Curry Duck Posse, Crab Catchers and Game Changers.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)-India’s freedom fighter and Father of the Indian nation- was a unique individual. He had more social skills than intellectual prowess. He knew the art of winning hearts. He was able to win the support of provincial leaders throughout India. Many foreigners also came and joined with him in his struggle to free India from British rule.
He did not antagonize the business class or favoured the working class. He embraced the lower caste whom he called Harijans or Children of God. He brought women out on the streets in a culture where women have been confined to household chores and caring for the family.
Are our local leaders learning from the life of that great leader? In our community we are witnessing so many small tribes scattered across the country. Each is led by a chief who declares himself the ultimate. This chief does not allow his followers to think. He does the thinking for them. Their role is to carry out his instructions and bow at his feet.
As if that is not bad enough, these followers are denied interacting with the members of other tribes. They only participate in events where their chief is officiating. Even if they visit the Manzanilla Beach for the observance of kartic snaan, each tribe would build its own bedi and confine themselves to their individual tepee.They usually demonstrate no interest in meeting devotees from another tribe.
Goorlagaying of the chief is the highest dharma. If by chance you enter into their arena and do not bow to the chief you are looked upon with scepticism and distrust. In the presence of the chief and the tribe you are not to think but surrender your mind and intellect at his lotus-like feet. If by accident you disagree with the chief, you are persona non grata. It is the gravest sin you can commit!
This brings me to social services. No program is executed to assist the less fortunate in the tribe. The highest service is celebrating the birthday of the chief. Now it has extended to his wife and children. In some tribes the chief’s father-in-law and mother-in-law’s birthdays are celebrated with the offering of gifts.
Interestingly, when the chief speaks of any great individuals and their contribution it does not go beyond his family. If you are to ask: “Who is a person we can profile to inspire our youths?” It would always be a member of his family; no one else. It’s like other Hindus don’t exist. They speak only about their sons and daughters and their achievements but would never recognise the achievements of others. In their company you are starved of opportunities and social mobility. You remain socially stunted, like zombies, forever at the beck and call of the chief.
Mahatma Gandhi was able to unite behind him more than 400 million Indians because he looked beyond the narrow confines of his family. He made no distinction between people and was always ready to embrace all. No other leader in the history of the modern world has been able to galvanize such diverse group to a cause. Among his frontline men were Jawaharlal Nehru, Motilal Nehru, C. Rajagopalachari, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Abdul Kalam Azad, B. Ambedkar, Sarojini Naidu, Sardar Patel, etc. These men and women were leaders in their own right and the Mahatma always recognised their worth and showered them with praise. He was never in the habit of belittling but always ‘bigging’ up.
It 1952 when the Sanathan Dharma Maha Sabha was founded it had many distinguished sons of the community at the forefront. Each individual was a powerhouse, able to stand on his own feet. Bhadase Sagan Maharaj was elected leader. Others were Ram Suratsingh, Sibhoonath Capideo, Chanka Maharaj, Basdeo Misir, Doon Pandit, Pandit Jankie Persad Sharma, Pandit Teeluckdharry, Goberdhan Pandit, Rampersad Bolai, Jang Bahadoorsingh, Pandit Satnarine Panday, Ramoutar Sawh, Charles H. Boodoo, Pandit Gooberdhan, et al.
No oyster and crab vendors or school drop outs were among the leaders. Each individual was a person of means with a contribution to make for the uplift of the community. It is only with the best minds on board that a task will be accomplished except that it is an outing to Caura Valley to curry a duck. Our biggest challenge remains to distinguish the personnel for a curry duck lime from game changers. When such distinction can be done, our society would automatically take off on the pathway to progress.