Monday, May 25, 2015

Indo-Guyanese fears post 2015 elections

On the eve of the 49th anniversary of Guyana's Independence the PPP, who in fact were the original political party of Unity, should contemplate their descent into ignominy and refusal to acknowledge the writing on the Wall since 2011 with the growing disillusionment of their supporters. Which is not to say that they had an easy ride with a resentful and unco-operative Civil service whose rules meant that it was difficult to fire and hire at will. I give them credit for managing to achieve when they did - the biggest impact on most Guyanese being the access to land to build a house, in my opinion.

Growing up under the PNC regime, although sheltered by parents who managed to keep their heads above water...when I reflect I remember the way the presence of over 50% of the population was effectively 'erased' - their presence and concerns not being reflected in the National media, and even papers for printing alternate news views being made difficult to obtain. It remains to be seen how new forms of communication and a hopefully better educated populace will respond ... apart from voting with their feet and migrating... here is what I 'lifted' from FB with minor editing for grammatical corrections:

"the PPP acted like an ass and get the jackass treatment. Blame you all self for being dotish. Several things could have prevented this tragedy from happening.
1. No need to fire DR. Bheri prior to elections. It showed signs of weakness.
2. For 23 long years yet PPP was not in control of police and army. Should have had more Indians in both army and police.
3. All the state jobs were in APNU people control. Every Government department were flooded with black APNU people.
4. Why was it so hard to find a minister of tourism? Irfan Ally had two minister jobs, minister of housing and acting tourism minister.
5. Why neglected Indian dominated areas where most of the PPP voters are living? At the end of the day, those same people votes PPP needed.
6. Why not being humble and visited all the villages frequently and find out the supporters problems and issues?( I would add --not only PPP supported villages!!) People felt abandoned and lost connection with PPP. Maybe COHESION would have be a good idea. Instead the ministers and hierarchy were like invincible supreme untouchables.
7. Why not put in place mechanism to control a proper process for elections? Including a pro PPP instead of pro APNU Gecom? How stupid is it to rule a country and let the opposition control the elections.
8. Why back bite and backstabbing each other in the PPP
9. Why listen to US when you knew their intentions. I KNEW!!!
10. Finally. I honestly don't see PPP getting back in power in the next 30 years. Be prepared to punish without power for a long time to come. May God help us all. The future under APNU will be strict and disciplinary and all the indians mouths will be zip shut.
We have no one to blame but ourselves. And we have to live with it for a long time because APNU will rig ever future elections from now on." end of copy/quote

I feel a bit gloomy about Guyana's future and hope some of the ten points above don't come to pass.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Coolie Woman by Gaiutra Bahadur

O....M...G ....... totally shocked by the revelations of Chapter 5 and had to take a break half-way through.  While there is intellectual understanding that single women traveling alone may be predated on-- the sheer scale alluded to by the Ship's surgeons' reports shocked me. NOW I understand the timorous hint that delicate Mr Tumbridge gave in his talk on The First Crossing - saying that it was the first sighting/contact between the two major races:   but this chapter just blasts that remark out of the orbit...

I was left with more respect for the courage of my grandmothers to take that drastic step of emigrating without their husbands, and as the author observes-- the terrible conditions in Northern Indian at the end of the 19th Century contributed to the 'push' factor. I had become interested in my family's genealogy back in 1978 after reading Alex Haley's roots and being a strange child I took myself to the Archives across the road and located our family's emigration certificates as I knew the year and ship that my great grandmothers arrived in.

Ch 6 +7 alludes to the various ways the Indians sought to demonstrate their agency but in a World which was tightly controlled, there were limited ways and apparently many took refuge in suicide, as even wife-beating may have resulted in your wife been taken away and/or you being transferred away as the British deliberately skewed the sex ratio. I was surprised to learn than the British also tried to screen out the sepoys as they might have been potential trouble-makers and give the Planters 'lip'.
It is fascinating to me to read how the Indians were deliberately denied paths of rebellion and a voice and my contempt of their passive-aggressive nature subdued somewhat and my admiration for them  clinging to their religion and strong family ties increased.  I felt the author did good research to dig out folk-tales and songs to indicate that there were pockets of rebellion and when I consider Dr Jagan's book.. The West on Trial.. I begin to see a broader picture with him being part of the fight for all exploited people, race being irrelevant, in Guyana.  A recent lecture indicated that the trouble between the races began as a class struggle.. when the rural Indians didn't 'keep' their place in the countryside but began to compete for White-collar jobs... maybe just a continuation of the struggle  for a/their place in the world?

Reading this book comes at a particularly appropriate time as there are Elections in Guyana, which the Opposition, whose base is primarily from the descendents of Africa, have a good chance of winning fairly (which is a first for them) as the incumbents have tainted themselves with  blatant examples of corruption and nepotism and many of their base, primarily descendents of India are pissed off enough to vote against them.  In an effort the win over sufficient incumbent numbers and win, the incumbent supporters are being accused of being racist if they vote for their perceived Party with all its flaws, never mind that the Opposition has made little effort to show that there would not be discrimination as happened in the Past.... apart from saying so!   An interesting exchange has arisen in the SN between Indians who have documented post-Election violence directed against those of Indian origin perceived as voting for the incumbents, and those who claim that the incumbent Party has been stoking ethnic fears.... issues and focussing on the future falling by the wayside.