Entries Tagged 'Mauritius' ↓


I came to know the term ‘Eurabia’ when watching journalist Mark Steyn. Listening to him awakened in me, the shift that is happening in Europe within the next generations.  In America Alone, the book he wrote, it would seem that any democratic country with a majority of 20 percent of Muslim population would be very tough to govern.

Europe is feared to be in shambles soon as the demographics are laid. America Alone of the super powers would be able to resist the surge of Islam.

Mark Steyn believes that  Eurabia – a future where the European continent is dominated by Islam – is an imminent reality that cannot be reversed. “The problem, after all, is not that the sons of Allah are ‘long shots’ but that they’re certainties. Every Continental under the age of 40 – make that 60, if not 75 – is all but guaranteed to end his days living in an Islamified Europe.” “Native populations on the continent are aging and fading and being supplanted remorselessly by a young Muslim demographic. Steyn claims that Muslims will account for perhaps 40 percent of the population by 2020, but The globe & Mail  correspondent  Doug Saunders labels the assertion false:

Slightly more than 4 percent of Europe’s population is Muslim, as defined by demographers (though about 80 per cent of these people are not religiously observant, so they are better defined as secular citizens who have escaped religious nations). It is possible, though not certain, that this number could rise to 6 percent by 2020. If current immigration and birth rates remain the same, it could even rise to 10 percent within 100 years. But it won’t, because Muslims don’t actually have more babies than other populations do under the same circumstances. The declining population growth rates are not confined to native populations. In fact, immigrants from Muslim countries are experiencing a faster drop in reproduction rates than the larger European population. In his book “America Alone”, Steyn posits that  Muslim population growth  has already contributed to a modern European genocide:

Why did Bosnia collapse into the worst slaughter in Europe since the second World War? In the thirty years before the meltdown, Bosnian Serbs had declined from 43 percent to 31 percent of the population, while Bosnian Muslims had increased from 26 percent to 44 percent. In a democratic age, you can’t buck demography — except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out, as other Continentals will in the years ahead: if you cannot outbreed the enemy, cull ’em. The problem that Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.

Nearer to us, because of the numerous visit of Tariq Ramadan, I was also pleased to read an article published on his repudiation by Stephen Schwartz on American Thinker on August 28, 2009.

As a very liberal observer I find the topic very interesting.

Rotary club of Port Louis

Last Wednesday I was invited by the current President to attend the 45th year luncheon celebration of the Rotary club of Port Louis which was the founding club of Rotary in Mauritius.  It is now almost five years since I left the club because of my health condition. I walked back to the club and I felt as if I had never left: I found the same welcoming atmosphere & fellowship from my Rotarian friends. Admittedly the regular weekly luncheons, the monthly firesides, and frequent team working on projects for the club has throughout the years build a fantastic  bonding to the club and the members.

Claude Obeegadoo a founder member of the club still active in the club gave a brief account of the forming of the institution 45 years ago. As a matter of fact the club was created more than 45 years ago. The club was chartered on the 10th November 1964 but had been running some time before. Most of the founding members were already in the spirit of the Rotary whilst they are united prior to the independence of the country under the Stella Clavisque club with the motto of Service to the Community and they were influential leaders who had experienced social work during the dramatic cyclones Alix & Carol which destroyed the country in 1960.

The story of Claude Obeegadoo brought back to me the memories of my youth and the dedication of my father who was also involved in social service. I was part of ‘les compagnons batisseurs’ organisation put up under the leadership of Edwin de Robillard to help the homeless victims of the 1960 cyclones. I do recall helping my father who was involved in the fund rising banquets organised by the Stella Clavisque clubs. Under the aegis of the Rotary our Music group of the time was often asked to perform for the handicapped and Polio victims at the Hospice Père Laval and the Tamarin Cheshire home.  The names mentioned at the luncheon as founder members were indeed very good friends of my father. Some of them  dinned at  home when the club held the firesides.

For record purposes I have kept a note that Andre Robert who until a few years back  attended the weekly luncheon at age over 90. Andre Robert since passed away. He wrote on the founding of the club.

When Rotary International entrusted me with the task of establishing a Rotary Club in Curepipe, my primary concern was to avoid repeating the mistake which had been committed in the earlier establishment of the Rotary Club of Port Louis and which had been the failure to preserve club records.

This omission has resulted in the loss of useful information on the beginnings of the Club which would have been of great assistance to future generations. Thus, Curepipe Rotary Club has kept records of its first meetings which will provide a useful account of its first steps within this vast organisation.

In early 1964, my friend Louis Espitalier Noel (Bouzic) who had just returned from a trip to Europe came to see me in my office in Port Louis in order to discuss his plans for setting up a Rotary Club in Mauritius. At that time I did not have the slightest idea about Rotary. To me Rotary was a club for dominoes players.

Indeed, I had read in those days in the local newspapers advertisements concerning dominoes tournaments organised by a club in Port Louis named the Rotary Club. That was all I knew about Rotary. Bouzic, who had attended several authentic Rotary Club meetings in Europe and in Madagascar and who have had useful discussions with Messrs Le Goff and Paul Giraud, told me about the aims and ideas of Rotary. I was immediately attracted to Rotary ideals and I accepted without hesitation to join Bouzic and other friends interested in setting up a club in Mauritius. Bouzic also told me that several unsuccessful attempts had been made in the past. We enlisted the support of those who had been involved in earlier attempts and we set forward resolutely.

