September 2, 2014

Allicock’s letter ill-advised

Dear Editor,

I read Sydney Allicock’s letter in the Stabroek News (Friday, August 29, 2014) under the caption “Toshaos should make their voices heard”.

Sydney Allicock’s a PNC/APNU Member of Parliament (MP) belongs to Surama Village, North Rupununi, Region Nine. It is strange that he did not in his letter mention that he is “an APNU MP”. But why? Is he ashamed to be associated with the PNC/APNU Political Party which is totally disrespectful to Guyana’s Amerindian or Indigenous Peoples?

The caption of Allicock’s letter “Toshaos should make their voices heard” is a deception since the voices of our Village Chiefs and Community Leaders are always heard and responded to by the Government through the Amerindian Affairs Ministry.

What the Toshaos must continue to do is to make their voices heard in condemning Allicock and his PNC/APNU party for deliberate budgetary cuts which affect the development of Amerindian Communities in Guyana.

Can Allicock remember when he voted with his PNC/APNU party in cutting $1.4 billion for the Amerindian Development Fund (ADF) in 2014 which affected the implementation of 43 Amerindian Community Development Projects, including Region Nine, and the payment of Presidential Grants to the Amerindian Communities of Guyana?

And Allicock is so barefaced to speak about Amerindian development and Amerindian rights? He knows what are Amerindian rights? As an Amerindian PNC/APNU MP, did Allicock consulted with Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples and receive their Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) before he and his PNC/APNU party voted in Parliament for budgetary cuts in 2012, 2013 and 2014 that affected negatively the Amerindian communities of Guyana? Shame on you Allicock!

The Toshaos are indeed making their voices heard, not only when they make their respective Village or Community representations at the Amerindian Affairs Ministry, but also at the National Toshaos Council (NTC) conference.

In my view, the NTC is transformed into an Indigenous People Parliament where Toshaos raised their concerns, problems and recommendations in a straightforward and sound businesslike manner in the presence of the President, Ministers of the Government and Government officials for on-the-spot problem-solving and follow-up actions.

It is here where some of the more than 180 Toshaos’ and Community Leaders’ recommendations are reflected in the Amerindian Affairs Ministry’s Annual budgetary allocations which are subjected to cuts by the PNC/APNU and AFC, thus denying the rights of Amerindian Communities to their social and economic development.

And mind you, this is a violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which Allicock as a PNC/ APNU MP is guilty of, since in Parliament he as well voted for the budgetary cuts. And now he has the temerity to call on Toshaos to make their voices heard?

Allicock, an APNU MP, said in his letter: “It is time we give another group a chance at the helm of this beautiful country.” It seems that Allicock is either venturing into senility or psychosis. Which is this “Another Group” that must be given a “chance” at the helm of this beautiful country”?

Allicock did not say, but definitely not the PNC/APNU or AFC. It is important for Allicock to be reminded that it was his party, the PNC, when in Government illegally for 28 years destroyed Guyana, both socially and economically, when Guyana was ranked second to Haiti in poverty. Allicock must know as well that the illegal PNC Government also neglected and discriminated against the Amerindian Peoples of Guyana.

So Allicock must know that Amerindians will not give his group, the PNC/APNU, another chance to be at the helm of our beautiful country and neither the AFC will get a chance. Allicock should, therefore, stop fooling the Toshaos of Region Nine.

The Amerindian Act 2006 was formulated as a result of extensive consultations with over 111 Amerindian Communities. It is, therefore, an Act, which is reflective of the wishes of Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples. Allicock says the Amerindian Act needs revising but did not give reasons. The problem is that Allicock simply does not understand the Amerindian Act and being in the anti-government circus he is just parroting what they say.

Amerindian Heritage Month

It was the late President Cheddi Jagan who in 1995 designated September of each year as Amerindian Heritage Month so as to highlight, encourage and preserve the Culture of Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples. Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai, MP, who at the time was not a Minister but worked alongside Former Amerindian Affairs Minister Vibert De Souza was actively engaged with stakeholders such as Amerindian organisations for the identification of a day and month for Amerindian Heritage Month and Heritage Day.

So in remembrance of Stephen Campbell being the first Amerindian who entered Parliament on September 10, 1957. This is how the date and month for Amerindian Heritage Month and Day was identified.

Amerindian Heritage Month is a part of Guyana’s calendar of national events. In his letter, the point made by Allicock on Amerindian Heritage Month seems convoluted, emanating from a twisted mind-set.

The Former Ministers of Amerindian Affairs all did a great job by ensuring the rights and interests of Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples are respected and preserved causing harmonious togetherness in our beautiful country.

The current Minister continues to vigorously blase the trail for continued Indigenous Peoples’ Development and empowerment never before seen in the history of Guyana.

The problem with Allicock is that he has realised that he is only wasting his time being with the PNC/APNU and being offensive to his own people by joining to cut Guyana’s national budgets which negatively affects Indigenous Peoples so as to keep them in poverty and division.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Persaud

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High incidence of symptoms of Chikungunya

Dear Editor,

Blue CAPS recently has received information about a surge of many unofficially reported cases of Chikungunya, a viral fever illness caused by bites from infected mosquitoes, in Georgetown and the rest of Region Four.

However, it is mystifying that Guyana’s public health authorities remain markedly silent on what might become the first wave of a burgeoning medical crisis.

Mr Clinton Urling, Executive Chairman of Blue CAPS and former President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has received numerous complaints from private sector operatives about employees being sent home on sick leave as a result of the virus.

Mr Urling says that his business establishment has had three employees proceed on leave for exhibiting Chikungunya symptoms. Two members of Blue CAPS also have exhibited symptoms of the virus, which include fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash.

The Blue CAPS organisation urges health authorities to investigate immediately this concern and to develop urgently a reporting system for health care institutions and the national Health Ministry to track confirmed cases of the virus.

Providing confirmed information would give the public an accurate picture about how to best manage this health issue.

If an empirically based investigation uncovers, indeed, that there is an outbreak, the following measures should be implemented:

* Conduct surveillance studies to trace the virus’ spreading pattern to determine deployment of targeted health and preventive interventions.

* Increase the use and application of insecticides to kill mosquitoes and larvae.

* Disseminate information to the public on taking necessary precautions to avoid contracting the virus. This includes eliminating water-filled habitats that support mosquitoes’ breeding, particularly those near areas of human habitation. Also, basic precautions should be promoted, such as the use of repellents and mosquito nets, along with reminding residents to wear long sleeves and pants and to fit screens into room to prevent mosquitoes from entering.

We also call on the PAHO/WHO Guyana Country Office to offer technical support and guidance for managing effectively the current situation. The office also could provide public awareness and training sessions on implementing preventive measures as well as guidelines for clinical management and diagnosis of the virus.

Blue CAPS is a non-partisan civic non-government organisation (NGO) that develops and advocates public policy prescriptions for a better Guyana.

For more information about Blue CAPS, please contact us at: bluecapsguyana@gmail.com.

With regards,

Blue CAPS

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The Amazon Warriors were cheated

Dear Editor,

I have read an article in the form of a commentary by Neil Kumar” in your Sunday paper. I appreciate your willingness to publish a candid article on such a controversial issue.

I would like to express my happiness and sign of comfort toward such a detailed and powerful article. I am strongly supporting the view expressed by Neil Kumar.

I feel passionately as normal hardworking citizens do about the stand the Director of Sport has taken towards a matter that has affected our cricket community and Guyanese as a whole.

I would like to thank Mr Neil Kumar for been an informative leader to the public and for continuing to move sport in Guyana forward. These interventions will only bring positiveness and togetherness in the game of cricket and this beautiful land of Guyana.

The Amazon Warriors were cheated. Let us have “Cricket as Cricket”.

 

Sincerely,

Name and address provided

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Misleading Guyanese people on Bai Shan Lin

Dear Editor,

Kindly publish this letter for me in your National Newspaper. I read the Stabroek News column (Thursday, August 28, 2014) under the caption “How Bai Shan Lin acquired the several areas of State Forest which are now in its 1.3 Million Hectares Empire” by Janette Bulkan and John Palmer.

It seems that despite all the accurate and credible information provided to the media by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) on Bai Shan Lin and the Forestry Sector, Bulkan and Palmer seem to know a lot more than the GFC about Guyana’s forest laws and policies even though they are not living in Guyana and not engaged in Guyana’s forest sector. This means as well that Bulkan and Palmer can ably provide advice or an assessment on whether laws, policies or regulations were breached when Guyana Defence Force (GDF) guns, according to Army records, were loaned to the National Development Ministry of the illegal PNC Government during the 1970s and 1980s as revealed at the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI). Can Palmer, a British citizen, say if this kind of policy is acceptable to the British Government?

