Dr Bato on a Rage...

Where are the Indian-Guyanese intellectuals?

October 29, 2015 | By | Filed Under Letters 

Dear Editor,
A letter writer raised a question in reference to the recent controversy regarding Diwali celebrations in Guyana by asking “Where are the Indian intellectuals?” In short, why are Indians not speaking out through a consensus voice and addressing issues germane to their physical existence?

 

The deafening silence has led to two possible conclusions. One, there are few Indian intellectuals in Guyana who are capable of articulating a position on behalf of Indians. Two, Indian intellectuals are afraid to speak out because of the perception that they may be branded as “racists”. They will be accused of not being a “true Guyanese”.


There is no question that an intellectual tradition is firmly grounded in the African community. This has been established over the years, largely complemented by many years of oppression and discrimination, and a historical experience that has created shared values and common positions around national issues, be it racism against Africans, reparations, etc. Swami Aksharananda reminded us that within the African community (specifically, the PNC and WPA) “a significant number of African intellectuals, scholars, and activists …are quite vociferous when it comes to ethnic honor, and for whom the furtherance and defense of African Guyanese interests, is an important plank in their political and public life.” He suggested that “this group of individuals seeks to connect ethnic interests with national interests” and that there is an “asymmetry in this position when it comes to Indians”. His conclusion was that the Indian ethnic interest “has been presented as diametrically opposed to national interest.”


Judging by the letter writers, social blogs and social media platforms, there are some common trends that are identifiable when it comes to the way Indians are perceived in Guyana and the Caribbean. One, they are viewed as a backward, unsophisticated lot, a perception often linked to their Asian, rather than western outlook. Two, the language used to describe Indians suggest that they are “interlopers”, “temporary migrants”, or as Eric Williams of Trinidad referred to them as “a recalcitrant minority”.


In sum, Indians are seen as non-patriotic and as anti-nationalist as they come. As a result, Indians who publicly advocate for their community or group interests are viewed as “parochial” because they cling to their primordial sentiments. If readers think these claims are not grounded in reality, one simply has to peruse the unfettered blogs where Guyanese, hiding behind anonymity, tell each other how they really feel. By no means am I claiming that Indians are saints in this regard, but, unfortunately, the vitriol is reflected on both sides.


If an intellectual tradition exists within the Guyanese Indian community, it is difficult to identify the protagonists. Had there been an intellectual tradition in Guyana, the current perceptions regarding Indians may not have gone unchallenged. One is hard-pressed to produce evidence that the PPP and its leadership has elevated the status of Indians, its largest voting bloc, to the next plateau because that party is guilty of squelching any semblance of intellectualism within its core, a tradition that dates back to the early days of Cheddi Jagan. Moreover, beyond his Marxism, Jagan saw himself as the person on a mission to bring the races together. He was assured of Indian support, so little attention was given to the particular problems of Indians. He did not care to raise them, while working assiduously to delegitimize any Indian leader or organization that expressed a desire to engage in meaningful dialogue about race relations in Guyana.


Ironically, Swami Aksharananda’s statements received vociferous castigations, not from Africans, many of whom would probably agree with his assessment, but from a lone Indian, Freddie Kissoon, supposedly a “Renaissance Guyanese” who declared the messenger as an “Indian triumphalist”.


The clear lack of an intellectual tradition creates a number of challenges for the Indian. His concerns are not seen as legitimate, his causes are not worth struggling for, his rights need not be protected, he has no business being in politics, and he should not make any claims to the national patrimony. It is much worse for Amerindians, who were here long before Africans and Indians were brought to this country when the colonial possession was still a swampland. Their voices are drowned by a national culture that does not legitimately embrace the Indian culture as part of the national fabric of dear Guyana.


Baytoram Ramharack

Original Post

Ramharaks frustrations stems from the fact that he has a false narrative about who is the indian and what are their cultural prerogatives.

 

He sees a homogeneous entity with a unitary path and a singular purpose ( conserving "Indian" identity) but miss the fact the Indian are themselves a plural culture with internal identities separate and apart and each competing for political space.

 

He also fails to acknowledge that the core group of Hindus are not particularly receptive to Hindutva and cannot be regimented into a Guyanese RSS militancy by supposed articulation of sacred traditions.

 

They know that whatever is sacred to them is what they forged in Guyana. The Bharat Mata they left was not a salutary cradle to their emergence as humans but was a brutal step mother touting  Brahmanism ass sacred  creed and the laws of Manu the whip and the source of the deep wounds on  on their soul making sure they remain as dirt.

 

Amerindians have no kinship in struggle or in identity or in culture to Indians. Amerindians receive the similar level if not more of contempt from Indians as any. Their position at the bottom rung of the Guyanese social ladder is not on account of being in alliance with one or the other dominant groups. They are there because of a complete failure of other groups to recognize their natural patrimony and that they have cultural relevance.

 

I also do not see black people seeking Afrocentric militancy as their dominant position to sue for political recognition. The monochromatic view he has of our political reality is seeded in the manner and mode of his own emergence as a "hindu activist". It is artificial and as fictive as his view of what ails us.

1.  Creole Guyanese (African, mixed and Portuguese) do not define their ethnic identity outside of a "Guyanese" context.  They also see themselves as part of a Caribbean creole culture, with all the multi cultural aspects that this embraces.

 

2.  Creole culture is celebrated by them as it is a creation of the many peoples who live in the Caribbean and/or who embrace a primarily Caribbean identity.  It is not regarded as a singular culture, but as a composite of Africa, Europe, Asia, and the indigenous cultures of the Americas.  Do not tell a Jamaican that curry goat isnt Jamaican.

 

3. Indocentrics like this man reject creole cultural as being mongrelized and degenerate.  They do NOT embrace a multicultural vision of Guyana, where there are numerous pathways for the various ethnicities to embrace each other, to identify with one another, and to even absorb aspects of each culture as it suits their needs.   

