Home-grown gurus

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2014 starts off with a malaise at the University of Mauritius. Press reports mention the silent protest of those who consider that they were better qualifi ed than the one who was appointed. To her credit one lady who felt strongly about being bypassed for the post of Vice Chancellor gave an extensive interview in a newspaper giving vent to her pent-up feelings. She had every right to do so but, for someone in that position, it was unbecoming for her to make a passing remark that her not getting the post might have something to do with her being a “musulmane” . It is not proper to place at the door of communal considerations everything that happens in this “plaisir” country But I agree with her on this and I commend her for that: At least she had the guts to speak out unlike her colleagues who come out as being cowards and spineless.

Whatever the merits of her case, there is something that the person in charge of the University of Mauritius must do and that is to ensure that it becomes a centre of quality. Never mind its ever emerging as a centre of excellence. Mauritius is in dire need of graduates who are comparable to the finished products of established universities overseas. This is a matter of urgency. Mediocrity in the quality of university education unfortunately has spawned an invasion of “gurus” who come to our shores to sell their intellectual and other wares when the University should have been the environment for intellectual ferment and pursuits. The public has every right to expect the University to prove that it is contributing to the well-being of the country at large since it is funding it. In fact the “academic” who is really interested in continuing with academia would shun administrative responsibilities. The pursuit of knowledge is so satisfying that nothing can match it.

It is high time that Mauritians take pride in what they know and what they do. They do not need foreign gurus to come here to tell them how, for example, to be concerned about the welfare of all people and how to conduct one’s affairs so as not to depart from the accepted norms and values which permeate our society. There is nothing that a guru can tell us that we do not already know. It is on account of our lack of confidence in what we can do that gurus have found a fertile ground to peddle their “expertise”. By the way I fail to understand why the foreign gurus like our offshore sector so much. It would be extremely revealing if the Prime Minister’s Office could publish all the gurus who have requested and obtained Mauritius passports. It would also be interesting for us to know the number of gurus who have started companies and who have opened accounts with our local banks so as to place all the donations which they claim.

Maybe it would be even more interesting if we were informed about the sons of gurus who are sent by the gurus to stand in for them on account of a clash of assignments.

Let us in 2014 take our intellectual destiny in our hands and let the University shine.

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