Thursday, December 08, 2022

General Secretaries of the Labour Party

When Kalyanee Juggoo resigned as General Secretary (GS) of the Labour Party recently Arvin Boolell wondered whether with her 13 years in that post she hadn't been the longest-serving. I knew she did not. Indeed as Chart 1 shows, Kher Jagatsingh had been GS between 1961 and 1982 or for around 21 years. Furthermore, a quick Google search revealed that Kalyanee had served since 2013 so that she had been in that position for about 9 years.  

Chart 1. Kalyanee cannot be the longest-serving GS.
But given that the greatest party of the land is also at 86 years the oldest it is possible that there had been at least one GS that was there for a longer period than Kher in the two large red boxes with question marks. However some more search, see Chart 2, ruled out anybody serving longer than Kher – I cannot use KJ here for an obvious reason – after his stint because there have been quite a few between him and Kalyanee in that post for shorter a period than the latter except maybe Joseph Tsang Mang Kin whose Wikipedia entry gives contradictory information and explains the absence of his name in the charts. 

Chart 2. No one served longer than Kher after him.

But Kher might still not be the longest-serving GS because although it was a wonderful blessing for the LP that he got the job for its Silver Jubilee there are still these 25 years. All it would take for him to keep the first spot would be for the second GS to have been appointed in the WWII year of 1941. This of course assumes that the post existed at that time. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn't. It shouldn't be too difficult to find out. 

Kher Jagatsingh organised the Labour Party like clockwork.

Of course what matters most is not staying in a post for the longest time but having the greatest impact. And when it comes to impact we have to remember that it is widely acknowledged that Mr. Jagatsingh has left oversized shoes in each one of the Ministries that he was appointed to despite not having been there the longest in at least one of them. We should also note that Ms. Juggoo is the only woman so far in this tally and as of now the second longest-serving GS of the LP.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Gentle Elephant Already Back On the Podium

One-fifth of 
Humanity Freed
It's Friday 15 August 1947 and a huge crowd is watching Nehru raise the national flag of independent India at the Red Fort in Delhi for the first time. The subcontinent had been freed only hours before and the chief architect of this mammoth task was greeted just minutes ago with the loudest of roars. Almost. Gandhi is not in the Indian capital. He's in Calcutta hundreds of kilometres away after having accepted to serve as human shield for an infinite number of Muslims. 

1982 Masterpiece
Gandhi is thrown off a first class train wagon in South Africa. He returns to India. Negotiates with the British. Organises peaceful strikes. I see Nehru. The massacre at Jallianwala Bagh. They snatch independence but the country is split into two nations as Jinnah wanted a separate and pure land for Muslims. A huge exchange of population follows as Hindustan Muslims leave India for Pakistan while Hindus do the opposite journey. They clash. Gandhi is shot by Godse. There's so much happening in this movie and I register only a tiny fraction.  

Reading Freedom At 
Midnight A First Time
Many years later I read Collins and Lapierre's extraordinary book and was surprised to learn that the population exchange was not complete. Tens of millions of Muslims did not leave India. Pakistan was initially a two-part country and that the second part was one I had known for many years under a different name from my school atlas. But perhaps the most shocking information is that Jinnah, its Quaid-i-Azam, ate pork. Skipped Friday prayers. Drank alcohol. Smoke and spoke so little Urdu that he had to speak in English when announcing to the Indian population that he had secured partition. 

So much for the guy who insisted that a 400-million-strong nation be amputated because according to him Hindus and Muslims were so different that they needed separate dominions. It's not the first time power is a bigger aphrodisiac than religion. The other thing that caught my attention were the details about the maharajahs. Including those of the Nizam of Hyderabad, the richest man in the world at the time. But just like with the movie I missed plenty of things because there's so much stuff in that great book. Not having yet gone to India did not help. How do you process all the places beyond let's say Bombay, Delhi, Amritsar, Calcutta, Kashmir and a few others? While there are informative maps and well captioned pictures in F@M it's still a huge challenge.

What is This Country?
I eventually visited Hindustan. It didn't take very long to be knocked out by the sheer scale of this nation. If you thought Freedom At Midnight was tough to digest just imagine you are checking out Jama Masjid in Old Delhi and still sizing up the iconic mosque when you see a very familiar site between many of its pillars looking at you: the Red Fort. It's overwhelming to see so many impressive landmarks so close to one other. It's true we had sensed that proximity but the map in the brand new and already dog-eared Lonely Planet is not the territory. And you can never be prepared for this kind of dimensionality. No. So we don't go up the minaret and instead ask Scotty to beam us to the Lal Qila hoping to catch a glimpse of Gandhi. But not before smiling at the thought of one Mark Twain quote. 