 

Locating themselves out of this cultural continuum, they then wail when they are seen as interlopers, clannish, racist, unpatriotic, and not to be trusted. 

 

4.  There are also foolish as an Indo Carib creole culture does exist. Indo Caribbean people are easily recognized as being a Caribbean peoples as their almost 200 years existence in the Caribbean means that they have contributed to what being Caribbean is about, and similarly have absorbed cultures, styles and values from the other drivers of Caribbean identity.

 

Indocentrics like this man scream that those Indo Carib people who recognize this fact are "self hating", "love blackman", or are participating in "Indian genocide". India of 2015 isnt the India of 1838, so why do these folks wish to pretend that Indo Caribbean people have remain untransformed even after almost 170 years away from India?

 

 

THIS is the reason why people like him are seen as racist.

 

1. They locate their Indian identity OUTSIDE of a national construct.

 

2. They locate their Indian identity as superior to that of the more creolised groups, with myths of hard work, etc., even as Indians are the POOREST group of indentures, and maybe not much better off than are the much abused, and stigmatized descendants of slaves.

 

3. Whereas as the African intellectual talked much about African abuse of non Africans, as they spoke of the abuse of Africans by non African groups, the Indian "intellectuals" instead construct a myth of the weak and much abused Indian, and refuse to engage in conversations about the role that Indians THEMSELVES have played constructing this ethnic tension that exists in Trinidad, Suriname and ESPECIALLY Guyana.

 

We are still waiting for the Indian intellectual who can speak about the full gamut of the role of the Indian in our ethnic tensions as Africans like Eusi, Andaiye, David Hinds, and Walter Rodney have done for the Afro Guyanese. ALL of them condemned African racism, even as all of them also condemned the racism directed towards Africans.

Originally Posted by Stormborn:

 

I also do not see black people seeking Afrocentric militancy as their dominant position to sue for political recognition. The monochromatic view he has of our political reality is seeded in the manner and mode of his own emergence as a "hindu activist". It is artificial and as fictive as his view of what ails us.


The mere fact that Guyanese of African descent cannot even agree as to what they should be called, or in fact who is African/Black/Negro/Afro, indicates a very weak and varied ethnic identity.

 

I will argue that what ever Afro centered identity which exists among blacks in Guyana, is in reaction to perceived threats from what they see asa highly mobilized and powerful ethnic group whose main intent is to push them into the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Evidence of this is that in islands like Grenada, St V and Jamaica there is almost no tension between the descendants of slaves and of indentures.  In fact tensions are higher between self identified blacks and self identified people of mixed ancestry, due to the colonial legacy of the skin color heirarchies.

Any way this topic will be ignored, even as some posters here continue with their Indo KKK hehavior. 

 

Others who claim not to share this belief will shy away like a cockroach when the light is suddenly turned on.

 

So there will not be any intelligent discussion of this issue. It isnt that Indian intellectuals do not exist.  It is that proper discussion isnt allowed by the Indo KKK hindutva element, who will condemn those who do not share their world view as being "self hating Indians" or neemakarams.

Originally Posted by caribny:

Any way this topic will be ignored, even as some posters here continue with their Indo KKK hehavior. 

 

Others who claim not to share this belief will shy away like a cockroach when the light is suddenly turned on.

 

So there will not be any intelligent discussion of this issue. It isnt that Indian intellectuals do not exist.  It is that proper discussion isnt allowed by the Indo KKK hindutva element, who will condemn those who do not share their world view as being "self hating Indians" or neemakarams.

I can speculate why these topics about the nature of group formation, identity and ethnicity are a bust here. Most people just do not care. Ramharak and Ravi are on their own. They only have dunces like Ugli, Cobra and Basedrum in their cheering section. Plus they do not have the necessary cultural vocabulary to know what he is talking about

The reason why they avoid discussion of the topic is that their entire moral validation, and that includes the socalled moderates like VVP, Kari, VishMahabir, is based on the mythology of the "innocent Indian abused by the savage black".

 

If there is the type of discussion that Eusi, David Hinds, Andaiye and Walter Rodney engaged in, then Indians will be reduced to being no better than Africans. Equally culpable for the ethnic morass and the political dead zone which has been the result of this.

 

Much easier to use code language to blame blacks.

Ravi DeV enters the game.....

 

Challenges facing Indian Guyanese community cannot be disjunctured from those facing other groups

 
 

Dear Editor,

I must say that I am very flattered that Mr Abu Bakr was prompted to complain that “..a decade ago, I asked Dev to list ten things Indians lack in terms of egalitarian legislation or rights of practice… the response was a dead silence.” (`What is the definition of the Indian they wish to protect and preserve?’ SN 10/29/15)

 

A “decade ago” (2005) I was an MP willing to slog away for a paltry $38,000/monthly, so obviously was not “quality” enough to keep up with my constituency duties. I apologise to my West Coast landsman. (Vreed en Hoop?) but plead other pressing business. What were those in 2005? Thank goodness for Dropbox!

 

ROAR was still reeling from its participation in the “Rule of Law” march and my speech at the Square of the Revolution calling for an Inquiry into Minister Gajraj’s involvement in “Death Squads” killings. We took a beating again, when the Minister resigned in 2005.

 

We started the year, (Jan 7th) with a call for a “Centre Force”: “ROAR believes it is time for a “Centre Force” to be created and nurtured. What is

this Centre Force? For one, it’s not a “Third Force” that feels it can wish away the PPP and PNC. It’s a Force that should seek to occupy the political, social, and cultural ground between the PPP and PNC – hence “Centre”. Today in Guyana, there are a number of political parties outside the ambit of the PPP and the PNC – ROAR, GAP, WPA, JFAP, etc. that can begin the process of creating this Centre Force. These could be joined to the parties now in formation by other committed Guyanese.”

 

Dear Abu, you would not believe how time consuming were the talks by the above mentioned parties and the newly formed one calling themselves the Alliance for Change (AFC). ROAR ended up coalescing with the Guyana Action Party (GAP) with Paul Hardy as leader.

