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By Dr Kumar Mahabir
The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago has been strangely silent on the rowdy and relentless campaign to remove the historical statue of Christopher Columbus in the capital city of Port of Spain. I was the Vice Chairman of the Trust from 2013 to 2015.
The Trust seems to place its current Afro-centric agenda above and beyond the public and national interest.
On Labour Day (19/06/20), for example, the Trust chose to highlight only trade unionist Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler in its Facebook page. There was a mere one-word reference to, and no photo of Rienzi (Krishna Deonarine, 1905 -1972) who founded both the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) and the All Trinidad Sugar Estates and Factory Workers’ Union (ATSEFWU), and was the OWTU’s first President General.
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Citizens for Conservation
The Trust is genetically connected to the Citizens for Conservation of Trinidad & Tobago (CFC) with some members having footholds in both organisations at the executive level.
CFC has a long a long history of fighting to protect the natural and man-made heritage in the twin-island republic. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trust and the CFC were jointly hosting exhibitions, tours and lectures to better educate people to appreciate and protect heritage sites and statues, monuments, churches, plantation houses and cemeteries.
Columbus’s life-sized bronze statue is located in Columbus Square in Port of Spain on the corner of Independence Square and Duncan Street, just east of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The site is on the Heritage Asset Register of the National Trust which designates the square and the statue as “worthy of notation and preservation.” Despite the horrendous history of Columbus, his statue represents a tangible historical link to the Europe, Africa and Asia since 1498. It is one of the few statues of Columbus in the Caribbean and is a destination site for local and foreign tourists.
As part of the Black-Lives-Matter protest, activists defaced the bronze statue a few nights ago. They wrapped it with red “Danger” caution tape. They covered the bust with a black garbage bag and hung a sign with the word “Murderer” on it.
The Columbus statue is a national monument defined by the National Trust Act (1991, last amended in 2015) as “any building, structure or other work of man or nature, whether above or below the surface of the land or the floor of the sea, of national architectural, aesthetic or historic interest.”
Section 27 of the Act states that any person who (a) “alters, damages, injures or defaces any listed property” or (b) “demolishes or destroys or causes to be demolished or destroyed” such property is liable on summary conviction to a fine, and the Court may, in addition, “order him to pay to the Trust by way of compensation such sum as the Court thinks fit for the purpose of repairing or restoring the property.”
Mahatma Gandhi statue next
The leading figure behind the fascist, extremist and warring campaign to remove the Columbus statue in Port of Spain is Shabaka Kambon. His father, Kafra Kambon, was one of the leaders of the Black Power Movement. On February 26, 1970, they stormed the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port of Spain and draped black cloth on the sacred statues.
In a letter entitled “Is the Black Power protests repeating itself?”, Imaam Iqubal Hydal wrote: “The statue of Columbus was defaced in a similar manner as the statues in the church were blackened during the march of the Black Power movement … If such a protest should get out of hand, next would be the church itself and animosity to names such as Chacon, Christopher, Martinez et al. (Newsday 20/6/20, Express 18/6/20, Guardian 16/6/20).
Kambon is being aided and abetted by retired history Professor Dr Brinsley Samaroo who claims that he was one of the leaders of the 1970 Black Power revolt. It would not be surprising if Samaroo supports Kambon in his next move, which is to remove all Mahatma Gandhi statues in public places in Trinidad, particularly the one in Kew Place, Gandhi Square, Port of Spain. In 2018, African lecturers at the University of Ghana relocated a statue of Gandhi because they claim that he was “racist.”
Samaroo is expected to also support Kambon in campaigning to change the name of the soon-to-be-opened Mahatma Gandhi Institute cultural complex in Mt Hope, located near the Arthur Lok Jack campus. This imminent protest by Samaroo and Kambon may again stall the progress of this project, started 21 years ago when then Prime Ministers Basdeo Panday and Atal Bihari Vajpayee turned the sod at Mt Hope.
The solution to this Columbus crisis is a compromise. The monument should be left alone but the inscription in the plaque can change. Samaroo, Kambo and the Warao Queen can be free to write “Monster and Murderer” permanently in bronze at the bottom of the explorer’s statue.
About the Author-Dr Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books.
The Centre will launch a pilot project on the use of indigenously manufactured drones for delivering medicines in the undulating landscape of Jammu and surrounding areas from Saturday with a focus on vaccines delivery initially. "This is going to be a pilot project for the area. The drone is developed and manufactured entirely by our scientists," Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh told mediapersons. Singh said he himself will be launching the project at Jammu.
