Wednesday June 19, 2019
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­Indian Caribbean Museum at Trinidad and Tobago needs State’s Help

The museum in Waterloo is dedicated to the preservation of artifacts on the material history of indentured immigrants in the Caribbean.

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The Indian Caribbean Museum. Image source: Wikipedia

Last Wednesday, a lecture was given by the Anthropologist Dr Kumar Mahabir at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce in Westmoorings where he urged the state to assist the continuous existence of the Indian Caribbean museum via government grants. Trinidad and Tobago is known for having the only Indian Caribbean museum in the world.

92-year-old San Juan resident Andrew Richardson, Chairman of the National Trust Valerie Taylor was present along with Sunday Express columnist Lennox Grant and conservationist James Telfer.

Dr Kumar said, “The largest number of arrivals (at the museum) took place in May. It gets 65 per cent domestic tourists and 35 per cent foreigners. We need to ensure it is preserved for posterity.”

“The Indian Caribbean museum was the only one of its kind in the world. There is an Indian diaspora museum in Belize, Central America, but that is opened only for private viewing and strictly by appointment. This museum in Waterloo is dedicated to the preservation of artifacts on the material history of indentured immigrants in the Caribbean. It is open to the public free of charge from Wednesdays to Sundays,” Mahabir said.

While addressing people present in the conference room, Mahabir shared vignettes on the historical archives, with kitchen utensils such as tawah (flat, round cast-iron griddle), a bilnah (rolling pin) as well as mortar and pestle. There were also rare documents, thematic paintings and documentary films on indentureship. Through this, it was found that the process by which East Indians travelled to the Caribbean from India and worked on sugar cane plantations on a contractual basis.

Dedicated to preserving artefacts: Veteran journalist Lennox Grant, right, chats with anthropologist Dr Kumar ­Mahabir, who spoke on the Indian Caribbean Museum during a lecture at the Chamber of Commerce, Westmoorings, last ­Wednesday. The function was hosted by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE
Dedicated to preserving artifacts: Veteran journalist Lennox Grant, right, chats with anthropologist Dr Kumar ­Mahabir, who spoke on the Indian Caribbean Museum during a lecture at the Chamber of Commerce, Westmoorings, last ­Wednesday. The function was hosted by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE

This museum is present in Waterloo as it falls under a group of tourist attractions such as the 84-foot Hanuman Murti, ­Temple in the Sea that is 84 feet in height, was built by ­Siewdass Sadhu and in the vici­nity of the traditional clay potters (deyas).

Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations, a National Geographic publication has featured this museum.

Related Article: St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art: Demonstrating Hindu Deities in Scotland

  • Need for State funding

It is unfortunate that the museum operates through donations from visitors and doesn’t receive any annual subvention or a monthly stipend from the governments- both People’s National Movement (PNM) and People’s Partnership. The state needs to intervene in the matter and show accountability as tourism has the potential to branch out the economy.

“It is even more important since there is an economic slowdown. We need to adopt a more serious attitude like countries like the United Kingdom (referring to the Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare town) and France (Mona Lisa),” he said.

Dr Kumar informed that they were about to conduct interviews with people over 90 years old to document their life experiences.

“Again the State could intervene and assist historians and researchers financially. These elderly folk are valuable sources of oral history. They would have lived through two World Wars… They have witnessed significant milestones in Trinidad and Tobago’s history, such as Independence and the (Tubal Uriah) Butler riots,” he added.

Last year, in 2015, the India Caribbean museum at Waterloo, Carapichaima has attracted about 5,500 domestic as well as international visitors and has been operating for a decade now.

(Inputs from Daily Express)

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India: Sugar Mills, Distilleries under The Scanner of Special Task Force of UP Police for Links with Hooch Syndicates

Industrial alcohol allegedly used in hooch is distilled ethanol

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India, Sugar Mills, Distilleries
A few sugar mills and distilleries have come under the scanner of the Special Task Force of the UP police. Pixabay

As more than a hundred people died in ‘poisonous hooch’ tragedies in Uttar Pradesh during the past one year, a few sugar mills and distilleries have come under the scanner of the Special Task Force of the UP police. Working round the clock to bust ‘killer syndicates’ supplying cheap industrial alcohol to bootleggers and gangs involved in manufacturing of illicit liquor, STF has seized more than 10,000 litres of rectified spirit in raids across the state in the past one month.

Industrial alcohol allegedly used in hooch is distilled ethanol and is usually used in manufacturing of paints, fragrance, printing ink and coating. As it is cheaper, the liquor syndicates get it smuggled from distilled ethanol manufacturing units. On June 16, STF seized 5,750 litres of rectified spirit (high concentration alcohol) from the possession of a big time crime syndicate active in Lucknow and Kanpur.

The STF rounded up the kingpin, Suraj Lal Yadav, along with six other members of the gang. During interrogation it was discovered that Yadav was well-connected with some distilleries in Haryana. Large quantities of industrial alcohol was smuggled out of Haryana and pushed into hooch manufacturing dens in UP.

Concerned about frequents deaths in UP due to consumption of poisonous hooch, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched a statewide crackdown on illicit liquor manufacturing gangs after 21 people died in a hooch tragedy in Barabanki two months ago. The STF, considered the state’s premiere crime busting agency, subsequently geared up to intercept scores of tankers and private vehicles being pushed into UP from Delhi and Haryana.

India, Sugar Mills, Distilleries
A few sugar mills and distilleries have come under the scanner of the Special Task Force of the UP police. Pixabay

“The syndicate involved in smuggling of rectified spirit has spread its tentacles in the state. Even murders have taken place in disputes relating to the smuggling. But our raiding parties are determined to bust the gangs. Innumerable cases have been registered by us in the past one-and-a-half years,” said Amitabh Yash, Inspector General(IG) of STF.

Even though the STF, after rounding up the accused handed over the investigation of the case to the district police, the agency is said to have the most precise data on organised crime in North India.

“We seldom investigate the cases as it involves prolonged court work, so our main aim is focused on cracking heinous crimes, particularly organised by crime syndicates. At the moment, gangs involved in illicit trade of hooch are our target,” said Amitabh Yash, known for his skills in dealing with underworld operations and syndicate crimes. When asked whether a few officials of the excise department and a couple of distilleries could be linked with smugglers of rectified spirit, the IG said a report was given in this connection to the government.

While high excise duty makes liquor expensive, hooch, on the other hand, is available for less than Rs 20 per bottle. At places the rates are less than even Rs 10 per liter. A report, in connection with the Saharanpur hooch tragedy in February 2019 which took the lives of over 50 people, reveals that the quantity of rectified spirit mixed in the drink was so high that it had the effect of poison.

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The report says that rectified spirit was smuggled by criminal gangs which were hand-in-glove with local authorities.

“The gangs have links in distilleries and chemical factories from where industrial alcohol is smuggled out at a very cheap price. It is later re-packed in drums and transported to hideouts of manufacturers (of illicit liquor),” said a source in the police.

With widespread sale of hooch across UP, CM Yogi Adityanath has instructed DGP O.P. Singh to take stringent measures against the culprits and ensure that police secures conviction of those accused who are put on trial in cases of hooch smuggling or hooch-related deaths. (IANS)