“He is polite, approachable, listens and treats all with equal respect.” Those are the words of constituents of Orange Valley, describing their candidate for Couva North, Ravi Ratiram.
Ravi began his campaign by visiting the spiritual heads within the constituency of Couva North to seek their blessings including Swami Praksahananda of the Chinmaya Mission, Ravij of the Hindu Prachaar Kendra and Pandit Mukram Sirjoo. Such love and humility coming from a politician were thought to be of a bygone era!
When COVID 19 struck earlier this year Ravi, in his capacity as Party Organizer, mobilized a team and distributed more than 500 hampers to needy families in the community. Seeing the many children who had their midday meals at school now at home, the team was mobilized and 22,500 meals were prepared and distributed to needy children throughout the country.
The initiative to look out for the needy in the community only confirms that Ravi has not forgotten his humble beginnings in Rousillac, south Trinidad. “I pushed a lolly cart, selling lollies to accumulate funds to qualify for a Student Revolving Loan at Republic Bank to pursue tertiary education in Engineering at The University of the West Indies,” said Ravi who now holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and an MBA in Business Management.
“My early interest in politics was aroused by Pandit Dr. Rampersad Parasram who was the first Chairman of the United National Congress. In 1991 when the UNC was contesting its first general elections, Daryl Ratiram, a relative, was the candidate for La Brea. During this campaign Dr. Parasram was a regular visitor to Daryl’s home and I had the privilege of listening to his inspirational words,” said Ravi.
Ravi recalled Dr. Parasram saying that “politics can be many things to many people but you must define what type of politician you wish to be.” Ravi also recorded the words of then Political Leader of the UNC, Mr. Basdeo Panday, who said that “politics is the science of governing people and whatever you do it should be for the benefit of the people.”
2007, a watershed in the life of Ravi, shaped and molded Ravi’s character to struggle for social justice for the poor and defenseless. The Patrick Manning government had embarked on a mission to construct three smelter plants in the south-western peninsula -Chatham, Union and Otaheite. Ravi mobilized the people of the peninsula to protest against this impending environmental disaster. The South Oropouche Concerned Citizens Association was formed to oppose the smelters and Ravi served as its chairman. “Union in La Brea is in my back yard and Otaheite was my front door. I did not run away but fought alongside my brothers and sisters to smash the dreams of Manning,” Ravi stressed.
No ‘johnny come lately’ to the UNC, Ravi was the UNC candidate for La Brea in the 2007 general elections and lost. Moving to Gasparillo to live, Ravi was appointed chairman of the Tabaquite Management Committee and coordinated the work of the UNC in the constituency of Tabaquite. In 2010 Ravi was elected Party Organizer with Ms Kamla Persad-Bissessar emerging as Political Leader.
When the UNC won the elections in 2010, Ravi was appointed a member of the board of directors of TSTT. Then employed at Petrotrin he resigned his job to serve as Deputy General Manager of Properties and Facilities at PTSC, a position he held for six years.
Ravi demonstrated his commitment to the UNC when the Political Leader, Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, called upon him to contest the Point Fortin constituency. Unhesitatingly, Ravi embraced the opportunity and went into battle. “I was pleased with the fight we put up against the PNM.”
The defeat of the UNC at the polls did not see Ravi walking away from the UNC. Instead he stood with his Political Leader and in 2015 was re-elected Party Organizer. In 2016 he was elected a UNC Alderman at the CTTRC (Couva Taaquite Talparo Regional Corporation). “This was an eye opener for me. For the first time I was learning first-hand the working of local government and the gross disparity in the disbursement of funds by Central Government. Imagine no money for the fixing of potholes and the cleaning of drains and rivers! From Couva to Claxton Bay to San Fernando and right unto Point Fortin and Cedros, the common cry is neglect, neglect, neglect.”
Ravi expressed shock at the failure of the government to clean the Honda and Diana Rivers in the Couva North constituency to avoid flooding. “Neglect pervades the communities of Couva North. The drains and water courses need to be cared for before the building of highways and over passes,” said Ravi.
“Employment is a major need of the people of Couva North. People with more than one degrees are not finding work. Others have been retrenched from PETROTRIN, the Steel Mill and other companies but have not been able to find jobs,” said Ravi. “One young lady is a qualified optometrist but cannot find a job. She is now pursuing studies to qualify as pharmacist.”
The UNC candidate recalled the killings of six fishermen from Orange Valley. “I visited the homes of our fishermen with the MP for Couva South, the Chair of CTTRC and other councilors. I was disappointed to learn that to date that the families of the dead fishermen have not received a visit or even a phone call from the government,” Ravi lamented.
On Saturday August 01, 2020 the UNC Campaign Team for Couva North has planned a Candle-light Vigil and procession from Cali Bay to Bay Road, Orange Valley. “On the drawing board is a plan to honor the deceased fishermen by naming sections of the jetty at Orange Valley after them. The Rotary Club is liaising with the Indian High Commission to have expertise from India to equip fishermen with GPS tracking. Such digital technology would play a major role to enhance the security of our fishermen.”
Ravi see a UNC victory in the air. “A survey was done and 75% of the sample said that they were better off in 2015 than present. The people are fed up with the neglect and abuse of the PNM under Rowley. When the UNC returns to power the Baby Grant, computers to all students and the Life Saving Fund would be immediately re-installed,” said Ravi.