Forget the beautifully crafted kanwars that took so many days of hard work to build and which were a pleasure to look at in spite of the inconvenience caused. Forget about the volunteers offering food and drinks to weary pilgrims. Concentrate on what is essential: the prime minister and minister of finance walking to Grand Bassin, ‘discreetly’ followed by only a few hundred people, all ready to face the cameras. Focus on a task force – headed by the prime minister himself – which dedicated all its time and energy to this PR stunt and left the traffic to its own devices, resulting in pilgrims being stuck for over 10 hours in jams as you’ve never seen before.
When I say focus on what is essential, I mean what is important to the country as gauged by the MBC cameras. And what is important to the prime minister, who congratulated himself for the “extensive media coverage” he received. Indeed, we have seen more of the prime minister and his followers than we have of any other facet of the celebrations. He was everywhere.
He was at St. Croix for the celebration of Thaipoosam Cavadee; at the opening ceremony of Maha Shivratree organised by the Hindu Maha Sabha; at the Maha Shivratree celebration organised by Rashtriya Sanatan Dharma Mandir Sanghatan; at the Mangal Mahadev Foundation; at the Maha Shivratree celebration organised by the Human Service Trust; at the Maha Shivratree celebration organised by the Hindu House; at the Rishi Bodh Utsav and the inauguration of DAV College; at the Ganga Aarti organised by the World Brahmin (Mauritius) Foundation; at the Char Pehar Puja in five different temples; at the launch of the Road Security Week… I am running out of space! You name it, he hijacked it.
At every ceremony, he took the opportunity to preach about good behaviour and ethics. Then, out of the blue, he suddenly decided to launch a campaign against alcohol and cigarettes. Not through enforcing laws such as stopping smoking in nightclubs and other places where there is complete impunity. Not through a conscious effort to restrict sales of cigarettes to minors. Not by targeting the criminals selling cigarettes and alcohol to underage children. No, by preaching at religious and other ceremonies. That is the way to eradicate all the ills of our society. In fact, the prime minister even launched a first in the world – a campaign against cigars! Perhaps you had never heard of campaigns against cigars, but since the prime minister himself is worried about cigar smoking, it must be more dangerous than the synthetic drugs freely ravaging our country!
And since the preaching was highly appreciated, particularly by those whose business it is to be impressed, the prime minister expressed the wish to hold himself up as a role model. If that is the case, here are a few tips, and they are free. They emanate from the principle that “an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching”:
1. Set the example by showing the youth that they cannot ride on their fathers’ backs to reach their destination.
2. Show them that ethics include accountability. A prime minister, for example, cannot be minister of finance, without transgressing elementary principles of public governance.
3. Give the youth hope that their hard work and competence cannot be overridden by political patronage, clientelism and bootlicking.
4. Get rid of the MPs who have been unmasked by the Commission of Enquiry on Drugs. That would send a clear message that you mean business.
5. Show the youth that there is no substitute for hard work.
6. Dissociate yourself from the mercenaries who insult the population by saying that those who don’t want you to be prime minister are “demons”. Nobody voted for you as prime minister, so you don’t want to be the unelected prime minister of a nation of demons.
Or do you? In that case, please ignore the above and carry on preaching. There will always be people who appreciate the lessons you teach. As long as they are getting something out of it. Something you perhaps want to preach about next time! Or practice.
For more views and in-depth analysis of current issues, Weekly magazine (Price: Rs 25) or subscribe to Weekly for Rs110 a month. (Free delivery to your doorstep). Email us on: email@example.com