Sunday, July 26, 2009

Indo Politicians and the elusive goal of Political Domination

While the debate surrounding Dr. Tim Gopeesingh’s claims of ethnic cleansing rages on, it occurred to me that the UNC is persistently acting in a manner that is hazardous to its own political wellbeing. For one thing the UNC’s persistent claims of racial bias against people of East Indian descent in this country has always and will always make it difficult for that party to regain political power because the numbers alone are against them in terms of Indos making up 40% of the Trinidad and Tobago population.

So even though they constantly play the race card, all it does is secure a certain measure of votes amongst its core support base (i.e. voters of East Indian descent), the race card however does not attract voters of mixed or other races in any significant way and for obvious reasons. As a matter of fact what the race card actually does is spurn Non-Indo voters away from the UNC and of late it has been met with a cold shoulder even by Indo voters who are tired of having their ethnic sensitivities abused and misused by members of their own ethnic group who ought to know better.

In his article “Race or cultural preference?”, Kevin Baldeosingh sought to put this whole question about there being a disparity of Indo Trinidadians in certain fields as not necessarily being an act of discrimination but merely a matter of cultural choices made by said ethnic group. He used statistics from the Central Statistical Office and Council for the Professionals Related to Medicine which showed a high level of Indos in particular fields in the medicinal area, for instance as doctors a whopping 80% of our doctors are of East Indian descent, where as in fields such as Nutritionists the percentage was 22% which suggest that this field is practiced mostly by citizens of Afro and other ethnic groups.

In addition Kevin has pointed out that Indos seem more drawn to technological fields for instance at UTT a technical Institution, 80% of the graduates were of East Indian descent while the student population at UWI is only 35% Indo. These statistics if nothing else reveals that in truth and fact, what those with evil intentions seek to portray as discrimination in certain sectors is merely a matter of cultural choices by the very races which may be over-represented or under-represented in a particular field. For instance even though some Indos have gravitated to the protective services this is still an area that is chosen as a career field by people of African descent. Therefore one cannot reasonably expect to have many Indos holding senior positions if the employment population is predominantly of another race.

Commenting on a 1993 survey titled Ethnicity and Employment Practices, it revealed that of the firms that were owned by East Indians 88.2% of those firms had no Afro Trinidadians represented at senior level where as of the firms that were owned by Afro Trinidadians 78.7% of those firms excluded Indo Trinidadians. In terms of professionals Afro Trinidadian professionals were excluded from 93.1% of the firms owned by Indo Trinidadians, whereas of the firms owned by Afro-Trinidadians 89% of those firms excluded Indo-Professionals. From these figures, Kevin deduced that if there is racial bias in the private sector, it is equally amongst both Indos and Afros. But for the sake of putting things in perspective, and considering the fact that it is the Indo politician claiming racial discrimination against his people, if one were to look carefully at the figures above one will see that though they may be close, Afro Trinidadians are more inclined to hire someone of East Indian descent the difference being 9.5% concerning senior level positions and 4.1% with regard professionals.

I remember fresh out of school, my first job was working at a jewellery store downtown. It was owned by a tall handsome man of East Indian descent Mr. Khan. Even at that tender age of post puberty I felt quite comfortable working for Mr. Khan. He treated me with the same respect he treated all his employees, as a matter of fact Mr. Khan’s employment population was an equal mixture of Indos and Afros with a couple Douglas in between, be them a sales clerk or a jeweller. I never noticed anything strange about the way he treated me as opposed to how he would treat an employee of East Indian descent. The only strange thing I remember of Mr. Khan, strange to me because I’m not a Muslim was the way he had no problem pulling out his mat and bending over in supplication, praying right there in the store in full view of everyone. His personal secretary was of African descent and the majority of guys who he hired as security for his stores were of Afro descent. Your race didn’t matter to Mr. Khan, all that mattered were you selling his goods. To this day if Mr. Khan sees me in Port of Spain he will stop to ask me how I am, and his son who is a few years younger than I am befriended me and will hail me out anywhere in Port of Spain.

