July 7, 2015 By
July 7, 2015 By
In response to the letter from Vishnu Bisram published on July 3, 2015, I am writing about abuses in Guyana. I also read another article from one of the other newspapers about East Indians having the highest rate of suicide in Guyana and here is why.
I am only interested to elaborate on this topic in order to help people to understand what is taking place in the country. To begin with, there is need for a mentality shift, because many people believe that they can do whatever they feel to others despite that this is morally wrong. The culture of a country has to respect women and children and protect them so that people can be proud from where they come from.
There are elements of a general culture we have developed such as men believing that women should bear sons for them or risk being abused. Other beliefs discriminate against women of darker complexions and disregard the rights of children. Abusive men are often backed by other members of the community who believe in corporal punishment.
What help is available for such a person when this happens? Many are left isolated to deal with all the pain and suffering alone. Religious teaching has no place in a self-seeking materialistic society in Guyana, where people compete among themselves.
Men are so skilled in abusive language and have mastered the art of being perceived as victims, earning the support of family members and trapping the abused woman. Guyana’s society is always comparing people: who is physically attractive and who is ugly, who is poor and who is rich, who is worth something and who is not worth anything. This kind of attitude makes the poor helpless and unable to turn to anyone for help. Guyanese people tend to be too often judgemental and this is also a reason why the rate of suicide is so high. When men are molesting women in high daylight, it shows that they are not inclined to honour God and their fellow people.
Leaders should expose these perils that have marked our culture for decades so as to reshape the minds of people. People should be taught to respect women who are the strength of the family and respect sisters because they defend the family.
Shri Krishna said in the Gita, Ch 3, 12 that he who enjoys benefits bestowed on them, without offering anything in return is a thief. We need to create good role models for our young people. People should understand that a man’s life doesn’t consist of an abundance of things, but in bringing healing to others.
To help with abuses the Government should set up hotlines for victims of abuse to discuss their problems in confidence with professionals available to provide advice.
I also encourage all women and children that the only way of safety in this world is to pray to God, whether Hindu, Christian or Muslim, and donate a few dollars for God’s work so that they may be sustained.
July 7, 2015 By
I wish to respond to a letter published in the Guyana Times on July 4 by Robin Persaud, on the subject at caption.
Robin Persaud in elucidating the achievements of Vibert Parvatan, appointed Chairman
of the GuySuCo Commission of Inquiry (CoI) tasked with examining the affairs of the company and make recommendations to revive a viable industry, claimed that his experience amply qualified him for the assignment despite my reservations on his suitability, and that I should be encouraging and supporting members of the CoI instead of personally attacking them in their difficult task.
I wish to disclaim any such intention as clearly indicated by the contents of my letter, since I only intended to identify the limitations and shortcomings of the ability of the elected Chairman to head this CoI.
The Terms of Reference of the CoI as set out by the Minister of Agriculture states that there is only one way forward for the Corporation and that is to develop a 15-year plan to return it to profitability. Therefore, the Commission must develop a mechanism to achieve this objective regardless of if it could indeed be accomplished, given the intractable challenges facing the industry. It was never in dispute that Mr Parvatan worked with GuySuCo as an Assistant Field Manager and Field Manager, but that during his period of employment he was not a member of its management board where development and management strategies and management policies were formulated by its Chairman Harold Davis Sr for execution. Mr Parvatan was at the periphery of the organisation and knew little of inner workings.
During his tenure as Junior Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture under the PNC, Mr Persaud claims that Mr Parvatan had expanded and defined functions for agriculture but sugar cane was not a crop he was involved with for major development since that was under the responsibility of GuySuCo, then completely under the Management of Mr Davis Sr who reported directly to President Burnham and his successor. Mr Parvatan was not only Executive Director with the Laparkan Group of Companies (LGC) but was also directly responsible for the Management of Fogarty’s Store Ltd. where his office was located until his retirement. The LGC has been in decline over the years as is evident by the whittling of its services and closure of many of its offices in New York as well as at its facilities on Lombard Street. Locally, Fogarty’s, a flagship store, went into a free fall during his management and when he left many of its departments were bare of essential inventory required for sale. Many of the CoI members appear to have handsome experience with the sugar industry and this will be a valuable asset to the Commission. However, what appears to be lacking is a Chairman with the experience, knowledge and skills to elicit the answers necessary to bring GuySuCo back to profitability, to ensure its long-term environmental and economic sustainability. Mr Parvatan does have an impressive CV but he lacks insight to the complex problems facing the sugar industry. His track-record for the past 25 years speaks of poor managerial skills unlikely to resurrect the failed industry, considering the current political and economic environment. Evidence of this will appear within three months of his management.
