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Lalit launches www.lalitmauritius.com

06.08.2003

Today, Lalit presented our web-site to the press. Present in the press conference were: Dany Marie, Alain Ah-Vee, Rada Kistnasamy, Sharon Jacquin, Priya Bonomally, Lindsey Collen, Ashok Subron, Ram Seegobin and Rajni Lallah. Ram Seegobin, who presided the press conference explained the reasons for the web-site. "For many years, Lalit has put a great deal of energy into developing our documentation center" he said. "Our emphasis on documentation is based on Lalit's insistence on democracy within our organization: members need to have equal access to information".

Over the years, he explained that Lalit has also developed links with political organizations in the region and internationally.

"For some time now", he went on to say, "Lalit members have been thinking out how to use electronic means so that our documentation becomes easily accessible to our members, and all people who are interested with Lalit's ideas in Mauritius, in the region, and internationally. Lalit members have also been thinking out a system which will make the web-site politically useful, thinking out how to keep it updated, and how to use it in such a way that it re-enforces democracy in the organization, and at the same time, opens out to people outside of Lalit."

Ashok Subron, who Ram Seegobin presented as the architect of Lalit's web-site, explained that the Lalit web-site has been built by collective and voluntary work of Lalit members. Members have contributed not only to the technical part of building up the web-site, but also to the material that forms the content of the site. "A web-site without content is worthless", he said. He said that the web-site is like a looking-glass which reflects the amount of ideas and of thought that is generated on a permanent basis in Lalit, and which will now be accessible to all.

He said that the fact that there are enough members in Lalit who are skilled enough to run a web-site, that Lalit has managed to get the basic equipment needed, and more and more members have access to internet has made it possible for Lalit to create its own web-site.

Ashok Subron said that one only has to compare Lalit's web-site with that of other political parties in Mauritius to see the difference. No other party produces as many political ideas in Mauritius.

He presented the different sections in the web-site: the "documents" section which already contains over 100 documents just for the last year. The documents range from leaflets for demonstrations, to press communiqu├ęs, to papers presented by Lalit members in international events, to analysis and comments on important issues.

The "News" section is regularly updated, almost every day. Lalit members can post news from wherever they are: whether they are in Cap Malheureux in Mauritius, whether they are in Johannesburg, or in Washington.

The "Grup Zenn Lalit" (Lalit Youth) has been built by Lalit Youth, and is administered autonomously by them. In addition, they also have their magazine "Rev Lib" on-line in this section.

The "Art" section is still in development. At the moment, the art section is limited to an album of Lalit posters. Other sections being developed are "poetry", "music", "visual arts", "cartoons". Lalit has always recognized the importance and contribution of art in political change. Many Lalit members are also artists and are contributing to development of this section.

Ashok Subron in this press conference, also talked about the need for political and progressive organizations to address the question of IT rights (or cyber rights). "We are aware that IT, because of class inequality, is only accessible to few people. All people must have access to IT." Class inequality is responsible for the "digital divide".
He also talked of the powerful vested interests at work that block peoples' access to IT, and who want to own and control IT. Lalit, he said, forms part of the growing world movement demanding that IT be accessible to all people.

In Mauritius, he added, Microsoft is busy lobbying Ministers to buy Microsoft software for all primary schools in the country. When in fact, the government could install open source systems, that are completely free, as well as being more efficient. The money saved by using free software, could be used to buy more computers in schools. "Why does the government spend money on buying software, when it could get it free? Does the government want to make Mauritian children prisoners of IT private monopolies?" he said.

Ashok Subron also talked about how privatization of Mauritius Telecom is restricting the development and democratization of internet in Mauritius. "Because France Telecom now owns 40% of Mauritius Telecom, it has a vested interest in keeping internet tariffs high".

Ashok Subron also talked about how all material in the Lalit web-site is "copyleft" (as opposed to "copyright" which means that anyone can reproduce Lalit material for non-commercial use.