Beggars and choosers

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A stinging blow to our national pride has just sent us smashing against the wall. It was in the Indian budget which came out last week, more specifically the section reserved for foreign aid. 

We are now, you will be pleased to learn, “the second-largest recipient of Indian aid, with Rs1,100 crore” (Rs5.7 billion) allocated to us in the 2019-2020 budget, as reported in the Indian publication Business Standards. The newspaper also specifies that a decade ago, “Mauritius did not feature on India’s aid list”! Today, we do, prominently, sitting proudly with Bhutan above Nepal, Maldives, Myanmar, Afghanistan and unspecified African countries. If that is not enough to make us blush with pride, I don’t know what is. With a GDP per capita of $10,547 and one of the highest-paid prime ministers in the world (Rs6.7 million a year), we are accepting alms from India whose GDP per capita is only $1,939 (prime minister’s salary Rs1.08 million) and receiving more aid than Afghanistan, whose GDP per capita is only $585)! 

“There is no such thing as a free lunch for us as a country. But there is a whole free banquet for those who are directly benefiting from the interested largesse of other countries.”

Notice that the Indian press, normally swift to criticise the way we benefit from India and which was hounding us about the Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty, did not bat an eyelid at the announcement of this budget item or at the fact that the aid budget has been increased by 26%. Indian journalists are obviously sharp and educated enough to know that there is no such thing as aid and that a free lunch is just a figment of the imagination of gullible idiots. This is bad for our dignity, dangerous for our sovereignty and – considering the recent rumours about a possible interference in our politics – may even be a threat to our democracy. 

While Mauritians are expressing their concern about the ‘financial aid’ pouring in and the opaque terms surrounding Agalega, those at the helm are very happy to pocket more money to stay in power for longer and longer. The long-term implications are of absolutely no concern to them.

And India is not the only country we are selling our dignity to. There is worse. In a recent interview given by our newly qualified geopolitician Showkutally Soodhun to Arab News, a Saudi publication, our self-appointed foreign minister openly declared having received $10 million dollars in aid to rebuild some 3,000 imaginary houses that were never destroyed during a very treacherous fictitious cyclone that never hit Mauritius! In whose pockets that handout – obtained through a blatant lie – landed and how much more of it was given that did not come out in that interview is something we will never know. The MSM will do what they do best: keep quiet until the topic has been forgotten about. As they did in the case of the Rs19 million paid to the Sun Trust by the British American Investment companies – some of it NOT during election time. As they did with the cars they never paid for. As they did when father and son took their money out of Bramer Bank before closing it down. 

What we do know is that the inane declarations made by Soodhun will come back to bite us sooner or later. There is no such thing as a free lunch for us as a country. But there is a whole free banquet for those who are directly benefiting from the interested largesse of other countries. But who said those we have elected care an iota about anything other than their own personal interest? So please extend the begging bowl and let’s join in thanking our benefactors and wishing our leaders enough appetite to gorge on the feast. Our unborn children will pick up the tab. 


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