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Racial bias against Indians in Trinidad and Tobago

DH Singh voices his concern for continued racial discrimination against Indo-Trinidadians

A Hindu temple near Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Dear Editor:

On Saturday 16th April 2016 I had the privilege of listening to Lenox Grant delivering the feature address in the launch of a book titled “ The Hindu View of Trinidad and Tobago, “ a collection of articles by Sat Maharaj and edited by Kumar Mahabir.

While I enjoyed Lenox Grant’s speech for his striving for balance, I must confess that he has unconsciously or unwittingly perpetuated misconceptions or stereotypes  of Indian society and leadership. For example, the sceptre or mukdar that Sat holds in his hand and depicted in the cover of the text could not be accepted by Lenox Grant. He wrote:  “I hear the golden ornamental staff of office is called a mukdar. But I prefer sceptre-or Hindu magic wand.”

Lenox Grant should appreciate that the Hindus have their labels for the objects that are part of their culture and tradition. If the Hindus label it a ‘mukdar’ then that should have been good enough for him. But not so. He went on: “ I prefer sceptre –or Hindu magic wand.”  A similar attitude is also witnessed in the ad by the Guardian Newspaper featuring the top SEA pupil for 2015 where the Hindi word “dhanyavaad” was removed and replaced with “thank you.” The Guardian Newspaper could not tolerate “dhanyavaad” as much as Grant “prefer sceptre –or HIndu magic wand.” Is Grant saying that he has a phobia for Hindi-sounding words?

A Hindu holyman making purchases in Debe, Trinidad and Tobago. Wikimedia Commons
A Hindu holyman making purchases in Debe, Trinidad and Tobago. Wikimedia Commons

Grant in typical “Creole style” went on to label Sat’s social commentaries as “race talk.” He wrote: “Sat Maharaj has gained notoriety in what I have called T&T race talk.”  Interestingly, he brought into his address the recent pronouncement of Minister Garcia that there was  bias in the distribution of scholarships. Is Grant simply brushing aside that serious allegation of Minister Garcia as simply “race talk” and nothing more?

Grant did not stop there but went on to lump former columnists and letter writers as simply race talk. He wrote: “Over nearly three decades, I have been paying attention to race talk” and went on to identify  Noor Kumar Mahabir, Kamal Persad, Anil Mahabir and  Rajnie Ramlakhan, Indrani Rampersad and Rabindranath (Raviji) Maharaj. I feel deeply disappointed that Grant could so easily dismiss the writings and concerns raised by the  Indo-Trinidadian community as simply race talk. Why couldn’t Grant interpret the writings of those columnists as a cry for social justice in a society where they felt like second class citizens?

Grant continued:” I played a part in making such media access possible to people fired up as part of a prevailing mood and motivation resembling that of an Indo-Trinidadian renaissance. I could more easily picture him wielding a cutlass in—at least metaphorical—defence of the interests of Hindus, and of Indians, and of deserving others in this country.”  And Grant has now said it all –“I could more easily picture him wielding a cutlass…”

I would like to write a conclusion to this piece but I would refrain from doing so as I leave it to the readers.


Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago


  1. My question is, who asked this man Lennox Grant to give the feature address at the launch of Sat’s book on The Hindu View of Trinidad and Tobago? That person should be given a few blows with the mukdar! For Grant to give an informed address on the book he should know something substantial about the Hindu view in Trinidad. Which he doesn’t, as far as I know. This is disgraceful. You would have gotten a better address from Selwyn Cudjoe who at least respects Sat Maharaj and must have learned something about the Hindu view from his many debates with Sat. Why couldn’t the organizers of this function asked a qualified Hindu leader to give the feature address???


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Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here

Hinduism. Pixabay

Oct 06, 2017: Have you ever wondered what being a Hindu means? Or who is actually fit to be called a Hindu? Over centuries, Hindus and Indians alike have asked this question to themselves or their elders at least once in their lifetime.

In the 1995 ruling of the case, “Bramchari Sidheswar Shai and others Versus State of West Bengal” the court identified seven defining characteristics of Hinduism but people are still confused to what exactly defines being a Hindu in the 21st century. It’s staggering how uninformed individuals can be about their own religion; according to a speech by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya there are various common notions we carry about who a Hindu is:

  • Anyone born in India is automatically a Hindu
  • If your parents are Hindu, you’re are also inevitably a Hindu
  • If you believe in reincarnation, you’re a Hindu
  • If you follow any religion practiced in India, you’re a Hindu
  • And lastly, if you are born in a certain caste, you’re a Hindu

After answering these statements some fail to remove their doubts on who a Hindu is. The question arises when someone is unsure on how to portray themselves in the society, many people follow a set of notions which might/might not be the essence of Hinduism and upon asked why they perform a particular ritual they are clueless. The problem is that the teachings are passed on for generations and the source has been long forgotten, for the source is exactly where the answer lies.

Religion corresponds to scriptural texts

The world is home to many religions and each religion has its own uniqueness portrayed out of the scriptures and teachings which are universally accepted. So to simplify the dilemma one can say that determining whether someone belongs to a particular religion is directly related to whether he/she follows the religious scriptures of the particular religion, and also whether they abide to live by the authority of the scriptural texts.

Christianity emerges from the guidance of the Gospels and Islam from the Quran where Christians believe Jesus died for their sins and Muslims believe there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet. Similarly, Hinduism emerges from a set of scriptures known as the Vedas and a Hindu is one who lives according to Dharma which is implicated in the divine laws in the Vedic scriptures.By default, the person who follows these set of religious texts is a Hindu.

