The economic elite in Mauritius today is comprised of
(a) Franco-Mauritians have vast amounts of wealth and effectively control the Mauritian economy; (b) a handful of Indo-Mauritians who are landowners, industrialists, and traderss; and (c) a handful of Sino-Mauritians who are traders and industrialists. A conservative estimate based on ownership of land and business
concerns would be that 5% of the Mauritian population own over 60% of the total wealth of the country.
The emerging middle class in Mauritius comprises of Creoles - mostly oureds, Indo-Mauritians and Sino-Mauritians. These people, who occupy white collar
jobs or have small businesses, have acquired sophisticated consumption patterns and have formed enclaves in many pockets of the urban teas. Between 15 and 20 per cent of the population can be placed in this category.
The vast majority of Indo-Mauritians and Creoles form the working class in Mauritius. The Indo-Mauritians in this social group are wage labourers working
in EPZ firms or sugar estates and cultivate small plots of land on a part-time basis. Most of the Creoles in this socio-economic class are fisherman, harbour workers, labourers and EPZ factory workers.
An analysis of social stratification along ethnic category and socio-economic class has important implications in the process of economic, social and
political development in Mauritius. Many Indo-Mauritians and Creoles have not forgotten how their fathers and grandfathers were treated during the period of slavery and the indenture system. They still feel very
bitter and hostile towards Franco-Mauritians. At the same time Franco-Mauritians have not conceded that it was unjust.
The Indo-Mauritians attitude to work on the white manís land is thus conditioned by such memories. So attacks directed at the private sector (which is
largely dominated by the Franco-Mauritians), are based largely on emotions and are also seen as a means of vengeance against Franco-Mauritians. And of course, some think it just to expropriate the Franco-Mauritiansí
wealth which has been accumulated through exploitation of the Indo-Mauritian labour force. So any government which blindly ignores such calls from the populace has to suffer the political consequences. Such
considerations on the part of the political decision makers have obvious implications for the policy-making process and policy decisions in Mauritius. This is particularly important when looking at agricultural
policies, which will be discussed at length later in this study.
The lower socio-economic class comprising of Creoles and Indo-Mauritians also feel cheated by members of their own ethnic group. So there is also a
second level attack directed against the small elite group of Indo-Mauritians. They are accused of using their political power to enhance their economic interests, and in the process give concessions to the
Within the Hindu community also (where a form of caste division exists) the lower socio-economic group tends to criticise the upper socio-economic group
along similar lines. This further complicates the understanding of the Mauritian society, and the impact this has on government policies is not insignificant.