 

Then there were, of course, those pesky floods that gave us a new word, “lepto”.

 

In the middle of the year, we also threw ourselves into assisting the committee organising the 25th Anniversary Commemoration of Dr Walter Rodney’s assassination. I worked in the event in my home village of Uitvlugt, while our Essequibo ROAR group did the honours over there. I called for a movement to organise along the lines suggested by Dr Rodney in 1970. I wrote “I think that within our community of Guyana, different ethnic groups need to assert their identity, need to put themselves together, to pull themselves together, and when they have and when they can operate on the basis of mutual respect, which they are not now doing, now, then I think the way will be clear for building a new society, a society of a mixed unit through Socialism. But, first, the various groups must be built up, made conscious of their own potential, their own dignity, their own power, as Guyanese.”

 

Re political leadership, I cautioned, “These racist structures are deeply inscribed in most of the ideas and practices of the world view that surrounds us – and while they affect most non-white peoples negatively – they are most extreme to African peoples.

 

The descendants of African slaves especially, and Africans generally – should be very wary about those who would still blithely treat “race” as just another stratification or segregation. We continue to be amazed by African leaders who, in their rush to be under the “one-love-banner” imposed by the dominant paradigm, refuse to accept that the African condition is qualitatively different from that of other groups in the society and demands different programs.”

 

I could go on, Abu, but the point I want to make is that we never considered the challenges facing the Indian Guyanese community could be disjunctured from the challenges facing the other groups – especially African Guyanese. I really don’t remember your question being posed, but maybe it wasn’t answered because some try to imply that when Indian Guyanese discuss their challenges they are not concerned about the entire society.

 

Each of our “dilemmas” are intertwined.

Yours faithfully,
Ravi Dev

Originally Posted by Stormborn:

Where are the Indian-Guyanese intellectuals?

October 29, 2015 | By | Filed Under Letters 

Dear Editor,
A letter writer raised a question in reference to the recent controversy regarding Diwali celebrations in Guyana by asking “Where are the Indian intellectuals?” In short, why are Indians not speaking out through a consensus voice and addressing issues germane to their physical existence?

 

The deafening silence has led to two possible conclusions. One, there are few Indian intellectuals in Guyana who are capable of articulating a position on behalf of Indians. Two, Indian intellectuals are afraid to speak out because of the perception that they may be branded as “racists”. They will be accused of not being a “true Guyanese” . . .


Baytoram Ramharack

this banna would have us believe that the Diwali imbroglio represents a retreat by "Indian" intellectuals from issues "germane to their "physical existence"

 

pandit daughta losing out in a political power play is now, for Indo-Guyanese, EXISTENTIAL! . . . [on so many freakin levels] huh?

 

this is the wet shit not-so-sly demagogues like Bayto Ramharack end up squeezing when they overreach . . . crawling around, sniffing out any platform (no matter how flimsy) to vend their ignoble political wares

 

itinerant 'intellectual' scampman . . . thoroughly engaged in authorship of installment ethnic poison being brewed up for Guyana in the bowels of barat's tiefman Sanata complex

 

disgusting and stink

Originally Posted by redux:
Originally Posted by Stormborn:

Where are the Indian-Guyanese intellectuals?

October 29, 2015 | By | Filed Under Letters 

Dear Editor,
A letter writer raised a question in reference to the recent controversy regarding Diwali celebrations in Guyana by asking “Where are the Indian intellectuals?” In short, why are Indians not speaking out through a consensus voice and addressing issues germane to their physical existence?

 

The deafening silence has led to two possible conclusions. One, there are few Indian intellectuals in Guyana who are capable of articulating a position on behalf of Indians. Two, Indian intellectuals are afraid to speak out because of the perception that they may be branded as “racists”. They will be accused of not being a “true Guyanese” . . .


Baytoram Ramharack

this banna would have us believe that the Diwali imbroglio represents a retreat by "Indian" intellectuals from issues "germane to their "physical existence"

 

pandit daughta losing out in a political power play is now, for Indo-Guyanese, EXISTENTIAL! . . . [on so many freakin levels] huh?

 

this is the wet shit not-so-sly demagogues like Bayto Ramharack end up squeezing when they overreach . . . crawling around, sniffing out any platform (no matter how flimsy) to vend their ignoble political wares

 

itinerant 'intellectual' scampman . . . thoroughly engaged in authorship of installment ethnic poison being brewed up for Guyana in the bowels of barat's tiefman Sanata complex

 

disgusting and stink

Is it any wonder Guyana has sooo many problems. Just reading all the tripe in response to Batoram's comments. The man is correct in his comments. He did not blame anyone, just a general commentary he made.

 

Every ethnic group in Guyana is completely lost, it is evident in their quality of living. Just a few elites who controls the thought processes of their ethnic groups. 

 

The idea of the melting pot is not achievable. For that to happen, their must be trust. Just reading the shyte on here against Indianess is unbelievable.

 

Prejudices against Indoes even by Guyanese Indians. 

Originally Posted by seignet:
Originally Posted by redux:
Originally Posted by Stormborn:

Where are the Indian-Guyanese intellectuals?

October 29, 2015 | By | Filed Under Letters 

Dear Editor,
A letter writer raised a question in reference to the recent controversy regarding Diwali celebrations in Guyana by asking “Where are the Indian intellectuals?” In short, why are Indians not speaking out through a consensus voice and addressing issues germane to their physical existence?

 

The deafening silence has led to two possible conclusions. One, there are few Indian intellectuals in Guyana who are capable of articulating a position on behalf of Indians. Two, Indian intellectuals are afraid to speak out because of the perception that they may be branded as “racists”. They will be accused of not being a “true Guyanese” . . .


Baytoram Ramharack

this banna would have us believe that the Diwali imbroglio represents a retreat by "Indian" intellectuals from issues "germane to their "physical existence"

 

pandit daughta losing out in a political power play is now, for Indo-Guyanese, EXISTENTIAL! . . . [on so many freakin levels] huh?

