Wednesday August 22, 2018

Ethnic Discrimination? Trinidad’s Culture Ministry excludes Indian cultural events from Calendar

35.43% of the Trinidadian and Tobagonian population are nationals of Indian heritage or descent

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  • 35.43% of the Trinidadian and Tobagonian population are nationals of Indian heritage or descent
  • The 2011 Census also places Hindus as the second largest religious group with 18.15%
  • No Indian-oriented cultural event was included in the Ministry’s cultural calendar

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island country situated on the northern edge of South America mainland has diverse cultures due to the influx of people from all around the world. It was once a British crown colony, with a French-speaking population governed by Spanish laws.

Originally settled by Amerindians of South American origin, Trinidad and Tobago later came under the rule of Spanish authority. There was a large-scale migration of French planters under their rule. The influx of laborers from India took place when it became a British colony. The demand for Indian indentured laborers increased dramatically after the abolition of slavery in 1834 leading to large scale migrations.

Now, 35.43% of the Trinidadian and Tobagonian population are nationals of Indian heritage or descent. The 2011 Census also places Hindus as the second largest religious group with 18.15%. They are usually categorized with multiple identities, with a more localized ethnic orientation, like Bihari people, Haryanvi people, in addition to further tribal, village, or religious identities.

The Hanuman Temple at Carapichaima Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

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Therefore, when the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts of Trinidad and Tobago placed a full-page, full-colour advertisement in the daily newspapers captioned “Our Calendar of Arts, Culture and Community Events” for June 2016, one would expect that the interests of all the communities would be taken into consideration. But surprisingly, no Indian-oriented cultural event was included in the Ministry’s cultural calendar.

Dr Kumar Mahabir, chairman of the Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre(left) Image Source:
Dr. Kumar Mahabir, chairman of the Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre(left) Image Source:

The failure to recognize events like Baal Vikaas in St. Augustine (The largest school music festival in Trinidad and Tobago), Yoga on the Boardwalk in Chaguaramas in commemoration of the UN’s declaration of International Yoga Day, and Krishna Leela Dance Drama Procession in Caroni in reverence to the Sun, raises a number of questions.”Is there ethnic equity in the top hierarchy of the Ministry’s staff?,” asks Dr. Kumar Mahabir, the Chairman of Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre Co. Ltd (ICC) in an open letter.

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He writes,” the omission of eleven (11) major Indo-Trinidadian cultural events is a damning exposé of the narrow conscience/ness of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts. The revelation opens a can of worms about the practices and policies of the Ministry.”

He also questions all those who publicly declared that Manning and the PNM(People’s National Movement) have never discriminated against Hindus, Muslims, and Indians. “This form of ethnic discrimination”, he says,” can be the discussion of an entire chapter in view of the fact that Indo-Trinidadians comprise the largest ethnic group in the cosmopolitan society.” “Since the Ministry is promoting events organised by Christian churches, it would not have been inconsistent to announce that throughout the month of Ramadan (June 6 – July 5), free community dinners [iftar] were being offered daily by Muslims at every mosque to breakfast,” he adds.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram.


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  • AJ Krish

    When a community that makes up a significant portion of the population is ignored, it is clearly understood that there is discrimination. I believe the authorities should clear this up before it is too late.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Very sad to know that Indian cultural events are excluded even after the 2nd majority of people being Hindus

Next Story

New AI Model to Identify the Risk of Heart Disease in Indians

Besides Apollo, Microsoft is also planning to extend the AI model to other healthcare providers

heart disease
Novel Microsoft-Apollo AI model to predict heart disease risk for Indians. Pixabay

In a novel effort to predict the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among the Indian population, Microsoft India and Apollo Hospitals on Friday launched the first-ever Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered heart disease risk score API (application programme interface).

Part of Microsoft’s “AI Network for Healthcare” initiative, it will help doctors across the Apollo network of hospitals leverage the AI-powered API to predict risk of CVD and drive preventive cardiac care across the country.

Nearly three million heart attacks happen in India every year and 30 million Indians suffer from coronary diseases. However, even with various heart disease risk models available worldwide, doctors and cardiologists are unable to identify the probability of CVD in Indians.

“The AI-based models available worldwide were formed decades ago and are based on the western population. Our new API score is based on the data of 4,000 Indians shared by Apollo Hospitals and can easily identify the level of risk each patient has,” Anil Bhansali, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D), told IANS.

“We come in as a technology partner or expert in the AI domain, where we collaborate with healthcare providers and doctors to integrate data to help build the AI model,” Bhansali added.

Built on Microsoft’s Cloud computing platform Azure, the new AI-based heart risk score helps gauge a patient’s risk for heart disease and provides rich insights to doctors on treatment plans and early diagnosis.

The API score considers 21 risk factors including lifestyle attributes such as diet, tobacco and smoking preferences and physical activity as well as psychological stress and anxiety as reflected via rate of respiration, hypertension and systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

“The score categorises risk into high, moderate and minimal and also provides insights on the top modifiable risk contributors, thereby assisting physicians to consult patients in a more holistic way, while providing insights to patients for lifestyle modification and timely interventions,” Bhansali elaborated.

heart disease
Representational image. (IANS)

When a patient goes for a cardio health check, the doctor can build up a more accurate cardio-vascular health profile of the patient based on Machine Learning (ML) of all their previous patient data.

AI can, in turn, predict future coronary ailments the patient might experience in the next 10 to 20 years based on these multiple factors.

“This heart risk score for Indian populace is a true example of how precision healthcare can accelerate prevention of cardio-vascular disease and reduce disease burden,” Bhansali noted.

According to Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals, the partnership is aimed at designing new tools and equip doctors in the fight against non-communicable diseases.

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“The amalgamation of AI and ML with the global expertise of our doctors will help prevent heart disease, save lives and ensure those with heart disease can make informed choices on their health,” Reddy said in a statement.

Besides Apollo, Microsoft is also planning to extend the AI model to other healthcare providers.

“While we are currently working with Apollo, we are also in the process of identifying partners where we can actually try this API score,” Bhansali told IANS.

“In the last couple of years we have been working on how Cloud technology, particularly AI, can help in reducing the overall disease burden. Our first step towards this, as part of the healthcare partnership, is developing the cardiac risk score for Indian population,” Bhansali added. (IANS)