After working there I did a couple stints working as an accounts clerk until I landed a job at an Accounting firm owned by people of African descent. My experience working there was not all that pleasant because my boss was an asshole, and he wasn’t an asshole because he was of African descent he was an asshole because he chose to be one. But I digress, at the same time I was working at this firm I also attended the School of Business and Computer Studies in Champ Fleur. There I befriended a young man of East Indian descent who was studying the same discipline as I and who at the time was looking to change jobs. We had an opening at the firm so right there and then, first time we have ever met, I told him about the opening and arranged for him to provide me with his resume so I can drop it in to my boss. My boss called him, there was an interview and then there was employment. I knew many other Afro students who I could have told about the opening, but I told the first person who indicated that they were looking for a job and his race didn’t matter to me. More importantly his race didn’t matter to my boss who was also of African descent.

I am sure there are many citizens who can recount similar experiences such as mine, and the statistics that Kevin revealed in his article speaks for themselves, which is why every time the UNC makes claims of racial discrimination against Indos in this country they’re adding another nail to their political coffin. The ethnic demographics of T&T are 40% Indo, 37.5% Afro, 20.5% Mixed, 1.2% other and 0.08% unspecified as per the CIA’s World Fact Book. What Panday and his sycophants in the UNC fail to realise is when they cry wolf and claim racial discrimination against Indos, they are in effect indirectly labelling the other 60% of the Non-Indo population in this country as racist. The UNC cannot label 60% of this country’s population as racist and at the same time expect this same 60% to vote for them when there is a general election. I have a big problem with people indirectly accusing me of being a racist simply because they are unable to knock the racial inferiority chip off of their own shoulders.

Even Winston Dookeran is allowing the UNC to mislead him by having the COP issue a statement calling for an enquiry into claims of racial discrimination against Indos in Trinidad and Tobago. Dookeran of all people should know better than to engage in this cry wolf nonsense because as an Indo he was once Central Bank Governor of Trinidad and Tobago, one of the most coveted positions in the public sector. The mere fact that he can come now and validate the garbage being spewed by Panday and his race obsessed posse proves what critics of the COP were saying from day one, that Dookeran’s so called new politics is nothing but old politics being presented under a different banner. If the UNC can accuse the PNM of ‘ethnic cleansing’ then it stands to reason that the people of Laventille can accuse the PNM of genocide because since its inception as a political party, the PNM has systematically ignored and disowned the people of Laventille despite it being a PNM strong hold. I have friends of African descent living in Laventille, studying and pursuing the same discipline as myself and my Indo friend mentioned earlier and they have extreme difficulties finding work. Some of them have even resorted to changing their addresses if only to just get an ‘appointment for employment’!

The PNM is no organisation of angels as a matter of fact if anything else they’re well known for mismanagement of state resources, but I do not think the PNM has been targeting Indos in this country. As a matter of fact PNM affiliation transcends all races in TT and they do not pledge allegiance to any one race hence their long track record of being the political party to form the government of our multi-ethnic society. The PNM is labelled as an Afro party and it was labelled so by the leaders of an Indo centric political party who fail to realise that race is not their one way ticket to political heaven. When one considers the current ethnic composition of the PNM Ministerial portfolios, the evidence is there of the pain staking effort they make as an organisation to ensure that there is a significant Indo representation because as the longest surviving political party, they know all to well that the 37.5% Afro population in this country cannot alone ensure their place as the government of T&T.

Unfortunately the UNC is yet to learn the basics of ABC politics. They fail to realise that we live in a modern age, and the voting population which it seeks to govern is well advanced and mature if only to recognise political impotence when it is staring them glaringly in the face. They fail to realise that we live in a multi-ethnic society and if they persistently engage in stirring racial mistrust they will never regain government. Until the UNC reforms its strategies and changes its manifesto to a national perspective instead of the myopic Indo-Victim-Mentality-Inferiority-Complex, the remaining 60% Non-Indo citizens will always spurn their advances for political office and this also applies to Winston Dookeran. The Indo politician in Trinidad and Tobago needs to understand that he is free to hold on to and protect his East Indian Heritage, but when it comes to politics and public office all of us are one, we are one people. The Indo politician has to shed his inferiority complex and approach things from a national perspective not an Indo perspective. If they persist in the attitude of its ‘us’ against ‘them’ then the Non-Indo voting population will always be circumspect of an Indo politician. And it is not his race that will cause him to be unattractive for office but rather his perceived attitude toward other races. ©

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