The first meetings were held in early 1964 at Bouzic’s house in Floreal. We received much help and support from Monsieur Le Goff, Allan Bates who was a Past President of Cyprus Rotary Club and former Manager of the Development Bank of Mauritius, Paul Giraud, Annauth Beejadhur, José Poncini, Amédée Maingard de la Ville-es Offrans and Bouzic. Once the activity had taken shape and we could count on the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Tananarive, of which Monsieur Le Goff was a member, we started holding regular meetings like a functional club. We had alternate weekly lunch meetings at the former Flore Mauricienne in Sir William Newton Street, Port Louis and drinks meetings in the evening in the loft of the Park Hotel, in Curepipe. We also organised “Ladies Nights” in the loft of the Park Hotel.

We started on a probationary basis on 1st June 1964 and our regular weekly meetings to go back to that date. We encountered some problems with our recognition by Rotary International. These were mostly due to geographical considerations. Rotary International failed to understand why our club, the Port Louis Rotary Club was named after a District of Mauritius, when in fact most of its members lived in the high parts of the island, in Plaines Wilhems and Moka Districts. We submitted detailed explanations and maps to Rotary International, saying that although most of our members lived in Plaines Wilhems and Moka districts, at distances varying between 6 and 16 miles from Port Louis, in fact our members’ business activities were in Port Louis. After our explanations had failed to convince the Board of Rotary International, we decided to include the whole island within the territorial limits of the Rotary Club of Port Louis, in order to avoid any confusion and further delay in our recognition.

On 10th November I964 we received our formal recognition by a cable addressed to José‚ Poncini.

In the meantime we had constituted our first Board of Directors with Annauth Beejadhur as President, Allan Bates as Vice-president and myself, André Robert as second Vice-president. Our Secretary was José Poncini and our Treasurer, Maxime Seriès. The other Board members were K. Sunassee, Ebrahim Dawood, Amédée Maingard de la Ville-es-Offrans and Louis Espitalier Noël who was also our Sergeant-at-arms. Fritz Kux was the Attendance Officer when Maxime Seriès was abroad, K. Sunassee stood in as Treasurer. Our charter was officially handed to us by District Governor, John Longman, at a banquet held at the former Vatel which was situated on the present location of the Continental Hotel.

All the members of Port Louis Rotary Club attended this banquet. The guests were Mr. Tom Vickers, the official in charge of the Government of Mauritius, Prime Minister, Sir Sewoosagur Ramgoolam, Ministers of the first coalition Government, The Bishops of Port Louis and Mauritius, Monsieur Le Goff, our sponsor and members of Saint Denis, Réunion Rotary Club. Grace was said by Monseigneur Daniel Liston, Bishop of Port Louis. Speeches were made by Annauth Beejadhur, our President, District Governor, John Longman, Prime Minister, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, top Government official, Tom Vickers (himself a former Rotarian) and Monsieur Le Goff.

The same Board stayed in office following the official receipt of the Club charter. The following 3 committees were created: Club Service, Community Service (of which I was a member) and International Service. We did not form a Vocational Service Committee because we were unsure of its purpose and also because of a lack of members to serve on it. We preferred to concentrate our efforts on a limited number of committees. Like our fellow members of St. Denis Rotary Club, we were independent and did not wish our club to join District 220.

I was appointed President of Port Louis Rotary Club for its second year starting on 1st July 1965. I was attending a Conference on legal studies in St. Denis, Réunion. My friend and lawyer colleague, Dominique Sauger, was at that time President of St. Denis Rotary Club. My friend Dominique and myself received for the occasion a very warm and enthusiastic reception from St. Denis Rotary Club.

Upon my return to Mauritius, I started my term of office as President with the same Board members as for the previous year. At first we found it difficult to select a project. We had several projects in mind during my Presidency. One of them was “Alcoholic Anonymous”. The idea was that Dr. Raman would train for a period of 6 months a medical officer selected from his staff at Brown Sequard Hospital. The Club would than temporarily take over and would pay the medical officer’s salary. If the project had been successful, the Government would have been asked to take it over. Another project was that every Rotarian would look after an elderly or disabled person. We also considered asking Rotarians to employ first offenders, ex prisoners with a view to their rehabilitation upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Prison. Unfortunately these projects, which were rather ambitious for a new club, were not carried out successfully.

Subsequently we bought musical instruments for the paralysed people of Tamarin Cheshire Home and we also paid for a music teacher to give them lessons.

As far as I can recall the list of founder members of Port Louis Rotary Club is as follows:

  • Philippe Lenoir ( Beverages – Alcoholic (Wine Distributing)
  • Pierre Hugnin ( Beverages – Non-alcoholic (Carbonated Beverage Manufacturing)
  • Bhopal Beeharry Panray ( Business Service (Patent and Trade Marks)
  • Clément Dalais ( Construction Service (Building Construction)
  • Fritz Kux ( Construction Service (General Contracting)
  • K. Sunassee ( Dry Goods and General Merchandise- Drapery (Variety Stores)
  • Claude Obeegadoo ( Education (Private School)
  • Archibald Archibald Engineering (Civil Engineering)
  • Allan Bates ( Finance (Development Banking)
  • Ebrahim Dawood ( Food Industry (Food and Grain)
  • Maxime Seriès (Fruit, Vegetables and Nut Products (Fruit and Vegetable Importing and Distribution)
  • Marcel Lagesse Glass Industry (Mirror Manufacturing)
  • James 0. Greig Government (Taxation)
  • H.R. Hurd ( Government (Taxation)
  • Commander Lavender Government (Public Defence – Sea)
  • John Schoon-Wagen Government (Tourist Promotion)
  • José Poncini Horology (Watch Servicing and Retailing).
  • Michel Pitot Hotels and Restaurants (Hotels)
  • Philippe Lim ( Hotels and Restaurants (Restaurants)
  • André Robert ( Law (Solicitor)
  • Henry Latham-Koenig ( Law (Notary Public) )
  • Fernand Espitalier-Noël ( Medicine (Surgeon) )
  • Abdool Raman ( Medecine (Psychiatrist) )
  • Annauth Beejadhur ( Printing and Publishing (Newspaper Publishing)
  • Radhamohun Gujadhur ( Real Estate (Land Development)
  • Carrim Currimjee ( Real Estate (Renting-Proprietary)
  • Robert Antoine ( Sugar Industry (Sugar Research)
  • Philip Scott ( Sugar Industry (Sugar Milling)
  • G.P.N. Weller ( Tobacco Industry (Cigarette Manufacture)
  • Amédée Maingard de la Ville-es-Offrans ( Transportation (Air Transportation)
  • Louis Espitalier-Noël ( Transportation (Travel Agency)

