November 22, 2014

Excellence in community, humanitarian work

Dear Editor,

The past week ended with one of the most beautiful days of Fall. The sun was shining in all its glory, while the temperature was tantalizing at 62 degrees.

Organizers of the NYGM Gala Event, could have not asked for nicer weather conditions for their variety concert that was held at the Fairfield Pavilion. The event was held to raise funds for their annual mission to Guyana and to promote awareness of NYGM’s medical and humanitarian work in Guyana.

One of the highlights of the programme was the grant of Citations to two distinguished individuals of the community, Guyanese-born Dr Acklema Mohammad and Vishnu Kallicharran of the Fairfield Pavilion.

Dr Mohammad works at the Urban Health Plan (UHP) in the Bronx as a Pediatric Asthma Physician. Her dream of becoming a medical doctor was instilled by her parents. She was not only able to fulfill that dream, but also, was instrumental in contributing to improved health disparities on major health issues of children in the South Bronx, New York City.

Dr Mohammad holds leadership roles in many projects, some of which include the prevention of childhood obesity, increasing patient adherence to cancer screenings and pediatric preventive care.

Last week she received another promotion to manage all the offsite clinics of UHP. Dr Acklema was featured for her work on pediatric asthma on the national TV (Channel 4) Dateline.

Marcus Bisram making a donation to NYGM’s Vice President Holly Persaud

Dr Mohammad says that despite her professional success, she regards her humanitarian work to Guyana as foremost: “To serve in the country where one was born is both a privilege and an honor.”

Accompanying her on stage were her three beautiful daughters and husband, Dr Vyas Persaud. Dr Acklema received the NYGM award for Professional, Humanitarian and Community Development from her sister Holly Persaud, who is the Vice President of NYGM.

The other person who was honored by NYGM for his outstanding cultural, artistic and humanitarian work is the well-known singer and humanitarian and community worker, Lallchand Kallicharran (Kalli).

Kalli received the Award of Excellence in Cultural, Artistic and Humanitarian Work from NYGM Vice President on centre stage with his wife, Vedo, and his daughter, who spoke eloquently about her dad’s contribution to community and artistic development.

Kalli is originally from Fairfield, East Coast Demerara. He is an entrepreneur who established a Mechanic Shop in Richmond Hill, as well as, a Transport Service. Over a decade ago, he built the famous Fairfield Pavilion in Richmond Hill.

Apart from donating Fairfield Pavilion to numerous organizations for charitable and community events, Kalli also makes generous contributions to other worthy causes. Perhaps his most impressive contribution is his willingness to utilize his extra-ordinary talent, as a singer and musician, to bring comfort especially to people who have lost loved ones.

Kalli was visibly moved by the award and was literally speechless. He was congratulated by several community leaders who had graced the occasion. Among the special guests were at least seven “Yatrans” (travelers to India).

NYGM appreciates the strong support received from Yatrans, family members and friends, as well as, from the performing artistes: Seeta Panday, Son Son, Randy, Rasheed, Premo, Ricky, Pam, Tina, Christine, Dheeraj and the Ghungaroo Dancers, and Ashwini of the Tandav Dance School.

NYGM is grateful to Son Son, Randy and Roy B for being a part of the event’s planning committee. NYGM also thanks Lallchand Kallicharran who donated the Fairfield Pavilion for this cause, along with his Manager, George Harricharran.

How can NYGM not express its deepest gratitude to youthful Philanthropist Marcus Bisram for the tremendous support he has been giving to various community projects. NYGM thanks Marcus from the bottom of their hearts for his generous donation.

There were several friends and family members who worked tirelessly to make the event a huge success. We would like to thank Ahailya Valcarcel; Romanie Singh; Vedo Kallicharran; Jean Khan, Sherry, Bobby, Randy and Chris Jaglall; Acklema, Vyas, Priya, Tara and Divya Persaud; Samantha, Sarah and Shana Persaud; Omar Amador, Jai Shivram, Mike, Jason and Deshaun.

