Indian Sepoy Mentality

Indians are immune to social ills. V.S Naipaul (The Writer and the World) made reference to Indian journalists who ignored reporting on famines in the country. It is either the average Indian is too busy with his personal life or he is now comfortable after a long struggle, that he does not wish to be harassed.

Indian Sepoy Mentality
Photo : V. S. Naipaul

I saw a group of Blacks protesting against the Granger government in Guyana appealing to him to respect the Constitution and call an election. Have there been a similar protest by Indo-Guyanese? I doubt very much. The only public denouncement of the Granger’s government apart from this ‘Black protest’ were addresses by Irfaan Ali and Bharat Jagdeo at a public meeting. Other than that the vast majority of Indo-Guyanese are silent, bearing their pains with broad smiles on their faces!

Indians are immune to social ills. V.S Naipaul (The Writer and the World) made reference to Indian journalists who ignored reporting on famines in the country. It is either the average Indian is too busy with his personal life or he is now comfortable after a long struggle, that he does not wish to be harassed.

I must congratulate Ravi Dev of Guyana, Taradath Singh and Dr. Vishnu Bisram of New York for highlighting in their writings the political hiatus in Guyana. Where are our Indo-Trini academicians? Where are our intellectuals? Where are those individuals who present papers at academic conferences on indentureship, conditions in the logies and exploitative white overseers?

The Indian community is under siege in the Caribbean. In Suriname more that forty Indo-politicians were murdered by a military leader, yet not a single mention of it in a recently held Indo Caribbean Conference in Suriname. Papers were presented on how to keep the environment clean and how to make parsad and tie a sari; on Indian spirits and healers but nothing about the impact of governments’ policies on Indians. For example, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, over the past three years, has failed to respond in an adequate manner to the increasing floods in Indian districts like Debe, Barackpore, Woodland, St Helena, etc. Or, the failure of the PNM to open the Children’s Hospital and the Reform and Ramai Trace Hindu Schools.

Issues like agriculture, rising crime rate, growing unemployment-retrenchment of 7,000 sugar-cane workers in Guyana, delays in the justice system and disparity in the funding by the State for Indian culture are never addressed. If a conference on indentureship is called those issues are not going to be addressed. In fact, the word “indentureship” provides the organizers with the excuse to focus away from contemporary issues to justify misplacing their energies. But in reality, most of these so-called academics and social activists have their agenda. They are waiting patiently, like dogs salivating, for handouts from the State and hence their eagerness to keep the peace. It is the chapatti syndrome; after 174 years our pre-occupation is still with our stomachs!

Narendra Modi and the BJP are pilloried by detractors and not a world of protest by well-nourished watch dogs.  The west and the Islamic world are unleashing a barrage of anti- Modi propaganda.  Despite this challenge there is a growing paralysis. The watch dogs have failed to respond to threats (I think they would respond better to treats). Is it morally right for our watchdogs to be fed sumptuous meals and the then sleep through the night while bandits raid the house?

What is the Indian/Hindu narrative in this country? To speak Indian or Hindu is to be branded chauvinistic and bigoted. Many have reasoned that the best way to get along is to turn a blind eye to all issues affecting Indians so that you would not run the risk of being labelled a Hindu fundamentalist. Not surprisingly, Indians have learned to speak in hush tones in public but to be vociferous in condemnation of other Indians to please their colleagues! By being critical of fellow Hindu they are announcing to their non-Hindu friends that “I don’t subscribe to that racist and religious bigotry.”

What is the fate of Roodal Moonilal? It would be interesting to get the so-called presenters to  give their opinions on the Roodal Moonilal matter and the ruling of the Speaker. The general reaction would be not to make a public statement and more so, they would say that “Moonilal look for that. He can’t control his mouth.”

Bhadase Sagan Maraj is dead but so are his contribution to the nation. So far, more than 49 years after his death, a conference has not been held to review his contribution to the development of the Hindu community, the nation and the region. The reality is our academics and conference planners shun him for fear of being labelled racists and bigots. They are comfortable talking about jigger and poor sanitation in the barrack without relating it to communities going without water during the dry seasons, and the threat of cholera and other water borne diseases after floods.

The reality is that we don’t need conferences. We need to put issues affecting Indians on the national agenda. It is clear that our so-called conference planners cannot do that, hence their escape to indentureship, a kind of self-imprisonment in a world that has long expired.

The Indians that arrived on the voyages from India are not up to the task. The doors have to be opened to embrace all people who have a sense of justice. Gandhi’s struggles in South Africa and India were inclusive to all. After all, Indians should be the first to learn that a handful of foreigners did not rule India alone but with the help of Indian sepoys! The Indian sepoy is not a person but a state of mind-a loyal, obedient, nimcompoo, pimpish servant who is always prepared to fulfil his sahib’s minutest requests.