The following members inducted in early May 1965 were the first members admitted to Port Louis Rotary Club following the receipt of its charter:

  • Robert Antelme ( Laundry, Cleaning and Dyeing (Laundries)
  • Pierre Desmarais ( Architecture )
  • Redmond Hart de Keating ( Law – Notary (He replaced Henry Latham-Koenig who had resigned)
  • Edward Bathfield ( Shoe Manufacture)
  • Alain Raffray ( Banking – Commercial)
  • Leslie Mayhew ( Life Assurance)
  • Grewal (Lumber)

Other members admitted upon the opening of their classification round about June or July I965 were:

  • Docteur B. Jowry ( Dentistry)
  • Hamid Moollan ( Law (Barrister-at-Law)
  • L. France Yip Tong ( Refrigeration)
  • R. Seeyave ( Refrigeration )

During my Presidency, I received on 19th and 20th September I965, Kendall Young from the Eastern Hemisphere District Governor Service. I learnt much from him. He encouraged me to try my best to have the club included into District 220. I remember that accompanying him at about I p.m. to the Park Hotel. Upon his arrival by plane in Mauritius after an exhausting day in St. Denis, I offered him a drink which he refused. I then offered him tea or coffee which he also refused. He then told me he was a Mormon and , as such, never drank any alcoholic or stimulating beverages. He then told me that he would like to have a bath. Unfortunately not a drop of water was running from the taps at this late hour, although it was raining abundantly outside. He seemed very disappointed.

I also received Anant Pandya who was then Governor of District 220. He also pressed our club to join District 220. In spite of the explanations of my friend Anant Pandya and the assistance given by Allan Bates and myself, Club members still hesitated and did not want to commit themselves. We wanted in fact to follow St. Denis Club which had remained independent. It was only after the visit of Rotary International President, Luther Hodges, in January 1968, that Port Louis and St. Denis Rotary Clubs decided to join District 220.

Our monthly bulletin first appeared in January 1965. Archibald Archibald (Archi) was responsible for its publication. I have kept some of the early issues of our bulletin. I think that I have given you an outline of our beginnings in this noble organisation: Rotary International. I leave to other founding members the task of completing the picture and of giving you an account of the Club’s more recent achievements.


Tong Sin @ Hua Lien

On last Monday, I attended a talk and sharing around Tong Sin at Hua Lien club chaired by Andre Li.

It was a very good idea and the function was well attended by some fifty members of Hua Lien club.

What is Tong Sin?

As indicated on the Hua Lien ‘s invitation, we meant to discuss on sets of values that drive the behaviours of the Chinese in our multi cultural society of Mauritius.

tong sin

The scope of the subject is so vast.

When I read the  invitation notice, I was glad that some frames were given to focus on the theme. However after attending to the wonderful and very pleasant meeting, I came out with much learning from the various speakers and yet still hungry for more learning and hungry for an action plan for myself and a collective action plan. Was it meant to be only an awareness session?

I identified as part of the discussion would be on Culture and Values of the Chinese in Mauritius as practiced by our ancestry. The 2nd November being the day of remembering of the arrival of our forefathers, I thought that it would be an occasion to review the values and behaviours that drove the early settlers to succeed and transmit to them to the community. In the same time bring to light those values and behaviours identified as singular or of highest importance to the Chinese settlers and offer them for integration to the National heritage.

Whilst I argue that all human values may be the same for humanity, each community may well classify their order of preference differently. Respect to the elderly specially Parents, for example is rated amongst the top values in Tong Sin. This might not have the same rating in other communities. Duty to the community supersedes duty to self is very Chinese: yet another example which illustrates the hierarchy of values especially in this present  individualistic generating tendency.

It was interesting to deepen my thoughts on the meaning of ‘Culture’ in the context of Chinese culture as the word ‘Tong Sin’ seemed to signify. I quote here the Wikipedia definition:

Culture from  cultura stemming from colere, meaning to cultivate is a term that has different meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn  compiled a list of 164 definitions of “culture” in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. However, the word “culture” is most commonly used in three basic senses:

  • excellence of taste in the  Fine art and Humanities, also known as  High culture
  • an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
  • the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group.

When the concept first emerged in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, it connoted a process of cultivation or improvement, as in  Agriculture  or Horticulture. In the nineteenth century, it came to refer first to the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through  Education, and then to the fulfillment of  Nationalism. In the mid-nineteenth century, some scientists used the term “culture” to refer to a universal human capacity.

In the twentieth century, “culture” emerged as a concept central to Anthropology, encompassing all human phenomena that are not purely results of human genetics. Specifically, the term “culture” in American anthropology had two meanings: (1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with Symbol, and to act imaginatively and creatively; and (2) the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively. Following World War II, the term became important, albeit with different meanings, in other disciplines such as Sociology, cultural studies, Organizational psychology and Management studies.

I would single out the two definitions as pertinent to Tong Sin:

  • an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
  • The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group.

Roland Tsang was designated to be the scribe for the meeting and I shall be waiting for his report.