Also Read: Christianity and Islam don’t have room for a discourse. Hindus must Stop Pleasing their former Christian or Muslim masters, says Maria Wirth 

Vedas distinguishes Hindu from a Non-Hindu

Keeping this definition in mind, all the Hindu thinkers of the traditional schools of Hindu philosophy accept and also insist on accepting the Vedas as a scriptural authority for distinguishing Hindus from Non-Hindus. Further implying the acceptance of the following of Bhagwat Gita, Ramayana, Puranas etc as a determining factor by extension principle as well.

Bottom Line

So, concluding the debate on who is a Hindu we can say that a person who believes in the authority of the Vedas and lives by the Dharmic principles of the Vedas is a Hindu. Also implying that anyone regardless of their nationality i.e. American, French or even Indian can be called a Hindu if they accept the Vedas.

– Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram                                                                

(the article was originally written by Shubhamoy Das and published by thoughtco)

One response to “Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here”

  1. Hindu is a historical name for people living “behind the river Indus”. So, everyone living in India is a Hindu, eventhough he might have a different faith.

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‘Trinidad Express’ Editor Accused of Discriminating Against Indian Writers for their Weekly Columns

A letter, written by Kumar Mahabir who is an Assistant Professor at University of Trinidad & Tobago, explains the accusation in detail

Kumar Mahabir
Trinidad & Tobago flag. Wikimedia

Trinidad, August 28, 2017: The Editor of a Trinidad & Tobago based newspaper called ‘Trinidad Express’ is accused of discriminating against Indian writers for their weekly columns.

A letter, written by Kumar Mahabir who is an Assistant Professor at University of Trinidad & Tobago, explains the accusation in detail.

As of now, there has been no response from Trinidad Express Editor Ms. Omatie Lyder. Kumar Mahabir’s letter can be read below-

The Secretary, Board of Directors
One Caribbean Media (OCM) Limited
Express House
35 Independence Square
Port of Spain
August 25, 2017
Dear Sir/Madam,
Bias against Indians by Express Editor, Ms Omatie Lyder
In keeping with its “national” mandate, the Express editor should be fair, balanced, diverse and objective.
Editor Ms Omatie Lutchman Lyder has been giving space to three Afro-centric columnists: Professor Selwyn Cudjoe, Keith Subero and Raffique Shah – the same three (3) Afro-centric columnists every single week.
She often provides space to a fourth Afro-centric writer, this time as a guest columnist – Professor Theodore Lewis. Ms. Omatie published Part 1 and Part 2 of his articles entitled “Kamal Persad trivialising history.” She published his two guest columns four days apart on August 11th 2017 and on August 15th 2017.
Ms. Omatie often publishes long letters by another Afro-centric writer, NJAC Chairman, Aiyegoro Ome.
Indo-oriented writers like myself (Dr. Kumar Mahabir), Kamal Persad, Dool Hanomansingh, et al. are not assured of a weekly space in the Express.
Is it time that we call for Indians to boycott sales and advertising in the Express?
If we are not given a complementary weekly space in the Express, a delegation of us plan to meet the Board of Directors of OCM to provide empirical evidence of the bias by Ms. Omatie against Indian writers with Indian perspectives.
Dr Kumar Mahabir, Assistant Professor
University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT)
2011 National Award (Silver) recipient for education
Chairman, Chakra Publishing House Ltd (CPH)
Chairman, Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre Co. Ltd (ICC)
Vice-Chairman, Indian Caribbean Museum
10 Swami Avenue, Don Miguel Road
San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 674-6008
Tel/fax: (868) 675-7707
Mobile (868) 756-4961

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 


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Indian-American Lawmakers Slam US President Donald Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

They are accusing him of bigotry

Trump's transgender military ban is being slammed by India-American lawmakers
Trump's transgender military ban is being slammed by India-American lawmakers. Wikimedia
  • Ami Bera is the longest-serving Indian-American currently in the Congress
  • Removing these men and women from service or refusing recruits because of who they are going against every American value they swear to defend
  • Our transgender service members deserve honour and respect

Washington (US), August 27, 2017: Prominent Indian-American lawmakers have criticised US President Donald Trump after he signed a memo instructing the Defence Department to stop accepting transgender people into the armed forces.

The presidential memorandum signed on Friday officially requested the Pentagon to develop an implementation plan for the ban by February 21, 2018, to be put in place on March 23, 2018.

Slamming the move, Democratic US Representative Ami Bera said, “If you wear an American military uniform, you deserve the respect and support of the Commander-in-Chief… Unfortunately, Donald Trump is more comfortable peddling in discrimination and bigotry, and he’s shown that he is unable to support our troops.”

“Removing these men and women from service or refusing recruits because of who they are going against every American value they swear to defend,” said Bera, who is the longest-serving Indian-American currently in the Congress, in a press release.

ALSO READ: US Senate Confirms Three Indian Americans picked by President Donald Trump to Key Governmental Posts

The directive, signed on Friday, bars transgender people from enlisting, but instructs Secretary of Defence James Mattis and the Homeland Security “to determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving based on military effectiveness and lethality, unitary cohesion, budgetary constraints, applicable law, and all factors that may be relevant”, according to a White House official.

It ordered the Pentagon to stop paying for gender reassignment surgeries, except in cases that were already in progress to “protect the health of an individual”.

California Democrat Ro Khanna tweeted, “Our transgender service members deserve honour and respect. This military ban is anti-trans discrimination and must not be tolerated.”

In a tweet, Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi said that he hoped that Trump would reconsider the ban.

“I hope the President immediately reconsiders this ban. There is no place for discrimination in our armed forces.”

In another tweet, Krishnamoorthi said, “We must never abandon those who have sacrificed so much for their nation. #ProtectTransTroops”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington, termed the ban “downright shameful”.

“I stand shoulder to shoulder with the transgender community. This is downright shameful. #TransRightsAreHumanRights,” she tweeted. (IANS)