“What you come here for-to do pooja.”

“What you come here for-to do pooja.”
Photo : Dool Hanomansingh

Today we complain about a 1% having a strangle hold over the social and economic life of the community. It is clear the rulers have compromised their integrity to give the 1% a privileged role in the society. Even in the USA, the disparity in the allocation of wealth and power is alarming. The same group that controls political power controls the economy, media and the arts, and the mass of the people are living from pay packet to pay packet.

Unfortunately, the varna ashram has been ridiculed because it is not a western concept. Today, however, the world is waking up to the reality that other cultures have many institutions of value. Unfortunately, Indians more than other groups have compromised on their culture in their haste to westernize.

The Indian diaspora falsely believes that a society can be run by doctors alone. In fact, when students failed to satisfy the entrance qualifications for entry into a medical faculty, there is a dark cloud of failure, distress and loss of confidence over their heads. There is an unwritten rule that only doctors are intelligent in our community and others are less so. Thus the boast of parents-“My daughter is a doctor!”

Indian civilization suffered when our warriors abandoned their duty or dharma and embraced spirituality under Buddhism. Without a warrior caste to wield arms, Hindu society was prey to marauding hordes from Central Asia. Buddhism suffered most from this distortion of social order. Large areas in present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh fell victims to the sword. Today, the Buddhist world is not compromising on its defense. They have learned the hard way. In Myanmar, the military has taken a strong stand against Islamic fundamentalists. Even in Sri Lanka, the brand of Buddhism is aggressive and uncompromising as was demonstrated in the Sinhalese handling of the Tamil Tigers’ demand for a separate homeland.

The Hindus in the diaspora needs to embrace the defense force as a career option for their sons and daughters. Physical fitness must not be compromised. National security is an essential service in the modern world. To put one security in the hands of others begs the question: “Who is guarding the guards?” The behavior of the David Granger government in Guyana is reflective of the reality that the Afro-Guyanese control the arm forces and are making a mockery of democracy and no Raja with a PhD can do anything about it except to bark in a corner of his air-conditioned mansion.

Our business class has to lift their games. So far, they have failed to rise above trading in “dhal, rice, panties and bra.” There is limited exploration of service type businesses in the automotive business which has not risen to meet the growing demands. One must congratulate the few service businesses that served the petroleum industry. A few have expanded into the region. This pioneering spirit must be celebrated. However, the insurance and financial sectors of the economy have a paucity of Indians as owners of capital. We appear to be comfortable working for a pay packet to collect at the end of the month to run off to a pizza or beer joint in a mall owned by the 1% to compete in bragging contests.

Sports and fitness have been sacrificed for a place in a secondary school. Given the stress and anxiety associated with this exercise make one question our intellectual capacity or lack there-off. No wonder, binge drinking and health issues abound in this society. Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, kidney failures, heart diseases, etc are endemic. The average person forty years and above are victims of life-style diseases.  We are a community of sick people!

The knowledge gained is not used to advance society. Our schools, hospitals, construction, security, etc don’t appear to be working optimally. Our Brahmins are happy to drive the latest vehicles while dark clouds of tamas hang above our heads. Mareech, Subahu, Tataka and Ravan are running amok while Ram, Lakshman and Hanoman are on cruises around the world.

Brahminisn is dead in T&T. Swearing deed polls and changing one name to Maharaj and Dube is the new pathway to knowledge. Austerity and sacrifice are no longer the method to attain knowledge. We have unconsciously integrated the values of the rural literate class of the 1960s who carried in their breast pocket a plastic portfolio with a few pens which V. S. Naipaul described as the ‘badge of the rural literate.” Not surprisingly, one individual shared with me an episode when he enrolled at Naparima Teachers’ College and the principal remarked: “What you come here for-to do pooja.”

Drinking alcohol and abusing our spouses is the new kshatriya dharma. Our penchant for fighting battles in courts with our siblings has to be curbed. More than that is our lack of integrity, that is, a readiness to trade our dharma for a few pennies. Yet, such adharmic acts are lauded as strategies for success. In reality, we need not be machivillian with our parents, siblings, relatives, friends and neighbours or our constituents who voted us to office.