For my part I have observed  several traits of our ancestors who drove them to succeed in the early days. Based on the history books I have read on the early Chinese settlers, it would appear that they had a high sense of identity. The men would wear their Chinese hats and kept their long pleaded hair to go around the country attempting to sell their wares. Their dress and demeanor identify them and they proudly showed themselves in spite of unpleasant remarks from others.  Consciously knowing who they were, where they came from and where they were going gave them an unbeatable mental construct to wage all adversities.

They were 1. Emotionally resilient and 2. Persistent in their sense of duty, thus hard working with a sense of purpose.  Emotional resilience was their main asset: they have demonstrated positive behavioural adaptation.

This resilience is defined as a dynamic process that individuals exhibit positive behavioural adaptation when they encounter significant adversity or Psychological trauma. Resilience is a two-dimensional construct concerning the exposure of adversity and the positive adjustment outcomes of that adversity. Adversity refers to any risk associated with negative life conditions that are statistically related to adjustment difficulties, such as poverty, or experiences of disasters. Positive adaptation, on the other hand, is considered in a demonstration of manifested behaviour on social competence or success at meeting any particular tasks at a specific life stage.

At the meeting at Hua Lien, I heard one of the participants making a remark on his blurred  identity.

The question that I am asking myself now: In the light of the changing environmental factors are we as a community able to reproduce these traits & strength needed  for our survival or progress?

How our Tong Sin would nurture our behaviours to contribute to the nation? Would there need to search in our heritage of Tong Sin  traits, values and behaviours to be in congruence with today’s realities of a fast shrinking numbers of our community and cultural metissage? Are we today conscious of the necessity to reconstruct ourselves for the new environment we shall be faced in the coming years?

L’Amour dans la Verite

C’est avec un regret que j’ai manqué d’assister  aujourd’hui une rencontre et débat organisé par l’association de cadres chrétiens sur l’encyclique ‘Caritas in veritate’ de notre présent Pape Benoit XVI.

L’encyclique Caritas in veritate – L’amour dans la vérité – souligne fortement que le renouveau authentique de l’homme et de la société repose uniquement sur le Christ, qui nous transforme et nous rend capables d’agir dans la vérité et l’amour.  C’est la base de tout développement humain intégral et authentique ; force dynamique qui suppose, certes, la justice et, en même temps, la complète par la gratuité du don et du pardon.

L’encyclique ne propose pas des solutions techniques, mais demande que soient respectés certains principes essentiels pour construire un véritable développement humain.

Elle invite aussi  à entreprendre une réflexion approfondie sur le sens de l’économie et sur ses finalités, qui doit retrouver et faire sienne la logique du don.  Cela demande la collaboration de tous, à tous les niveaux de responsabilité individuelle, sociale et politique, et présuppose une formation des consciences qui donne force aux critères moraux dans l’élaboration des projets politiques et économiques.


1.      L’amour dans la vérité est la force dynamique essentielle du vrai développement de chaque personne et de l’humanité tout entière

a.      L’amour pousse les personnes à s’engager dans le domaine de la justice et de la paix

b.      L’amour a son origine en Dieu, Amour éternel et Vérité absolue

c.      Dieu a un projet pour chaque personne ; dans lequel elle y trouve sa propre vérité et son bien

d.      L’élan pour aimer de manière authentique est une vocation déposée par Dieu dans le cœur et l’esprit de chaque homme

e.      Jésus Christ purifie et libère l’homme dans la recherche de l’amour et de la vérité (révélation)

En 6 chapitres de son encyclique, Le Saint Père nous remet dans la lumière d’aujourd’hui  la doctrine sociale de l’Eglise du Pape Paul VI et le développement humain qui se doit multipolaire.  ‘La richesse mondiale croît en terme absolu mais les inégalités augmentent’. Au chapitre III traitant de Fraternité, Développent économique et Société civile, le pape insiste sur la gratuité du Don. La solidarité universelle est un fait et aussi un devoir est un thème développé au chapitre IV.  La collaboration grande famille humaine et le développement des peuples et la technique  sont couverts sous les chapitres V et VI. Le Pape dans sa conclusion, insiste qu’un ‘humanisme qui exclut Dieu et un humanisme inhumain’.

Le texte complet de l’encyclique peut être lu sur le site du Diocèse de Port-Louis.

Re-Branding Mauritius


If the country brand strategy is able to bring benefits to the economic, social and cultural aspects of Mauritius, then why not?

I overheard some guys saying 30 millions of rupees to produce the logo? Any gifted child could have done better!

I had the opportunity of reading a 39 page document that was produced for the Country Brand Strategy. Admittedly there has been much work and research done.


The Brand Strategy describes the platform for all future communications

for Mauritius. As the first initiative, a new Mauritius Country Brand Logo

has been created along with a special purpose strap line to be a symbol

of the Positioning: “Generosity of spirit” and the Proposition: “Mauritius

Nurtures”. An example of this new Logo appears at the bottom of this

page. The rules for the use and typography of the new Logo are set out

in a separate book entitled “Brand Mauritius Visual Identity Guidelines”.

I quite like “Generosity of spirit” and “Mauritius nurtures”.

I read through the papers thereon last week. The comments I saw are so typical of our lot.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I hope that a monitoring is in place to pursue the branding exercise, its roll out and more importantly to measure the value derived from it.

Le GOUT par Jean Verget

Lors d’un brillant exposé par un expert en goût et Å“nologie, Jean Verget, que j’ai eu l’occasion d’y assister mercredi soir à l’hôtel School Gaëtan Duval, j’ai retenu parmi une mine d’informations nouvelles, un élément simple et important en matière de goût. Simplement je ne peux distinguer avec mes papïlles que quelques saveurs :

· salé comme le sel

· amer comme la quinine

· acide comme le citron

· umamie comme les glutamates

· calcium comme dans le chou

· sucré comme le sucre

Ce qui semble important c’est une harmonie de goût pour rendre l’expérience agréable. Comme chaque individu à son propre instrument gustatif calibré pour soi, l’harmonie ne peut qu’ être personnelle.

