Cowards die a million deaths
Photo : Dr. Cheddi Jagan
Indians who openly express an opinion on issues affecting the Indian community in T&T and Guyana are labelled controversial and radical; more than that they are labelled racists. Sat Maharaj and Basdeo Panday have been labelled (tattooed) racists along with social and cultural activists such as Dr Kumar Mahabir, Kamal Persad and Ramdath Jagessar.
Sham Mohammed and Suruj Rambachan have also been labelled racists for promoting Indian song, music and dance. SPIC (Society for the Promotion of Indian Culture) in the UWI was labelled a racist group. With Rambachan as its founder and main driver, many were afraid to associate with SPIC for fear of being labelled a racist. It was left only for the bold and courageous to identify with such an organisation and its causes. The weak and faint hearted had no place in such an organization. Their place is in a morgue!
I have been noting that the pre-occupation of a few Indians is not to be labelled racist by blacks. It means, therefore, that to avoid such labelling they would avoid discussing issues such as state funding for Indian culture or the naming of public buildings after Indians. Recently included in the list is writing for ICDN or associating with anything ICDN. A few of these cowards live a double life. In the presence of Indian activists they are vocal on Indian culture but avoid taking similar positions on public platforms.
ICDN has been labelled racist by a few blacks and because of this a few Indians in academic circles are avoiding any association with this newsletter. It is clear that these individuals do not think for themselves but live to please the blacks in our society. So, if black columnists and Black Power activists label ICDN a racist newsletter, then it is to be avoided altogether. It is never to be questioned. If blacks say that Vidia Naipaul is racist, then it is gospel and not to be questioned. That is Indian academia today!
Not surprisingly many of our Indians who avoid discussion of race and ethnicity have been forgotten. They are slowly perishing and no one even “fart” on them. There were always a few that style themselves “Marxist” but today they are not remembered. Even Cheddi Jagan who was a Marxist and refused to see the working of race as the determining force in the breakdown of Guyanese society, has been forgotten. 2018 marks the 100th birth anniversary of Dr Cheddi Jagan and not a single academic institution in the Caribbean has sponsored a forum to discuss his life and legacy. The blacks saw him as a “coolieman.” And if blacks say he is a coolieman, then he is a coolieman! Who are we to question the rulings of the black power brokers? After all, are we not in academia for the roti and bhaji!
I always listen to the elders saying that when an Indian woman with an African husband dies, it is left to her Indian family and friends to bury her. This can be said for Indian Marxists who finally returned to the cremation pyre. Had they depended on their Marxist comrades to bury them, they would have been left to rot like dogs by the side of the roads. Not surprisingly, they return to the Hindu fold to have their bodies cremated with Vedic chanting and elaborate rituals. It is like trying to restore the Hindu values that were ignored and pushed aside like an encumbrance while the individual was mingling with his ‘other’ friends.
Indians must live like emperors and not subjects. An emperor would let go a horse to run through his empire and anyone who arrests the horse would have challenged the emperor’s reign. It is time that Indians practice their culture boldly and stop hiding in the mandir, rum shop and closet. It is time that we talk boldly about the contribution of Cheddi Jagan to Caribbean society. It is time for us to wear our Indian garment in public places without apologies.
F.E.M Hussein and H.P Singh were fearless fighters for Indian rights and freedom. F.E.M. never failed to address discrimination against Indians by the colonial powers. HIs speeches and writings are in record for all to see. H.P. Singh was another fearless fighter in the struggles of Indians for justice and equal opportunity. These exemplars remain an inspiration for all of us to emulate. But sadly, too many of the leaders we hold in high esteem today are proving to be big disappointments. Their apathy to the struggles and plight of the people is not only shameful and disgraceful, but reeks of obscene selfishness and opportunism.
It is time that our leaders listen to the ground. The people understand the issues and they articulate it. Our leaders and academics have to traverse the villages, travel in the taxis, go to the wakes, and the cook outs at Caura to hear what the people are saying. Sadly, too many of our so-called bright people have alienated themselves. Most forget the streets and the neighbourhood where they were born, their friends at primary schools, and those with whom they pitched marbles and flied kites. Instead of isolating oneself in gated communities, one should step out to the markets and playfields to identify with the people.
Many Indians wear kurta and shalwar, fast and do pooja within the confines of their homes but are afraid to identify with Indian culture in public. This is the challenge that Indians must meet. That is why there needs to be a revival of street processions with tassa and blaring of Indian music in public address system. We need to push back hard. We must refuse to shut our mouths and sit in a corner waiting to die. Too many have retired into air-conditioned offices. It has become the safe haven for cowards.
Many of us have consoled ourselves that only black people must hold high offices in this country; that they are entitled to be President and Prime Ministers, the Permanent Secretaries, the Ministers of Government, the Commissioner of Prisons and Police, Chairmen, Directors, CEOs and directors of state enterprises, the Governor of the Central Bank, etc. Despite this blatant discrimination we are not hearing any word of protest from our academics. Instead, a handful of Indian academics are busy labelling ICDN a racist institution. Living in fear of what blacks think of you is making oneself a prime candidate for high blood pressure, diabetes and early death.
I think to be labelled racist is good. Given the dynamism of Basdeo Panday and Sat Maharaj such a quality lend itself to long life and happiness. All of T&T knows that Panday and Sat are alive and kicking; not living under their bed and talking in hush tones (pus pus) but expressing their views fearlessly. They represent the potential of our community, not those whose cowardice has poisoned their narrow selfish minds.