Summing Up India
Not an easy task because of its complexity and very long history. It's a slower process than for other countries. So it's a perpetual updating with new perspectives provided by fresh knowledge and impressions like when I was listening to a fellow citizen talk about his experience travelling around India during his fairly long studies there – we're probably looking at the mid-1970s here. His eyes lit up with fond memories remembering this city and that city, this experience and that experience. The nice feeling of just being there. I'm enjoying the listen. And then he summarised a trip to neighbouring Pakistan with one sentence: Not easy that country! Isn't that just another biased Indo-Mauritian being way too proud about the country of his ancestors? Actually that much-appreciated person is probably a Muslim. I didn't ask. It doesn't matter. He may well be a Zen master. He's just a kind person. And his ancestors are most likely from Bharat too.
It's not the Jama Masjid but only its largest darwaza.

Getting Answers 
To Old Questions
I once came across a long list of the major accomplishments of India. You know the one that says she invented the number system we use, yoga, the zero, etc. I was familiar with most of them but there's one that I found very unlikely. It was attributed to Hu Shih, an academic from China, who mentioned some kind of cultural conquest and domination of the Middle Kingdom that lasted for a very long time. I obviously doubted its veracity because of Shaolin Kung Fu, Confucius, acupuncture, the invention of paper, printing press and so many others. But then I read the excellent Tao of Physics by Capra and eye-opening books on eastern thought that explained how Buddhism spread in China because it had answers to questions Confucius did not. Followed by landing on the absolutely delicious interaction between Bodhidharma and Emperor Wu and why the former taught modern martial arts to monks at the Shaolin Temple.

1947 Partition of Bengal 
Not the First One
Watching Satyajit Ray's documentary on Rabindranath Tagore a few weeks back taught me how the Bengali poet responded to Lord Curzon's plan of dividing the province along religious lines to slow down the Indian independence movement. He wrote patriot songs against it and led the singing protests in the streets of Calcutta. When the plan was implemented in October 1905 he asked every Hindu to tie a rakhi to his Muslim brother's arm. Six years later the partition was undone. 

I knew next to nothing about Tagore until recently. Now that I'm a fan he's on my radar. Maybe I will start with that conversation he had with Einstein or the one with Heisenberg where what the latter thought were crazy ideas in physics turned out to be pretty ordinary in Indian thought. This is a lot like quantum scientists telling the Dalai Lama that their discipline had been practiced in India for more than 2,000 years.

Bustling India on its way to the top again.

Nehru's Discovery of India
Read two-thirds of the abridged version of this amazing book 7-8 years ago and read most of the remaining pages recently to understand India a bit better for the big day. I skipped "The Six Systems of Philosophy" section again for the same reason I didn't read it the first time. I'm not exactly into unifying strands of physics. Or adding to the Vedas on the banks of the Indus. But I should have read it for Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav #250. Doordarshan also made a great documentary series directed by Shyam Benegal, Bharat Ek Khoj, based on the book. Don't bother checking the cast – it's excellent, trust me. Just watch the 53-episode drama and be dazzled by 5,000 years of history.

No Tagore in 1947
He died in 1941. But there's Gandhi risking his life again to save an ocean of lives. India's partition has claimed between 200,000 and 2 million lives – some say the bloodiest fortnight in human history – but it would have been a lot more had Mountbatten's one-man boundary force in Bengal not produced a miracle. Unfortunately neither Gandhi or Tagore would be there when trouble would be brewing again in the region twenty-four years later in what appeared to be a new version of Jinnah's two-nation theory. Someone else perfect for the job would though.

Forget Iron Lady,
Meet Woman of Steel
When she was back from one of her trips to India in the last quarter of the twentieth century my mum told me there was something very different about that country that time. A lot more order. People getting onto trains in a more disciplined manner and not the usual chaos. And not only at train stations. It was the same kind of order that had given Tagore pause years earlier when he was visiting the girls' dormitory at Santiniketan and arrived at Indira Gandhi's spot. 