Comment faire l’harmonisation ?


Qui est Jean Vegert et quel est son parcours en la matière ?

Certificat d’œnologie et de législation viticole

Ecole supérieure de commerce de Montpellier

Certificat d’économie viticole de la fac de droit de Montpellier

Directeur technique de la maison Brocard (vins de bourgogne) de 1966 à 1971

Directeur général des Compagnons Gourmets de 1971 à 1977

Directeur générale Président de Laplace, le chemin de la propriété jusqu’a sa retraite.

Conférencier et formateur sur l’œnologie et le goût,

Formation auprès de groupe comme :

Accor, Hilton, Sodexho, Elior, Holiday Inn?.

Conférencier dans des clubs du Rotary et des Lion’s

Formation sur la dégustation, la vue, l’olfaction, le goût, les influences climatiques, l’harmonie des mets et des vins, les régions de production vinicoles?

Past Present and no Future

Last week I was having some serious talks with a friend about the future of Mauritius. Do we in Mauritius have a long term plan or a road map we are following? I for one have heard nothing on this score and my friend who is an economist said the same to me.

Are we on a ship heading the nowhere destination? Is there some guys thinking of Mauritius by year 2020 or even further?

As far as I recall in my younger days, the people governing the affairs of the country used to have a 5 year plan which is reviewed every year: a sort of revolving 5 year plan. Are we living from hand to mouth, the nasty unsought present? I understood that there was a Ministry of Planning in the previous governments. Who is today looking or imagining our future? We know too well that the legislative term of a government is only five years. I am of opinion that  we need to have a longer term vision for the Mauritian children of tomorrow. Is not it wise to build now and in the near future the destiny of our children and grand children?

I went through the Mauritian Government web site to find out. I saw only two future looking strategic plans: the Draft Long term Energy Strategy 2009-2025; and the draft education and human resources strategy plan 2008-2020. I note that the two documents are still in draft form. Would that mean that no roll out plans are finalized?

It would thus appear that we have a governing body that is of the past and present with no heed of the future? Is there a strategic plan for each ministry? I feel uncomfortable with a situation when the country is not clear where it is heading, unless the leaders know and  they do not feel comfortable to let the public know.

For years I have been training on the necessity to know as an individual : where do you come from?; what are you doing now? and where are you heading too?  I was told that success are granted to persons who give themselves a sense of direction and a mission and refuse to live like a drift wood on the river.

Bertrand Vergely

Somme tout, j’ai eu une journée éprouvante physiquement mais combien réconfortant au point de vue intellectuel. Un jeudi matin avec un réveil matinal à 6 heures et un départ précipité vers Port Louis pour éviter la circulation afin d’arriver à l’hôtel Le Labourdonnais avant 7.30.

Un vrai bonheur de rencontrer le conférencier philosophe Bertrand Vergely et de vivre avec lui quelques heures le partage de sa passion : la philosophie. Sur le thème de ‘Sens de Vie’, il nous explique en 6 bonnes heures en termes simples le pour quoi et comment homme fait sens des sa vie. Il est certainement d’une positivité que le monde d’aujourd’hui pendant ces moments de crise financière, a besoin d’entendre. Un baume que beaucoup qui voit un monde assombri dans l’avenir devrait entendre. Une lueur d’espoir !

Je le plaisir de présenter ce matin un exposé de Bertrand Vergely sur la vulnérabilité.

La vulnérabilité : une opportunité ou un danger pour l’entreprise ?

Bertrand VERGELY est ancien normalien et agrégé de philosophie, il enseigne à Sciences Po à Paris et à l’institut de théologie orthodoxe de Saint-Serge (fondé à Paris en 1925).

En préambule, Bertrand Vergely définit la philosophie comme la lumière qui éclaire la vie, qui permet d’ouvrir les yeux sur les signes cachés, qui permet d’avoir une vision et un univers parlant.

Elle peut s’appliquer à la vie quotidienne car l’existence est originale et surprenante. Elle offre une vision ternaire parce que l’Homme est un être transcendant, il n’existe pas d’opposition par le fait qu’il y a de la place pour tout. Enfin, elle permet de sentir de l’intérieur car on ne demande pas à l’Homme d’être intelligent mais d’être vivant.

La question de la vulnérabilité, c’est celle des passages, celle de sortir des blocages dans lesquels nous sommes enfermés.

Nous sommes à cheval entre le monde matériel et spirituel et nous devons transformer nos faiblesses en force pour entrer dans la liberté. L’essence du monde est harmonie.

Etre vulnérable, c’est être blessé, atteint dans ce qui fait perdre la médiation entre l’intérieur et l’extérieur. L’humanité est blessée. Pourquoi la vie qui est si belle peut-elle être si douloureuse ?

Ce qui est beau dans la vie, c’est la force de se défendre, d’être capable de faire la guerre comme la paix. C’est l’état intérieur de quelqu’un qui sait ce qu’il veut, qui est déterminé. Car la vie est un rapport de force dans laquelle l’énergie doit être maîtrisée pour qu’elles deviennent intelligentes et transcendantales.