 

this is the wet shit not-so-sly demagogues like Bayto Ramharack end up squeezing when they overreach . . . crawling around, sniffing out any platform (no matter how flimsy) to vend their ignoble political wares

 

itinerant 'intellectual' scampman . . . thoroughly engaged in authorship of installment ethnic poison being brewed up for Guyana in the bowels of barat's tiefman Sanata complex

 

disgusting and stink

Is it any wonder Guyana has sooo many problems. Just reading all the tripe in response to Batoram's comments. The man is correct in his comments. He did not blame anyone, just a general commentary he made.

 

Every ethnic group in Guyana is completely lost, it is evident in their quality of living. Just a few elites who controls the thought processes of their ethnic groups. 

 

The idea of the melting pot is not achievable. For that to happen, their must be trust. Just reading the shyte on here against Indianess is unbelievable.

 

Prejudices against Indoes even by Guyanese Indians. 

instead of pouting like a lil gurl and calling for a pity party, why don't u deconstruct my "tripe" suh we all can see how Bayto smart nah?

Originally Posted by seignet:

I see nothing wrong in Bato's letter. Try very hard to be sympathetic to Indians. You will be insightful. 

instead of pouting like a lil gurl and calling for a pity party, why don't u deconstruct my "tripe" suh we all can see how Bayto smart nah?

 

i've posted my insight . . . let's see yours

Originally Posted by redux:
Originally Posted by seignet:

I see nothing wrong in Bato's letter. Try very hard to be sympathetic to Indians. You will be insightful. 

instead of pouting like a lil gurl and calling for a pity party, why don't u deconstruct my "tripe" suh we all can see how Bayto smart nah?

 

i've posted my insight . . . let's see yours

The words read, I found nothing wrong. I suspect some here have read more than what is written-they have it read with a bias. Knowing the man's history.

 

I never bother to read that letter until about an hour ago. Simply, because I suspect it will not bring economic progress to all the PEOPLES of Guyana. 

Originally Posted by seignet:
Originally Posted by redux:
Originally Posted by seignet:

I see nothing wrong in Bato's letter. Try very hard to be sympathetic to Indians. You will be insightful. 

instead of pouting like a lil gurl and calling for a pity party, why don't u deconstruct my "tripe" suh we all can see how Bayto smart nah?

 

i've posted my insight . . . let's see yours

The words read, I found nothing wrong. I suspect some here have read more than what is written-they have it read with a bias. Knowing the man's history.

 

I never bother to read that letter until about an hour ago. Simply, because I suspect it will not bring economic progress to all the PEOPLES of Guyana. 

u 'critiqued' my post with a blast of hot air

 

still waiting for the substance

Originally Posted by redux:
Originally Posted by seignet:
Originally Posted by redux:
Originally Posted by seignet:

I see nothing wrong in Bato's letter. Try very hard to be sympathetic to Indians. You will be insightful. 

instead of pouting like a lil gurl and calling for a pity party, why don't u deconstruct my "tripe" suh we all can see how Bayto smart nah?

 

i've posted my insight . . . let's see yours

The words read, I found nothing wrong. I suspect some here have read more than what is written-they have it read with a bias. Knowing the man's history.

 

I never bother to read that letter until about an hour ago. Simply, because I suspect it will not bring economic progress to all the PEOPLES of Guyana. 

u 'critiqued' my post with a blast of hot air

 

still waiting for the substance

Write like a smart fella. Ur rambling reminds of my days taunting my school buddies.

Originally Posted by seignet:
Originally Posted by redux:
Originally Posted by seignet:
Originally Posted by redux:
Originally Posted by seignet:

I see nothing wrong in Bato's letter. Try very hard to be sympathetic to Indians. You will be insightful. 

instead of pouting like a lil gurl and calling for a pity party, why don't u deconstruct my "tripe" suh we all can see how Bayto smart nah?

 

i've posted my insight . . . let's see yours

The words read, I found nothing wrong. I suspect some here have read more than what is written-they have it read with a bias. Knowing the man's history.

 

I never bother to read that letter until about an hour ago. Simply, because I suspect it will not bring economic progress to all the PEOPLES of Guyana. 

u 'critiqued' my post with a blast of hot air

 

still waiting for the substance

Write like a smart fella. Ur rambling reminds of my days taunting my school buddies.

u got nothing eh?

 

keep clutching at your privates . . . it barely covers your nakedness

 

my job here is done

Originally Posted by seignet:

I see nothing wrong in Bato's letter. Try very hard to be sympathetic to Indians. You will be insightful. 

Why would you see anything wrong when it carries the same implications of "black man bad, Indians saintly" that you do.

 

Clearly Guyana has a problem, mainly that of ethnic distrust.  It has corrupts all else in Guyana.  You and Bayto refuse to admit the Indian role in this, so clearly by implication, blacks get 100% of the blame.

 

Until there is an intelligent analysis of the Indian attitude towards ethnicity, nationality, and towards other ethnic groups, and the role that Indians played in creating this ethnic morass there will be NO progress.

 

Indeed African intellectuals have discussed much of the African issues, and do NOT place 100% of the blame on Indians.  Nigel Hughes and David Hinds have said much on this.

Originally Posted by seignet:
Originally Posted by TK:

No serious analysis of how PPP destroyed the economic and social fabric of the masses of Indos. As usual blame PNC and blackman.

I do not read anywhere in his letter where he blames the black man.

It is implied. Read the letter carefully.  It has to be made clear that the PPP has damaged Indo social and economic well being in Guyana. They did some good, but there are more negatives. Under Burnham and Hoyte have you heard of cocaine abuse in rural Indo villages? For all the issues with this new govt, they are going after the pushers. It accounts for the temporary slow down. The payoff will be long-term.

