger ti kumans propoz vinn PM pandan 1 mwa me Aubeeluck ti pe dakor zis pu enn demi-zurne. Lider MMM finn salye zenerosite ek patriotism Aubeeluck.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Lepep Tram Unlikely Biggest Project Ever

Kind of obvious if you have listened carefully to some of the numbers used by Minister Bodha on the same day George Chung deemed that the controversial tram project was basically riskless. As you might not the figures mentioned six months ago to show the savings over two projects – not exactly the same ones – that were initially promoted by the Labour Party are copied in the table below. 

Given that the road decongestion program (RDP) will spend about Rs3 billion every year for a handful of years and that it will not be the first time nor the last that billions will be wasted to fight the traffic Frankenstein -- which is growing bigger thanks to policy-making which is very clumsy -- it shouldn't take long before you hear Mr. Bodha's successors announce that the RDP has overtaken the tram project.

The thing is that these unnecessary projects -- which constitute the silly response to problems caused by a growth in the car pool which has been left unchecked for way too long -- will not only make Mauritius weaker but will also make her uglier. It will make her weaker because as Intel has reminded us a car stays idle over 90% of the time and that hardly makes it a productive investment. Especially when you consider all the other problems of having too many of them. This explains why Singapore has been shrinking her number of cars to levels not seen in eight years. Mind you we're talking here about a country which has nine people to every car and a GDP per capita more than five times ours. Here we have like six people to every car and foolishly think that we can handle more. And that too when heavy road-users already describe several parts of our road network as an overcrowded barracoon.

These projects will definitely make Mauritius less attractive. Just ask any of the 270 trees of the Promenade Roland Armand. That's too heavy a price to pay for things that don't qualify as smart development especially when we know that the Bus Rapid Transit is a much better alternative that will immediately bring much-needed relief to road users. We should also start to act as a middle-income country -- and soon a fifty-year old -- by protecting our world-famous views. Just like London has been doing for more than a century. Which explains why the Leadenhall Building had to be built like a cheese-grater.

The least Pravind Jugnauth can do is to organise a referendum on such an important national issue. Making good on one electoral pledge will not only deepen our democracy it will also help avoid total political disaster in the next general election.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Berguitta To Spend Day in Mauritius

It's been almost eleven years since a significant rotating air mass made it to our Met's cyclone Hall of Fame. For a visit of an intense cyclone you have to go back eighteen years when Connie checked us out for three days at the end of January. Only about 10% of cyclones actually go over us -- Berguitta would be the sixth since 1945. The last chick to do this was Christelle, a moderate depression, twenty-three years ago. It gets even more interesting if you want to find out when was the last intense cyclone that crossed Mauritius. This singular honour goes to Claudette which ruined Xmas 1979 and threw Mauritius into an economic depression -- GDP contracted by 10% in 1980. This was a scary time to grow up. Especially if you had tasted another pretty little thing called Gervaise four years earlier.

Given that it's been thirty-eight years since a cyclone got to know us up close and personal there is a good chance that one in every six Mauritians will experience something new in the next twenty-four hours. Oh yeah one last thing. As the airport will be closed tomorrow, Berguitta has organised her own means of transportation.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

By-Election Experience Makes Strong Case For Return To 40 SMCs

Like it was in 1959 and 1963. Because as we've seen in riding no. 18 recently when electors vote for only one candidate in a constituency -- SMCs stand for single-member constituencies -- political parties immediately understand the need to put good candidates. And this kind of set up makes it easier for better debates between candidates from many parties to happen.

Plus we know our parliament is too big just by comparing to other countries. We also know it's too big for a simple reason. A referendum should be organised to let the people decide.

Trust you've noticed that candidates in a by-election don't have to declare in which one of four 'ethnic groups' they fall into.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Free Education Turned 40 in January

I was planning to have a write-up coincide with the anniversary of this crucially important national event. It just didn't happened. Got quite busy on Kozelidir: this is post no. 123. Haven't posted this much in five years. Also the thirteen pieces on The Jag! this year -- a new record -- took a lot of time and effort. You can imagine how much when you read some of these essays and when you consider that only ten such posts were published over three-and-a-quarter years. Still I am not about to let 2017 disappear forever without saying a couple of things.

First is that some people consider Free Education -- for secondary and university students -- as an electoral bribe that was bound to happen after students gathered on the GRNW bridge. Since when does mindfulness always happen after a protest? Our youth took to the streets in May 1975 while the beautiful electoral pledge was announced seventeen or eighteen months later. We know who implemented free education. You may not know who came up with the idea. Returning to pledges wasn't Lepep elected on the promise of a second 'economic miracle'? Still waiting for it eh? Let's not forget Navin Ramgoolam who promised to Put People First but ended up putting most of us last. Or Sithanen who told us poverty would disappear by 2015. Saying something is one thing. Doing it quite another.

The other thing is that granting Free Education was consistent with the extraordinary stuff accomplished by that generation of Mauritians who were born between let's say 1900 and 1945. You know the great people who proved Meade wrong and build the welfare state. Among them a couple of people really stood out: Kher Jagatsingh and his biggest fan, Seewosagur Ramgoolam.