In one of his books Lee Kuan Yew says that Ms. Gandhi was the toughest woman PM he had met in his life. She had a "steel in her that would match any Kremlin leader". This might explain part of the very warm rapport she had with USSR supremo Mr. Breznhev and the signing of the relevant treaty to see a friendly fleet from Vladivostok slide near the Bay of Bengal to help end the Bangladesh Genocide in 1971 which claimed three million lives. Another interesting story in that conflict is how Sehmat Khan, an Indian spy from Kashmir, helped sink an enemy submarine that was on a very strategic mission in the same bay with the intelligence gathered from her embedded position in current-day Pakistan. We also need to salute Missile Man and People's President Abdul Kalam who made his motherland safer while he was around and also left good ideas behind which have been implemented after his death. 

Steel partly made in Santiniketan: lines
from Gitanjali in the study of Indira Gandhi.

The Next 75
It's now Thursday 15 August 2097. India climbed the last step of the economic podium three decades earlier resuming the position she had held for so long. The Cheetahs are thriving, thank you for asking. The 15th Dalai Lama, a woman, is giving a lecture near Mount Kailash on a famous Shantideva chapter to a sea of people while the Tiranga floats in the background. As it does in Peshawar, Quetta and Gwadar.

Quote of Jinnah is from Freedom at Midnight, the book by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins, the one of Hu Shih is from wikipedia and several other sources from the internet while that of Sehmat Khan is from the movie Raazi.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Faith is A Hypothesis, That’s Why It’s Tested

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.

Mark Twain

It's the beginning of the pandemic and I land on a 2016 video where the great Indian actor Irrfan Khan is debating with some clerics a few statements that had sparked a little bit of controversy. I am watching this after founding out he had just died. It was public knowledge that he had cancer, had gone for treatment overseas but it was still a surprise to learn of his demise because I was under the impression that he had defeated it. 

In the discussion, the Paan Singh Tomar actor was essentially saying that one should not accept any religion blindly but check which parts make sense, test them and that he didn't need anyone to explain the Koran to him. One of the clerics wouldn't have any of this while two others were not only more supportive of the leading man in Maqbool but appeared fairly mesmerised. And probably regretted that Richard Parker wasn't in the studio. At one point Irrfan quotes a dialogue from Life of Pi, the movie based on Yann Martel's award-winning book. 

I Doubt Therefore I Am
Doubt is indeed very important but not only for testing your religion. It's useful in every field. And it's basically why you mange risk. You're not sure about everything so you hedge to an acceptable level and update your beliefs as time goes by. Through better analysis and new information. Think Bayes' rule. What Irrfan told us is not very different from the conclusion reached by one of his fellow citizens, Mahatma Gandhi, almost 90 years earlier. Namely that we need to understand that faiths are true but have errors. These mistakes could arise for example because specific parts have been designed for a particular time period and are not relevant anymore. Plus we humans have so many imperfections and are prone to interpretation errors.

This is What I Found. 
What Do You Think?
This better way of thinking is itself consistent with what Buddha recommended more than 2,500 years ago after making the most of the substantial tectonic dividend India had been enjoying for eons. Indeed the enlightened one encouraged everyone to carefully examine what he found instead of accepting his statements like parrots. Parrots? I just googled up the IQ of parrots. Looks like they are far more intelligent than several politicians so let me rephrase the last part as "instead of accepting his statements at face value". Face value? Wonder what percentage of people understand these words. Let's make the sentence more accessible and settle for blindly.

Advice Taken
Which is exactly what plenty of his followers have done for centuries. Chief among them were the monks at Nalanda including one Nagarjuna, often considered as a second Buddha. They and those that have come after have analysed his observations for so long that they've come up with all kinds of useful criteria to examine every part of their teachings. Like impressive tools to avoid logical inconsistencies but more importantly to move towards compassion for all sentient beings. In the process they have confirmed parts of the insights received over the previous couple of millennia as true while not being so sure about others. 

25 centuries later and one Dalai Lama often reminds us that he starts his day meditating on two things: emptiness and bodhicitta (awakening to be compassionate). He was also unambiguous as to what Buddhism must do with the parts that were disproved by science.

Not every collider has a big carbon footprint.

More Than Just Errors

You also need to examine how much time you mindlessly spend on religion because across the ages beliefs have been used extensively to distract, subdue and control people and to harbour animosity if not hatred against others who have different viewpoints. These have been unsurprisingly pretty bad and bloody objectives. Add to this the many cases of paedophilia recorded in organised religions and you wonder what purpose these middlemen between you and God serve. Something Kabir had already warned us about more than five centuries ago. 