Originally Posted by TK:
Originally Posted by seignet:
Originally Posted by TK:

No serious analysis of how PPP destroyed the economic and social fabric of the masses of Indos. As usual blame PNC and blackman.

I do not read anywhere in his letter where he blames the black man.

It is implied. Read the letter carefully.  It has to be made clear that the PPP has damaged Indo social and economic well being in Guyana. They did some good, but there are more negatives. Under Burnham and Hoyte have you heard of cocaine abuse in rural Indo villages? For all the issues with this new govt, they are going after the pushers. It accounts for the temporary slow down. The payoff will be long-term.

local country people do not yet grasp they have a junkie problem. They think this thing is like taking a drink here and there. They do not know how terrible that addiction is or how far these young people will go to get their fix. Much of the rise in crime is due to the increasing value of drugs due to the increased surveillance

Originally Posted by Stormborn:
Originally Posted by TK:
Originally Posted by seignet:
Originally Posted by TK:

No serious analysis of how PPP destroyed the economic and social fabric of the masses of Indos. As usual blame PNC and blackman.

I do not read anywhere in his letter where he blames the black man.

It is implied. Read the letter carefully.  It has to be made clear that the PPP has damaged Indo social and economic well being in Guyana. They did some good, but there are more negatives. Under Burnham and Hoyte have you heard of cocaine abuse in rural Indo villages? For all the issues with this new govt, they are going after the pushers. It accounts for the temporary slow down. The payoff will be long-term.

local country people do not yet grasp they have a junkie problem. They think this thing is like taking a drink here and there. They do not know how terrible that addiction is or how far these young people will go to get their fix. Much of the rise in crime is due to the increasing value of drugs due to the increased surveillance

 

 

In fact I think that many of the Berbice pirates are crack heads.  They have that glazed look like the many who we see roaming the streets of US cities.

 

There are real problems emerging within many Indian families as they become more urbanized, and their poverty, relative to others, more apparent.  As family networks become weaker there are fewer supports for that Indo family which fears a good thrashing every time the husband/father arrives home drunk (or high), bringing home no $$$ with him.  No surprise increased social pathologies among Indians, even as some pretend that they are immune from that.

The ‘original identity’ is lost for many

 
 

Dear Editor,

 

I have trouble understanding the last letter by Dr Baytoram Ramharack (‘When does ethnicity transform into nationality?’ SN, November 9). It seems on a primary reading to have created a false dichotomy. It seems to have a conception of ‘being’ as disjunctive at the level of identity. It is either ethnic or national, I believe he is saying. My own feeling is that both these identities, the ethnic and the national, can co-exist in an ensemble or on a continuum. Not mutually exclusive at all.

 

Our own understanding of self-perception as a projection of identity is that it is layered. A person is simultaneously Guyanese, of Indian origin, of Hindu religion, socialist persuasion, etc. Islam has dealt with the question by treating all believers as “brothers” with all it implies, and rendering subordinate the other identity categories to which he may lay claim or is perceived to embody. The question posed by our racial cohabitation would therefore be: Do Indo-Guyanese Muslims prioritise their Muslim identity and judge others and themselves primarily as Muslims, or does the Indian aspect of their appurtenance take priority in some circumstances?

 

To respond briefly to Dr Ramharack according to our reading of his letter: Identity is multi-layered, but it is also situational in the sense that the identity we use varies with the ‘role’ (as a basic of social interaction) each situation demands. Identity therefore would vary depending on context. A person may privilege one or other aspect of his several identities. Identity use is also governed by time, in the sense that identity may evolve with temporal changes in the environment, due to circumstances changing the definitions, either geographical or legal, that fix identity. What it means to be Indo-Guyanese here at election time is not the same, in intensity and expectation, as it means to be Indo-Guyanese at the airport in Barbados or in Richmond Hill in New York. Identity then is transactional in the sense that in some contexts, one aspect of identity is prioritised by the person holding it or in the appreciation of others. A Guyanese at the airport in some Caribbean nations is identified as Guyanese in a transaction that brings with it all kinds of subjective considerations. Without tiring readers with details, one considers that the Nagamootoo statement of his identity was occluded by precisely the absence of explanatory responses that would have prevented the politically-inspired outrage from being immediately defused and diffused.

 

Dr Ramharack then makes the point that cultural assimilations like creolisation that dilute ethnic identities and may even eliminate some markers like language or cuisine, are tendencies that deprive us of the pure richness of our original cultures.

 

He refrains from giving any examples from the Indian experience here to show what positives have been lost with the modifications of the racial characteristics, and what has been gained in exchange. His essay also does not state explicity that the “original” cultures we claim to be defending may even have been, themselves, born of mixtures caused by contact, colonisation in the country of origin, religious conversion and other factors ceaselessly at work. His foundational idea seems to ignore that a Madrasi, having undergone Sanskritisation, or a Muslim of Hindu origin having adhered to Islam three or four generations ago, does not in any way represent on arriving here a primordial or unchanging culture, but represents a process of human exchange at a certain point in history. Even Hinduism, a dynamic religion in constant evolution, exists as an example of the unstoppable mutations within a culture or religion that has yielded many varieties of the same faith.

 

Having abstained from treating these issue Dr Ramharack rests his case on a single element of the idea of identity. It is ethnic and racial, and ignores internal variation (a lot of Christian Indians from a long time) and he dismisses the right of the current, or of coming generations, to opt for the modifications they freely choose to make. It deprives the individual of the freedom to select any of the range of possible identities available to him and seems to incarcerate him in a primordial and unchanging idea of Indianness.

 

A part of his letter makes reference to adjectives and phrases in mine. He seems to find unsavoury some words I use. No problem. As the man behind the keyboard I have granted myself a sort of poet’s licence to exaggerate, deform, etc, for effect. It is intended to enliven the text and represents a mode of thought for me.

 

I note in last week’s letter Ravi Dev makes the same point about my language, repeating a point about “polemics” he has made in the past. A person labelled Sultan Mohamed, writing in a paper that Ravi influences accuses me of treating Indians as “Interlopers”, a falsehood that Mr Dev does not find repugnant and threatening. One is reminded that some years ago he himself accused me of wishing for a “final solution” for Indians.