Bulkan and Palmer, it seems, are strong advocates for the upholding of laws and policies in Guyana. This is good. But these two hypocrites seem to be deaf and blind to what happened in Guyana prior to 1992 when there were economic bankruptcy and corruption as a result of not upholding the laws and policies by the illegal PNC Government, which was removed from office by the ballot box in 1992, leaving the State’s treasury empty. So while it is good for Bulkan and Palmer to criticise, it is important as professionals that they engage in constructive comparative analysis to arrive at fair positions. But they will not, since Bulkan and Palmer are supporters of the Political Opposition in Guyana bent on misleading the Guyanese people about Guyana’s forest sector and the Bai Shan Lin logging operations.

I still would like Phillip Bynoe of Linden to challenge her as well to a public debate on the Chinese investments.

Mr Editor, I have noted as well that the Transparency Institute of Guyana (TIGI) is also criticising the forestry sector and the Bai Shan Lin investments. Anand Goolsarran and Geno Persaud should also engage Phillip Bynoe in a public debate. But they wouldn’t because they are cowards. The TIGI should be renamed the Opaque Institute of Guyana, since it only creates useless noise about transparency and corruption without evidence. And while Goolsarran was Auditor General under the illegal PNC regime prior to 1992, he failed to submit public accounts reports under his watch for 10 years. Wasn’t Goolsarran, therefore, an accomplice to corruption under the illegal PNC Government and in barefaced hypocrisy he is now a noise nuisance on corruption?

TIGI is, therefore, blind and silent deliberately when it comes to the massive corruption that occurred under the illegal PNC Government prior to 1992 when its Chief Spokesman, Goolsarran, was the country’s Auditor-General. What hypocrisy is currently taking place in the Political Opposition just to fool the people. But the Guyanese People know better. As the Good Book says “A man shall not be established by wickedness. But the root of the righteous shall not be moved.”

Yours sincerely,

Peter Persaud

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The epitome of hypocrisy and double standards

Dear Editor,

If what the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur is saying is true, and I have no reason to doubt that a respectable man like himself would lie about something so serious, then I am aghast at the revelations that Owner and Publisher of Kaieteur News Glenn Lall, a self-proclaimed fighter of criminality and corruption, would stoop to such a low level to excuse himself from his deceitful transgressions.

I speak of the duty-free scam that he and his relatives are currently embroiled in. It was headlined in the newspapers recently how he defrauded the Government of such sums of money by having his re-migrant family, with their duty free status, import two brand new 2013 Lexus Luxury SUVs which were then handed to Mr Lall and his wife in breach of the duty-free concessions conditionality/law.

The vehicles are, in essence, really owned by Lall and his wife, but were imported by his re-migrant relatives for him to benefit from their duty-free status. I say this because the vehicles used to be prominently parked in front of Lall’s and his wife’s (Bhena Lall, owner of Bhena’s Footwear) place of work daily, even though they were registered to his relatives and should be in their possession.

What is now even more shocking is that Lall who preaches about corruption, equity and fairness has reportedly levied threats to Mr Sattaur that if he proceeds along the just line of accountability and investigates the matter under his remit as the Commissioner General of the GRA, he will persecuted by Kaieteur News.

In this article, Mr Sattaur has said among other things that Glenn Lall called him from an overseas number and “threatened to use his newspaper [Kaieteur News] to expose me; I don’t know what wrong I am doing. If I am trying to do the Government’s work….I don’t know why people should be upset, if they are doing wrong things, they should be subject to the laws as well,”

What kind of double standards is Mr Lall perpetuating? On one hand, he uses his paper to malign and speak against all forms of corruption, unfairness, and unaccountability, yet he himself operates as if he is above and beyond reproach when he is asked to be accountable.

I think Guyanese are getting a clearer and clearer picture as to the type of person Mr Glenn Lall really is.

His character is clearly exemplified in an informal, haphazard attempt to justify his actions in his (Kaieteur News) satirical medium “Dem Boys Seh” dated August 27 under the heading “Thief man don’t like see he mattie wid bag”.

The caption alone speaks volumes but the content is more damning. Among other things “Dem Boys” –who everybody knows is Glenn Lall – said: “Dem boys [he] know that a man can bring in a vehicle and get duty free. De only thing he can’t do is sell de vehicle before three years. If he do that, he got to pay taxes. He can lend out de vehicle, he can park it and that ain’t no crime.”

Well, in that case, it might not be a crime, but it certainly is an unscrupulous act clearly aimed at depriving the Government of the necessary taxes needed to develop the country.

So, for the so-called “champion of corruption” to make such statements justifies that he is a hypocrite and even suggests further that the work that he and his acolytes are doing with the Kaieteur News was never about truth and accountability but about serving his interests.

We clearly see this with his attempt to use his newspaper to influence and dissuade the Commissioner General from conducting his investigations into this scam, which was apparently facilitated by one of GRA’s employees who shares a close relationship with Mr Lall.

I hope that all the parties involved will face the full force of the law and the two vehicles in question be impounded until such time that it is determined that no crime was committed or that the taxes would have to be paid.

Additionally, we as Guyanese should start boycotting the Kaieteur News, which claims that it is representing the interests of the people, but is clearly representing, sensationally, the interest of one man who evidently feels he is above the law.

Respectfully,

Sundar Naught

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Proportional Representation preferred over run-off in TT

Dear Editor,

From the findings of an ongoing NACTA poll in Trinidad, there is favourable opinion, from all segments of the population, towards a constitutional amendment pertaining to term limits for a prime minister and recalling Members of Parliament who have not adequately serviced their constituents.

But there is deep political division on the run-off aspect (winning a seat by over 50 per cent of the votes cast) of the bill with most Government supporters backing it, while Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) and Independent Liberal Party (ILP) supporters opposing it. The Congress of the People (COP) supporters, almost non-existent among the population, are divided between supporting and opposing the runoff amendment of the bill.

Overall, supporters of all the parties feel Proportional Representation (PR), like what we have in Guyana, is a better option in electing MPs than the greater than 50 per cent rule and the proposed runoff where no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast. Virtually everyone prefers PR over the 50 per cent rule.

The United National Congress (UNC); COP; and ILP have indicated at varied times support for PR. The PNM has consistently opposed PR. The UNC founder, Basdeo Panday, had consistently argued for PR when in Opposition.

But when he became PM (1995 through 2001), he abandoned the idea because of lack of support from the PNM to enact it.

In 2007, COP founder Winston Dookeran was against PR because party-commissioned polls showed it winning the election with a plurality of votes; the party ended up with 20 per cent of the votes and no seats.

After the election, both Dookeran and Panday called for PR. The PNM, under Patrick Manning, ignored them both, saying PR will balkanise TT. No country (all over Europe, New Zealand, Australia, etc) that utilises PR has been balkanised.

During the debate on the constitutional amendment bill, Dookeran again said he would prefer PR over the majority rule. Jack Warner, ILP founder, also backs PR. Though opposed to PR prior to the amendment debate, the PNM leader, Dr Keith Rowley, has not indicated whether he would re-examine PR as an alternative to the run-off rule being advocated by UNC Leader and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Dr Rowley should re-engage his party’s supporters to get their views on PR; he would be surprised to find how supportive they are of this electoral system over the first-past-the-post system and how much more they, as well as supporters of other parties, prefer it over the 50-per-cent-plus-one rule that is now becoming law.

Also, with the new electoral rule being put into play for the 2015 election, the PNM’s strategy of winning or losing alone has to be re-thought. The world has moved away from one-party governance and towards coalition. Even where a party wins a majority, it seeks allies to govern in order to maximise support for policymaking. The UNC (PP) may not have won in 2010 without a coalition, so that party sees the value in coalition politicking.

The new electoral bill makes it all the more necessary for the major parties in TT to build alliances in order to win a majority of seats. As it is right now, NACTA polls are showing no party can win a majority of seats with a majority of votes, making run-off necessary in several of them. Pre-election coalition arrangements could lead to an alliance winning a majority of seats.

On the right to recall terrible MPs, constituents are praiseworthy that they can rid themselves of poor representatives. But they are concerned whether MPs will be given adequate resources to properly service their constituents.

In the past, if an MP is not a member of the governing party or even a Cabinet member, he or she had to literally suck salt to get work done in a district – virtually no resources were committed to the constituency. Constituents feel some kind of equitable funding should be made available to MPs to properly service their constituents.

Submitted by,

Vishnu Bisram

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Delight in the beauty and magic of nature

Dear Editor,

Listening to the sweet melodies of the kiskadee, the crashing sound of the waves as they furiously beat upon the seawall, roaming in the newly burnt fields for the sweetest sugar canes, skulking from school, (I just hated school with all my heart and soul) to hunt for that ripe monkey apple, delighting in the singing and dancing of my kite mounting ever so high (with sharp razor blades at the tail), feeling in the stagnant muddy drains for that cricket ball – these are some of the most vivid and happy memories of my boyhood days.

The childlike delight, spontaneity, and exuberance may no longer be there, but one of my abiding joys in life is still my passion and love for the beauty and magic in nature.

It is indeed a sad commentary on our times that many people, particularly in the metropolitan cities of the world, have but little time or they scarcely bother to admire and reflect on the exuberant splendour and beauty in nature. The hurried pace and stress of modern living have stifled our natural curiosity and sense of wonder.

Many people are just too busy and occupied to stop and smell the roses. So on a daily basis, great beauty passes unnoticed with no space in their schedule for any pause or break. Einstein was hinting at exactly this when he wrote: “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”

Despite our best efforts at encroaching upon nature, causing species to vanish, polluting the environment, and upsetting the Earth’s complex and intricate ecological balance, the world is still a place of immense beauty and sheer delight.

This was eloquently expressed by Thomas Carlyle, who wrote: “This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle, wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to those who think of it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Philosopher, Poet, and Transcendentalist, thought deeply on nature and life and he gave a glimpse of the spiritual dimension to the magic of nature when he wrote:

“I feel that nothing can befall me in life – no disgrace, no calamity, which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, my head bathe in blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, – all mean egotism vanishes, I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the current of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and parcel of God.”

Not to marvel at nature is a reflection of our spiritual decline. The sacred texts of all the great religious traditions of the world are adorned with passages where the infinite majesty and glory of God are described with references to the marvelous works in nature and creation.

They remind us to step back a little, to rise above mere rituals and ceremonies, and to behold God in the fragrant perfume of the flowers, in the ebb and flow of the tides, the enchanting music of the nightingale, the sweet smile of a child, and in all the magnificent works in nature.

God then can no longer be confined to the temple, synagogue, mandir, mosque, or gurudwara. To see Him in a rainbow or in the setting sun is in itself meditation and prayer as good as when we sing His praises in the houses of worship.

Thus Shri Krishna, Universal Teacher, sang to Arjuna, His disciple in Bhagavad Gita: “For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.”

Sincerely,

Cecil Ramkirath

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Stop this devious and unfounded crusade against Youth Basketball Guyana

Dear Editor,

I am ashamed of the crassness, incivility and the abuse of stewardship that has been demonstrated by some within the basketball fraternity in recent times. It is quite unfortunate that a sport that has so much potential and the opportunity to create massive social change at the grass-root level could be so backward thinking and digressive.

This abuse of the game- must not, cannot be allowed to continue unabated.

This is the context in which I am compelled to rebuke and correct an opinion penned by Mr Edison Jeffords in the Kaieteur News on Thursday, August 28, in which Mr Jeffords made several unfounded and patently libelous references about YBG.

Youth Basketball Guyana (YBG) is an independent registered Non Governmental Organisation (NGO).

YBG has laboured and succeeded in creating an expansive, progressive and enviable structure at the school/youth level. YBG has been directly responsible for the development of the majority of the top youth basketball players in Guyana for the past nine years. YBG has been a credible partner and has retained core sponsors such as: Banks DIH Ltd, Digicel and Edward B Beharry and Company Ltd for its programmes for six consecutive years now. We have built and fostered trust and relationships with students, parents, teachers, officials, sponsors and supporters. We have worked favourably with the Education Ministry, Culture Youth and Sport Ministry, the National Sports Commission and other community partners.

Hence, Mr Jeffords’ assertion alluding to YBG, which I quote as “…an independent programme that receives subsistence from the NSC….” Is inaccurate and lack factual basis. This is a direct attack against the credibility of YBG. To insinuate that YBG is receiving funding from the National Sports Commission, is irresponsible and a reckless disregard for truth and accuracy, and borders on being defamatory and libelous, as this can be misconstrued in terms of receipt of funds and use of funds, which are non-existent. This is outright devious and misleading. We demand a retraction of this untruth.

On the question of YBG needing sanction from the GABF for legitimacy, it is not necessary. What YBG needs is the permission from parents and approval from the Education Ministry and head teachers for students to participate-that’s it. We may choose or choose not to request referees from the affiliate of the federation. The Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation is indeed, the sole competent authority for “FIBA regulated basketball activities, programmes and personnel (italic added for emphasis)”. FIBA itself has identified those categories of its membership and activities that need sanction and can be sanctioned. So, no one doesn’t need the federation’s sanction to organise a summer camp for school children, or your CSEC Inter Schools Basketball Project, or an inter-faith (religious) national basketball championship, especially, if you are not asking them to provide referees and officials and for the participation of any affiliates of the federation. It is the respectful thing to inform them and to pursue relationship and collaboration with the national body, but this could only happen in an atmosphere of mutual respect and common purpose. As a matter of fact, the federation’s approval or permission is not needed for any non FIBA sanctioned activities. This whole exercise in authority is an abuse of power, for the sole purpose of control and to mislead the uninformed.

Lastly, Mr Jeffords has called basketball stakeholders to support the GABF strong stance. My question for the stakeholders is who is representing your interest. Who is supporting the players, coaches, referees, officials and others who have lost confidence in a broken system?

One of those players I speak for is Stanton Rose. Stanton is a 14-year-old from Kwakwani, Berbice River. He was the starting Point Guard on the under 19 IGG team this year. Five months ago, Stanton and two others were selected on the request of the GABF to participate in a FIBA sanctioned basketball camp, scheduled for August 11-19, in Turkey.

As far, we know everything were on schedule until about two weeks prior to the Inter-Guiana Games. During the IGG training camp, Stanton received a visit from the President of the GABF, who told him that his participation in the IGG would jeopardise his opportunity. Stanton being just a child, who merely wants to play basketball, went ahead and represented his country in the Inter-Guiana Games. IGG came and went, Camp Pass it on held in Turkey, came and went, too. Stanton never heard from the Federation, no explanation, just dropped. My question again, who is representing our players’ interest?

We the stakeholders must not allow this to continue.

Sincerely,

Reverend Chris Bowman

Co-DirectorYBG

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Guyanese New Yorkers and India’s Independence

Participants march on Madison Avenue during the annual India Day Parade on Sunday, August 17, 2014. The parade celebrates India’s independence from the British Empire in 1947 (Newsday)

Participants march on Madison Avenue during the annual India Day Parade on Sunday, August 17, 2014. The parade celebrates India’s independence from the British Empire in 1947 (Newsday)

Dear Editor,

India’s independence (August 15, 1947) has had a historical significance for Guyanese and people of all Caribbean nations, as it paved the way for the Region’s political independence. And in fact, Indo-Guyanese and other Indo-Caribbean people supported India’s independence struggle from their home soil, the Region where they were domiciled in plantation life.

In New York, Indo-Guyanese, Jamaicans, Trinis and Surinamese partook in celebrations marking India’s independence from Great Britain.

India’s freedom struggle and its model for home rule served as a model for Caribbean people to fight for their own self-rule and independence from colonialism in the 1940s through the 1960s. The freedom of India in 1947 set the stage for the independence of colonies around the globe.

Not surprisingly, many Guyanese and Trinis turned up at India’s Independence Day celebration in New York last Sunday to mark the country’s 68th Independence Day. That was the 35th annual parade.

I was here at the inception with Arjune Karshan, Vassan Ramracha, Baytoram Ramharack, and other freedom warriors fighting for Guyana’s liberation from PNC misrule, and Trinis turned out in significant numbers to catch a glimpse of their favourite Bollywood stars.

Bollywood personality Sunny Deol, son of popular actor Dharmendra, was the star attraction this year among a few others at the parade which drew tens of thousands of people on Madison Avenue. Previous parades had bigger draws like Hema Malini, Amitabh, Jeetendra, Madhuri, Preity Zinta, etc.

India’s Independence was also marked at several temples (being on a Sunday) where there were patriotic bhajans and songs as well as the singing of the Indian national anthem.

The desire for India to become a free nation propelled many Indo-Caribbean peoples since the late 1900s to identify with the “Quit India” movement and the struggle to free India of British rule.

And later, the freedom of India would pave the way for the freedom of the Caribbean colonies. For example, Dr Cheddi Jagan modelled his style of political struggle for Guyana’s liberation on that of Jawaharlall Nehru.

