Benaras Scholar Impressed with Indo-Caribbean Library

Benaras Scholar Impressed with Indo-Caribbean Library

Photo : Vishnu Bishram, Professor Ghan Shyam and Ramesh Kalicharran

Professor of History at Benaras Hindu University, Ghan Shyam, a full professor, said he is very impressed with Kali’s (Ramesh Kalicharran) collection of social science and literary materials on Indo-Caribbean people and the Indian diaspora in general. Prof. Ghan Shyam visited Kali for an interview and to obtain information on Indo-Caribbeans for a book. Dr. Ghan Shyam has been visiting Indo-Caribbean communities in Queens and Brooklyn interviewing Indo-Caribbeans for his book. His research also includes cross-comparisons with nationals from India living in New York City.

Dr. Ghan Shyam has been a professor for the last 18 years. He studied at JNU for his doctorate. Dr. Ghan Shyam has been in NY since last September on a Fulbright Scholarship to study Indo-Caribbeans in NYC. This is his second stint as a visiting Fulbright scholar at NYU. His last visit was in 2007. His Fulbright comes to an end this month and he is wrapping up his series of interviews with community leaders, organizers, writers and scholars.

In an interview about his project, Dr. Ghan Shyam says he is very impressed with the community spirit among Indo-Caribbeans and their cultural retention from their ancestors who migrated to the Caribbean over 175 years ago. He said Indo-Caribbeans are very proud of their Indian identity although they have been so far removed from India by distance and time. Ghan Shyam said one can experience a complete India among the Indo-Caribbeans. India exists in the diaspora. And he stated the community has been very helpful in his personal project. And he wishes to thank everyone (Santram, Vishnu Mahadeo, this writer, etc.) who provided him with resources and offer advice for his book and the collection of data.

At the office of Kali, he interacted with a few noteworthy individuals including public school experienced teacher Rajkumar and his wife Rajkumarie, both from Guyana. They shared experiences about visit to India and the Indo Caribbean community. Rajkumar and his wife visited India with Kali Bharat Yatra a few years ago. They related a wonderful journey all over India. Rajkumar said he is very pleased that Dr Ghan Shyam is studying the Indo Caribbean people. Rajkumarie is deeply involved in yoga and meditation. Ghan Shyam said he was very impressed with the couple's relating their love for India, their Indianness, and Kali's tour.

Following his visit to Shri Kalicharran-ji, Prof. Ghan Shyam remarked: “Kali-ji is very willing to help me with my project. He has so much material. He is an invaluable source. He is very resourceful, kind, generous, and hard working. He is like a library all by himself. He seems very honest as a person who one can work with. He has rendered significant contributions to the community. The Indo-Caribbean community is blessed to have him”.

He notes Kali is a very humble person. Ghan Shyam notes that Kali spoke very passionately about his dharma and his Indianness and his groundings with Indians in the diaspora. Kali’s ancestors are from the state of U.P which is also Ghan Shyam-ji’s home state. The ancestors of most Indo-Caribbeans are from U.P and Bihar where they began leaving over 175 years ago. Kali has been assisting Indo-Caribbeans to find their roots. Kali pioneered yatras some 35 years ago to accommodate anyone wishing to visit the land of their ancestors.

Ghan Shyam praised Kali for his work on roots and in promoting tourism to India and culture among the diverse Indian communities in America. He said: “He is a great, wonderful person who carries India along with him wherever he goes. He is like a hero who promotes Indianness in Guyana and America and takes his Indianness to India in his tours. He is a very interesting character. He is intelligent. He knows the importance of politics. And he tries to mesh politics and culture together and to keep them separately when needed. He is a very genuine person willing to go far to help people. He cultivates excellent relations. He is willing to help Indians and others”.

The Benaras Hindu University scholar also showered accolades on this writer for his commitment and dedication to his studies and writings on the Indo-Caribbean and Indian diaspora.