There is no dispute that the first batch of Indentured Servants from India arrived in then British Guiana on May 5, 1838. This was also the first country in the Western Hemisphere in which they settled.
The only issue today in Guyana is whether ARRIVAL DAY, the public holiday of May 5, should be renamed INDIAN ARRIVAL DAY. The historical concern that other groups also ARRIVED has been addressed since their own days of arrival have been recognised. Our understanding is the change can be effected by a motion in Parliament initiated by any Member of Parliament (MP) and a majority vote will carry the day.
The roar of Ravi Dev and a few others have been heard across the seas and generated a lot of media reports. Consequently a Petition was initiated and circulated obtaining support of hundreds within just 3 days. This was necessary as it had to be presented to President Ali so that he can have a time to consider the plea before May 5. All of this is the work of volunteers who care. The petition was sent to HE Dr. Irfaan Ali, the President of Guyana, by Ashook Ramsaran, President of the Indian Diaspora Council (IDC) and acknowledged on May 2, 2022 by the office of the President. A hard copy of the Petition was also hand delivered on May 3, by GIAA.
Many who added their names to the document live in countries outside of Guyana and do note vote in Guyana’s elections, yet their continued interest and determination in this matter will guarantee it will happen; it is only a matter of when. Most of the signatories are only interested in Truth, Justice, and Democracy. For 5 months tens of thousands of this same group residing in about 60 countries also signed a petition so that the election results would reflect the views of the electorate: Truth, Justice, and Democracy.
The President has impressed many as a man of the people, strong yet compassionate and humble. He may not have been involved in the 2004 debates. However, today on behalf of all those who signed the petition we ask not who will oppose the change. This is now in the public domain and we do not wish to anyone to be engaged in personal attacks. All we ask is for anyone in Parliament who would oppose this Petition to provide valid reasons and how it can detract from the Oneness we seek as a multicultural nation where all people must have their contributions recognised.
For those who have asked about INDIAN DIASPORA COUNCIL INTERNATIONAL (IDC), a quick visit the website www.IndianDiasporaCouncil.org can confirm its mission, history since inception, global representation, its activities and registration as not-for profit organisation. In IDC’s most recent Zoom meeting ideas shared were far reaching and mind blowing. IDC is moving beyond discussions to reach out to those who can be supportive of: Indian Diaspora Museum; a Heritage Center; preservation and promotion of Indian Heritage & Culture; a Girmitiya Bank, travel on Girmitiya Airlines to all corners of the globe where their fore parents were sent by the Colonial Masters. Certainly reparations to the descendants of Indian Indentured servants is a major issue being addressed, not just an apology from the colonial exploiters but with far reaching implications, although we recognize that this may take longer and more coordination.
Together, we strive for more progress and betterment of our lives today and tomorrow.
Ramnarine Sahadeo (Canada)
Ashook Ramsaran (USA)
5 May, 2022