People over at the former Guyana Friends bulletin board, now known as Guyana Hoopla, have read the exchange and related letters. Tarron Khemraj, writing as TK states clearly that nowhere have I said Indians are ‘Interlopers’. The erudite Stormborn, blogging before as D2, like Carib J now writing as Carib NY also fails to find where in my letters I have attacked the Indian identity.

 

One needs to close by declaring that Guyanese of Indian origin who wish to re-create and practice an ‘Indianness’ of the type the newly arrived indentured servants brought, are of course free to do so. One notes that, as in the case of groups like the Amish in the United States, it could be done within the limits of the law. Some aspects of the condition, still strong in the homeland, such as caste, may have to be re-worked. I remark that some claim, defensively, that caste is all but forgotten.

 

MrNagamootoo knows he is a Madrasi and has written a book that talks about it and has mentioned relations between Madrasis and other Indians as not always without prejudice. My own experience of caste consciousness among Hindus is that caste is only forgotten by those who have nothing to gain in remembering it. It still governs, in many cases, access to the functions of pandithood and marriage choice when caste is a positive attribute.

 

Nowrang Persaud writing a few days ago reminds one that he is a Brahmin. Mohabir Anil Nandlall, the Attorney General, has not forgotten that he is Kshatriya and nor did Balram Singh Rai about whom Dr Baytoram wrote a book. Chamars, a low caste group, have less incentive to crow about their original condition since the only one I knew who mentioned it was a Chrtistianised handyman called Singh who would, when drunk, weep his bad luck and karma for having been born within that caste. So, in calling for a return to identity it would be useful to see exactly what Dr Ramharack and others would require as information to be printed on the new

 

Indo-Guyanese identity card that would, in the Republic planned by ROAR need to be carried around. Even now the “original identity” is irretrievably lost, concealed, rejected, reworked and beyond recovery for many.

 

Yours faithfully,

Abu Bakr

When my people came to the colony, they had an immigration number. On the immigration card, distinguishable marks were recorded and the caste along with the nearest police station.

 

Abu Bakr, being a Muslim must know his forefathers back in Africa who were Muslims considered themselves enlightened. And were not inhabited in enslaving the infidels they invaded in the many villages throughout the African continent.

 

Abu Bakr, should b reminded, Africa is an old culture. Just like India, And both are tribal societies.

 

Why is the caste system so demonized when in Africa, some tribes just kill the less respected ones.

 

These disussions get us no where. Too much free time Abu Bakr has. 

Originally Posted by seignet:

When my people came to the colony, they had an immigration number. On the immigration card, distinguishable marks were recorded and the caste along with the nearest police station.

 

Abu Bakr, being a Muslim must know his forefathers back in Africa who were Muslims considered themselves enlightened. And were not inhabited in enslaving the infidels they invaded in the many villages throughout the African continent.

 

Abu Bakr, should b reminded, Africa is an old culture. Just like India, And both are tribal societies.

 

Why is the caste system so demonized when in Africa, some tribes just kill the less respected ones.

 

These disussions get us no where. Too much free time Abu Bakr has. 

What nonsense are you writing.  There is no such thing as "African" culture.  There are the cultures of the wide varieties of ethnicities which exist between what we now know as Senegal and what we now know as Angola.  This is the breadth of origin of the enslaved peoples who were brought to the Americans.

 

In addition, generations of life in a multi cultural environment have transformed all of us from what our ancestors were. We have changed, and so have the lands from which we originated India of 1860 is not the India of 2015.  Indo Guyanese are also very different from their Asian counterparts.  Evidence of this is the fact that, despite large numbers of both groups living in close proximity to each other in NYC, they have virtually nothing in common.

 

Its the racist purist that terms "creolization" to be a negative factor, wiping out cultures. Indeed most people will view Trinidad, Guyana, and Suriname to be culturally rich. 

 

Not only because they are multi ethnic, and therefore multi culture, but the entire creolization process means that each ethnic group is exposed to a broader range of cultural possibilities, as they become exposed to other cultures.  Each person is able to operate on a continuum of various cultures, based on context.  Each person is also able to combine the various cultures in ways that suit him.

 

Take Trinidad.  Where else in the world would one find parang soca chutney.  This being a combination of an Afro Hispanic, an Afro creole, and an Indo creole cultural expression.   It brings together the traditions of Spain, Africa (as it manifests in the Spanish and English speaking Caribbean), and India.

 

 

Too bad racists like you think that this is wrong. Oddly enough this is fascinating to many from India.  I am sure we can remember the Indo soca music produced by that Asian Indian couple in the 80s.

Dear Editor,

This is my final response to Abu Bakr on this issue. Mr Bakr seems to be more concerned with splitting hairs. If deciphering and navigating through his play on words is not enough of an exercise in teleology, one that lacks a specific focus, his confession to having a flair “to exaggerate, deform, etc, for effect” gives us an insight into the most legitimate rationale for his missives.

 

We would like to believe that our contributions address and highlight some of our more pressing national problems, and in our developing political entity, there are many to consider: social cohesion, corruption, crime, narco-trafficking, suicide, human development the list goes on. Mr Bakr is free to pontificate and philosophize about the Indian identity. Trying to situate who we are, be it Indians, Africans and Guyanese, from whence we came, and to what we are evolving, does not bring us any closer to addressing the current problems we face in this country.

 

Notwithstanding the inconsistency in his own analysis, he is asking far too much. We are not blessed with a crystal ball to guide our imagination far into the distant future regarding the next “level of ethnicity”, or the previous one, whether that identity is based on “ethnic or national” conceptions. The real question is: to what end and what does it matter? The focus should be on the here and now.

