Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kozelidir is 4

Just found out that August 23rd is remembrance day for the slave trade. What a coincidence because on the same date four years ago the first post of Kozelidir made its way to the blogosphere. We crossed another milestone today: we reached our 1,000th post a few hours ago. 3,232 comments have also been published. Some are longer than most of the posts here. We put a premium on brevity. And a big one on insight value. A few comments have been rejected mostly because they were off-topic.

Where do we go from here? There are a lot of conversations here that need to be brought to the surface. So expect an even simpler experience when you visit. And more posts and comments. That hopefully will sharpen the way you look at things.

Thank you for stopping by.

Meet The ABS

In this drawn-to-scale chart, B is the fraction of Mauritius under sugar cane. A is the rest of our island. The corresponding squares in the lower half of the diagram are the contributions of these sectors to our economy: sugar is expected to account for only 1.4% of GDP in 2012.

And S which is barely greater than what we have under sugar cane is Singapore. I've put a question mark there to represent its off the charts economy -- roughly twice the size of our passport.

Clearly there is way too much land under sugar cane. We could start by following Lalit's advice of bizin plant manze lor later tablisman. This will make us more resilient because it will ease pressure off our trade relationship with the rest of the world and improve food security at the same time. And having more of A and less of B will significantly boost the rate at which decent jobs are created in Mauritius. Without the galloping inflation bean-counters are so fond of delivering.

We should also restore progressiveness in our tax laws so that the claim that our PM is a socialist starts to ring true. And to put our fiscal house back on a sustainable path. Finally if we replace sugar cane with trees on a sufficient scale this could help us secure some extraordinary bragging rights: having the world's best air quality. Which will provide Mauritius with a killer tagline: Go Ahead, Take a Deep Breath!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mauritius At 56th Place in PISA Math Ranking

I believe it's the first time we are participating in this serious survey. And the government is to be praised to finally giving Mauritius an opportunity to see how well our education system stacks up against those of other countries around the world. We're at number 56 in Math. Right up there with Thailand and a lot better than Qatar and Ghana. But not even in the top half of the table. 56 is also quite close to the 54th place we got in the last Global Competitiveness Report.

And here's a clip to understand why we should be talking more often about PISA.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Everton Giant Delivers Bad Season Start to Manu

Marouane Fellaini scored a beautiful header in an exciting match last night. He's 1m94 tall -- one cm shorter than Usain Bolt -- and dominated most of his aerial contests at Goodison Park which sent Manu four spots from the bottom of the league table. Not the best possible scenario for Van Persie in the new jersey. But that's two places better than Liverpool which lost against West Brom on Saturday.

City managed to bag a dramatic home win against newly promoted Southampton -- in a bit like the nail-biting fashion it won the last season. They will play the Reds on Sunday at Anfield.

What a good start!

The Most Watched Event

The Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics holds the verifiable audience record of 984 million people. That's different from the estimated audiences of billions of people tuning in that are sometimes thrown our way. Which is almost twice the 530 million who watched man help humanity make a giant step. For sure back in 1969 there were a lot less people on Spaceship Earth. The 2006 FIFA World Cup Final attracted over 700 million people. Or 300 million less than the audience of the 2011 Cricket World Cup semi-final between nuclear archrivals India and Pakistan.

And what about the most watched events of the last Olympics? Usain Bolt's 100m win tops the list if you exclude opening and ending ceremonies. His 200m victory is at no 8. The wins of two women -- Jessica Ennis and Sally Pearson -- are also in there.

Looking up in the sky doesn't count?

Apple Most Valuable Company Ever

At $622 billion the Cupertino-based giant is $3 billion bigger than the previous record. Set by Microsoft at the end of 1999. If we factor in inflation Apple has still another quarter of a trillion dollars to climb. As the LA Times reminds us the company founded by the two Steves was worth less than $10 billion eight years ago.

Nice rate of return. And I hope you've become smarter by reading the iBio.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Humanity Experiences Biggest Blackout

Am sure you heard about failing grids leaving as many as 650 million Indians -- that's almost 10% of humanity -- without electricity on the last day of July. Which have prompted businessmen to ask government to put this type of infrastructure show-stopper on the front burner. This won't hurt establishing a manufacturing base it could use to pull millions out of poverty writes the New York Times. But not getting enough rain this year didn't help to produce a more comfortable level of energy.