July 7, 2015 By
As we are aware, from 1964 to 1992 Guyana sank below Haiti, deprived of an economy as we witnessed a broken country with an equally broken infrastructure, a place where foreign investors dared not tread. Exports were down with no real income earning as the State failed. It was the worst of times for Guyanese. Caused by the one party State ran by the People’s National Congress (PNC). They hung on to power as they strangled those with the means to remove them. There were no free and fair elections to put the corrupt regime out of office.
In 2015, Guyana is being saddled by the same PNC which haven’t changed their old dictatorial habits. The country is presently in a PNC lock-down, where everything is being reshaped and remodeled to suit narrow party objectives.
This three-pronged attack starts with placing a tight lid on a recount of the votes cast at the last elections which would have most likely resulted in the PNC’s loss. Evidence shows that Granger has openly advertised the position for a Chief Justice which means that the present Chief Justice is going to be sent into retirement and a new, supposedly independent replacement would be sourced. Not that the present Chief Justice is incompetent, far from it.
Preliminary reports indicate that the new Justice will be a handpicked old PNC stalwart coming from a sister Caricom State. He would see to it that all PPP/C court matters are disregarded – a paid piper, a henchman to carry out the PNC’s dirty work.
The second phase of attack is bound up in that court case challenging the term limit of the President. It’s still ongoing and would be presented before the new Chief Justice who will most likely rule this law null and void, paving the way for a Granger’s lifelong presidency and a PNC one-party state.
Then, Granger would pilot a bill reducing the past President’s emoluments. Most journalists believe that this is an idiotic piece of legislation by the Granger-led administration, but what they fail to see is a party that is hell bent on humiliating the PPP/C and reducing it to nothingness. The PPP/C and its great influence in and out of office pose a threat, hence a plan to stifle its members.
This well thought-out plan intends to reduce the capacity of the Opposition, relegating it into a forgotten past.
Some may say that the PNC has learnt from its mistakes. However, there is evidence that old habits have remained and it is undeniably clear that Guyana is in for bitter days. One wonders if Britain and the US are taking note of this their handiwork on display.
July 6, 2015 By
I write to acknowledge and thank journalist and rights activist Dr Vishnu Bisram for recommending that myself, Pandit Rampersaud Tiwari, Pandit Birbal Singh, former Attorney General Sir Fenton Ramsahoye, and former Home Affairs Minister Balram Singh Rai be recognised with national honours for our contribution to the independence movement of Guyana (published in Guyana Times, June 15). We are deeply humbled by this recommendation.
Dr Bisram also recommended national honours for several other distinguished personalities living abroad (Arjune Karshan, Chuck Mohan, Vassan Ramracha, Dr Baytoram Ramharack) who consistently laboured for the freedom of Guyana from the clutches of the PNC dictatorship. Dr Bisram himself is deserving of national honours given his life-long history of struggle for Guyana while in the country and abroad. Few contributed as much as Dr Bisram in the Guyanese Diaspora for the struggle for the restoration of democracy during the dictatorship. He is well-known for his exceptional service, volunteerism, advocacy, and activism in community affairs long after the others have abandoned community development. And his journalistic contributions to Guyana are unmatched by anyone in the Diaspora.
I remember the work and the struggles of Pandits Tiwari and Birbal Singh as well as Balram Singh Rai and Dr Fenton and the humiliation they suffered at the hands of the British. I worked with them. I was a PPP activist for national independence. It is well-known that I was imprisoned at Sibley Hall due to my political activism. I was physically abused and as a vegetarian almost starved as consideration was not given to my religious diet. Let me point out that Moses Nagamootoo was trained as a youth activist under my tutelage and he knows of the roles these individuals played.
These gentlemen were committed to the struggle for restoration of democracy in Guyana during the dictatorship and were regular visitors at my Arya Samaj Mandir near Hillside Avenue and 145 Street in Jamaica and at other religious affairs as well as at public events educating the public about abuses in Guyana and soliciting support for their struggle to liberate Guyana from the throes of dictatorship. Ramharack, Ramracha and Bisram penned countless articles exposing the oppression of the Guyanese nation. They internationalised the struggle for free and fair elections the way few did. They even advocated abroad for the oppressed in Guyana.
They were among a handful of political activists who took time off their jobs and abandoned their families to carry out countless protests including in front of the UN and at different places in America against the illegal Government of Guyana. They contributed personal funds to the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Guyana. In addition, they strongly influenced the US State Department to force Desmond Hoyte to hold free and fair elections in October 1992 resulting in the PPP returning to office after 28 years. Because of the struggle of these honourable figures, Guyana became free and the people gained economically, socially and politically. Presently, some of these same political activists are in forefront to save and ensure democracy in Guyana following the May 11 elections amid allegations of rigging. It is an injustice that these prominent and distinguished Guyanese were never recognised for their work. The PPP owes them an apology and the new government should correct this injustice by honouring these heroes.
All of the nominees and more, such as Melvin Carpen, Ravi Dev and Joe Kanhai, among others, are worthy of national recognition devoting countless hours in grassroots activism for free and fair elections. It should also be noted that Vishnu Bandhu participated in the anti-dictatorial struggle for several years in NY before re-migrating to Guyana to launch a political party, and he is also worthy of honours. I would also like to add Moses Bhagwan to that list of deserving nominees and a few others who are still alive who fought the colonial power for our independence. The contributions of all the activists to Guyana are immeasurable in supporting free and fair elections, transforming the lives of the nation. Those who struggled for Guyana should be recognised for the important roles they played in our freedom and the restoration of democracy as we can never thank them enough for their service to the nation.
July 6, 2015 By
Unfortunately the myriad of problems facing Guyana’s education system remain hidden behind the just-closed doors of all public schools across the nation. Those problems would greet the nation when those same school doors re-open on August 31, 2015. In black and white it may have been a ‘successful’ year for education; however, in reality there are severe constraints which can be related only by teachers.
While Guyana’s education system is more (student) performance- driven, little if anything at all was made mention of the thousands of students who were promoted to higher classes without making the prerequisite percentage score of 50 per cent. Across-the-board promotion signals the first blow to the education system given the fact that many schools were forced to promote students to a higher level even though those students did not perform well in the previous class.
The past year in education was riddled with poor management and indifference. The cadre of education planners within our system may have the academic qualifications to run one of the most complex education systems in the world; however, applying that knowledge is another story. Possessing post-graduate degree letters doesn’t mean one can contribute effectively to enhancing the education system better. The education system continues to be in shambles year after year, while those at the higher levels praise a system that is heavily reliant on results.
In the seventh month of the calendar year, teachers are yet to be paid their annual increases and other benefits. This form of unconcern for the nation builders of Guyana is most unsightly. There’s a chance that these mightn’t even be paid when the schools re- open.
In this system parents play a minimal role in the development of their children, treating the school system as a ‘daycare’ that would magically create intelligent beings from 8.30 am to 2.30pm daily.
New policies and systems are being implemented top-down without consultation and feedback from teachers. These policies aren’t evaluated and adjusted to suit the needs and purposes of children.
The dozens of research work of undergraduate and graduate students of the University of Guyana are hidden after they are produced. Research done by students address these issues. It bewilders me as to why our education planners don’t refer to this research when they sit in their air conditioned offices to draft and frame education policies.
There is also a breakdown of communication and coordination between education institutions such as the university and the teachers’ training college.
We may celebrate the achievements of students, but that’s as far as it would go. Guyana’s education system is on the verge of collapse, and the new Government needs to act.
Partnership must include all stakeholders (communities and parents as well) to enhance the system. The ultimate aim in any education system should be to stimulate teachers to stimulate the children to learn.
It’s easy to sit back and complain, but getting in the mix and being a part of the solution takes courage and also effort. Teachers are some of the most hardworking people in Guyana considering that they have to be secretaries, cleaners, judges, lawyers, statisticians, mommies, daddies, counsellors and baby sitters on a daily basis.
Parents and society therefore must pull that veil of separation that exists proverbially between them and the school and truly embrace the process of education in very way.
Guyana’s education system has the people with the skills and ideas to push the nation forward. We can get to that place where we want to be. We know what is holding us back and needs to change what has to be changed and continue what merits continuity.
But many of us are afraid of changes; the first and foremost change – to listen and pay more attention to the situation on the ground.
July 6, 2015 By
Cognisant of an article published in the Sunday Chronicle (Sunday July 5, 2015), under the caption “Several ranks of ‘Special Organised Crime Unit’ fail polygraph tests”, the Guyana Police Force categorically states that the Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud, DSM, has been misquoted during his interaction with media representatives at the Police Headquarters last Friday, and that the headline and information contained in the article are misleading.