La blessure est une hémorragie de force, une mauvaise gestion entre l’intérieur et l’extérieur, (je me laisse impressionner par l’extérieur). Rester fort, c’est rentrer en soi même, un grand art de la vie, le contraire de la blessure. La vraie force, c’est l’Homme déterminé moralement et mentalement. Etre fort, c’est assumer cette force, le côté masculin qui construit le monde. Mais il est important de dire aussi que la vulnérabilité est magnifique par son côté féminin. C’est l’aspect de celui qui a enlevé la cuirasse, de celui qui arrête de se protéger dans une citadelle. Etre dans sa vulnérabilité, c’est accepter sa limite personnelle, sa fragilité devant l’infini, sa sensibilité faîte de douceur, de légèreté, de délicatesse. Car  les hommes aiment leur vie, recherchent le bonheur par l’expérience de la sensibilité.

Autant que le masculin et le féminin, le Ying et le Yang, la vie a besoin des contraires sans être contradictoire, une introduction du 3ème tiers, celui de l’équilibre, de l’harmonie.

La vulnérabilité, constituée de 2 opposés, un aspect négatif, une faiblesse dangereuse  et un côté positif, le plus haut état de la vie.

Etre vulnérable, c’est être dramatiquement faible. Mais qu’est ce qu’être fort ou faible ?

La force est la capacité de l’homme à établir un équilibre entre l’extérieur et l’intérieur. Si l’extérieur dévore l’intérieur, l’homme devient  esclave d’une situation, dans le cas contraire, il devient  tyran mais dans les deux cas, il renonce à lui-même. Inconsciemment il est séduit par ces relations de tyrannie et d’esclavage qui sont pourtant contraires à ses intérêts. L’homme vulnérable est donc un homme victime d’un phénomène d’emprise contre lequel il n’arrive pas à lutter.

Comment sortir de cette vulnérabilité ?

Les êtres forts sont les êtres qui ont trouvé en eux même les ressources qui leur permettent d’avoir confiance en eux indépendamment des circonstances, et de résister au renoncement. Il importe donc de tout faire pour trouver ces ressources intérieures et pour établir cet  équilibre entre le monde intérieur et le monde extérieur.

La vulnérabilité positive : le plus haut état de la vie.

S’ouvrir au monde, c’est sortir de soi même, s’avancer « nu » face à la vie, sans préjugés ni méfiance, afin de vivre toutes les expériences, de capter toutes les informations, qui seront ensuite autant de matière à la créativité.  S’ouvrir au monde, c’est aussi manifester haut et fort son désir, choisir et qui dit choisir dit aussi renoncer et donc entrer en conflit. Il importe donc d’assumer cette situation de conflit, et de se mettre dans cette position de fragilité qui est compensée par l’immense potentiel de vie que cette dynamique permet.

Nous sommes donc en face d’un paradoxe :

Pour être fort, il faut fuir la vulnérabilité négative et lutter contre les tentations de renoncement à soi. Mais il faut aussi chercher l’état de vulnérabilité positive, et ce afin de pouvoir découvrir et utiliser nos propres sources de vie, nos énergies, qui sont extraordinaires.

Passer les 3 épreuves

– Passer l’épreuve du masculin, celle de la maîtrise de la force, du goût du pouvoir, de celui qui blesse. C’est aussi s’approprier la vie, d’être capable de se battre et de se défendre, de construire le monde.

– Passer l’épreuve du féminin, celle de ne pas se laisser absorber, se perdre, se laisser fasciner par le fusionnel. C’est également avoir le sens des détails, l’attention à l’autre, l’écoute, l’accessibilité et la subtilité des liens entre les évènements.

– Tenir en équilibre le féminin et le masculin pour répondre à la question de la vie et de la mort, pour développer un équilibre créateur.

« Si vous voulez diriger une entreprise, ne faites rien », ou du moins mettez votre pouvoir de côté, trouvez votre place pour devenir le collaborateur des forces qui agissent dans l’entreprise, vivez en paix avec vous-même pour le bonheur de votre entreprise.

Etre vulnérable, c’est combiner les forces et les faiblesses, c’est être humble et maîtriser son charisme en acceptant ses limites pour rassurer les collaborateurs en revenant à la réalité.

En étant sensible, l’Homme découvre l’autre partie de son intelligence, vivante et dynamique et qui peut lui poser problème par un manque de maîtrise. Vouloir dominer, c’est refuser qu’à chaque jour suffit sa peine alors qu’il conviendrait de faire confiance en demain, dans les courants de la vie.

L’intérêt de réunir les forces et les faiblesses dans un équilibre n’est pas de s’endormir mais de pouvoir commencer, car rien ne peut débuter dans le malheur. Il existe des épreuves négatives qui nous épuisent et d’autres qui sont créatrices.

Dieu, Descartes, La Fontaine et Pascal :

La foi est dans un principe ternaire, Dieu – L’Homme – La vie

Descartes développe la philosophie de la vulnérabilité, celles des limites.

1ère règle de morale : Le respect de la loi et de la religion de mon pays

2ème règle : Vouloir n’importe quoi plutôt que de ne rien vouloir. Avoir la volonté car c’est la générosité

3ème règle : Changer mes désirs plutôt que l’ordre du monde. Ne pas demander l’impossible, la limite, c’est la réalité dans laquelle nous vivions.

4ème règle : Méditer tous les jours les 3 règles précédentes.

La Fontaine parle lui aussi des limites dans le chêne et le roseau.

1er principe : Il vaut mieux être faible ou adaptable parce que l’on ne casse pas

2ème principe : Il n’y a pas d’opposition entre force et faiblesse mais entre la folie et l’orgueil et le bon sens.

3ème principe : C’est parce que le roseau a renoncé à la folie qu’il peut être dans sa grandeur.

Pascal et le roseau pensant.

L’homme est le plus faible de la nature mais il en a conscience alors que le monde ne le sait.

L’homme n’est rien dans l’univers mais aussi, il est tout parce qu’il peut penser sa position dans l’univers.

Descartes, La Fontaine, Pascal  font confiance au bon sens et peut être pourquoi pas Dieu aussi.