 

Since the establishment of the modern political state in Europe, more than two hundred years ago, leaders have sought to wrestle with the question of what constitutes a nation, an entity we now know to be an association of people with shared, but equal political rights, and an allegiance to national symbols, political institutions and procedures. The values that shape our nationality continue to do so, even when we have occasion to question those values over the course of time.

 

One cannot, however, ignore the fact that people who occupy the same political space within such a state, particularly in a multi-ethnic state like ours, share a common heritage, experience, ancestry, and set of values that are shaped within the community and by forces ‘external’ to their communities. Again, with the passage of time, cultural transformations do take place.

 

The duality is at work here also, and it cannot be ignored, even when others may tell us otherwise, or more so, define it for us, or dictate what those values should and ought to be. It is never a question of “original identity”. Mr Bakr wants us to ignore that historical experience simply because we have embarked on a journey of examining these values as we move towards the goal of nation-building. Missing in his consideration, is the question of the Amerindians and their contribution to the national culture, as well as their place in our society. Ravi Dev, in his uninvited comments, has addressed some of the other issues he has raised.

 

I would leave this final thought with Mr Bakr. As Guyanese, we have an obligation to continue to engineer a nation in which we can all coexist within the political state we share. Africans, Indians, Amerindians do not have to give up their cultural attributes, however defined, for the other. Social cohesion is a work in progress.

 

This is far too conspicuous in our society. Mr Bakr need not worry; “intellectualizing” the issues that define us will not diminish this process, it can only strengthen us as a people.

 

Yours faithfully,
Baytoram Ramharack

Originally Posted by Billy Ram Balgobin:

Why is it politically incorrect to speak about racism against Indians in the Caribbean?  Is it unpatriotic or immoral to do so? Tell us why you think Indians should remain tacit on issues that affect them as group.

You are missing the whole bloody discussion by your one track thinking as usual

Whoever calls him/herself an Indian is an Indian

 
 

Dear Editor,

Mr Abu Bakr acknowledged my caution of the sterility of polemics in any endeavour to address the challenges confronting our society yet blithely launched one on my supposed activities.(‘The “original identity” is lost for many.’ SN, November 13). It appears that Mr Bakr somehow divined I have been reduced to vetting or censoring letters for the Guyana Times and that I allowed one Sultan Mohamed to misrepresent his (Bakr’s) position on Indians. This is a rather ironic claim from one who has absolutely no grounds for his own absolutely outrageous claim about me.

 

But even on the substance of his response to Dr Ramharack, Mr Bakr seems to be merely interested in wordplay and not in finding common grounds on which we can all work together. He belaboured the point which ROAR has always made ‒ that one cannot essentialise identity; it is “multilayered”, “situational/contextual”, “transactional” etc, etc.

 

But one wonders where Mr Bakr really stands on this issue when he has in the past, with great erudition sought to demonstrate that there is, in fact (to Randy Persaud) an “essential” Indian. And what’s more, he/she has a “mindset or set of cultural reflexes” and for Guyana it’s a question “of how the mentality translates into action and specifically, political action.”

But I am also not sure where Mr Bakr gets the notion that anyone wants to return to some “original Indian” identity. He glibly talks about Balram Singh Rai knowing he is “a Kshatriya” to illustrate this claim. But in the same book he cites (by Dr Ramharack) it was clearly stated that Mr Rai was a leading light of the Arya Samaj. This group, Mr Bakr would know, rejected caste-based distinctions and worked assiduously to initiate social reforms in the Hindu section of Indians from the 1930s. Identity is always a work in progress, from within.

 

But also from without. Mr Bakr studiously avoids the point I made years ago (and again a month or so ago): that one of the most important determinants of identity is the differential distribution of the power relations in the society and how those are applied or perceived to be applied to groups as defined by the power wielders. I refer to what the African American scholar Dyson called the notion of “linked fate”: oppression will be countered along the line of oppression it is applied by the oppressed.

 

When for instance, I, along with other members of GIFT interviewed “people” who were beaten and violated in George-town on January 12, 1998, they all reported “Indians” were being beaten – because that is what they saw. It did not matter whether they were Hindu, Muslim, Christian, gay, straight, male, female, old, young, what tied their fate together to be beaten was they were seen as “Indians” by their rampaging mob.

Similarly, when African Guyanese saw young men of African origin being shot and killed wantonly in the first decade of this millennium, they too were drawn together as “Africans” due to what they saw as their linked fate. I, Ravi Dev, spoke out against this outrage at the Square of the Revolution but had to explicitly remind the crowd that in the opening drum roll, that Indians also had been killed by another set of oppressors, and they too should have been acknowledged.

 

What we have proposed more than two decades ago is that in Guyana our dilemmas and our liberation in this land are intertwined. As Guyanese our fates are also linked, but this is masked by the differential treatments of various groups.

 

Equality in all areas of national life for all by whatever criteria they choose to define themselves is the way to go.

For me, the answer to Mr Bakr’s question, “who is an Indian?” is “whoever calls him/herself an Indian”.

 

I would urge Mr Bakr not to continue with his word games.

 

Yours faithfully,

Ravi Dev

Who is demanding of Bayto that ANY ONE give up their multi cultural identity.  Folks simply ask that the diversity of these identities be recognized, that he admits that each ethnicity isnt a nation state on to its self, and the very multicultural identity of Guyana suggests that there is tremendous diversity within each ethnic group.

 

If he believes that there is this monolithic Indian "nation" sharing geographic space with a monolithic African "nation", and a monolithic Amerindian "nation", he fools himself. 

 

In fact each one of these ethnic groups has had to make major adjustments to fit into the Guyana that we know today.  In addition each ethnic group has had to adjust to the presence, and to engage other ethnic groups. Given that 20% now self identify as mixed, and that this is the fastest growing segment, I will suggest that the boundaries are becoming increasing blurred.

 

If Bayto thinks that this is the "destruction" of Indian cultural identity he can moan all he wishes.  That horse galloped out of the stable long ago.