The Programme’s Emcee, Roy Brijlall did an excellent job, as well as his co-emcee Son Son. Roy B captured the respective contributions as well as academic and community credentials of both NYGM’s President Dr Tara Singh, and NYGM’s Vice President Holly Persaud.

NYGM’s sincerest thanks go out to Kaieteur, Legend, Bamboo Gardens, Hibiscus and Players Restaurants, Harry Nepal, Drupattie, Shew, Usha, Romanie Singh and Jai Shivram for their donation of food.

NYGM expresses its deep gratitude to Marcus Bisram, Jean Khan, Leila Singh, Chait and Ahilya Surjnarine, Roy Brijlall and Aunty Hexie for their monetary donations. The audience had a great time.

Submitted by

Vishnu Bisram

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Georgetown needs a high rise car park

Dear Editor,
Over the years Georgetown, as well as all urban centres in our country, have seen a dramatic increase in vehicular traffic. With that increase comes the dire need for proper parking.
On any given day, the central business district becomes inundated with all types of vehicles, when illegal parking becomes the norm.
It is not a situation where there isn’t enough space for vehicles to park, there are lots of open spaces where commuters can park. However, the problem is everyone wants to be within close proximity to their place of work or business. Hence they will illegally park in any available space that presents itself.
With the upcoming Christmas season, it gets even worse when there is little or no room to maneuvre. There would be double, sometimes even triple parking to deal with. It is a near impossible situation in downtown Georgetown.
And heaven help us if a fire or some other emergency should take place in the main shopping area then firefighters are plagued with a sea of illegally parked cars and the daunting task of navigating their way through it.
Now, my suggestion to solve this, is the construction of a high rise car park in or around the central business district. This would bring an end to illegal parking and traffic congestion in all the urban centres. It is high time for Guyana to get into the modern era and adopt these standards where urban vehicular management is concern.
This modern approach is found in other sister Caricom territories, the likes of Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and even in St Lucia. The suggestion made by Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon to cover some of the gutters and waterways to ease traffic congestion in the city would only lead to further problems.
There would be clogged drains where silt and garbage would naturally build up, with greater difficulty to unclog them. The perennial problem of flooding due to heavy siltation coupled with non-biodegradable Styrofoam and plastic would make the city a health hazard.
These factors would only add to the messy situation confronting us right now. It compounds the problem.
I call on Government to erect a high rise car park and charge a small fee for use of the facility. This will genuinely solve the problem.

Sincerely,
Neil Adams

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Causing death charge has been reinstituted

Dear Editor,
The Guyana Police Force is responding to a Letter to the Editor published in the Guyana Times on November 20, under the headline, “Missing case file shrouded in mystery at Aurora Police Station”.
Here once again the author of the Letter to the Editor, Baliram Persaud, is attempting to mislead the public on a matter relating to the Guyana Police Force in pursuit of his wicked intentions.
The Guyana Police Force categorically states that the file in the matter referred to: “Causing death by dangerous driving,” against Jageshwar Ragoobar, is not “missing” and there was no “sinister motive by the Police”, as alleged by Persaud in his letter.
The Guyana Police Force wishes to clarify that following the charge being made against Ragoobar and his subsequent appearance in court, the file was sent from the Division for the preparation of a Suspension Order in relation to his driver’s licence.
That procedure caused the file to be absent from the Suddie Magistrate’s Court on November 13, and the matter was discharged by the Magistrate.
However, the file has since been returned to the Division and the charge has been reinstituted against Ragoobar. He appeared at the Anna Regina Magistrate’s Court before the same Magistrate on November 19 and has been placed on $250,000 bail for court at Suddie on November 27.
The mother of the five-year-old victim Renel Roberts has been informed by the Police concerning the reinstitution of the charge.
The Guyana Police Force is now appealing to media houses to clarify with the Guyana Police Force information reported by Persaud prior to publishing same.

