vendredi 20 novembre 2009

The 'Nation' Did it Again

In a recent article, the national daily lambasted the local political opposition for playing politics with Air Seychelles’ reported financial difficulties. The article was quite a gem, as far as illustrating the political independence of the venerable national paper.
As if not satisfied in having soundly slammed the opposition into silence, it went into another snide side attack in today’s Business Column:
“Air Seychelles (HM) was turned into a political football recently and kicked around after it applied for a loan from the government at a time when the world is in deep economic recession”

(In passing, today’s article had the usual bit to lull us into believing that when faced with financial difficulties, the Management Board of other airline companies have some form of knee-jerk reaction and go for “redundancies and other cost-cutting measures”, unlike what the CEO and the Management Board of our proud national carrier. Quite forgetting that in our case, amongst other considerations, we have a Government budget to run to.)

The article also mentioned what prompted Air Seychelles’ financial difficulties “during the last two financial years” and the request for the November 2009 SCRs.30M bail-out were the “damage to one of its aircraft in Paris and record fuel prices.”

Be that as it may!

Enough has been said about the 2008-09 yo-yoing fuel prices. As for the damage to the aircraft, I had the chance to follow a detailed TV documentary on the repairs to the Boeing 767-300 (Vallée de Mai). The damage was caused in December 2007,when the aircraft was being ground-handled at Paris – Roissy Charles de Gaulle for its scheduled Paris –Mahe flight!. The aircraft had to undergo a pressure dome replacement, a major and costly undertaking by any standards. It was back in service in March 2008.

In such matters, isn’t there some insurance coverage that butts in, same as our more down- to- earth 3rd party risk vehicle insurance? The real cost arising from that incident could not have been of such horrendous magnitude as to, by itself, cause the airline to be in dire need of fresh capital.

Indeed, in his 2007-2008 report, the CEO himself declared that despite “jet fuel reaching hitherto unseen price levels, …… many airlines worldwide( having) a rough ride, the compounding (.. ).. problem” of the damage to the Boeing 767-300 at Paris CDG, the national carrier “managed to post a profit – it was in fact our tenth consecutive profitable year, albeit with a relatively small profit of €604,000"(*)

Does this not suggest that the Nation, rather than choosing to enter the arena of political discourse, should look into other areas, for the real reasons and justifications underlying the financial dire straits of the National Airline?
It just cannot be about that too oft-whipped fuel donkey! Just as it could not have been only about the pressure dome replacement!

Perhaps the local political opposition has a case in pointing a questioning finger at the wisdom of management policies and investment plans!


mercredi 4 novembre 2009

Why Are We Even Here?

What are we, but remnants of stardust stranded on a ball of rock, itself a left over from some stellar cataclysm, offering us fragile refuge on its thin crust laid atop a seething cauldron?
What is our world, but the delicate and unfathomable balancing of forces between stellar and cosmic energies, that keeps our spinning ball of rock in its place around our nearest star within a spinning galaxy of stars, along other spinning galaxies; that keep us firmly rooted on our spinning world; provides and maintains in place, the thin layer of atmosphere and the surface and underground waters, so vital to our continued existence?
The sheer wonder of our tenuous existence does give us cause to ponder!
We have looked beyond ourselves into the dark and blue of space from which we draw the strength of our everyday existence since time immemorial. As we did and continue to do, we hardly give thought to the mix of solid, liquid and gaseous matter forming the orb on which we stand and that is among the smallest of objects spinning through, and kept in, space by secret forces and energies, the understanding of which, despite the millennia of our historical evolution, remained at the extreme limits of our understanding until a few centuries ago. Contemporary religious communities, along with scientists and philosophers, are still trying to decipher these secrets, perhaps waiting for an evolution in human awareness, intelligence and technologies for a breakthrough.!
Other than the sparkle of stars and other large celestial objects, some of us see nothing beyond the limitless and undefined horizon above our heads than stark emptiness of a void lifeless but for the sighs and echoes of our dreams.
To some are revealed a significance of our destiny.
There are those who delve into arcane sciences and dabble in mysticism to pluck at the strings of the unseen energies and vibrations from within living and dead stars, swirling galaxies, cosmic dust and orbiting planets, seeking an insight into the substance of our earthly present and future existence.
Others, perhaps overwhelmed by the magnitude of our swirling solitude in the void of space, readily surrender to, and take spiritual sustenance from, the beauty, philosophy, power and will of a Design and Intelligence far beyond our comprehension, but that expresses Itself through every worldly living and lifeless manifestation.
How did humanity reach the point where it endowed stars and remnants of stars, along with wavelengths of energy coursing and shaping the universe, with the power and intelligent purpose behind our existence?
Is there in us all, some remnant of a creative energy linking us to the stars that causes this universal culture of seeking the source and design of the power behind existence? Or is this the result of our thirst for the elusive answer to the fundamental questions we have always asked ourselves: Why do we exist and seem to be alone in the vastness of the universe?
How reasonable can it be for intelligent, highly educated and respected persons who hold offices we deem among the most prestigious on our planet, to espouse and propagate a faith in dimensions of an eternal Afterlife beyond our worldly existence, under the control of the duality of positive and negative forces, and to which our non-physical essence are bound?
Some say it is a matter of faith, that insubstantial and most private belief we share amongst ourselves, that demands we seek to be elevated and freed, from the prison of our temporal, matter-dictated existence, to embrace the very essence of life as pure, eternal energy. A belief that this can be achieved through worshiping anything from the power and energy of our nearest sun, through those expressed during storms, to the wind, beasts, lava-spitting mountains, on to an imagined omnipotent, all-seeing all-knowing Ruler of a Kingdom in the sky!
Be that as it may.
Life is real. It is a spark borne, at least on our as yet solitary terrestrial world, from the vibration and fusion of matter and energy which creates the unique auto-engineered fire that burns, grows and develops to be self-generating before being extinguished by a pre-determined, built-in code or by circumstance and accidents of existence.
It exists just as much as the air we breathe, the earth, waters and fires that sustain it. It exists as much in the physical aspects that the limits of our human senses can perceive, through sight, touch, taste, feel and hearing, as it does in our awareness of its lesser decipherable forms, energies and power, at the limits of our perception range.
Our thoughts, dreams, ambitions, desires, fears, faith and will may well be intangibles, but to each of us, their existence is as much real as each of us are ourselves. They remain forever locked in each of us and cannot survive beyond our own existence, other than in the replication of ourselves that others may have formed.
They remain the most profoundly private and personal dimensions of all our existence.
It seems irrational to suggest otherwise.
Just as it seems irrational to suggest an engineering intelligence behind the forms and expression of Life, so it is to dispel the notion that Life cannot exist beyond the reach of our sciences and awareness.
One day perhaps, our Male-Female, Ying-Yang, Positive-Negative dualities may very well lead us to discover and understand that space beyond earth is the abode neither of God nor Devil, but of Life itself, neither Good nor Bad, but what we make of it. Perhaps of Life in an infinite variety, of a range, scope and dimension, well beyond the grasp of our current state of evolved awareness