Meritocracy exists when a society is governed by people selected according to merit. In Mauritius, we often see that people get selected for higher positions because of political or other affiliations. There are also cases where appointments cause controversy. Recently, the case of Mary Jane Yerriah nominated for a position at the Equal Opportunities Commission raised various questions. Is meritocracy a myth or reality in our small country? Two young professionals debate on this issue. Vanisha argues that meritocracy is a myth while Akshay affirms that meritocracy prevails in Mauritius.
Vanisha Rajaysur: “Meritocracy is a myth”
Vanisha Rajaysur believes that the concept of meritocracy, the system which recognises the ability and effort of an individual, is only a “capitalist conspiracy” and a set of rhetorical discourse. “There is a gap between how an individual believes the system works and how the system really works. ‘Merit’ is worth aiming at but is unfortunately just a ‘mere word’, as the workplace has favoured more nepotism and cronyism. This soft rhetoric to disguise ‘detrimental workplace’ has changed the employees into ‘willing slaves’, who negate their own interest because they believe that the workplace is the best place where they subjugate themselves as a result from their identity, security and self determination that corporate values promise. Moreover, over time, there has also been demise in the strong commitment to meritocratic ideals which has led to suspicious efforts of discrimination. This meritocratic myth exists, from recruitment to performance appraisal or promotion at workplace. This can also be a cumulative effect of “malnourishment” of an individual’s emotions when the latter’s investment is not being revitalised perfectly as it should have been.”
“Meritocracy biases have led to “objectification” of human relations, which affects the self of an individual since they have little identification under the company’s or societal control. This “depersonalisation” of their identity has given rise to dissonance whereby they think that only the most “powerful people” can rule in all aspects of their life. “It is unfortunately a sad truth how these discrepancies have discounted the causes of inequality, which in turn led to unwarranted exaltation of the rich and unwarranted condemnation of the poor,” she concludes.
Akshay Appadoo: “Meritocracy prevails in Mauritius”
According to Akshay Appadoo, meritocracy prevails in Mauritius. “The foundation of meritocracy was built so that people with the best qualifications were recruited to ensure the growth of the country. As people were obtaining higher paying jobs, an elite class of people was also rising where success in the labour market is transmitted from parents to children, and the advantages of the children of successful parents go considerably beyond the benefits of the best education, wealth and genetic cognitive ability. Nevertheless, successful parents are not the only secret recipe for successful children, education and career. When we have a closer look at the annual laureate list we see children from different background who are being acknowledged based on the merit of their excellent academic performances. A society based on meritocracy will for sure create lots of frustrated people because only the best ones will be able to pass through the funnel of success. Based on the definition of meritocracy, we can say that Mauritius is a meritocracy, the real problem that is affecting the Mauritian society is nepotism, as long as the people will stay silent, so shall the abuse continue.”
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