A solution for flooding more relevant than Makar Sankranti
Photo : Dool Hanomansingh
Indo-Trinidadians are at a cross-road in their history. Coming from an ancient civilization their future survival is heavily dependent on how well they blend their ancient culture with the modern world. Given the present scenario into which Indians find themselves, it would take a lot of reflection and more so skills, aptitude and exemplary conduct of their leaders to point the way forward.
It is time for us to re-visit our intellects and remove all those junks that are clogging our hearts and minds and blurring our vision. We have to rid our minds of excess baggage if we have to take off to a new height of glory and expansion.
For example, Makar Sankranti, a Hindu festival that marks the northward movement of the sun, is not relevant to Trinidad and Tobago. Such a festival is more relevant to the people of the northern hemisphere who have been through a harsh winter and are now seeing hope of it coming to an end. It would be more meaningful for Hindus in Trinidad to find a solution to the flooding in Barrackpore and Penal that are destroying the lives of thousands of Hindus and other citizens.
Indo Caribbean people have to be more conscious of the changing life style from what it was 25 years ago. We have moved away from employment as field labourers to more sedentary work in air-conditioned offices. However, most of us are yet to make that adjustment to our diet. We still enjoy eating parsad, maleeda, paratha, roti, rice and doubles, fully aware that too much is bad for our health. This has made us vulnerable to high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.
Our chutney artistes are an extreme case of traditionalism. They believe that they can sing whatever comes to their heads and there is a captured market to lap it up. The chutney market is diminishing as our youths are exposed to global musical trends. If our chutney culture has to prevail it has to rise above its traditional audience and reach out to a more global one. Indian artistes need to take a page from Bob Marley. His reggae music with its rich lyrical contents appealed to audiences globally and is relevant to this day.
Traditionalism is now strangling many Indo Caribbean business houses. As globalization increases it brings in train competition in the business world. This is reflected in the rise of shopping malls across the country, none owned by Indians.
Business houses must provide parking for shoppers. Such infrastructure means large capital which can only be raised by joint ventures. Indians cannot continue to hold on to the corner spots and around the markets in the towns where the traditional shoppers come in hired cars.
Raising capital is essential for the successful development of business. It is no longer a few thousand dollars to run a modern business that was traditionally raised from borrowing from relatives. Today capital for business is in the tens of millions.
Indians have to contemplate opening their own banks. In Guyana, Indo-Guyanese are owners of banks and insurance houses. In T&T Indians are happy to own an Audi or Porsche and welcome the New Year at the Hyatt. The worst sin an Indian can commit in T&T is to drive a low series car. It is a symbol of failure. Owning banks and insurance companies remains outside our radar.
Indo Caribbean people need to learn from Indians in Europe and North America. Apart from being brilliant, they are engaged in institutions across the land including the US Government. They have positioned themselves to shape the policies and the destinies of their adopted home land and the world. And while Indians in the US play such roles our Indo Caribbean migrants in Queens, New York, continue to drink Bacardi rum, play chutney music loudly and play cat and mouse game with the police on weekends.
Creolization is the major threat to our survival. Too many of us are buying into the Carnival culture of partying and no work. Our limited education only qualifies us for work in the public service and state enterprises, institutions that are dependent on a depleting revenue stream and destined to stagnate and collapse.
Again, I want to commend those of us who have embarked on the train of modernization while embracing what is best in our dharma. It is this group of our citizens who have to lead the way. Their intelligence would give them the will power to find solution to our daily challenges rather than hiding behind Makar Sankranti and the ritual chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa.