Over the years when awards were made by the State and we saw every time just a handful of names from the Indo-Trini community, the country was made to think, via indoctrination, that it was so, indeed, because it was a community bereft of achievers; that Indos were so self-absorbed, so governed by inertia that they existed in a state of internal detachment from the rest of the country or, as Williams said, in a state of hostile recalcitrance.
So the few who were selected for awards were cherry-picked in a classic case of tokenism being given the powder-puff treatment. Now, however, that I have embarked on a mission to unearth the heroes and heroines of the Indian presence in this country, I discover so many stars of business, medicine, law etc. who populate not just their community but the entire country and which blatantly exposes the lie that what we got was all that was available from which to choose eligible and appropriate persons as recipients of awards.
My intrusion into the Indian world has brought me face to face with successes piled upon successes – oftentimes there being achievers of national and international quality living under the same roof and whose neighbours a footstep away rival them in their respective race to grandeur and transcendence. So many names have come to my attention that are eminently deserving of recognition that when they become a matter for public consumption, perusal, discussion, the national list of the state will seem like a Disney version handpicked by Mickey Mouse and Tom and Jerry.
This is an exercise undertaken to give pride to a people who complain that they are treated as if they do not exist but asked to get involved by simply providing a name here or there no response is forthcoming. But because of my eclectic mind, my interest in everything, it is easy for me to zoom into areas of endeavour where gems are there to be mined. All who are recognised would feel honoured on the realization that they end up rubbing shoulders with the literati and glitterati who were up till then just seen as ordinary folks.
So this project is underway and the names of the Naipaul achievers for excellence will be announced in due course (on Divali day, specifically) with a ceremony to be followed where recipients will receive their awards. I enjoy this aspect of this lone wolf approach in that it has not been burdened by the heeing and hawing of too many cooks spoiling this broth, kedgeree. I therefore go full speed ahead with the words of Victor Hugo providing me with high octane inspiration: that there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.
L. Siddhartha Orie