Originally Posted by Billy Ram Balgobin:

Why is it politically incorrect to speak about racism against Indians in the Caribbean?  Is it unpatriotic or immoral to do so? Tell us why you think Indians should remain tacit on issues that affect them as group.


When I spoke of PPP/Indo elite racism against Africans, you screamed and considered it a treasonous act.

 

Pity that you lack the intellectual depth to understand that I have no more obligation to respect you than you have to respect me, and you CANNOT demand that I respect you if you arent willing to extend the same courtesies to me.

 

Contrary to what you think Indians are NOT special people in Guyana whose needs should be prioritized over others.

Who is the ‘Indian intellectual’?

 
 

Dear Editor,

The use of language in my letters can hardly deflect attention from their arguments and facts.

 

I am therefore disappointed that both Baytoram Ramharack and Ravi Dev have seized upon a light-hearted remark I made about liking words and their use to evade, escape, shun, dodge or sneak away from the point we all know we are arguing. It is the utility and content of the message called for from a personage described, by Dr Ramharack and others, summarily, as “The Indian Intellectual” but whose character and role is not fleshed out by those demanding his incarnation. We have been asking who he is, what his message should be and what his historical role is.

 

Permit an example in raw language. An activist called Annan Boodram writes letters a couple of years ago blaming persistent suicide patterns in the Indo-Guyanese community on Burnham/PNC, a trope for Black people. There was an exchange with me on the subject. One objects because we cannot allow the venom to be injected into veins every time a self-described Indian intellectual opens his mouth. I think Mr Boodram has seen the error as he has initiated a laudable effort in the suicide awareness field.

 

Another Indian activist persists in his misappropriation of the years of national suffering under the socialist era food ban and casts the entire episode as a Black racist assault on Indian culture. The toxin is repeatedly administered.

 

A victimist mythology is being elaborated and churned out in which the Indian is essentialised as “sufferer” in this binary relationship with Blacks portrayed as Ravanic figures. Other examples could be found.

No one tolerates ‘anything goes’ from any commentator or intellectual of any racial or social origin. And if they think the self-defined Indian intellectual is to repeat the foolishness we saw a decade ago about the inferiority of creole culture and the superiority of a millennial Indian culture, all to the applause or silent acquiescence of those now conveniently cavilling about “language”, then they have another think coming.

 

They are living in an advanced culture where we respond to foolishness. Even from our own. Remember during the Buxton disorders in 2004 a group of black intellectuals wrote letters clearly condemning and distancing themselves from a current of thought in a fringe of the Afro-Guyanese community calling themselves Freedom Fighters, that since Indians were suffering it was something that should give Blacks satisfaction.

The letters were signed by Andaiye, Kwayana, David Hinds and others who added their voices to the condemnation. This writer included.

 

Mr Dev makes the point that I have said in the past such a figure as the “Indo-Guyanese” who could be rendered an existential reality, subsists in our consciousness; he therefore fails to see how I am talking about multiple identities now with Dr Ramharack. He has missed my starting point. It is that the person exists as a first identity that he ascribes himself, as a second that others perceive him to be and which may be very different from his own self-definition. And that, independent of those two, there is who he is objectively, as a social, cultural and genotypic reality. This was in my first letter in this series, I think. The rest is not mere word-play, but a taste of the complexities that await adventurers in the field of “identity”. But some among us prefer the simplicities of the slogans. It is why, despite several calls, Mr Dev and Dr Ramharack have failed to say what the content of the chant they expect from the Indian intellectual will be. I have asked that they name ten things Indians peculiarly are deprived of and that require remedy in our social and legal system. No response. Mr Dev said he was busy earning $38 000 per month to respond when I first posed the question more than a decade ago. Dr Ramharack, who was not directly interpellated, failed to pick it up.

 

The problem with a certain kind of mindless and meaningless race-baiting that sometimes passes for ethnic advocacy is that it is empty, inconsistent and intellectually disreputable. Indefensible, better left unsaid in most cases. The detritus of the works of the Indian intellectual was left in magazines like the Caribbean Indian, I think it was called, and various bits over the internet that, frankly would cause embarrassment. I look forward to the manifestation of the avatar being summoned, the “Indian Intellectual.” Believe me, we are equipped and confident.

 

Yours faithfully,

Abu Bakr

Originally Posted by Stormborn:

Who is the ‘Indian intellectual’?

 
 

Dear Editor,

. An activist called Annan Boodram writes letters a couple of years ago blaming persistent suicide patterns in the Indo-Guyanese community on Burnham/PNC, a trope for Black people.

  

. And if they think the self-defined Indian intellectual is to repeat the foolishness we saw a decade ago about the inferiority of creole culture and the superiority of a millennial Indian culture, all to the applause or silent acquiescence of those now conveniently cavilling about “language”, then they have another think coming.

 

Remember during the Buxton disorders in 2004 a group of black intellectuals wrote letters clearly condemning and distancing themselves from a current of thought in a fringe of the Afro-Guyanese community calling themselves Freedom Fighters, that since Indians were suffering it was something that should give Blacks satisfaction.

The letters were signed by Andaiye, Kwayana, David Hinds and others who added their voices to the condemnation. This writer included.

 

 

Yours faithfully,

Abu Bakr

 Points to note.

 

1. Racist accusations by Indians who purport that they represent the views  of the community. SILENCE by that community, which implies that either they agree, or are not bothered.

 

2. When a group of African engaged in racism a group of Africans loudly condemned it. They were NOT seen as Uncle Toms, and ALL of these enjoy strong reputations among Africans.

 

 

So we see a completely different reaction from Indians and Africans.

 

When some Indians engage in racism SILENCE from Indians....either they agree/or they aren't offended.  What is quite evident is that the few Indians who do speak out are condemned as self hating.

 

When some Africans engage in racism LOUD condemnations from African leaders.  They are NOT condemned as self hating Uncle Toms. 

 

BTW Ravi Dev was loud in ridiculing creole culture as a bastardized culture created by the Europeans.

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