You are too much, Madam!

16 mars 2023, 09:00


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These words do not come from someone who doesn’t like India. So, those who are always prompt to talk about India bashing can go back to sleep. It wasn’t stated by l’express, which indeed highlighted the omnipresence of Indian High Commissioner Nandini Singla in every event where ministers, particularly the prime minister, are present, and subtly mentioned her ubiquitous smile. This statement was made by arguably one of the biggest India lovers in Mauritius, Suttyhudeo Tengur! 

In a message to the press yesterday, Mr Tengur ‘advises’ the Indian high commissioner to watch her moves: “As a diplomat, she has to make sure that she behaves as one and knows the difference between a representative of a big country like India and someone close to power.” [in Mauritius – Ed.]  

Now, if Mr Tengur has felt the need to take the frustration he must have been feeling off his chest and tender advice he wasn’t invited to give, imagine what our compatriots of all inclinations and backgrounds must be thinking and how they must be feeling. 

Mrs Singla landed in Mauritius with a big bang. I don’t think it was ever her intention to remain discreet as other ambassadors and high commissioners do. She immediately requested a meeting with the press. We didn’t quite know the purpose of an off-the-record meeting where we wouldn’t be able to report on a single word of the conversation we spent our time listening to, let alone challenge it, but we were polite enough to accede to it. The seduction game with journalists had started. And it continued with political figures from all sides of the spectrum.

Later, Mrs Singla started taking position more and more clearly in favour of the government in place and acting like a lady-in-waiting of the prime minister’s wife, Kobita Jugnauth. In some of the public speeches she made in events where no other diplomat was invited to talk, she praised the prime minister for setting up the tramway that we will, for a long time to come, be paying for while sitting in the daily grueling traffic that has become worse as a result. Mrs Singla’s overgenerous praise of the prime minister is not exactly diplomatic nor – I dare say – is it even appropriate.  

Her Excellency, mingling within the circles of power only, may be forgiven for not feeling the anger that is seething within a large swathe of the population against a government that has made a mockery of the principles of democracy, transparency and accountability, starting with the case of Agalega. I don’t think she is aware of the cauldron of resentment being currently felt against anyone who may give the impression that they may stand in the way of our free choice to elect the people we want to lead this country. I don’t, therefore, think it is wise for the high commissioner to turn the knife in that raw wound.

Mrs Singla is here as a guest. She is welcome. But she is not the only guest in this country nor is she – lest we forget – the only woman in that position. She should behave as a guest and be in a position to hold her head high even if the government changes. What she thinks of the government in place should be restricted to the notes she sends back to her country in the diplomatic bag. It is what we as a population think that should determine who gets to rule this island. Because we are here to stay.   

Since the high commissioner is well versed in the French language and its intricacies, she must have come across the proverb “Le trop nuit”. I didn’t want to use the less appropriate English equivalent “Too much of a good thing”. There is nothing good about what has been happening in the country recently.