Indian electricity is not the only one at the mercy of nature. Power plants in America too are being affected by less water than usual.

Finally, here is a nice list of the worst blackouts. The previous record was 100 million people in Indonesia in 2005.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our Future is Still in Our Hands

Anybody with two and a half grams of intelligence knows that we are in the current mess because of the reforms that were implemented by Rama Sithanen and Ali Mansoor. Navin Ramgoolam has to take a lot of the blame for allowing the toxic policies to inflict a lot of damage on the livelihood of Mauritians. He should have better surrounded himself to include enough dissent in the decision-making process -- an important ingredient for increasing the odds of leaving a legacy that will not be sneezed at. Although that would have been easy to do given the number of smart people around it will not change the past. But we can still invent a better future.

We could for example start with the lowest hanging fruit: the CPE. Just add enough chairs in post-primary classes so that we fail 3,500 less kids this year. Repeat the same process next year and we would have stopped the senseless practice of making thousands of children pay for a badly designed learning process. Who knows? Maybe this will help produce another Steve Jobs ready to dent the universe. One more time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

State Proudly Hatching Traffic Frankenstein

By building a lot of roads worth several billions of our tax rupees. With the hope of reducing road congestion. This is unlikely to happen because traffic follows enlargement of road network literally in lockstep.

Will the LRT contemplated help? Not necessarily our best move. We could instead consider intermediate solutions like those implemented in Curitiba. Investing in buses of higher quality and fitting them with cameras would also enable travellers to enjoy the world's second best air quality in a more relaxed environment. Almost round-the-clock. And at the same time save the views that nature has made us famous for from a concrete invasion.

This will depend on thoughtful policy-making. Something that's been absent in Dodoland for several years. And which is too much to ask from the PMSD.

CSR Not Good Yardstick for Our Altruism

Because Mauritians have always been generous and caring when it came to giving a helping hand to the less fortunate. And that too when tax rates were at more sustainable levels. So why did this thing come into existence? Well it was one of the arrows in the toxic bean-counter's quiver: when growth rates required to sustain his fiscal irresponsibility never showed up he had to become a little bit creative to make up for the shortfall of funds. And as he and his university buddy accumulated policy blunders after policy blunders the tax rates had to keep adjusting as a perusal of budget and other documents will confirm.

Mind you am not saying that some good stuff hasn't been done through the CSR. But nowhere does it come close to the perverse scale of the Sithanen toohrooh.

Manu Poach Big Gunner As League Start

Robin Van Persie will join (Bruce?)Wayne Rooney to form the soccer equivalent duo of the famous DC Comics hero in front for the Red Devils. When they play their season-opener at Everton on Monday. Van Persie leaving Arsenal sounds a lot more terrible than when Torres left Liverpool. Watch out for the fan reaction when Robin will play the team he's been such a big part of.

You would think Arsene Wenger is devastated. He probably is but being the great team-builder that he is he has already recruited Lukas Podolski and two other players to offset this important departure. Arsenal also believes they got a good price for their striker -- the most prolific last season.

18 Miners Die Over Pay Dispute

After South African police opened fire at a striking platinum mine. The miners wanted a threefold increase in their wages to improve their poor living conditions. They were armed with machetes and charged the police when they were stopped with gunfire. The New York Times said that the miners haven't seen their situation improve 18 years after the end of apartheid.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Former Citi Boss Wants Big Banks Cut To Size

So that tax-payers money are less at risk of greedy behaviour. Essentially he wants investment banking and commercial banking to be carried out by separate institutions. Or if you are familiar with US legislation, to bring back the Glass-Steagall Act. The nice thing about this proposal is that it would reduce systemic risk because we would have fewer and smaller "too-big-to-fail banks". More on this later.

Time For Some Extraordinary Stuff

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SAJ Prefers Remaining in Karo Kann

Than to see MSM join the Labour government. And denied any ongoing negotiations with the party currently in power. The only problem is that he said the same thing -- if not worse -- a few weeks before the last general elections two years ago.