Sincerely,
Ivelaw Whittaker
Police Public Relations
and Press Officer

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New York Guyanese grandparents felicitated in Queens

Dear Editor,
The Yakusari Humanitarian Group (YHG) felicitated Guyanese and other grandparents last Sunday afternoon at the Royal Express Catering Hall in Ozone Park. It was the second annual event that was held to honour the contributions of the elders in the community.
The chief architect of the programme was Pandit Baya of Prem Bhakti Mandir of Jamaica, Queens. Some 300 guests packed the Guyanese owned catering hall on Rockaway Boulevard and 122nd Street.  The gathering included non-Indians as well.
The organizers said they had looked forward for the event. They spent many hours planning for it to entertain and feed such a large gathering – all free. The organizers said they have had the pleasure of working with people who donated generously of their time and money and who sponsored dishes to make the event a success.
They said they hope the tradition will continue for many years to come.
Popular Guyanese radio broadcaster Eshri Singh was honored for his contribution to media.  He expressed gratitude for recognition of his work.
Pt Baya explained it was a tribute event to recognize and honour the grandparents. The organizers said it was carried out to make the grands feel special for their contributions to society.
It was noted that the grands brought loving care and experience to children and grandchildren and they deserve society’s love and recognition. The luncheon gives them a sense of belonging and self-worth.
The guests were treated with a holiday gift, a sumptuous vegetarian meal, a medal, and various prizes. They were entertained by deejay music as well as a number of prominent local artistes, including Son Son, Oma Mulchand, Harry Gandhary, Mahadeo Ramoutar, among others. There was much singing and dancing.
Prizes and food for the event were sponsored by various community-based organizations. Several organizations joined the YHG to host the luncheon, including the United Adult Day Care Centre and The Hindu Centre.
Pt Baya pointed out that the organization and the event promote all aspects of the community.  He noted it is about getting people to feel appreciated and wanted as well as for them to feel good about themselves.
They have been giving their love, attention, and wisdom to the community and now they are being repaid with a special event. Just as they have done so much for today’s generation, the latter is reciprocating their generosity and kindness to repay them.
The attendees said they enjoyed every minute of the function.  They are very grateful to Pt Baya and the other organizers and the Yakusari group for the valuable time spent to put together the programme.
Separately, the Indo-Caribbean Senior Citizens holiday dinner is scheduled for December 21 at Villa Russo in Richmond Hill.

Submitted by
Vishnu Persaud

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Some farmers will not be able to get urea fertiliser

Dear Editor,
The Ministry of Agriculture has announced that 140,000 bags of urea fertilisers are on the way from Venezuela for 20,000 farmers in all the rice growing regions, at a cost of $ 5,000 per bag.
Actual farm use has shown that farmers are using one bag of urea (50kg/110 lbs) per acre, which results in significant economic gains. A 10-acre block will need 30 bags of urea.
Rice farmers surveyed and registered in all the rice growing regions throughout the country have shown a total acreage of 192,500. This would mean that there will still be a shortage of urea fertiliser for the present crop for the second and third dose applications.
Some farmers will not be able to get urea fertiliser, according to the Ministry of Agriculture’s calculation of 140,000 bags compared to the overall acreage of 192,500 at three doses.
Farmers were paying $ 5000 for a bag of urea last crop. So in a real sense, the farmers would not be benefitting. Later in the crop, the price went up to $ 5,200 for a bag of urea because there was a shortage of fertilisers, and the farmers had to buy their remaining supplies from businessmen and wholesale suppliers.
When these fertilisers come in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), they are stored outside the central part of the coast, and it is very costly to pay for transportation to the farmers’ destinations.
Sometimes the farmers ended up paying $ 5,500 for a bag when they purchased it at the Government Bond. So they prefer to buy the fertilisers from private businessmen who will transport it direct to their home at the same price as the Ministry of Agriculture.
These fertilisers can be stored at three districts: Aroura, Suddie and Anna Regina,which would be much easier to access by the farmers, and this will save time and money.
Research has shown that if the Ministry of Agriculture imports 586,500 bags of urea fertiliser, the farmers will have enough supplies of fertilisers for this present crop.
The Rice Producers’ Association (RPA) and the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) have a farmers’ register with each farmer’s acreage and the total acres of rice lands in each rice growing region, which can be used as a guideline when importing these fertilisers from Venezuela.