Here's what KJ -- who many consider as the hardworker who has contributed the most to the advancement of Mauritius -- had to say about the implementation of Free Education:

"When almost by accident and force of historical circumstances, I was offered the portfolio of Education and Cultural Affairs in January 1977, I was already aware of the long and arduous task that awaited me. It was a crucial and decisive time to be Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs. This colossal task of reform and development was a real challenge, the like of which I had never faced before."

Phenomenal work doesn't always get recognised overnight.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


In Mauritius will be a lot like 2017.

One thing we have to watch though is what happens in Port-Louis when we get the big rains around Saint Valentine. This will tell us what could happen if we hold another street festival at the end of year.

It will be a busy year for Putin: seeking to be re-elected six days after Mauritius hits the big 50. And if successful handing the World Cup on July 15 in Moscow.

Will add more here soon. Hopefully before 2018 ends.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

2017: The Year in Review

Q1: iPhone turns 10. Voters elect candidates wisely. Oxfam says income for bottom half hasn't grown for past three decades. Average performance for Mauritius. Countries use PISA to improve education system. Nation surprised to learn than history of Labour Party is larger than two Ramgoolams. Citizens evaluate ministers continuously. Metro Express not needed for now. Parliament goes live and direct. Sumputh resigns after PM finds package shocking.

Q2: Splitting the Sithanen toohrooh. Soornack explains how she made it. Le Pen gets closer to L'Elysee. Who is the fastest footballer? Two really dumb reasons we need party lists. Madhuri at fifty. MK said to fly understaffed planes. The Saint dead at 89. How you know you're not a big cat. Taxpayers handed multi-billion rupee bill. Top tax rates go up by 5%. Fighter jets have own sign language.

Q3: Meet the articulated bus. Referendum legislation can help avoid mayhem. Chester found dead. Singapore knows plenty. How Fowdar can help our democracy. Cleaners earning Rs1,500 per month have reason to smile. World discovers the SJ Theatre. Easy for Mauritius to boost its GDP by half. FPTP system allows general election to have recall component.

Q4: Why Mauritius is not in high-income group. Dead animal should be removed from coats of arms. They should be referred to as 30/3 and 3/5. A woman in the front row. Mauritius finds out she has an MP called Tarolah. Use the two o'clock rule to save lives. Simple tools to understand social contracts. Berenger makes new prediction. Podcast to find out things launched. December 2014 was worse than a 60-0. Look who's worried about inequality. 8 questions for voters. Voodoo economist is back. A plan for Mauritius. 4 out 5 voters don't vote for Boolell. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Kuma U Pale Ramgoolam Inpresyone?

Ala enn parti intervansyon Sithanen dan konferans de pres ki Ptr finn organize mardi le 19 desam. Li pe esplike ki tiena 90 bwat pu 13 polling station dan eleksyon parsyel. Apre linn atard li lor 30 counting classes. "Dan 3 nu kandida inn gayne par plis ki 50% vot MMM." Bon etan done ki nu, bann elekter, pena lespri kuma Ramgoolam abitye dir nu bizin rekonesan ki Sithanen finn esplike nu ki sa ve dir. Bolo Doctor Sahab. "Sa ki sa ve dir pu sak 2 vot ki MMM inn gayne nu kandida finn gayne trrrwwwwaaaaahhhh vot dan 3 counting room." Pann konpran mem? Mosi parey. Enn sans Dr. TINAnen la mem. Ekzamp nimero 2. "Dan 18 counting room, nu kandida finn bat kandida MMM par 135% se ta dir nunn gayn plis ki 2 fwa vot MMM. Pu sak 2 vot ki MMM inn gayne nu kandida finn gayn 4.7 vot." Ayo pann konpran kot linn gayn sa 4.7 la.

"Plis ki 2 fwa." Sa but la monn resi konpran. 2x2 = 4 ek 4.7 pli gran ki 4. Me 4.7 la kot sorti? Ah gran mersi enn lot lekzamp pe vini. "Dan 7 counting room, nunn bat kandida MMM par 235%." Ki sa ve dir sa? "Sa ki sa ve dir ki Arvin Boolell inn gayn 3 fwa plis vot ki Nita Juddoo." "Sa ve dir pu sak 2 vot MMM Arvin Boolell fin gayn 6.7 vot pu li." Pu li? Tchombo! Bann lezot vot ki linn gayne la pa pu li? Ein akoz sa mem li ti pe dir se enn vot pu Moris sipaki. "E anfin dan 2 room Arvin Boolell finn bat Nita Juddoo par trrwaaahhhhhh san katrovin pursan. Setadir 4 fwa plis vot ki Nita." "Setadir pu sak de vot MMM Arvin Boolell inn gayn 9 vot."

Ayo dokter nu pa sir nun konpran. Mo panse u bizin donn ankor inpe lekzamp. Kifer u pa pran eleksyon zeneral desam 2014 ek anu dir u kumans par sirkonskripsyon no. 13? Si u ti kav esplik sa zafer 40+40=80 la usi ti pu top.