I looked at the National Awards 2021 on television and was dismayed to see Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley using the strategies that the PNM employed in 1956 in 2021 which is to embrace the Muslims and Christians and isolate the Hindus.
By including Imam Mustaq Ahmed Sulainmani and Reverend Joy Abdul Mohan for religion and no awardee from the Hindu faith, the PNM has announced its intent to isolate the Hindus. This is the exact strategy that Dr. Eric Williams used between 1956 and 1981 when he died in office. How viable is that formula today?
What was most disgusting about the dissemination of national awards was the blatant neglect of icons of Indo-Caribbean culture. It was clearly an obsession with black cultural icons to honor five calypsonians and not a single artiste from the Indo Trinidadian cultural fraternity. The PM should have woken up to the reality that it was the National Awards of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and not TUCO-Trinbago Unified Calypsonian Organization or a ceremony at Balishier House.
What do George Singh and Vijay Ramlal Rai of Chutney Foundation and Deokinannan Sharma and Independent Senator Deroop Teemal of the NCIC-National Culture of Indian Culture have to say about this gross violation of the cultural diversity of the country?
The big question must be asked: Had these organizations nominated deserving artists for national awards? And if they had, are they now going to launch a protest? Have Rakesh Yankaran, Raymond Ramnarine or Rooplal Gildharie been considered for national awards by the Chutney Foundation? Did Dr. Vijay Ramlal Rai of the Tassa Foundation nominate its outstanding artists for national awards? Why were names such as Rana & Susan Mohip who run a school of music and dance not among the awardees?
Is Geeta Vahini of the Hindu Prachaar Kendra not deserving of a national award? Geeta ji has been at the forefront of teaching Ramayana and executing Ramleela with kids. A few years ago, Geetaji led a contingent of youths of the Kendra that performed Ramayana at the Kumbha Mela in Uttarakhand, India. More so, she is well-qualified in the Hindu scriptures having studied at ashrams and other academic institutions in India at the feet of renowned gurus and acharyas.
Isn’t Lakshmi Girls’ with its five consecutive wins of the President Medal for most outstanding performance in the CAPE Examination deserving of a national award? None of our schools have achieved such excellence in the past. Recognizing a school’s academic excellence would act as an inspiration to the young minds of our country. And I dare say that had it been a Christian institution it would have long been recognized!
I must commend the government for the choice of Bhavani Persad for a national award. He is definitely one of the more articulate speakers in the country. He is an inspiration to all for his accomplishments despite not having his vision. He demonstrates that there is no excuse for anyone who wishes to excel in their chosen field. I commend him most sincerely.
The shocking reality is that too many who are supposed to be guardians and watchdogs of the community are aiding and abetting in its destruction. Individuals who want to associate with politicians cannot be expected to stand up for what is right and just. Individuals are compromised when they have chosen to put votes before truth and justice.
It is critical that our community ensures that politically neutral people are given positions in social and cultural NGOs to represent the people’s interests. If not, a few selfish individuals would continue to use these institutions to provide critical support to the government to further their private agenda.
I would not be surprised that names were not nominated for national awards because the majority of community leaders do not see beyond their personal, family, and chelas’ interest. However, it appears to be an unwritten law not to question the decisions of the PNM but let them fly. What a mentality?
Both the NAR and the UNC had done better than the PNM in the distribution of national awards, appointment to the cabinet and state boards etc. The PNM appears to be cast in an archaic and frozen mindset that is not suited to the modern time where equal opportunity and diversity are the new normal. One would have expected that Dr. Eric Williams’ model of governance would have died with him. Unfortunately, today we are witnessing a revival of this archaic, outdated, and myopic degeneration and more alarmingly, with a band of cheerleaders backing their policies. What a disgrace!