The excursion into Indianness as evaluated by Ryaan Shaw and Vishnu Bisram need needs some clarification. Firstly, the most pronounced and first characteristic anyone notices about a person is his or her race, not social status, wealth nor religion. The education level is easily ascertained when the person opens the mouth to speak.
It is indisputable that Guyana under the tyrant Burnham was catapulted into the doldrums of progress starting in the late 70’s and the Indian section was at the receiving end of state-sponsored violence while high-quality public sector jobs were reserved for PNC supporters. In the heyday of the kick-down-door era (1980-85) where the cult ‘House of Israel’ played no small role, Indians were almost always, invariably the victims.
In 1980, while a student at the University of Guyana I spent a week at a classmate on the Corentyne and while returning to Leonora the vehicle was stopped at Weldaad Police Station. My small purchase of bread and sardines was confiscated by four policemen – all black – who proceeded to open the cans, slice up the bread and began eating. I protested by stating ‘If you could eat bread why I can’t? The response, rather uniform in tone and language, ‘Shut yuh coolie sk*** is we ruling!’ jolted me to stark-naked reality where Indians stood in the Guyana society. And it was so pathetic that the foremost Indian leader was preoccupied with preaching class struggle and Marxism, and addressing Apartheid in South Africa 5000 miles away and instead chose to ignore Guyana’s Apartheid at his own doorstep.
Leyland Chitlall Roopnaraine