And then last October we found through the CIASE report that these mental disorders among French clerics is at an entirely more massive scale than we had imagined. It's good that other countries are doing a similar exercise. After all we recently learned that Pope Francis had to implore forgiveness from the First Nations of Canada particularly for the evils perpetrated in the residential school system. So you don't want to spend too much time on religion otherwise you won’t have enough to understand what is happening around you, to your community and country which is far more important.

Dalai Lama is Going 
Somewhere Else

The Dalai Lama liked to tease his buddy Desmond Tutu that they would be going to different places after they died. The Archbishop would be enjoying splendid weather for a very long time while #14 would never get bored. Tutu would typically respond that the unfriendly weather his counterpart would get would not last forever thanks to reincarnation. It is always refreshing to hear gems of people like them talk lightly about religion like that. And now thanks to technology we can hear that directly. We don't have to rely on a friend or move to a place of worship to find out. This gets us faster to the truth as far less misunderstandings are possible. Which explains why organised religions are currently under tremendous pressure. 

Meet Designer Religions

It's clear that after the death of distance we are in the middle of a substantial reduction in human ignorance through self-discovery. There's simply too much codified knowledge for this not to happen. People will keep on combining practices and religions. Zen with Islam. Sufism with Buddhism. With yoga and breathing à la Thich Nhat Hanh and what not. It will not necessarily have to be scripture-based but it will definitely be more fact-based. And this will lead us to practice something more important than religion and that too on a very large scale: kindness. 

The quote of Mahatma Gandhi is from the Abridged version of Jawaharal Nehru's book, The Discovery of India, the quote of the Buddha is from a lecture of the Dalai Lama on his official YouTube channel, the one of the Dalai Lama is from, Jomo Kenyatta's is from the internet, the quote from Desmond Tutu is from while the final quote from Irrfan is from the 2016 YouTube video.

Friday, April 22, 2022

3 Sputnik Products Government Should Buy Right Away

Numero Uno. The brand new Sputnik Nasal Vaccine. Both as a booster and as a 2-dose regimen. We know for a fact that different vaccines not only don’t have the same effectiveness in keeping us away from hospitals and the morgue but they are also not terribly good at preventing infection and transmission. As Israel found out even after a fourth dose of Pfizer. That’s because we have no soldiers to prevent Covid-19 from living rent-free in our noses and spreading around. But as the diagram shows – pulled from Sputnik’s Twitter handle along with the pic of how it is administered – a nasal vaccine changes all that by building a wall of immunity at the top of our airways. It would also make our vaccination campaigns a lot more efficient and provide most Mauritians with a better immune response through heterologous boosting. Plus as it’s a spray no needles are involved.

The Sputnik nasal spray offers a higher level of protection against Covid-19 by building a wall of immunity at the entry point of the virus.

Administration of the Sputnik nasal vaccine 
is straightforward. No needles are used.

Dezyem. The Sputnik Light vaccine. As a booster or a standalone jab. As 36,956 Mauritians have already had at least the first dose of Sputnik V (which in fact is the Sputnik Light shot) it makes a lot of sense to offer them the option of continuing with the same excellent vaccine. According to Gamaleya, its maker, the Sputnik booster is supposed to last 12 months. This compares favourably with the 3 to 6 months the Pfizer booster will offer protection. Surely the authorities are not planning to jab the population with a 6th dose of a vaccine designed for the Wuhan strain that’s not exactly dominant now by this December?

Third. Sputnik-M jab for adolescents (12-17). It’s a 2-dose vaccine just like Sputnik V except that its concentration is 5X lower. Buying the Sputnik-M vaccine would be consistent with the recent decision of government to add a non-mRNA vaccine like Novavax to its list of approved vaccines. 

There are issues with mRNA 
vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna. 

Government Should Update Its Vaccine 
Strategy With Official Data It Has Published
It appears that government hasn’t been buying vaccines for quite some time relying totally on shipments that are mufta instead. This has caused a 100% dependence on mRNA vaccines. A very risky decision while it kept collecting Rs2 on each litre of petroleum products and as the Covid-19 death toll approaches 2,500. It is way better off checking our local experience with vaccines so far and adjusting the vaccine strategy accordingly. Especially two facts. One is that unlike the other jabs (see chart) nobody who had done the Sputnik vaccine had died from Covid as of November 7, 2021 – these numbers need to be updated via a parliamentary question ASAP. Two, as we learned last week from our National Assembly, Sputnik had the lowest rate of side effects of four vaccines used in Mauritius. 