En conclusion :

N’ayez pas peur de faire des choses simples, parce que c’est là que se trouve les trésors cachés de la vulnérabilité. Ce n’est pas une affaire de solutions mais de vie. Nous sommes forts lorsque nous avons accepté ce que nous sommes, nous sommes vulnérables lorsque nous n’avons pas accepté nos limites.

Les Hommes sont faibles lorsqu’ils ne sont pas reliés à eux-mêmes.

Self- Esteem to Empowerment

Together with a team of social workers when and where I had the wonderful time working with the poorest of the poor of the Mauritian society, I discovered in practice, one of the main issues that keep these poor humans from moving to improve their conditions. They were not only the rejected of the society: they were themselves rejected by themselves. The poor Worthless! The non Humans!

The team at Caritas, after much thinking and reflection put up a program to boost up first the team of social workers to boost up their self esteem to initiate in them their capacity to take charge of themselves. The larger picture or objective was to put Caritas in the mode of Empowerment. The way to  empowering the organization, Empowerment of the social workers there in and Empowerment of the poorest of the poor was the new mantra.

Looking back 5 years after, I am amazed with the work accomplished but more importantly pleased with the positive effects that the impact of the program on the society. The government through IVTB is now asking the Caritas program to run some programs. Under the new branded name ‘life skills management’ a good team of voluntary social workers are now deploying training programs to empower the neediest of the society.

At source, building up the Self Esteem of the individual is the prime objective and the initial spark. Learning to love self before sharing love. Was given to me last night by a friend an audio course by Nathaniel Braden which I found most interesting.

The Psychology of High Self-Esteem

By Nathaniel Branden

1. The Importance of Self-Esteem

Self-esteem, key to success. How poor self-esteem is a root cause of every known psychological malady. The two components of self-esteem. What growth leads to. Nurturing self-esteem. A victory in the evolution of consciousness.

2. Self-Concept Is Destiny

Self-concept defined. Withdrawing your investment in false values. Is it wise to “tap into” the child-self that dwells within? What happens when the child-self is integrated? Exploring your own feelings toward the child you once were. The story of Charles. Eva’s story.

3. The Question of Selfishness /
Living Consciously

Social consequences of high and low self-esteem. The vices of a person with a weak ego. Ethics of rational self-interest. Humoring the self. Living consciously. The core biological fact of your existence. A commitment to awareness. Examples of living consciously and unconsciously.

4. Living Consciously

The different paths people take, as illustrated by the stories five men and five women tell, taken from actual case histories. Intellectual independence. A pen and paper exercise. Taking responsibility for starting.

5. Self-Acceptance

The challenge. Why self-acceptance is required for growth. Respect for reality. The alternative to being at war with yourself. Handling fear. A way to explore the world of self-acceptance. More actual case histories.

6. Self-Acceptance (Cont’d)

A powerful technique for enhancing self-acceptance. What accepting yourself entails. Facing what you dread. Why self-acceptance is a truly heroic act. Experimenting each day with new instances of self-acceptance.

7. Assessing Behavior / Liberation from Guilt

Feeling guilty because we choose to, or because we think it’s what society expects. Valuing your judgment over that of others. Is it really guilt, or is it undealt-with resentment? Or fear of self-assertion? Behaviors that undermine your sense of integrity. Why people become attached to guilt. The internal drama.

8. Integrating Our Younger Selves

Can you embrace and “forgive” the child you once were? How current rejection could have roots in your past. What do you want for your child-self—assimilation and integration into the total self … or alienated oblivion? Ways to befriend and integrate your child-self. Meeting and dealing with your teenage-self.

9. Living Responsibly

Why you must hold yourself responsible for matters within your control. Self-responsibility as an exhilarating and empowering experience. An exercise for those serious about increasing self-esteem. What you must grasp to enjoy an active orientation to life.

10. Living Authentically

The lies most devastating to your self-esteem. What high self-esteem demands. The incorrect teachings and admonishments of our elders. Basic issues to confront for living authentically. What to do if you feel you are presently living lies.

11. Nurturing the Self-Esteem of Others

Lessons from top psychotherapists. How effective therapists conduct themselves. What we must do to understand others. Inspiring the best in others. The value of presenting them with a rational impression of reality. By honoring the self, we help build a community of persons with healthy self-esteem.

12. The Difference It Makes

Living up to the supreme value of your life. Protecting your self-esteem. Serving self-esteem by living benevolently. Six behaviors to raise your self-esteem. Why growing in self-esteem may mean leaving your comfort zone and striking out for the unknown. Expect a sense of disorientation. Why some regress. The rewards of this program.

Democratisation of the Mauritian Economy

I just had last night the enjoyable moments of watching AMY CHUA’s interview in ‘Conversation with History’. That interview followed the publishing of her book ‘World on Fire’.

The essential message of the book is: How exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethic Hatred and Global Instability.

In Mauritius, it is a fact that the economy is controlled by the 7 odd families of the same ethnic group. The present government has initiated a democratisation of the economy programme. Implementers of the program could well learn from the book and be warned of the possible dangers, -social unrest, and resentment from the majority,- whilst the 7 odd families be also be warned of the dangers and the need  to dilute faster their ‘ sweet wine’  by allowing opportunities to the majority to flourish faster, in the light of what has happened elsewhere.

The book review of the book issued by the British Guardian discusses the content of the book but the interview named above supplement largely AMY CHUA points of view on the subject.

World on Fire
by Amy Chua
346pp, Heinemann, £12.99

There is a plethora of books about globalisation, many saying roughly the same thing. This one is different. It is rare, indeed, to read a book about globalisation where ethnicity is at the core of the argument. That must have something to do with the fact that the great majority of authors of such books are white and from the west. The author of this book is a Chinese-Filipina. That is also surprising because, alas, there is little Chinese writing on ethnicity either. But this book is a gem. It is not that everything Amy Chua argues is correct – it is not – but her theme is different, rich and compelling.

