I want to join in congratulating the Supermarket Association and the Manufacturing Association for taking the initiative to procure vaccines and efficiently administering them to their members. It is also heartening to see a similar drive by the tourism and construction sector in Tobago.
I am also happy to learn that the dentist, veterinary surgeons, paramedics and pharmacists’ fraternity has been given the green light by the Ministry of Health to administer vaccines to their members.
Social groups, from the nuclear and extended family to trade unions, religious and professional organizations, have a duty of care to their members. So, when the Supermarket Association and the Manufacturing Association took these initiatives to secure the health of their members, they must be commended.
India Club of the 1940s was not just a jacket and tie affair for the middle class and professional Indians but also a platform to address social needs of the community. When there was the Bengal famine in India in the 1940s, India Club was active in raising funds to send to India. It also raised funds for the construction of the Indian Night Shelter in Charlotte Street, Port of Spain to provide a lodging for Indians who were living and sleeping on the streets of Port of Spain.
Is there a mandir that is working to procure jabs to administer to its members? If not, why? Are our leaders not responsible for health and wellbeing of its members? It is not enough for our devotees to boast that ‘my Baba drives a Volvo.” Hindus need to be given more tangible reasons to be proud! They must be able to tell their friends: “Our mandir procured five hundred vaccines for its members.” Or, “a devotee house was burnt to the ground and in less than three months it was rebuilt.”
Is that a too high standard to aspire toward? How long are Hindus going to be fooled into celebrating the Baba’s birthday and that of his son, daughter, father, mother, etc? How does the mandir reach out to the needs of its members?
The middle-class leadership in most Hindu organizations has achieved a level of financial and material comfort. Many reside in mansions, their children are professionals earning handsomely, wearing the finest kurta, shalwar and saree and even visiting India to eat rasgulla and mutton biryani. Nevertheless, their comforts should make them more responsive to the needs of fellow Hindus from the lower income group who struggle daily to make ends meet.
Bulk buying of computers can go a long way toward helping this lower income group to afford a computer in the home. Efforts can be made to come up with strategies to ensure children have access to the internet. Improvement lessons in Mathematics, Computer and English Language could also be made available to them.
Despite the many handicaps faced by our lower income Hindu families, their children continue to excel in academics. This latent intelligence has been suppressed for centuries and must be now nourished so that it can blossom. A survey would reveal a large number of children from lower income homes winning scholarships and graduating as professionals.
I am not at all advocating any socialist agenda. The mandir can even subsidize scholarships in academics, the arts, sports etc to help those kids discover their potential.
Indians must not fall within a socialist agenda of state dependency. I am advocating for a culture of rewarding excellence, that is, subsidizing the cost of education for deserving children from lower income homes.
To those who have some extra income it is not enough to splurge but to share some with the community. Bhadase Maraj had two mansions, many luxury vehicles and several business outlets but did not live for himself. His generosity gave birth to the Maha Sabha and its educational arm which continues to provide education to hundreds of boys and girls. Thousands of professionals now boast that their education began in a Maha Sabha school.
To date, Bhadase Maraj is remembered not so much for his business acumen or mansions or luxury vehicles but for his efforts in mobilizing the Hindu community to build schools.
Hindu institutions need to be responsive to the needs of its members. Failing to do so would leave low income Hindus at the mercy of the one book and one God proselytizers.