If government doesn’t want to buy these Sputnik products – the best vaccine against death and side effects according to its own data and confirmed elsewhere – because it has spent too many billions of our national reserves uselessly or hasn’t heard of long Covid yet then maybe it should give citizens who have already been vaccinated with or view the Russian jabs as among the best in the world the option of paying for it. And make it widely available. 

Finally, given that Pfizer has now made several billions of dollars of profit there’s no need for a consent form as if its vaccine is faulty it should be held accountable. Incidentally that’s the reason why Moderna and Pfizer were not approved by Indian authorities. 

Nobody had died from Covid-19 after being jabbed by the Sputnik vaccine as of beginning of last November. This is consistent with what several other countries have found: Sputnik offers the best protection against death from Covid-19. 

Sputnik had the lowest rate of side effects 
in Mauritius confirming what has been 
observed in a number of countries.

This is a lot higher than the official figure that government doesn’t publish in Mauritius 
but sends to the WHO.

The Sputnik nasal spray should help us keep long Covid and hospitalisation to a minimum accelerating a return to normality. 

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Meet the WUT

That’s how people will call the Sir Harold Walter Urban Terminal if the VUT is renamed to honour the memory of one of our land’s finest but completely forgotten sons – SHW built our first and some say still our best motorway which also makes him associated with our transportation network. It’s true he was a pillar of the Labour Party (pictured above with a famous colleague) and we don’t have a Labour PM right now. But we know what happened when we last had one. He actively tried to rewrite the history of the LP and of Mauritius, placing a sycophant at the head of the MBC with a contract that had even a “clause de conscience”. And two of the three Presidents he nominated were not personalities from the oldest political party of Mauritius.

Pravind Jugnauth has everything to gain in making this move. He would rise in stature as a head of government and reap quite a bit of sympathy from hundreds of floating and not-so-floating voters. These are always handy in any election. Besides if I’m not mistaken SHW was the lawyer of SAJ at one time. 

We definitely don’t want to have Victoria in the name of that terminal. That too for several reasons. We’ve been an independent country since 1968 and a Republic for 30 years. Plus Queen Victoria was the monarch on who’s watch at least two famines occurred in India. One such famine is the Great Famine of 1876-1878 during which between 5.6 million and 9.6 million Indians lost their lives – shipping a record amount of wheat to England during that famine didn’t exactly help (Wikipedia). That’s a lot of people. Without blue eyes.

Most of that range exceeds the 6 million of Jews who are assumed to have died in the hands of Nazis of Germany in WWII. Add the one million who died during the Indian Famine of 1896-97 and we’re definitely talking of someone who was the head of state of a colonial power with more blood on her hands than the little guy with a famous moustache. By this yardstick calling it HUT would be a big improvement. 

Furthermore just imagine how embarrassed we’ll look when movies on these famines à la Kashmir Files come out as they inevitably will in a few years. Speaking of embarrassment isn’t it wonderful that we now have a national bird which is alive? Which means we can now think of redesigning our totally irrelevant Coat of Arms.

Finally, we don’t want a statue for the victims of Covid-19 in Souillac. We want it in one of our busiest spots. We’ll be spoilt for choice once we pull down those associated with slavery.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Vaccination Status Can’t Ignore Jab Longevity and Performance

While it was good strategy to have several vaccines in Mauritius last year there’s quite a bit of local data available now to narrow down our choices until better and in some cases more classic ones become available or Covid morphs into an endemic. More information is also coming from the jab manufacturers themselves. 

For example, Gamaleya, which makes the mix-and-match 2-dose Sputnik V vaccine has recommended its booster jab (Sputnik Light) 6 months after the first vaccine regimen and an annual dose thereafter. This compares very favourably with the 3-month cycle that seems to be the destination with mRNA shots like Pfizer. 

With the Sputnik solution we’d be doing at most two more doses over the 18 months following the time we’d stopped being fully vaccinated. Stick with Pfizer and we could be looking at six or more extra doses before parliament is dissolved. We certainly don’t want that many additional boosters. And this for at least two reasons. We’ve all read the warning of the European drug regulator on how a fourth dose could overload our immune system. Do we even want to wonder about the very serious public health problems that could be waiting for us with an eighth dose from a technology that’s relatively new? Plus imagine the current mess at vaccination centres being multiplied by six over the next year-and-a-half.

There has also been the logical recommendation that the level of antibodies irrespective of how they ended up in the body – through infection or vaccination – is a much better yardstick to determine freedom of movement than settling for a uniform but unfortunately discriminatory vaccine-only-based metric. This has become all the more easier for a middle-income country like us to do after the WHO signed a non-exclusive licence agreement with the Spanish National Research Council for a Covid-19 serological tool last November. 