Her starting point is that in many developing countries a small – often very small – ethnic minority enjoys hugely disproportionate economic power. As she points out, this is not true in the west: on the contrary, we are accustomed to small ethnic minorities occupying exactly the opposite situation, a very disadvantaged economic position. The classic case is southeast Asia, where the Chinese, usually a tiny proportion of the population, enjoy an overwhelmingly dominant economic position. In the Philippines, the Chinese account for 1% of the population and well over half the wealth. The same is true in varying degrees in Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia and Vietnam.

As Chua argues, rich and powerful minorities attract resentment everywhere: but when those minorities are ethnically different – and highly visible – then that resentment can carry a dangerous charge. “In the Philippines, millions of Filipinos work for Chinese: almost no Chinese work for Filipinos. The Chinese dominate industry and commerce at every level … all of the Philippines’ billionaires are of Chinese descent. By contrast, all menial jobs … are filled by Filipinos.” There is very little social intermixing and virtually no intermarriage. And the disparities, Chua argues, have grown more acute with globalisation and western-inspired market reforms.

Southeast Asia is an acute but by no means isolated example. Throughout Latin America, a small white elite has traditionally enjoyed both economic and political power, as well as cultural and racial pre-eminence. However, while in east Asia anti-Chinese sentiment has long been a powerful political force, in Latin America, at least until recently, there has been little ethnic – as opposed to class – resentment against the white elite. The dominance of a small white elite has long existed in southern Africa. Although the black majority now enjoys – as do their counterparts in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia – political power in South Africa, economic power remains firmly in the hands of a tiny white elite. In east Africa, that economic elite is largely Indian; in west Africa, it is often, though in a less extreme form, the Ibos. The picture that emerges is that in much (though not all) of the developing world, economic power is largely concentrated in the hands of – to use Chua’s phrase – a “market-dominant” ethnic minority.

She argues that this disparity between the economic power of a small ethnic minority and the disadvantaged position of the majority ethnic group is a source of great political instability. Ethnicity, as we know, is potentially a highly combustible issue. “That ethnicity can be at once an artifact of human imagination and rooted in the dark recesses of history – fluid and manipulable yet important enough to kill for [Chua’s aunt, who came from an extremely rich Chinese family in Manila, was murdered by her Filipino chauffeur with the complicity of her Filipina maids] – is what makes ethnic conflict so terrifyingly difficult to understand and contain.” As Chua rightly argues, the mass killing of Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994 and the grievance felt by the Serbs towards the Croats in the Balkans were partly related to the economic advantage enjoyed by the Tutsis and Croats respectively, and the deep rifts that this engendered.

One of the difficulties faced by many developing countries is ethnic diversity of a scale utterly unfamiliar in the west, even the United States. Africa is the most extreme example. The major exceptions to this are China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, all relatively homogeneous, ethnically speaking, and very successful economically. Chua argues that globalisation has exacerbated the ethnic disparities in wealth in many countries, with the “market-dominant” ethnic minorities, for a variety of reasons, enjoying disproportionate rewards, thereby fostering growing instability. This is liable – as happened in Indonesia with the fall of Suharto and the anti-Chinese riots – to boil over at any time.

Further, she suggests that the western mantra of free markets plus democracy is ill-conceived and a recipe for disaster in such circumstances. Here the author, in challenging such a verity, not to say cliché, of modern western discourse is on powerful, if heretical, ground. The western assumption is that democracy engenders a more liberal and tolerant society, but where that society is marked by a profound ethnic cleavage, the reverse may be true. There is no doubt that the anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia reflected the sentiments of the majority; similarly, in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe’s desire to appropriate white farms was not least a populist appeal to the overwhelmingly black electorate. For Chua, free markets exacerbate ethnic divisions and, furthermore, democracy can act as the vehicle for a huge ethnic backlash by the majority. She believes that the idea that the two somehow form some kind of virtuous circle is wrong. Historically, this was never the case in the west: the rise of capitalism and the market long predated the achievement of democracy. And when democracy was achieved, the market was rapidly attenuated by redistribution and the welfare state, the antithesis of the kind of market policies preached and applied to the developing world by the Washington consensus.

One of the refreshing aspects of this book is not just the centrality of ethnicity, but the honesty with which Chua treats the issue. She doesn’t shy away from talking about ethnic divisions or racial prejudice. She is also thoroughly realistic about their tenacity and endurance. The roots often reach back centuries, as in the case of the Chinese in southeast Asia.

In the latter part of the book, Chua widens the geographical reach of her argument beyond the nation-state and suggests that the Middle East conflict should, in certain respects, be seen as a regional conflict between a “market-dominant” ethnic minority, the Israeli Jews, and the overwhelmingly larger Arab majority, far poorer and getting relatively poorer all the time. Finally, she considers the position of the United States in the post-cold-war world and argues that its global position is akin to that of a market-dominant ethnic minority (overwhelmingly white and perceived by others as such), which helps to explain the tidal wave of resentment against the US since September 11 and the sympathy for that event among many in the developing world.

In the western world, we are still largely in denial about the importance and potency of ethnicity. That is basically because the western world stands in such a privileged position towards the rest of the world, a situation that is intimately linked to colour: whites rarely, with the obvious exception of Jews, experience systemic prejudice. Rather they mete it out and enjoy the benefits of racial advantage. It is a pleasure to read a book that presents ethnicity as a fundamental organising principle of the era of globalisation.

· Martin Jacques is a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics Asian Research Centre.