Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Big Business grip on governments deemed overpowering

Lobbies, pressure and advocacy groups are part of the power game worldwide. Do they tend to influence public policies and legislation to serve common good or narrow self-interest? Actually it depends on who you talk to, how generally assessed and how governments and public institutions contain them. What truly matters is how distorted the power ratios and how tilted the affluent leaning.

In a poll Public policies: Who is most influential? ran by Dr Zoom, the title is overwhelmingly conferred to Big Business.

Big Business
  46 (93%)
  0 (0%)
Ethnic/Religious groups
  2 (4%)
  10 (20%)
  11 (22%)
  1 (2%)
Prime minister
  0 (0%)
World Bank
  22 (44%)
  0 (0%)

Votes : 49 
Visitors were allowed to select multiple answers
Big Business refers to all massively dominant business players regardless of skin colour, ethnicity or nationality. In our context, Big Sugar is a fading star, Big Infrastructure is on the look out to cash in on struggling Big Property while budding Big Energy is busy manufacturing future rents and Big Bank is attracting scrutiny. 

Surprisingly, or not so much, the Prime minister is perceived as spineless as citizens are powerless. The real world thrives on sophisticated interactions within groups and individuals, hence a very porous system. From the mainstream media's perspective, the "associations socio-culturelles" represent the single most damning threat to our "devlopma".

Netizens offer a more nuanced, even contrarian, view as they play down the influence of the "associations socio-culturelles" on policies. That may stem from the perception that the involvement of their media-hungry rotten pommes d'amour in business "facilitation" may be marginal but rather intrusive, to say the least, in the job market and top dog appointments, especially in civil service and parastals.

To borrow from a savvy globizen, is "associations socio-culturelles" the metaphysical answer to the "roupie faible/forte" hysteria? A mere hogwash that is treacherously (and unwittingly we would prefer to believe) inflicting far-reaching blows in the form of mistrust, pay inequities, ever-eroding purchasing power, xenophobia, low productivity, ailing global competitiveness and so on. 

Ironically, in the eyes of refuseniks, "laïque" networks of all hues may also act as apparatchiks of Big Business, with the World Bank in the role of the almighty enabler, along overlapping interests. Call it conspiracy theory, crony capitalism, neoliberalism or whatever but it boils down to Mauritius being essentially managed by the useful idiots of the 0.01 percent. Surely, citizens won't stay deluded and mum forever. Meanwhile, the philosophical clarity of Shopenhauer, the anthropological insight of ibn Khaldun, the psychological flair of Kahneman are being badly missed.

In the long run, as Heng Swee Keat, the Singapore Minister for Education, puts it, the education system must be holistically overhauled. In order to cultivate creativity and to be  ''less about content knowledge'' but ''more about how to process information". More critically, the challenge is to train citizens to "discern truths from untruths, connect seemingly disparate dots, and create knowledge even as the context changes''. Simultaneously, a Political Donations Act, a Freedom of Information Act, class actions, referendums and so on must be introduced to inhibit rogue governance. 

It is about debunking deception such as self-serving "réformes", "électorales" or not, defeating hubris and upholding dignity. That is if, deep inside, we feel that we cannot afford breeding more lost generations and writing the tale of many Mauritius.

1 comment:

  1. Comments posted :

    Par Amba Laba | 2 août, 2012 - 01:47

    It is so sad that groups advocating naively deuxieme republic and electoral reform are being rewarded in the most cynical way. As expected freemasons have joined the ranks in the lawyer team to fight the futile best loser cause as Big Business laughs at the amusement created. Lavi lerwa nu don zot, zot fer katakata dan nu lakaz....

    Par Mand | 30 juillet, 2012 - 20:57

    The philosophical clarity of Shopenhauer, the anthropological insight of Ibn Khaldun, the psychological flair of Kahneman? I believe I am witnessing a display of such a versatile brain. With the depth and style of the writing dotted with well-placed sarcasm I am beginning to sense who is behind Dr Zoom. Although I am sure average readers will miss out on the multiple subtle messages, I wonder why people like you do not join politics to help turning things around.

    Maybe you should also have included China in the poll and why not the Church the religious arm of Big Business. In your BB list you seem to have missed Big Hotel and Big Parastatal. Else, keep the eye-opening work!

    Par DrZoom | 31 juillet, 2012 - 11:19

    Thank you Mand for highlighting the lapses that would certainly have sharpened the poll.

    Par monish kevin | 30 juillet, 2012 - 17:51

    Some ten years ago, Rama Valayden had invited a French lawyer, Bernard Meri (I've forgotten the exact pronunciation) and a public conference had been held at Plaza about the close relationship between Big Business and Freemasonry. Perhaps RV could come back into the political arena and enlighten the lay public on 'realpolitik'.


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