Friday, June 4, 2010

Ghosts of Governments Past


Once again, after a politician of East Indian descent has ‘risen’ in the form of Mrs. Kamla Persad-Biessessar due to the overwhelming support from the beautiful citizens of this country of ‘all races’, we have a ‘political zombie’, rising up from the political cemetery in the form of former UNC Government Minister Mr. Trevor Sudama to preach about the plight of the Indo community at the hands of a racist PNM. A PNM that has had people of East Indian descent in its cabinet as well as holding top positions in the hierarchy of the political party itself. Is Mr. Sudama saying that the nine Indian Cabinet Ministers of the recent PNM Government and PNM stalwarts such as Ralph Maraj, Jerry Narace, Errol Mahabir and Kamaluddin Mohammed are Indian sell outs? What about Christine Sahadeo, Christine Kangaloo and Mustapha Abdul-Hamid? And where would Mr. Sudama put Mr. Parsanlal’s loyalties after all he’s half Indian half African.

Mr. Sudama has alleged by quoting a ‘commentator’, that where the Indo has done well in education, professions and small business, it has largely been through their own efforts and not because of any special favours from the PNM government. Are we to take it then from Mr. Sudama that the Indo population does not utilize GATE? Do they not apply and attend the University of the West Indies, COSTATT and UTT like their fellow citizens of other races? Do they not utilize the government’s small business loan programs? The interesting thing about people like Mr. Sudama is they never seem quite capable of articulating that which they claim, that the PNM as a government has systematically excluded the Indo community.

All the services provided under the PNM Government was and has been available to all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago be them African, Indian, Syrian, Dougla or Chinese, and this not only pertains to education it also pertains to government grants for people with differently abled children, CDAP etc. If it is said that the PNM is racist against the Indos then who they favour the Africans? If so then what is the status with the East West Corridor? No scholar worth his degree can accuse the PNM of being biased against Indians while refusing to put a big question mark over the East West Corridor which is comprised primarily of people of African descent, who have always supported the PNM and who have been systematically ignored by the PNM for the last 41 years.

Mr. Sudama then went on to make reference to the racial composition of the various State Boards, the police and army. Apart from the fact that Mr. Sudama made no mention as to how many Africans were placed on state boards when he was a Government Minister under the Basdeo Panday UNC, this is an age old accusation that has been repeatedly refuted with facts and as I pointed out in a July article in 2009 the statistics from the Central Statistical Office and Council for the Professionals clearly show there being a disparity of Indo Trinidadians in certain fields as most probably being a circumstance of cultural choices. 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 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. 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. Shall the African community along with the Mixed, Syrians et al now accuse the UNC of racial bias because 80% of this country’s doctors are of East Indian descent?

Mr. Sudama further makes reference to Mr. Manning’s vetoing of Indos to top positions in the public service as further proof that the PNM had something against Indos, but it is interesting to note that he makes no reference of Mr. Manning’s repeated unceremonious and unexplained vetoing of Mr. Williams as Police Commissioner and Mrs. Carla Antoine-Browne’s appointment as Director of Public Prosecution, both of whom are of African descent. It is this type of wish washy analysis by people like Trevor Sudama that does more hurt than good to the ethnic fabric of T&T.

With regard the refusal to grant a radio license to the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, on this point at least Mr. Sudama is correct in saying it was a blatant act of bias, but bias for what purpose? Was it because it was an East Indian organisation requesting it, or because it was an East Indian organisation from the core support of the PNM’s political foe the United National Congress? How come when East Indians like Mr. Hafeez Karamath get big time contracts under the PNM it is not perceived as racism but when the PNM refuses to grant the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, an organisation openly supportive of the UNC a radio license it is perceived as racist as opposed to political? That is nothing short of selective interpretation by the likes of individuals like Mr. Sudama who rather than engage in nation building prefer to embark upon a path of speratists.

The biggest joke in Mr. Sudama’s article is when he makes reference to the crowd at the PNM’s political gatherings being comprised mainly of African descent and boast about the fact that the People’s Partnership had a much greater cross-ethnic appeal and that the PNM must embark on a ‘journey of transformation’ in order to re-engineer and reconstruct itself to appeal to Indo voters. This from man who was part and parcel of the Basdeo Panday UNC that was fixated on the Indo Community and the Indo Community alone. Let’s be real, the People’s Partnership is a new kid on the block and more specifically it was the only ticket to Parliament for the UNC. What Mr. Sudama should ask himself is if the UNC was so all inclusive why did it take so many years for them as a political party to appeal to the other races in the country?!

Yet still the core support of the UNC cum People’s Partnership is still predominantly of East Indian descent. I supported the People’s Partnerhip, I attended the rally in Fyzabad and I could count the amount of people including myself who were not East Indian, I felt like an exotic flower, like a tulip standing out in a field of roses! And when one looked at the People’s Partnership’s political rallies and their election night victory party, even though the election results showed people of all ethnicities voted for the Partnership the crowds was 99% East Indian probably with exception of Mr. Warner, Gypsy Peters and Maakandal Daaga all of whom were on stage! So Mr. Sudama I say to you, one ought not to throw stones when one lives in a glass house!

It is a crying shame that at a time like this when the country is actively involved in a critical form of political metamorphosis, blossoming and shining like a woman with child, full of potential and promise that people like Trevor Sudama should seek to invoke baser emotions in an attempt to stir up trouble. Just as I was certain there would be no hope for political revitalisation in T&T should the PNM regain government in 2010, so too I'm certain should the People's Partnership not keep it's distance from people like Mr. Sudama it will not only be the downfall of the Partnership, but will also signify the derailing of all that the Partnership promises to be for the people of Trinidad and Tobago. People like Trevor Sudama are what I refer to as the political un-dead. They are political zombies vying for attention in the wilderness. Mr. Sudama is in political purgatory, haunted by his own racial insecurities and fallacies and this beautiful rainbow country will do well to look forward and celebrate life with the living rather than be distracted with the corrupt soothings of Ghosts of Governments past. ©

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