So yes, our jab portfolio should be trimmed but in mindful ways. That definitely does not include putting all of our vaccine strategy in the mRNA basket which would also be a pity given that Modern Portfolio Theory turns 70 in a few weeks. The more so that no cases of Mauritians who took these Russian shots and died because of Covid have been reported so far – which is consistent with the mammoth Hungarian study that concluded that Sputnik V was the best of 5 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm were the other four) when it came to preventing deaths and the second best to avoid infections. The political risks of screwing up this too are not non-negligible for Pravind Jugnauth either and pretty untimely as he completes his fifth year as PM on January 22.

P.S. There’s also a brand new study done at the Spallanzani Institute (Italy) which was published on Thursday that shows that Sputnik does a much better job in dealing with Omicron than Pfizer. Here’s a screenshot from Gamaleya’s Twitter handle. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Guy Who Left Behind At Least Three Pairs of Oversized Shoes is 90

Kher Jagatsingh who was born nine decades ago today left a massive legacy. We look rather briefly at some of his accomplishments and offer clues as to how he managed to do so much so fast. 

He left a job in the colonial civil service to co-found The Mauritius Times at 23 (see timeline). That’s a pretty daring move if done today. Just imagine in those days. But the voracious and curious reader that he was obviously had other plans and a big part of these was to serve his country to the best of his abilities.

These initially took the form of a series of battles in his weekly to retaliate against all forms of injustice and to steer national debates in a direction that was good for Mauritius. One such battle was the “Down With PR” campaign so that Mauritius ended up with a far superior electoral system, the FPTP system. 

KJ was quickly noticed by that team-builder extraordinaire, one SSR, and he was soon standing as an LP candidate in the general elections of 1959 to taste his first electoral victory. SSR must have been quite impressed by his protégé to have the 28-year old as Secretary-General in such defining times two years later.

After an electoral setback in 1963 he returned to parliament after the oh-so important 1967 independence elections and was sworn in as Minister of Health. That was a crucial time to be in charge of that Ministry. The demographic bomb – a topic he wrote extensively on – was being defused. And going through his speeches in that period – a good example is when the SSRNH was inaugurated in August 1969 – leaves us with the unmistaken impression of someone who thought very deeply about public health.

His next stop was a five-year stint at the Ministry of Economic Planning & Development ending in 1976. KJ again used his beginner’s mind to look at economic development and pioneered a new approach, launched the much talked about RDP and in the process, we learnt from Manou Bheenick’s excellent 1999 Memorial Lecture, transformed the ministry into a superministry.

World Bank President Robert McNamara 
and KJ shared the view that bean-counting
 has little to do with development.

The Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs was KJ’s final cabinet position. Everybody knows who implemented LP’s 1976 electoral pledge for Free Secondary Education. What may be lesser known is who put it in the manifesto.

The then 45-year old considered it his biggest challenge yet. Many schools were built, the MIE produced schoolbooks that were more suitable for the 10-year old nation and several components of the education sector were integrated into a coherent whole to help push Mauritius to greater heights.

Widely considered as the best Education Minister Mauritius has had, his hard work in that capacity has been acknowledged by many players in the sector and his interesting ideas are still being looked at.

His excellent work has been recognised by many.

Kher Jagatsingh has lived a very meaningful life. He took on the mighty, educated the masses and strengthened the Labour Party with his off the charts organisational skills, charm and intelligence before delivering solid performances in three different ministries at junctions that were crucial in the history of a young nation. A non-negligible part of this impressive track record can be traced back to the fact that he and his biggest fan, the great leader of the LP, happened to be on the same wavelength on most national issues. These included progressive and sustainable taxation, the FPTP system, the importance of a good welfare state and the necessity of building great teams so as to be in the best possible position to handle difficult problems.

But a lot of his success came from working on himself, travelling extensively, meeting the great men and women of his time (Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Chou-En Lai and l’Abbé Pierre during a 17-month 1950s trip), not letting too much schooling get in the way of a first-rate education (a precious perspective in these times of disrupted schooling), putting in long hours and staying very humble and empty. 

Keeping the fan base happy.

SKJ with his comrade-in-arms and fellow pillar of the Labour Party, Sir Harold Walter (on the right), in the VIP Lounge at Plaisance Airport.

Petals of Dust which gives us a good idea of how much KJ loved his fellow compatriots was published in 1981.