Tuesday, April 15, 2014

JYOTI closes the book, for now

There is a Chinese proverb that says when you get to the last page, close the book.

JYOTI has not reached there but we are suspending our work on this blog until we are able to return to regular coverage of Trinidad and Tobago news. We regret this unavoidable decision and thank the more than one million visitors for your support over the years.

We hope we can be back soon; it has been a wonderful journey thus far.

Please browse our archives of more than 12,000 entries covering Trinidad and Tobago since 2007, with news and commentaries on topics of national interest.

Also, read my book - FAR FROM THE MOUNTAIN - political notes and commentaries - which covers T&T politics between 2007 and 2012. It's published by PARIA and available at bookstores locally and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Presenting a copy of FAR FROM THE MOUNTAIN to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Thanks again for your support. We'll be back!

Jai Parasram - 15 April 2014

Here are some notes about the book:

Appendix I


            Several years ago I started writing regular commentaries, mainly about political developments in my native Trinidad & Tobago. They formed an integral part of my personal blog (www.jyoticommunication.blogspot.com), which remains a permanent fixture on the Internet.
            The intention was to stay in touch and offer my personal views on how I saw my home country develop. The result is a collection that is neither a history book nor an academic text. It is the work of a journalist who tries to shed light on and seeks to explain some of the issues during a critically important period in Trinidad & Tobago’s political development between 2007 and 2012. It presents a view from afar, perhaps even a clearer view, because from a distance it is always easier to get a proper view of the mountain.
            This series of news items, columns and commentaries reflect my thoughts and views on how I saw my country struggle, stumble and then make positive steps as it tried to move forward under a government that, for the first time in the country’s history, represents people from every stratum in the society, regardless of class, social standing, ethnicity or religious belief.
            The period covered in these pages saw the consolidation of power by the People’s National Movement (PNM) under Patrick Manning following his ascension to office by presidential decree in 2001, the near-death experience of the United National Congress (UNC); the conflicts within the party that once governed the country; the birth of the Congress of the People (COP); the selfless struggle by a dedicated few to revive the UNC and finally the rise of Kamla Persad-Bissessar to lead the party and the country. 
            Within four months of becoming political leader of the UNC Kamla and her political colleagues formed a national coalition of interests that won a decisive political victory in a general election that was not due until 2012. The powerful People’s Partnership toppled Patrick Manning and his PNM administration and Kamla became the first woman to lead a government of Trinidad & Tobago.
            What you are holding in your hands is a collection of my thoughts, a record of how I saw things.  It is by no means exhaustive and is really a snapshot of the period, compressing time and space to build a political narrative.
            My hope is that you will find material here to generate a national conversation on where we are today and where are heading as we continue our journey past the first 50 years since we pulled down the Union Jack and hoisted our own national flag with a pledge to create a new state forged from the “Love of Liberty” where each of us would “find an equal place.”
            I thought of calling this “A political lime” because in a sense that is what it is – and honest, from-the-heart conversation tinged with my own bias as I responded to the daily events and the changing political fortunes. I have to confess that it pained me to write some of what you find in these pages but I felt a patriotic obligation to write down my thoughts for posterity.
Jai Parasram | Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

Appendix II

            I have known Jai Parasram for the better part of two decades. Our paths have crisscrossed over the years and we have maintained a friendship that has been sustained through periods of intense connection and discussion and periods of absence through physical distance.
            Jai is a patriot who was one of the pillars at Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) having joined the company on 16th February, 1972. He has seen politics and society at close range from both sides of the camera and he has a compelling story to tell.
            For most of his career, he has reported and analysed the news, but there is a side to his amazing life that has not recorded the extent to which he has, in fact, helped to make the news.
            Jai represents the quintessential Trinidadian who has broken all of the stereotypes that would apply to him in the land of his birth by virtue of the fact that his professional reputation as a renowned producer, editor and broadcaster have earned him acclaim internationally.
            As a highly respected journalist at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Toronto, which he joined on 13th June, 1988, Jai has earned the accolades befitting someone whose talent is rare. His voice resonated over the black and white (and later colour) airwaves of TTT in his native Trinidad and Tobago in the 1970s and 1980s and that grounding led him to win journalism awards locally, regionally and in Canada for his work...
            Jai was part of a team that launched the well-known CBC cable news and current affairs television network “Newsworld” (now called Canada News Network) on 31st July, 1989. It was only the second twenty-four hour all-news channel to be established in North America after CNN had started “Headline News” some time before.       He was a main driver of the growth of “Newsworld” in Canada as an editor, writer and producer.
            Often times, the passage of time and the forgetfulness of post-colonial societies that do not bother to document their histories will wipe away the richness of their own past glories. Jai, like so many others who have hit more than the proverbial glass ceiling in West Indian societies, had to be part of an inevitable diaspora that allowed very good homegrown talent to blossom elsewhere because of the smallness and inequalities of these West Indian societies that scream equality and whisper discrimination of all types. 
            Jai has made a pause here to let us have an insight into his own contribution to his passage across the digital divide with a collection of hundreds of blogs that he has written over a five-year period that tells the story of the fall of the Manning regime and the arrival of the first female Prime Minister, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, into office.
            Much has been said and written about this period of the political history of Trinidad and Tobago, but this story is told through the eyes of a person whose journalistic and political instincts can intimately describe the political rise of Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Academics, journalists and activists of all political persuasions will find this book to be meticulously compiled, yet easy to read as they can relate to its subjects and objects.
            In reading this book, it is important to do so far from the mountain because that is how it was written.  Jai has never lost sight of that mountain that he has always been able to see from the plains of Caroni or through the lenses of the cameras at the CBC.