The drone is developed by the scientists at Bengaluru's National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), a constituent of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), an autonomous Society that is headed by the Prime Minister. For now, the delivery would be limited to Covid vaccines and once successful, it would be expanded to be used for regular delivery of medicines in the remote, hilly areas.
The drone is developed by the scientists at Bengaluru's National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL). | Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash
Jammu and surrounding areas are sensitive in terms of the strategic importance. Some months ago, there was an attack on an Army installation using drones. Will the 'drones for vaccines' be permitted in such a case? Allaying fears, a top official from the Ministry of S&T said, "The drones would be deployed by authorised agencies such as hospitals, not anybody can use it, nor would any random person be permitted to use it."
NAL has called the drone as 'Octacopter' and it can fly at an operational altitude of 500 m AGL and at maximum flying speed of 36 kmph. It can be used for a variety of BVLOS applications for last mile delivery like medicines, vaccines, food, postal packets, Human organs (such as heart for heart transplantation) etc. NAL Octacopter is integrated with a powerful on-board embedded computer and latest generation sensors for versatile applications like agricultural pesticide spraying, crop monitoring, mining survey, magnetic geo survey mapping etc., S&T officials had said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Jammu, Vaccines, Medicines, Deliver, Drones, Centre
Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan shares how he feels when people compare him with his father Amitabh Bachchan on the singing reality show 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa'. He also requests contestant Rajshree Bag to sing a track 'Bahon Mein Chale Aao' featuring his mother Jaya Bachchan.
Abhishek said after looking at the performance of Rajshree, who is often compared with Lata Mangeshkar on the show, that she reminds him of being compared with his father. "Rajshree, whenever I have got the chance to watch the show, I've seen people compare you to Lata didi. It actually reminded me about how people compare me with my father and ask me how I feel about it."
According to him Amitabh Bachchan is a great actor in the industry and this is what he says to everyone making these comparisons. "My answer to them is that there's no greater actor in this film industry than Amitabh Bachchan and if I'm being compared to him, I am sure I must have done something good."
"Similarly, your voice has a different kind of magic like Lata ji and that's why people are comparing your voice with her. I feel you should always take this as a compliment," he concluded. 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa' airs on Saturday and Sunday on Zee TV. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Rajshree Bag
Winters in India have always beckoned for that hot, steaming bowl of tomato and pepper rasam or the mellow, millet based Raab. Certain dishes like sarson ka saag, undhiyu, nimona pulao are winter specialites in the country. Seasonal food has always been an Indian speciality -- we switch our choice in fruits, vegetables, sometimes even grains with the onset of different season. The preference of using specific ingredients during certain climates is visible in our sweets as well. It's common to find local and traditional delicacies made of jaggery, instead of sugar during the winters. Case in point -- the Nolen Gur Rasgulla, a speciality made in Odisha and West Bengal between November to February.
Celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, strongly advocates this need of eating seasonal produce. He says, "The beauty of our food is in our seasonal usage of fruits and vegetables. If you realise, Gajar ka halwa is made aplenty during winters as this is the season when beautiful red carrots hit the market or mango pickle is made during summer, thanks to its availability. Despite people and sometimes, even me, suggesting that we should eat fresh as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables, we do not know what chemicals are sprayed on them to keep them safe while they are growing. When this produce hits the market, there isn't a certifying agency like the FSSAI that will help people understand what vegetables and fruits are free of pesticides and germs and which ones don't. Hence, the onus lies on us to make them safe for consumption. ITC's Nimwash is a good solution."
When it comes to winters, the Chef recommends eating these fruit and vegetables:
* Purple Mogri -- Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country. But you can spot them during the winters in local markets in northern India where women pick them up to make raitas, curries and stir fries. Rich in magnesium, calcium and copper, the vegetable is known to aid people from digestive problems.
Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country, but you can spot them during the winters | Pixabay
* Sweet Potato -- A re-discovered favourite, Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. With its diverse addition in burgers, chips and even chat, the root vegetable is filled with nutrients such as fibres and vitamins.
Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. | Wikimedia Commons
* Avarekalu -- Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. Bangalore is famed for its Averakalu mela during the winter months, where you can find these beans in dosas, Pani puri and even Jalebis! Thronged by crowds from all over the city, the food fest is a gourmand's delight.
Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. | Wikimedia Commons
* Amla -- The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. High in Vitamin C, it is known to be immunity building and extremely beneficial for the skin and hair. There are multiple ways to eat Amla -- it is pickled, made into a fruit preserve called as Murraba or even eaten by sprinkling salt over it.
The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. | Pixabay
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: winter, Sanjeev Kapoor, chef, Indian gooseberry, Sweet Potato, Radish pods