Thursday, March 31, 2011

Of Balance and Balansingh by Alvin Narine


We live in a Democratic society where as citizens we have freedom of choice governed by law. I take this to mean that should I decide I want to pursue a particular career, a particular calling I am free so to do within my capacity. In our society our peoples pursued many different careers as per their choice but dictated to some extent by the geography of the land where they lived. These career pursuits had nothing to do with ethnicity or religion in the main but parents had a great influence in the direction.


I am fortunate to have lived in this, my homeland, in various geographical areas at various times which stemmed from even our pre-Independence days, those Colonial days. My observations as recorded here have nothing to do with my politics or that of my parents. I saw in the country areas that the land was mainly agricultural and so cultivated by the residents for home use and in the canefields owned by themselves or the factory for eking out a living. This was menial and backbreaking work, seasonal and soothy. No right thinking parent wanted such a living for their sons. Sacrifices were made so that the eldest son would gain a profession, preferably a Lawyer or a Medical Doctor.


Following this the Professional’s obligation was to ensure his next brother is given the same opportunity. And so there were families with lawyers or doctors or a combination of both. Of course there were the situations where the son would return with a ‘white’ wife – the studies were usually in England. In these ‘country’ areas the population was mixed but the career drives were the same regardless of race.


My sojourn in the City made me become aware that the trend was different where jobs or careers were concerned. There was always the public service where one can become employed with job security but also where training was possible for future advancement. For those who failed to make the grade there was the Police Force where one can have promotions and be highly respected in one’s district. There was the power of authority. No matter the ethnicity, the residents of the City mainly comprised though of persons of African descent. The trend was the civil service, the police force or fire brigade. In those days there was no Army except for those who opted to join the RAF or British Army. I can recall a unit or station situated in Point A Pierre on the Hill crossing over to the oilfields and into San Fernando, there was no Highway in those days.


Having looked at this background one would conclude that there is a reason for the imbalance of ethnicity in those government jobs. The qualifications for entrance into the Police Force was stringent and persons of African descent because of the physical build filled the requirements easier. One fact must be understood. These were situations existing BEFORE Independence and while we were under the Colonial rule. Thus there was a continuation of this after Independence.


So now, do we seriously want a ‘balance‘of ethnicity when there is the consideration of free will and choice belonging to the Individual? Do we want a Panel to select an even number of ‘Indians’ and ‘Africans’? So what about Chinese or Syrians and to complicate it even more what about mixed? And what about those looking Indian but the genes say African and vice versa? How ridiculous can we get if we strive to go this way?


In our society there is equal opportunities laid out for all. On the question of government employment, that is left up to the citizens to respond. Employment will be based on examination results and if there is an Interview needed there would be a panel. But do we select the panel on ethnicity – six of one and half a dozen of the other? Do we ensure an equal percentage of passes for each race with a one or two percent for ‘other’.


This is getting really ridiculous the various computations needed etc. I am getting fed up. I must recall my stay in the Telephone Company there were a few Narines. My brother and myself looked as typical East Indians. There were two other brothers not related to us who were of obvious African descent. All of us carried ‘Christian’ names. All four of us were ‘mixed’! Well was there ‘balance’?


To my mind, no matter what is put in place there will always be protests and accusations, some bordering on the ridiculous. In employment we choose the best no matter the ethnicity. If there appears to be an imbalance, well some persons who applied were brighter than others. Did ethnicity have anything to do with that or was it parental training or tutorage? Next thing someone will appeal because he/she was tried by someone of East Indian ethnicity when he/she was of African ethnicity and was prejudiced. Then the police must pair off as African/Indian so if an Indian the Indian police will lay the charge and if African the African police will lay the charge.


I know the solution – For next year Carnival ah go write ah calypso on dat so we cud see how chupid we cud be wit dis ting. If is mas we want, well we go play mas’. ©



Please note that this was composed not by Lord Strange of T&T but by a very distinguished gentleman by the name of Alvin Narine. (All other posts without credits listed are the material of Lord Strange of T&T unless otherwise stated.)

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