The Police Force is clarifying that the Commissioner did tell the press that ranks from certain units are polygraphed each year, but he made no mention of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), even though the ranks from SOCU are polygraphed as well.
Guyana Police Force
Public Relations and
July 6, 2015 By
The Guyanese society is highly politicised. From revolts against the colonisers to the fight for independence and the struggles for equal rights under the Burnham dictatorship, Guyanese were always invested in shaping this country. Even as we fought these battles, our lives couldn’t be untangled from the grips of the West.
Although the nature of our battles evolved, those fighting in the arena remained the same. Since the end of the PNC era, Guyana has had open access to international markets, benefiting from healthy developing foreign policies, fuelled by the growing South-South cooperation and regional development. What hasn’t changed, however, is the raison d’être of certain superpowers vis-à-vis Guyana.
The transparency of the last elections is questionable. GECOM failed either to investigate the fraud or to cooperate in its investigation. The final results were announced five days after elections were held, during which repeated attempts by the PPP/C to have the ballots of several regions recounted failed to attract support from the civil society, the Private Sector and the diplomatic community. Even before the evidence of fraud was presented to GECOM and the public, the diplomatic community dominated by the US bellowed that the elections were “free and fair”. When evidence of fraud was unveiled to GECOM and the diplomats, the elections were still proclaimed to be “free and fair”, and the idiom “to fall on deaf ears” was never more beautifully expressed.
The historical similarity with the situation which led Burnham to become Guyana’s Prime Minister and President from 1980 to 1985 is disturbing. The Kennedy Administration having deprived Jagan of any chance to accede office did everything in its might to give Burnham power which included ordering Britain to support its decision, carrying out undercover operations in Guyana to create politico-ethnic segregation and seducing him with promises to secure his loyalty (or so they thought). Pre- and neocolonial powers turned a blind eye to the manifestations of the will of the Guyanese people when they allowed Burnham to grab control of Guyana in 1964. Once in power, Burnham ensured that he stayed there through repeated rigged elections at the grand embarrassment of the USA until the Carter Administration decided that the image of the US would suffer if it didn’t intervene to fix things. Subsequently, the first free and fair elections weren’t, as the previous APNU campaign deceitfully chanted, at the initiative of Hoyte.
The 2015 case is similar because the US is still engaged in a war which extends beyond the realm of ideology since it’s intrinsically tied to the increasing scarcity of natural resources. Guyana attracts the interest of the USA two-fold (at least). First, it’s bordered by Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname, representing a major geostrategic interest in the realm of ideologies. Foreign policy and a strong left-wing socialist Chavismo movement in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela caused relations with the US to dwindle into one of US imposed boycotts and embargos, internationally voiced disdain and finger pointing, and an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist Venezuelan discourse. Undeniably, any opportunity to befriend Venezuela’s next door neighbour must be seized. While the USA through Guyana reinforces its power in a predominantly left-wing socialist South America, it might in turn offer its protectorate to our country where some 62 per cent of our territory is claimed by Venezuela.
Guyana’s pristine forests and rich deposits of minerals including a nascent oil industry in the vicinity of the Guyana-Venezuelan maritime border are also quite attractive.
This can explain why the US was quick to declare “free and fair” elections while rebuking evidence of fraud stirring a long buried, unforgotten sentiment of injustice among those who recall the US interference in the very birth of our country and the role it played in creating an ethnically divided electorate, causing severe long-term psychological and physical prejudice to Guyanese.
It also explains why Maduro was quick to attack the Granger Government less than one month after it was elected.
Considering the political dejà-vu, one must question how a country where good governance struggles to establish itself over steady foreign interference, poor social and political infrastructure and an ethnically divided electorate could gain control of its national sovereignty as prescribed by international law.
Maybe the answer lies in how we manage to fight our old demons.
July 6, 2015 By
If one looks at the history of this country to determine which of the two main political parties stand by way of credibility and good governance, only one political party stands to claim that title and that is the PPP/C. It has a record of restoring the democratic process while lifting this country out of abject poverty and placing it among the sisterhood of progressive nations. This is undeniable proof that it is the party of, and for the people of this great country.
The coalition is a one-man show run by the PNC, a party that decimated the economy with its rampant corruption and authoritarian rule. Agriculture grounded to a halt, education faltered while those who managed to get an education ran away overseas for a better life.
A general breakdown in infrastructure and telecommunication prevailed. This party cannot untangle itself from its record.