Yours faithfully,
Mohamed Khan
Former Rice Extension Officer

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Time to stop the slaughtering of children in Ukraine

Dear Editor,
On November 20, the world celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which sets basic human rights out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.
Currently, 194 countries are members to the Convention, including every member of the United Nations, except Somalia, South Sudan and the United States. Somalia and South Sudan have started their domestic process to become party to the treaty.
States that signed and ratified this convention are bound to it by International Law.  The compliance is monitored by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is composed of members from countries around the world. Once a year, the Committee submits a report to the UN General Assembly and adopts a Resolution on the Rights of the Child.
These days the humanitarian situation in Lugansk and Donetsk (regions of Ukraine) is catastrophic and continues to deteriorate.
According to the latest figures from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of victims and survivors of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has been steadily increasing.
According to the latest United Nations report, the number of victims of the war in the South-East of Ukraine is increasing: 3,219 people were killed, including 33 children. Among 8,000 injured people 82 are children.
Children and other civilians bear the brunt of this senseless violence, wrote UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos in her report.
It is crucial to ensure stoppage of the slaughtering of children in Ukraine by the Government in Kiev, artillery fire of the urban districts, using cluster ammunitions, phosphorus bombs and start the political dialogue and immediate supply of humanitarian aid to the people of southeastern Ukraine.

Submitted by
Denis Kopyl
Press Attaché
Russian Embassy

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US should implement immigration reform by Executive action

Dear Editor
The US immigration system is broken. There are over 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the US. An overwhelming majority have US born children, lead crime-free, productive lives and pay taxes.
This includes millions of Caribbean and South American nationals. It is imperative that President Barack Obama immediately implements bold, far-reaching and fair changes to the nation immigration policies.
Under the Constitution he has extant authority, as head of the Executive branch of Government, to use prosecutorial discretion to prioritize and or defer deportations, and to issue employment authorization to eligible foreign nationals.
Everyday that passes, thousands of hard-working, otherwise law abiding immigrants are deported for being out of status. Consequently, thousands of minor children are tempestuously separated from their parents and thousands of families are recklessly disbanded or destroyed without justification.
It appears that immigrants who have lived here for an extended period, as well as those with US born children, are potential categories who will receive relief under the measures being contemplated by the White House, according to sources.
This would be a win-win situation for the United States. Millions of families will remain united and millions of individuals will become tax payers. This will undoubtedly boost the US economy.
A 2013 White House study showed that Immigration Reform would boost GDP by $1.4 trillion dollars.
Such relief will however be temporary. Ultimately, meaningful and permanent reform will have to be enacted via the legislative process. Republicans cannot hope to deport their way out of the nation immigration morass.
Clearly extremist Republicans in Congress believe immigration reform would not be beneficial to the Republican Party.
This is why they continue to refuse to put the bipartisan Bill that was passed by the Senate to a simple up or down vote in the House and some Republican State and national leaders continue to make a plethora of racist comments about immigrants.
There must therefore be massive, nation-wide mobilization to force Republicans in Congress to act. Republicans are protecting their political interest. President Obama must now act in the nation best interest.

Jevon Suralie
Director of
Communications
New York-Caribbean
Guyana Institute for
Democracy

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PPP/C weakened but still strong after 2011 elections