Besides the Remake 2000 (sounds like a car model, eh?) has just gone through a cooling-off period precisely because the MMM believed that the MSM was trying to get back in government.

Interesting. Remake sealed in April. Cooling-off period in July. Love is in the air.

Independent India Turns 65

It's August 15 again. I was looking at my phone when the clock shifted to 00:00 announcing the new day. I immediately thought about Collins and Lapierre's extraordinary book Freedom at Midnight. I also recalled the broad pages that Amritsar-born SKJ used to write on this day first in the Mauritius Times and then in Mauritius Today decades ago. He was already predicting the rise of the elephant. I could not understand then. Because I had not seen India yet.

But when I visited this great country a lot of the things he said hit me right in the face. And everything became a lot clearer. I reckon that it will take me at least 1,000 years to understand her. Because as observed by Mark Twain: So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or by nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.

Happy Birthday!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thank You London!

For the great emotions you provided for a little over two weeks. Watching Bolt run nine times was more than a treat. Along with Jamaican colleagues. Phelps made some more history. Brazil did not look hungry enough to win the men's football final. And Russia made an awesome comeback in the last game of the men's volleyball.

It was also fun guessing who would win the different events. It was not the Greek-god type of athlete who threw the javelin the furthest. Nope, it was a skinny Keshorn Walcott from Trinidad and Tobago. Who seemed to have the right combination of height, speed and shoulder muscle flexibility. Same for the decathlon  with Ashton Eaton. Quite nice to see Leonel Suarez finish third there -- he won the javelin and high-jump parts.

And the US won most gold this time: 48 or 10 more than China. Which won 13 less events than in Beijing. While Britain bagged 10 more gold than four years ago. Doesn't hurt to play at home.

Good thing we have the English Premier League starting on Saturday. To help get us out of any post-Olympic blues.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How Low Taxes Have Degraded Our Environment

When a government drastically cuts taxes the economy starts running against time to grow faster otherwise tax revenues will fall. And when you're operating in a growth-at-all-costs mode you will make a lot more mistakes. Some of them are going to be quite ugly. And one of the casualties is going to be the environment.

Sounds familiar?

Hotel Boss Believes in Mauritian Talent

Meet Jean-Michel Pitot CEO of the Attitude hotel group. They are making a profit, they have an occupancy rate 10% higher than average and the right attitude. Pitot also understands that cost is not everything. Nope. It's a combination of several factors. He also believes Mauritius got talent in all layers of management.

But he is not against all-inclusive packages and doesn't believe that air access is a show-stopper. Overall, quite refreshing to read.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Shouldn't Yoga Become An Olympic Discipline?

It's a sport, millions practice it, it's been around for thousands of years and it's a very healthy exercise. And there are poses with varying difficulty just like in gymnastics or diving. And who says we cannot have synchronised yoga a bit like synchronised swimming.

Kathak, Bharat Natyam should go in there too. They are as elegant as artistic gymnastics.

They should definitely appear as demonstration sports in Rio. If you ask me.

Selecao Could Grab Elusive Title Tomorrow

When they meet Mexico at Wembley. Indeed the five-time World Cup winners, eight-time Copa America champions and three-time Confederation Cup snatchers returned home twice with Olympic Silver. The timing couldn't be better: Brazil will host the World Cup in 2014 and the next Olympics. Besides they are currently at their lowest FIFA ranking: 13.

The match starts at 18h00.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Using Star Power To Help Set India Right

Singapore Never Chased Growth Desperately

Interesting speech by Lee Hsien Loong about the challenges faced by the city-state as growth rates are set to maintain their decades-long declining trend.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jamaicans Set to Sweep 200m

With three terrific sprinters. Usain Bolt breezed through the heat of his favorite event today. Yohan Blake too looked impressive. And so did fellow countryman Warren Weir. There were three athletes under 20 seconds in Beijing four years ago. We could have more tomorrow for the semis and on Thursday for the final. All this should push Jamaica up the medal rankings by several spots.

