Indian leaders failing their people
All of us have big dreams; however, our dreams would only become a reality when we open our eyes and get out of the bed. In T&T we need to develop a culture of executing our plans-not big plans but small ones that would help build our self-confidence. A study of Mahatma Gandhi’s life would reveal start he was able to win small battles starting in South Africa and then India before the ultimate victory-the independence of India from British rule.
Today we have politicians who represent people in parliament but fail to raise matters of concern to their constituents. Last year parts of this country were inundated with flood waters with millions of dollars in losses. What are the parliamentary representatives of these areas doing to develop a comprehensive plan to alleviate flooding? Are the people of Debe/Penal/ Barrackpore now to accept perennial flooding as a way of life?
Why is the community not being mobilised to address these issues? With social media it is much easier to put pressure on a government to act. These paid officers of the state must understand that it is not enough to make speeches in the air-conditioned precinct of parliament under the protection of parliamentary privileges but to mobilise the people and hit the road.
All great movement had the full backings of the people. If others in the Opposition do not know that I expect Roodal Moonilal to know better. It is time to mobilise the people to march for the rights and stop fooling them that you can be their messiah or avatar to deliver them. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Ho Chi Minh, Basdeo Panday, Cheddi Jagan and Mao Tse Tungs knew how to mobilise the ground.
I recalled walking with Basdeo Panday from St Madeline to Port of Spain over a period of three days. There were two stops and overnighting: Rienzi Complex in Couva and Bamboo No 1, Valsayn. I remember walking through waist height water in Claxton Bay. Basdeo Panday did not hesitate to walk through the water. He did not ask for a truck or a boat to take him across. He did not sit on the back of a pick-up vehicle but led the way on foot. Such is the character of the man!
At Laventille angry black faces-poor and filthy looking- lined the Eastern Main Road shouting “racists” but Panday smiled and waved his hands and marched on. I looked on closely at the doggedness and determination of Basdeo Panday to increase his political fortunes. His political chips were low. He was recently removed from the NAR government and had to rebuild his political stocks. He knew it would not come by speeches in Parliament but a visible mass presence on the ground.
Errol ‘Bindul’ Parson said that Panday would make himself available after a long day in Parliament to move around in the Barataria/ San Juan district. I have personal experience of Panday and his wife Oma attending cultural programmes-during the midday heat- across the country. Indian Arrival Day celebration was popularised by the efforts of the Hindu Seva Sangh but not without the support of Basdeo Panday. He could have eaten his Sunday meals and “pasray” on a couch before a television but chose otherwise. He understood the value of the ground!
Many times I was sent to deliver letters requesting Panday’s attendance in our cultural programme or youth development camps and Panday was always present -as advertised- at Rienzi Complex to meet with visitors. Even after ceasing to be political leader of the UNC Panday continues to meet with the people. Leaders are supposed to be energised in the presence of people and so was Basdeo Panday; not hiding in dark places like Dracula.
Any leader must have the energy of a lion to hunt its own food and not live on “left over glory” of leaders gone before. T&T has a leadership crisis. Leaders are failing to inspire. It is talk, talk, talk. People want action, at least the supporters of the UNC. The leadership of the UNC must understand that their supporters are not blinded by ethnic loyalty but would only follow a leader who demonstrates the competence to deliver the goods. Dictatorship and totalitarianism have never been part of India’s political culture. All foreign rulers have been uprooted and if there are remnants of the past it is only because of the magnanimity of the people.
Indians demand leaders of standard! They want a leader who embodies the qualities of Sri Ram. Not surprisingly, Gandhiji invoked the concept of Ram Raj-the reign of Ram- as his utopia in his struggle for India’s independence. No Rawan, Surnakya or Putna meets the high ideals of our Indian people! It is Sri Ram or no one!
May the life of Sri Ram continue to inspire humanity- and our leaders also!
Happy Ram Navami !