Today, many New York-based Guyanese and Trinis take pride in participating in India’s Independence celebrations as they also do in their own countries’ independence ceremonies in NY.

The Consulate General (CG) of Trinidad held a reception last Thursday evening to mark her country’s Independence at which prominent personalities were invited, including this writer. The CG of Guyana also normally attends celebrations of Guyana’s Independence though the Government never really hosts the kind of reception held by the CG of Trinidad and Tobago or Jamaica.

Because of their gratitude for what has been done for them, Indo-Caribbean people fervently participate in the India Day parade and attend or organise other festivities celebrating that country’s achievement.

They also attended flag-hoisting ceremonies organised by the various community organisations and several usually attend a reception hosted by the India Consulate. Guyanese and Trinis have been participating in the annual India Day parade over the years. There is no similar parade for any Caribbean nation except the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Almost every major country has an Independence Day parade in New York. Trinis mark their country’s Independence with a banquet dinner and/or a cultural variety show. The CG of Trinidad also hosts celebrations for community leaders and the media. There is no similar event for Guyanese community leaders.

The India Day parade started out small and grew in size and stature over the years attracting American politicians including Mayors, Senators, Governors and Members of Congress. Indo-Caribbean people feel at home participating in the parade.

Today, there is very active involvement of Guyanese and Trinis (Kali, Prita Singh, etc) in the parade, joining floats and sporting banners and putting in dance performances. Vishnu Bandhu, Pandit Ramlall, Ramesh Kalicharran and I, among others, sponsored floats relating to the struggle for free and fair elections in Guyana during the 1980s.

The parade has become a major attraction in the city, drawing tens of thousands of spectators and is among the major cultural events in the city’s calendar of events. The celebration this year kicked off with the traditional singing of both the American and Indian national anthems.

Speeches and salutations from politicians and star personalities stressed the importance of Indian freedom from British colonialism as people were reminded of the sacrifices made for independence.

Speakers also commended India’s newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he will lead India to a great future. Indo-Caribbeans expressed tremendous hopes and expectations in Modi to transform India in to a great nation.

Yours truly,

Vishnu Bisram

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Ram should familiarise himself with the GFC Act

Dear Editor,

It seems as though the Kaieteur News in its misleading campaign against Bai Shan Lin Logging and the forestry sector had run out of misinformation when they republished Christopher Ram’s comments on Janette Bulkan and John Palmer’s criticisms of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) Annual Reports for the years 2005-2012.

Ram said that the GFC illegally paid over to NICIL $600 million. Let me again advise Ram that he should familiarise himself with the GFC Act that allows the Commission to manage its own resources and to make payments being a statutorily incorporated entity.

I have noted as well that APNU’s Carl Greenidge is concerned about the Commissioner of Forests’ handling of foreign companies.

Greenidge was the Finance Minister in the PNC Government when it was voted out of office in 1992, leaving Guyana in social and economic ruin and misery. He should have been the last to speak on the forestry sector’s management or the management of any productive sector in Guyana.

Further, can Greenidge say if the PNC Government ever provided annual reports for the forestry sector? And did the PNC Government ever consult with the Guyanese people when it issued the Barama Company 1.1 million hectares of forest lands?

Ram asks “in whose interest are GFC and Government acting… Bai Shan Lin or Guyana”? The problem with Ram is that he is part of the misinformation campaign against the GFC and Bai Shan Lin. But can Ram say if he was a consultant to one of the joint venture arrangements that had connections to the Bulkans some years back?

Guyana’s so called “new political dispensation” has caused some to become apostles of transparency and anti-corruption. In this regard, they will have to be prepared for the boomerang effect which will only expose the hypocrisy of the political Opposition in their mischievous power-hungry campaign.

A few days ago, it was alleged that a publisher of one of the newspapers in Guyana, an advocate of anti-corruption is at the centre of a duty-free concession scam. On this matter, where are the other advocates of anti-corruption in the political Opposition?

It seems that on this alleged scam they are in total silence, but not silent to provide gross misinformation in the Opposition sections of the media about the forestry sector. The recent Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) column is an example.

Did the TIGI seek clarification from the GFC before writing its columns about the forestry sector before arriving at its absolutely unqualified assumptions and conclusions? By the way, who is telling TIGI what to write in its columns on forest matters? The inaccurate information presented is simply being recycled to the political opposition and its lackeys.

Yours respectfully,

Peter Persaud

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