Dear Editor,
“In order to understand the legality or the Constitutionality of the President’s proclamation, (to prorogue Parliament) one has to understand the “Constitution in its entirety,” wrote  Raymond Gaskin in another section of the media titled, “The Constitution says the Government cannot remain in office if it does not enjoy the confidence of the House of Assembly.”
Further, Mr Gaskin  insists that: “There is really no dispute about the No-Confidence and the Vote of No-Confidence is merely the ‘paperwork’ to confirm the reality”. Paperwork is extremely important, we all must agree with Mr Gaskin. But no paperwork exists that any No-Confidence Motion has been debated, rejected or approved. Mr Gaskin cannot conjure or assume such  to support  any case.
Constitutionality, reality is per written Constitutional law, not by conjecture, supposition or emotional entitlement.  In the movie, “Air Force One”, the US President’s plane was hijacked. The plane was designed with a special security pod for him to escape. It was found empty when it landed.
Assumed to be dead the female Vice President (VP) was under pressure to take  control of the US Government.  She was very reluctant to do so because of the unprecedented situation.
The AG’s opinion was invoked.  It became a classical legal opinion which bears on Guyana.
He said the Constitution does indeed provide for the VP to succeed the President and assume legal control of the Government. But he said this was only legally possible when a majority of the Cabinet signed  necessary paperwork declaring the President dead.
With no President alive the VP was then legally empowered to be sworn in. A few signed but she did not. Yes or no to legal paperwork? The No-Confidence Motion was neither debated nor approved in Guyana.
The PPP/C did not violate the Constitution. But theOpposition in contempt of court violated the Judiciary’s decision that they had no legal authority to cut or alter the budget.  Must the Indian based PPP/C Government forever be judged by one standard when the ‘majority” black based Opposition blatantly is free  to violate  the highest laws of the land with impunity?
Lindeners alone are entitled to subsidized electricity, but the entire rest of Guyana, with more black and poor people must do without. Further, they are entitled to riot, burn, rob and destroy property, even a school, but the Police are not empowered to maintain law and order.
The lawbreakers get monetary compensation, which can never be enough for the loss of life. Further, the Opposition is not found at fault to instigate such mayhem in our country.  But the Police, whose duty is to maintain law and order, are blamed.
Why some, however, feel the PPP/C Government is undemocratic is because it is composed of many pagan “little dictators” who have Constitutionally thwarted the Opposition at their own game.
Is the PPP/C Government dangerous because it has survived strong, though weakened by the 2011 elections? If it turns out that it is not strong, then, is it even more dangerous due to its conformity with the legalities of Guyana’s Constitution in following the rules and upholding Constitutional democracy?
What is most bizarre is Mr Gaskin’s letter which advocates: “The Constitution of Guyana clearly and unambiguously demands the resignation of the Cabinet including the President once they have lost the confidence of the majority of the elected members of the National Assembly.”
Mr Gaskin has clearly locked himself inside, started his business and is without any toilet paper.  Not even the Constitution’s ‘paperwork’ can give him any relief or rescue. With high hopes, better judgement will prevail in this predicament.
Mr Gaskin (not sure if he is the same fellow who said he is the man to end all blackouts and then things got worse – up to today?) wrote: “No one, not even the President, denies that the Cabinet has lost the confidence of the house.”
But he provides no evidence which  supports that President Ramotar made any such admission. None exists. Press freedom and free speech still allow Guyanese to participate in politics.
The Canadian Prime Minister with a minority Government facing a No-Confidence Motion, with full Constitutional and legal authority prorogued the Parliament. Surely Mr Gaskin admits that the Canadians were practising democracy.
But somehow the PPP/C Government comes under Mr Gaskin’s displeasure.

Sincerely,
Sultan Mohamed

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Missing case file shrouded in mystery at Aurora Police Station

