Hindus have all the reasons to be proud. While we have lost many battles in the short term, in the long term we have always won the wars. Patience and perseverance have always been our strengths. We know how to bide time and wait on the opportunity to strike. No wonder we are the only continuous living civilization, more than 50,000 years old, as was recently established through the archeological discovery of a lost civilization on the Gulf of Khambhat, off the coast of Gujarat, India.
Our victories are numerous and this writer would attempt to highlight a few. Indians saved the sugar industry in Trinidad when they arrived in 1845 aboard the Fatal Rozack. The economy was in ruins after the ex-slaves and the other recruits -Portuguese, Syrians, Chinese, free Africans- walked out of the plantation.
In addition to reviving the sugar industry, Indians went on to diversify the economy by producing rice, vegetables, and dairy. They later evolve a trading class of vendors and shop keepers and a professional class -doctors and lawyers, teachers, etc.
A new culture was born when Indians began arriving in this country in 1845. They brought their belief systems, festivals, musical instruments, dress, foods, etc. It was an entirely new culture that they transplanted when they adopted their new homeland. More importantly, were the values they implanted-hard work, thrift and strong family life, and a culture of tolerance.
Indians went on to build their local mandirs, mosques, and gurudwaras, thus adding a new architecture to the monolithic landscape of churches. The British authorities were not too eager to allow this alien culture to flourish and set out to kill it. This was best symbolized in the Moharam Massacre of 1884 when Indians were shot and killed when they came on the streets to celebrate Moharam.
Indians fought for their right to vote in 1946. The colored class, fearing the numerical growth of the Indians, conspired with the colonial government and introduced the Literacy Test, aimed at denying the vast majority of Indians, mainly Hindus and Muslims, the right to vote. Leaders such as C.B. Mathura, Simbhoonath Capildeo, and Adrian Cola Rienzi organize mass rallies that challenged the Literacy Test that forced the British authority to withdraw the regulation.
The Indian community fought for the legal recognition of their marriage rites. Both Hindu and Muslim marriages were legally recognized by the State immediately following the Second World War. Indian families were now no longer victims of fraud conducted by unscrupulous people robbing them of their inheritance because they were deemed, bastards.
Indians were not happy converting to foreign cultures and beliefs. They desired education for their children but on their terms and conditions. In the 1940s and early 1950s several Indian denominational boards- TML, KPA, APS, ASJA, and the Maha Sabha won from the State the right to build schools and instruct their children.
The birth of the Maha Sabha witnessed the death of the Presbyterian Church. Hindu children were withdrawn from the Presbyterian schools and sent to the Hindu schools, thus reducing significantly the number of children left in the Presbyterian schools. In Tunapuna, the Presbyterian school on Cochrane Street went empty as parents transferred their kids to the Tunapuna Hindu School. The Canadian missionaries saw the writings on the walls and packed their bags and returned to Canada.
The fall of the Presbyterian Church is an event that Hindus must celebrate. This Church was supported by both the planter class and the British colonial government with a clear aim to deracinate the Indians. Today the Presbyterian Church is surviving on a respirator.
The Indian victories in Trinidad is nothing new but a continuation of our battles and victories for millenniums. Indians defeated the East India Company in the First War of Independence in 1857. This company took hold of the administration of India and was looting its wealth and oppressing its people. Mangal Panday (1827-1857) and the Rani of Jhansi (1828-1858) were among the many warriors that led Indians in this revolt that gravely threatened British rule.
While the revolt eventually failed and the British consolidated their reign, East India Company was erased and India was brought under the direct rule of the British Parliament.
Indians were never in the habit of allowing others to take control of their lands, homes and impose their values on them. In the 10th century when the Arabs started their invasion of Sindh and later the Turks and other tribes of Central Asia, Hindu warriors laid down their lives to protect Hindu Society. Sivaji, Rana Partap, Guru Gobind Singh and a host of other Indian warriors fought heroically against these murderous invaders. If they invaders were successful, it was in regions like present-day Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, and Bangladesh where the Buddhist culture of non-violence was prevailing. In the plains, where Hinduism was reigning, the resistance to Islamic invaders was ongoing.
The chroniclers that accompanied these Islamic invaders wrote of their conquests, convinced that they have secured victory. The destruction of temples and their conversion to mosques and the burying of the murtis on the entrance to these mosques so that devout Muslims can trample on them, are all documented.
While Persia, Iran, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East fell to the sword of Islam, Hindu India blunted the sword of Islam and after 1000 years of ongoing resistance, and the death of more than 80 million Hindus, Hindu India has not surrendered.
The strength and determination of Indians to preserve their territorial integrity of the Motherland was seen in the Modi’s government taking full control of Kashmir, and the recent border conflict with the China where the Indians announced to the Chinese that they would not give way to their bullying. Hindus relentless struggles, more than 500 years, for the return of the Ram Mandir that was destroyed by the invader Babur, is the longest dispute in the history of humanity.
Indians are not in the habit of rolling over and dying. In Trinidad, Indians have never rolled over and allowed the discrimination of the PNM to run amok. From 1956 to present, the Indians have resisted the PNM in their struggles for a better Trinidad and Tobago. In the 1940s and 1950s, Indians formed alliances with T.U.B. Butler to fight for the democratic evolution of the country. Basdeo Panday forged alliances with other political forces hostile to the PNM and defeated the latter in 1986 and later repeated his victory.
In Guyana, the PPP returned to power after 28 years of dictatorship and misrule by the PNC regime. That fortitude to fight on was demonstrated in the 2020 elections when the Granger APNU-AFC refused to vacate office after being defeated. The PPP stood up against the bullying tactics of the APNU-AFC forces until they accepted defeat.
We also saw the installation of Chan Santokhi as President of Suriname after his party emerged victorious in the 2020 General Elections. How many would have taught that after the December murders of 15 prominent citizens for criticism of the military dictator Desi Bouterse, an Indians would emerge President? But that is the nature of Indians-we always live to fight another day and should we die, we reincarnate to fight for another lifetime. The reality is-Hindus just don’t give up.