The Indian/Hindu community needs to be purged, not by boycotting or isolating others but by raising the standard of social conduct and general aptitude and attitude. The current crab in barrel mentality must be shunned. It is time to lift the bar so that the lazy, mischievous and those with big egos may fall to the wayside.
The failure of the Rowley’s administration to open the Ramai Trace and Reform Hindu Schools is proof that the PNM has returned to the policies of Dr. Eric Williams to suppress the education of the Hindu community. Infamously, Dr. Eric Williams referred to those schools as cowsheds, kept many shut and a few that were under construction had to be abandoned.
The late Sat Maharaj reported in his program Maha Sabha Strikes Back that the Education Board of the Maha Sabha had approached the government for the handing over of the schools but was turned down with the excuse that they were incomplete. Mr. Maharaj said that he offered to have the schools completed but the government refused him.
The first two Maha Sabha’ schools that were constructed to reach modern standards were Mohess Road Hindu and Tunapuna Hindu Schools and these were made possible under the NAR Government of 1986-91. Under the Basdeo Panday-led UNC (1995-2001), the Concordat was revisited and the Maha Sabha was successful in getting four secondary schools -Shiva Boys in Penal, Parbatie Girls in Debe, Saraswati Girls in Chaguanas and Vishnu Boys in Caroni. Even the Shouter Baptist Community was provided with land and other resources for the construction of a primary school. We can safely say that the UNC has successfully provided equal opportunities for all in education!
In 1940 the Hindu Mahasabha was born. The leaders were Doon Pandit, Ranjit Kumar and Bhola Pandit. The Hindu Mahasabha embarked on a mission to build schools across the country. The first school started was the Gandhi Ashram at the residence of Doon Pandit in Arima. Two schools were also started at Las Lomas and Tacarigua. These early institutions were funded by generous contributions from members of the community who were determined to see their children in a learning environment.
The Second World War disrupted the work of the Hindu Mahasabha. In 1946 Ranjit Kumar was elected a Member of the Legislative Council and the Hindu Mahasabha was left to die a natural death. The effort to establish schools was transferred to the Pandit Parishad led by Doon Pandit, Pandit Jankie Persad Sharma and Pandit Teeluckdharry.
In 1949 Doon Pandit was awarded an MBE-Member of the British Empire-for the social work he did among the lepers at Chacachacare. The MBE award gave him some respect and admiration from fellow Hindus and the entire Indian community. With this award Doon Pandit gained access to officials of the colonial government including the governor.
Sydney Hogben, the Director of Education, was willing to listen to the request of the Parishad for the state grant for the construction and administration of Hindu schools on the condition that the two Sanatanist factions- the SDBC and the SDA- unite into a single body. Swami Purnananda of the Bharat Sevashram Sangh, India, a Hindu missionary and guest of the Sanatan Dharma Board of Control (SDBC), saw Bhadase Sagan Maraj as the last hope to unite Sanatanist Hindus.
Maraj was President of the Caroni Indian Association born in 1944 and an elected Member of the Legislative Council for the Tunapuna constituency. Wealthy and generous, Bhadase was known for his sponsorship of Ram Leela and Divali festivals in public places that attracted thousands of spectators.
ASJA (1948) and the Arya Samaj (1950) were already granted permission to build schools. Doon Pandit, Pandit Teeluckdhary and Pandit Jankie Persad Sharma met with Bhadase Sagan Maraj Simbhonath Capildeo, Chanka Maharaj and others to establish an Education Board. The meeting culminated into the dissolution of the two Sanatanist bodies -Sanatan Dharma Board of Control and the Sanatan Dharma Association- and the birth of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha.
The 1950 Statistical Digest revealed that 48.5% of the Indian population was illiterate and the illiteracy among Hindus was estimated at 60% of the Indian population.
The first six schools that the SDMS opened in 1952 were those that the Pandits’ Parishad had initiated. They are as follow: Arima Hindu, El Dorado Hindu, Tunapuna Hindu, El Socorro Hindu, Five Rivers, Tacarigua and Debe Hindu.
As we celebrate Pitri Paksh it is appropriate for us to reflect on those pioneers who saw a need and did everything within their powers to ensure that the service was rendered to those who needed them. We have a duty to continue the work that they started. However, we must also be mindful of those who karay but don’t strike a blow. They are not dissimilar to dogs that bark but don’t bite. Those are leaders with a mischievous mindset and more fundamental lack of intelligence and character.
The Indian/Hindu community needs to be purged, not by boycotting or isolating others but by raising the standard of social conduct and general aptitude and attitude. The current crab in barrel mentality must be shunned. It is time to lift the bar so that the lazy, mischievous and those with big egos will fall to the wayside. Only then we would have to strength and wisdom to demand what is ours in the Republic.