Their old habits have resurfaced as they have dismissed over 50 people who they claim are PPP/C political appointees. These persons are hardworking Guyanese, who have made an honest contribution towards the development of this country. While some may have been political appointees, they were all part of the development strategy of this country and removing them is not ridding the country of corruption, but instead creating a void where progressive thinkers are concerned. This is victimisation and witch-hunting in its purest form.
But far more important is the motive behind these forced removals.
Guyanese now wake with the fear of who will be fired next. This fear has forced many to openly pledge allegiance to the coalition.
The Prime Minister (and puppet) Nagamootoo was recorded as saying that the Chronicle is now a newspaper that is reporting the truth meaning that what is being dictated by the administration. Letters voicing public opinion, such as mine, are as such filtered and discarded.
Despite the efforts of the PNC to tarnish the reputation of the PPP/C, Guyanese cannot be fooled. The PPP/C is the only political party in the history of Guyana to have gained credibility through serving the people. This cannot be erased from history.
July 5, 2015 By
I find two oddities in The Guyana Chronicle, June 29threport (by TejramMohabir) on suicides in Guyana.
Religion was cited as a ‘common risk factor’ for suicide among Guyanese (along with Trinidadian and Surinamese) East Indians: “In Guyana, Dr. Harry identified culture and to a lesser extent religion as common risk factors of suicide”with “30 percent [of those committing suicides]”being“Hindus and Pentecostals”.
My question is what are the similarities and causes in the beliefs shared by Hindus and Christian Pentecostals which trigger the pathology?
To my mind, the only commonality is their “Indianness”. Very many Indians (especially Hindus, who are seen as following a heathen religion) have been converted to Pentecostalism, as they are targets by proselytizing Christian churches in Guyana, India and I’m told by a reliable source, Trinidad and Tobago.
Pentecostalism, as with other Christian sects (and Abrahamic religions) subscribes to a Judgment Day and believing in a unique prophet or saviour is critical to be ‘saved. Hinduism subscribes to no such eschatology – which is why it is easy to convert Hindus who share a more complex and nuanced philosophy of life such as Dharma (universal law), Karma, Reincarnation, Moksha (liberation/release from the karmic cycle of births and deaths), as well as, Autars (Avatars such as Rama, Krishna and Buddha). Thus, there is no similarity between the two religions which could be considered a ‘common risk factor’.
Furthermore, if Hinduism was a factor one would expect India with 80% Hindus to be way over the top, while Guyana is taking the lead as the country with the highest suicide rate. As I showed in my book, Under Attack! The Caribbean Indian, using figures from the 2002 Guyana population census, while Indians were 43.5% in 2002 (falling from 48.6% in 1991) for the same period, Hindus declined from 35.0% of the population to 28.4% while Pentecostalism rose from 7.5% to 16.9% of the population.
Yet, India with 80% Hindus, has a much lower suicide rate with 10.6/100,000 people as compared to the global rate which is 16/100,000. The Guyana Chronicle article gives the global average of 11.4 which is still higher than India’s.
One can conclude that India’s suicide rate is clearly not driven by her predominant Hindu culture. As well, men (as in Guyana) have a higher incidence of suicide than women at a ratio of 2:1 in 2012. What then is responsible for this disparity? The cited report states: “It is observed that social and economic causes have led most of the males to commit suicide whereas emotional and personal causes have mainly driven females to end their lives.”
The other unexplained oddity is that, in T&T, more women are said to commit the act, whereas in Guyana (as in India), men are more prone to suicide. How does one reconcile this divergence in Caribbean countries with similar ethnic makeup?
Finally, there is what is called a ‘clustering’ effect which is not acknowledged in the article. It was reported that when Marilyn Monroe died of ‘acute barbiturate poisoning’the rate of suicide [in the USA] rose by as much as 12 percent. Perhaps the most tragic case of ‘clustering’, or the contagion effect, happened in the top ranked heavyweight boxer, George Chuvalo’s, family.
He revealed: “The worst time of my life  was when my son died of an overdose and my wife died (of suicide) in a four-day period…” But those were not the end his harrowing tragic losses.
Two more sons died of drug overdosing in 1993 and 1996. In another report, a family in Guyana had has suffered the loss of a son who committed suicide by drinking pesticide and his stepmother reported that her former husband and his son died of suicide, while she herself thought of it once.
So, while the causes are varied (including the introduced ‘clustering’ effect such as family history/conditioning and the availability and use of pesticides/herbicides in Guyana) it has been shown that Hinduism is clearly NOT a risk factor.