Saturday, January 12, 2013

Letter: We need a commission into race issues

To captivated Roxborough crowds, Mr Hilton Sandy warned Tobagonians: “A Calcutta ship is coming down for you,” demonising the Indian population as Tobago’s worst nightmare.

Even worse, these comments were sanctioned by the presence of Keith Rowley and Orville London. 

Of course, Mr Sandy was just following up on established political strategy; his only weakness was the lack of political savvy to cloak what he really meant. Yes, Mr Rowley later decried Mr Hilton’s comments but the delay showed only that his political savvy was also a little slow. In any developed nation, Mr Hilton would be summarily dismissed—but not here.

One of the first things I did on returning to T&T was to attend our 50th anniversary Independence Day parade. Unfortunately for me, the most notable aspect of that day was the marked absence of citizens of Indian descent in our armed forces. There I was, scouring the thousands of officers within the police, army, fire, and prison services and could hardly find an Indian.

How could this possibly be, in a nation where Indians account for almost half of the population?

Unfortunately the answer is simple: PNM’s racist agenda has not deviated any since Dr Eric Williams’ 1958 pronouncement on the recalcitrant minority. How else can we explain the flagrant historical absence of individuals of Indian descent from any position influenced by government whim and fancy?

From the protective services, to senior civil service posts, to NHA recipients and CEPEP gangs, Indians have been historically excluded from the public purse and patrimony.

The nation cannot ignore that the arrival of Mr Manning’s Government in 2001 immediately ushered in a scourge of kidnappings, almost exclusively of individuals of Indian descent. How could it be possible that while our kidnapping rate in 2005 was second in the world only to Colombia’s, Indians were almost exclusively targeted?
Some claimed that this was coincidence, but others thought differently: “Dey dress with jacket and ties/Dey thief and living a lie/Dey better pay back all the wrong things they do/or the bandits coming for you.” 

This is a chant by Cro Cro to very receptive audiences. I wonder how much differently were these chants received compared to Hilton’s comments in Roxborough.
Somehow the nation easily forgets the closing of Caroni, which placed such a large group of Indians on the breadline. This was done under the aegis of financial prudence, but simultaneously CEPEP gangs sprouted up as ubiquitously as the balisier, with the only obvious features being the lack of work accomplished and the lack of Indians in the gangs. Blatant, concerted racism, orchestrated at the highest political levels. 

Did the entire retrenched Caroni labour force need to take to the streets, burning tires and blocking highways, to receive justice? Apparently they didn’t get the memo.

There is a demon of racism that lies at the heart of T&T politics, arguably played by both sides, but this level of racist politicking does reveal a PNM strategy for maintaining power. 

There should be no surprise that crime in general and certainly crimes directed against the Indian community emerge under any PNM Government. Mr Rowley, as leader of the opposition, could possibly be Trinidad’s next prime minister, therefore his stance must be taken seriously.

This certainly is the time for reckoning. We need to reflect as a nation on what path we are to take.

We need an inquest into race issues—far-reaching investigations into the historical nature of government appointed jobs, contracts, housing and handouts. We must look into the eye of the politico-racial beast.

We desperately need a commission of enquiry into race affairs, facilitated by international observers in order to maintain impartiality, with an aim of exposing the soul of our nation and enacting legislation to ensure racial fairness in all arms of the Government and nation. The future of our nation may one day come to depend on it.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai