Women of distinction in Mauritius
I have completed a little over two years in Mauritius. My responsibilities as the National Security Advisor does not entail to follow society related developments but the pro active role by the women in Mauritius can not easily escape my notice. Yes, they are a vibrant lot and doing very well in various streams of society.
Prof Ameena Gurib Fakim, was in the news very recently for her election as the African representative of the International Council of Science. Her recognition comes in the wake of her extensive research in the field of medicinal plants of the Indian Ocean. Prof Fakim is presently heading the Centre on Phototherapy and Research in the University of Mauritius. A popular teacher, she also espouses social causes.
Sarita Boodhoo, a graduate of the prestigious Lady Brabourne college Kolkata, has been in the limelight for her immense contribution in promotion of Bhojpuri language in Mauritius resultantly bringing India closer, literally! She lent her Bhojpuri songs and dialects in Amitav Ghosh's magnum opus' Sea of Poppies'. Sarita remains a force to reckon with in bridging excellent relations between Hindi and Bhojpuri speaking people. She had also ably led the World Hindi Secretariat, headquartered in Mauritius.
Dr Vijaya Teeluck figures prominently as a woman of eminence in the field of history. Her objective and unbiased research on the arrival of the indentured labourers from India stands out as a genuine work in contemporary history. She is recognised by the UN bodies on heritage and history for her original findings on the immigrants' arrival and the subsequent developments.
Other than these legends, Marguerite Labat stays in the forefront of the audio visual movement in Mauritius. A centenarian, her contribution to the Mauritian Broadcasting Corporation in presenting popular programmes particularly during the second Great War, remains etched in the hearts of the thousands of Mauritians. Had she been born in any other country, perhaps she would have figured as the longest serving radio anchor in the records of Guiness Book!There are many more from the community of womenfolk who have brought distinction and pride to Mauritius.
And the list of successful Mauritian women goes on and on who have excelled in diverse fields of activity.
Also, there are 13 women elected Members of Parliament and they are not just figureheads but vocal in the Parliament on women related and issues of international concern. Educational institutions like Queen Elizabeth College, Maurice Cure State Secondary School, Rabindranath Tagore Senior Secondary School etc churn out maximum number of women laureates ( best results in the higher secondary exams, conducted by foreign boards) in the country. These institutions are exclusively for women and they produce eminent doctors, barristers and civil servants in good number displaying gender equality and exalted position of women in the Mauritius society. It is estimated that after a spell of few years, women civil servants will outnumber their male counterparts in important govt positions because of sheer merit. They are competent and decisive and contribute considerably in matters of administrative significance.
There are several women in the media as well reporting on contemporary happenings and editors of journals highlighting social concerns affecting interests of women. Likewise, there are many at the helm of political party affairs spearheading party ideology in regional and international fora.
Republic of Mauritius with a population of nearly 1. 2. Million stands out qualitatively in the women's participation in all round development of the country which is indeed a matter of pride for all of us. Their outlook, by and large, is to pursue and achieve total emancipation.
President of India visited Mauritius barely a fortnight ago on a state visit. He too seemed impressed by the contribution of women in Mauritian society.
More about Shantanu Mukharji
Shantanu Mukharji joined the police in 1976 and was exposed to handling complex investigations and law and order situations, especially communal disturbances, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. With varied experience, he was deputed to various countries overseas for security related assignments. He was also with the elite SPG for seven years looking after VVIP security. A widely travelled officer with a diverse exposure, Mukharji also served the Cabinet Secretariat and Bureau of Security (MEA) in different capacities. A receipient of Indian Police Medal for Meritorious service and President's Police Medal for distinguished service, Shantanu Mukharji, after retirement from GoI, is now the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. He is a freelance writer in English and Hindi and focusses on topical issues.