Dear Editor,
An unfair situation now faces a woman whose five-year-old son Renel Roberts was killed in a road accident from the direct negligence of the Police, who cannot be exonerated from blame for the missing file, which resulted in the driver being discharged on the offence of causing death by dangerous driving.
It is abundantly clear that the file which was sent to the DPP’s Chambers for advice was returned to the Police in the City, but from then on, it has been shrouded in mystery and where it could be at the moment still remains unknown.
When the matter against the driver, Jageshwar Ragoobar was called in the Suddie Court in November 13, the Prosecutor indicated to the Magistrate that he was still awaiting the return of the file.
The Magistrate then stated that four months was too long a time for the file not to be returned and questioned what was really causing the delay, with the response given that a check was made on November 3, when it was revealed that it was sent back here.
From the explanation given, the Magistrate enquired how long it would take to reach her, with the prosecutor in his reply saying, “Not more than a day”.
But the Magistrate who observed that ten days had already passed asked if any family member of the victim was present and the mother Beverley Roberts Barrow promptly got up.
The woman pointed out to the Magistrate that on November 5, a check was made at the DPP’s Office and the Traffic Chief on the same day, with both of them confirming that the file  had been sent back two days earlier.
She could not have controlled her emotions and burst into tears when the Magistrate made his pronouncement to discharge the accused.
According to the Magistrate, whenever the Police get the file, the matter could be re-filed, but from her reaction, the mother was visibly upset and hastily left the court room.
Out of Court, the woman related to me that she is very much disappointed in what she described as an unfair situation now facing her and find little comfort that the matter would ever be re-filed, while elaborating about her concerns in the matter.
The victim was in company of his grandfather,  Sydney Stephen, pushing their bicycles when he was hit, slamming him into an excavator track that was in use at the time by the driver of a Toyota wagon at the Good Hope Public Road on August 24, last.
The child succumbed four days later at the Georgetown Public Hospital without regaining consciousness.
A statement was submitted by the grandfather who claimed that the driver was speeding and appeared to be heavily under the influence of alcohol.
In my humble opinion, the woman suffered an irreparable loss from the death of her child, but only time will tell whether there was a sinister motive by the Police to deprive her from getting justice, which she well and truly deserves.

Yours faithfully,
Baliram Persaud

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World Hindu conference in Delhi this weekend

 Dear Editor,
A World Hindu conference will be held in New Delhi from this Friday through Sunday, attracting some 1500 delegates from about 40 countries, including Guyana. Several Guyanese and other Indo-Caribbeans from New York and Toronto are attending the conclave.
The conference will be addressed by leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent Hindu body. The RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama would address the inaugural session.
BJP President Amit Shah and Union Ministers Smriti Irani, Nitin Gadkari and Nirmala Sitharaman are scheduled to address subsequent sessions over the three days. Some 45 sessions are planned at the Ashoka Hotel on disparate themes such as youth, economy, politics, education organisation, women, and media.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to deliver a keynote address.
According to the organizers, the international meet seeks to formulate solutions to the «myriad challenges» facing Hindus worldwide.  A similar conclave was held in New York in the summer of 1984 at the Madison Square garden where several Guyanese attended, including myself, Pandit Ramlall, Vassan Ramracha, and Dr Baytoram Ramharack.
That conference provided a forum for Guyanese to raise issues of religious and racial oppression in Guyana under the Burnham dictatorship.
The organizers provided support and encouragement to the small group of us from New York who was involved in the anti-dictatorial struggle.
Dr Mukund Modi, one of the conveners of the global conference, was very impressed with Indo-Caribbean cultural retention and remained supportive of our struggle for the restoration of democracy in Guyana.
Conference Coordinator Liza Bhansali said the event has gained traction due to the BJP-led NDA being in power. She said people were influenced by the Prime Minster taking pride in his Hindu heritage.
«Because we have a Prime Pinister who has talked of his Hindu identity, people›s mindset has changed a bit. People (of Hindu descent) are happy to acknowledge their Hindu heritage,» Bhansali told Zee TV news.
The conference website said the event intends to serve as a channel for Hindus across the globe to congregate at a common platform and deliberate on ways to strengthen the community.
The conference will help organise the talent of Hindus that remain scattered across the globe and provide an opportunity for the people of the community to network with one another.
The need of the hour was to have a «pressure group» of Hindus just as that of the Jews in the US who stay well connected within their community. They also said the conference will serve as a platform for the less affluent Hindus to connect with those who are in positions of global leadership. .
Bhansal was quoted as saying, «We are a united society. But we are not an organised society. The purpose is to have an organisational structure and institutional framework so that Hindus across the globe can leverage each other».

Yours truly,
Vishnu Bisram

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