Appendix III
Publisher’s Note

            We met Jai Parasram in July this year when we were introduced to this veteran journalist by Dr. Hamid Ghany, with whom we had collaborated with in 2012 on the production of the official commemorative magazine of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to mark the 50th anniversary of the Independence of our nation.
            Dr. Ghany had a good hunch that Jai’s manuscript would be a good fit with Paria Broadcasting’s overall work. The author’s concept for this book, “Far from the Mountain”, immediately caught our interest. As a publishing house specialised in the history of Trinidad and Tobago, we saw a two-fold uniqueness in this book: on the one hand, it presented contemporary history in a diary form, which allowed for a depth and spontaneity that “hindsight research” wouldn’t, and on the other hand, its content had previously been published as a blog, which gave it inter- medial linkages that we always look for.
            We of course, knew Jai as an early pioneer of television journalism in Trinidad and Tobago. Jai rose through the ranks of Trini- dad’s national television service, Trinidad and Tobago Television (ttt) as a reporter, writer, producer, anchor and News Director, and we are happy that he added his memories of TTT as an appendix to this book. Unfortunately, these pages do not have any sound, because like ourselves, many Trinidadians and Tobagonians of a “certain generation” would remember his voice very well from TTT’s nightly news programme “Panorama”.
            As a much-respected journalist Jai Parasram travelled the Caribbean, always focused on “telling the story” — telling THE story, concisely and with wit and the sort of sparse commentary that leave it open to the viewer or reader to draw his or her own conclusions. This skill of the journalist of four decades is also very evident in “Far from the Mountain”. Whether you intend to read the short chapters consecutively, or browse and dip into the pages wherever fancy takes you — Jai’s journalistic genius will always add value to your reading experience.
            What attracted us particularly to this manuscript was the “witness to history” format. Jai’s epistles accompany an important period of change in Trinidad and Tobago’s political history. On an almost month- by-month basis, he summarises and annotates events surrounding the emergence of Kamla Persad-Bissessar as prime minister of the country. Jai, ever the master storyteller, weaves facts of the past that are easily forgotten in the urgency of the present into an overall narrative that makes them memorable and logical. And the savvy political strategist also shimmers through these pages. Jai takes position and does not spare with ammunition, so reader, be prepared for numerous volleys!
            “Although I live in Canada, my feet remain grounded in Trinidad and Tobago,” Jai told us. With “Far from the Mountain”, Jai Parasram has left a legacy of great academic value and a virtual “how to” book for budding journalists, all seasoned with a pinch of homesickness that gives this book its patriotic flavour.


Appendix IV


Introduction by Ajay Parasram


A divided opposition; the struggle for survival
Common sense and the politics of opposition
The trouble with disunity
How to win an election or lose one
Let the people decide
Don’t celebrate COP victory yet
Political lessons from Canada
Super weekend for T&T politics
Politics by numbers; gambling with T&T’s future
Panday is not dead yet; UNC support still strong
Time to focus on T&T’s future; tomorrow is too late
The trouble with polls
Basdeo Panday and the politics of opposition
Basdeo Panday: Look in the mirror


Democracy in portions
Griffith challenges COP leader
COP bickering exposes vulnerability of opposition politics
Dookeran says deal with the UNC-A is an option
Panday expulsion is a brilliant strategy of distraction
Leave the laptop; get on with the people’s business
Speaker’s agenda lost in propaganda over laptop affair
Don’t save face; save the nation
Food prices and survival back home in T&T
Minister calls for supermarket boycott; blames grocers for high food prices
Looting, assault and robbery a routine affair in T&T
Revenge of the stepchild
What agriculture incentives?
Has Rowley’s time come?
Now is the time to stand up for T&T
Failed state or failing?
Manning announces enquiry into construction sector and UDeCOTT
Why does T&T need a new form of indentureship?
Is Manning making Grenada a colony?
Why is the opposition giving the government a free ride?
Free speech at risk
Improve media standards, but don’t curtail freedom
One year after Manning’s 26-15 victory; Do we like it son?