That's a nation of 2.9 million people. Just in case you're wondering.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

100m Final Could Be Fastest Ever

And that for a number of reasons. First, going into the semis there are seven athletes who have sub-9.90 times this season. Second the track seems to be fast. Third athletes often lower their personal bests in such finals because everybody is running fast -- the case for half of the sprinters in the Beijing finals four years ago with only two runners taking more than 10 seconds to cover the distance. Finally there is one Usain Bolt running and he could beat his own world record of 9.58s simply because he is reaching the age of peak-performance or could benefit from a slightly faster wind or reaction time.

It's not impossible that Jamaica sweeps the dash. And it would make for a wonderful celebration too. Indeed independent Jamaica turns 50 in a few hours.

The Jump That Took Forever To Measure

Why The MMM Wants To Get into Government

To consolidate our democracy, to get a new MBC, to fight corruption, to improve law and order, to boost the economy and to strengthen national unity. At least according to its leader.

Let's tackle a few of these reasons: consolidating democracy. The MMM doesn't need to be in government to deepen our democracy. Nope. They do that all the time. They lose a general election. The day after they say that general elections are imminent. Berenger then tries all permutations and combinations for its PM candidate. He even tries to get into an alliance with the Labour Party. He is then taken for a ride. He loses another general election. And the Nintendo starts anew.

Now let's look at boosting the economy. I am not convinced that the MMM will be able to do a better job than then the LP. Because they don't have the talent nor the will to deliver on such a promise. All they have is a pretty self-aggrandised view of themselves and of their place in history.

Finally insisting on keeping the BLS hardly qualifies as improving national unity.

Nintendo Player Ends Cooling-off Period

Because he is not convinced that Ramgoolam is serious about presenting a bill to modify the constitutional set up in Parliament. So he will resume talks with the MSM this week. But as he has a big preference for an alliance with the Labour Party expect more zig-zags, about-faces, kustiks and what not.

In the meantime the chess-player improves his majority to 38-31 after poaching MP Bholah from the MSM. Labour now has all three MPs in the riding that returned the former President -- and one of the challengers to Navin Ramgoolam -- many times to parliament.

What now? A couple of defections from the MMM?

Dekortikasyon Lingwistik JT Promye Ut

Biltin-la ti enn tigit mwins ki sinkant minit. Ladan 28.5% letan intervenan ti pe koz an kreol, 48.1% zurnalis ti pe lir nuvel ek 20.7% ti bann nuvel deor sen franse. Total pa fer 100%, non? Be seki manke-la se infopub.

Seki pli interesan ladan seki preske 100% bann intervenan ti pe koz an kreol. Parmi promye minis pendan sinq minit kat segon, DPM vensis, VPM karantwa, sef komiser rodrig dizwit ek PS PMO transis segon.

Ek pa bliye ki apard kan ena enn invite etranze tu bann konferans de pres PM fer an kreol. Bann dikte hebdomader lider lopozisyon zig zag usi an kreol. Miting premye me ek mesaz lane usi pa fer an zapone. Donk inn mari ler pu fer zurnal televise (ZT) vinn biltin linformasyon pli importan.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Politicians, Not Our Democracy, Tired

We know that our political leaders don't have a good plan for Mauritius. But we also know that they can do plenty with our excellent constitution and electoral system. If they want to. Indeed, Parliament recently passed a landmark amendment to the criminal code to allow abortion in certain cases. For sure a lot of misery can be caused if one or more bean-counters somehow gets into the driver seat. Worse, our national finances can spin out of control. As they have.

It's not our democracy's fault. Things will improve if our current politicians get their priorities right or if we get a whole new slate of them. Making your voices heard won't hurt.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Three Digits is Enough

That's essentially what Omega was told when it asked whether it should build a four-digit scoreboard for gymnastics for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Because 10.00 was simply not possible. And then Nadia began her routine on the uneven bars and everyone -- judges, spectators and competitors alike -- were awestruck by a dazzling performance that had no flaws. So that the first perfect score showed up as a confusing 1.00. She went on to win six more.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Man Catches Up With Woman After 48 Years

Which is what Michael Phelps did yesterday when he matched Larisa Latynina's record of 18 Olympic medals. And she was standing ready to present Phelps with the extra medal that broke her own tally. Unfortunately Olympic rules don't allow this.

I didn't know about this until a few days ago. I thought Phelps was the record holder since Beijing. You learn something everyday. In any case, here's Larisa in action.