Time to unite and save T&T: jack Warner
Jack ready to hit the road if UNC refuses to change
Send me off in a blaze of glory
Can Couva North be Panday’s Waterloo
Panday, Dookeran want independent inquiry into Bakr affidavit
Time to defend our freedom
Does Jeremi’e friend or foe exclude PM Manning?
Ramesh might challenge Panday for UNC leadership
Who will lead the UNC?
Warner, Dookeran keep unity flame ablaze
Warner urges constituents to destroy Ravanas
Dookeran praises Warner, launches new search for unity
It’s time to end the battles and unite to win the war
PM Manning says Rowley not fired over UDeCOTT
Manning calls Rowley a ‘raging bull’
UNC delegate tells Panday step aside and let Kamla lead
Dookeran slams government; talks of Panday-Manning alliance
Opposition political games hurting T&T


Kamla to take on Bas, Ramesh for UNC leadership
Kamla’s gamble
Don’t celebrate Kamla’s victory yet
Challenging the UNC status quo
All not well in Panday camp
The will of the majority must prevail in UNC election
Nomination Day marks start of home stretch in epic UNC election battle
Warner fought for Mark to get Senate seat
Media, politics and the truth
Kamla praises Panday but says he’s too wounded to lead
You are a loser, Kamla tells Panday
Is there life after the election?
What is the UNC protecting?
Has the UNC lost its way?
Kamla beats Bas; says it’s a people’s victory
Kamla takes charge of UNC; praises media
Panday’s control of UNC is betrayal of the people
Kamla unseats Panday
Don’t let Panday stand in the way of progress


Kamla files no confidence motion in government
Who shot Calder Hart?
Opposition unity is good news but at what price?
COP/UNC agree on 2-way contest in next election
Manning tells PNM get ready for election
Manning makes a gamble but is the opposition ready?
Manning’s options: prorogue or dissolve
Kamla wants Manning to fire housing minister, UDeCOTT board
Kamla wants Manning’s resignation
Parliament dissolved
Manning’s gamble; don’t celebrate yet
Manning was facing palace coup: Kamla
The Rowley factor is the PNM’s albatross
Kamla declares victory at hand; leaders sign unity accord
Manning’s dirty politics won’t hurt Kamla
Opposition team can easily win majority
Political games in the PNM
It’s worth it to dream of a united T&T
Jack exposes PNM conspiracy to smear him
Standing up for T&T
One million to choose the way forward for T&T
Graphics – The leaders/PNM pledges/PP pledges/PP seven pillars
Graphics: Newspaper front pages: Express, Guardian, Newsday
Kamla’s victory speech
Manning graceful in defeat
Yes we can; T&T takes a quantum leap forward
The test begins for Kamla’s experiment in participatory democracy
Manning’s resignation from PNM
Kamla appoints first cabinet
Jack the giant killer
No room for complacency
Does PNM deserve forgiveness?
PP wins LGE; No one will divide us again: Kamla
PNM must confess its sins in order to move on
Opposition infighting is bad news for T&T and PNM


Kamla’s yellow dress was always green (with photo)
Police must not be allowed to hold a nation to ransom
Can Rolwey justify his mutiny
Is the PSA uprising really about money?
Are we there yet?
Is Rowley a drowning man clutching at straws
Manning should be censured for making mischief
What is Manning contemplating?
It’s time for Rowley to stop the pappyshow
PNM kills hanging bill
Let’s grow food and build houses
Kamla fires Mary King
Did Rowley really visit NY mission on Nov. 05?
Workers must start asking their unions some questions
Don’t be fooled by Rowley’s crocodile tears
Rowley should learn to lead or just get out of the way
Afro-Trinis commit majority of crime in T&T: Sandy
Don’t give a moose a muffin
PM says PNM didn’t deal with crime
If you think Manning is quitting politics, watch for Santa Claus
The SOE worked. Now let’s keep criminals on the run
Don’t put on your campaign jerseys yet
What’s panday trying to prove?


Rowley should not be offended by Kamla’s act of humility
We need more humility – guest column by IRA MATHUR
McLeod’s departure from MSJ won’t damage coalition
Rowley must start leading instead of just being a rabble rouser
Kamla’s vision
So what’s wrong with a welfare state?
Doctors must honour their oats and put patients first
Kamla still strong but protests will continue
Battle for San Fernando East
Choose a side Abdulah, you can’t have it both ways
Roget’s war more important than settlement at Petrotrin
Rowley’s gamble could inflict political injury on PNM
Now is the time for PNM to get rid of its albatross
Lee Sing is new Rowley target
Leave Kamla alone
It’s time for COP to get over its political tabanca
COP’s gamble can be costly and lead to its own demise
Partnership will stand with or without COP
Trust Kamla to keep partnership together
Labour’s best deal is to remain part of the People’s Partnership
Labour united in 1976 but failed to win power
Lee Sing getting ready to lead PNM?
COP must be careful it doesn’t shoot itself in the foot
All’s well that ends well but stormy seas lie ahead
Time for Abdulah to make up his mind about PP
PP remains strong because it welcomes dissent
Labour advancing agenda at the expense of workers
Abdulah must show leadership and resign as government Senator
Music that celebrates humanity cannot be imprisoned within the narrow walls of racism
Time for Abdulah to remove the mask
Labour still has best representation in PP government
Progress means some inconvenience
The facts show that Jack did nothing wrong
Why does Rowley want to waste Parliament’s time again?
A thought for emancipation day – Are we free yet?
PM Kamla: National day of Prayer


We still have a long way to go
And now … it’s time to close the book.

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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