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Gandhi of Guadeloupe: Henry Sidambaram

The revolutionist who helped Indians acquire a french citizenship in Guadeloupe, Henry Sidambarom.

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a picture of the beauty of the island.

By Megha Sharma

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Guadeloupe, a French colony, lies in the south of Caribbean islands and is a group of Islands. The cause of freedom accelerated in the beginning of 20th century. All the colonies understood the need of an identity for them. Where Mahatma Gandhi became the catalyst of a successful freedom struggle in India, the widespread migration caused a lot of chaos.

The migrations initially were to earn a livelihood, which was becoming difficult in their own land. The primary occupation of being a farmer had no hope for their future survival because of the recurring draughts and even some colonial impositions on the lands. Thus, rather than owning a land they felt migration to be a better choice. However, the reality was too hard to gather. They not only had to undergo an identity-crisis, but they were asked not to even perform any religious or cultural activities of their land.

A similar story seems to inhabit this Island of Guadeloupe. A decline in the plantation productivity was seen after the abolition of slavery in 1848. Thus after 6 years, about 40,000 people were migrated to this land after a positive response of the work of Indian labours in the south-western Indian Ocean areas. A large number of these were from the South- Indian region and were bonded in a 5 year contract, after which either they could return to their origins or undertake another assignment.

Sir Henry Sidambarom
Sir Henry Sidambarom

The scenario was such that the first generation of these refugees saw themselves being devoid of any cultural background. One of these first generations is Henry Sidambaram. He was born in Capesterre-Belle-Eau of Guadeloupe and was denied the status of being the Mayor by his own party who considered his Indian origins to be a threat. It was an absurd thought for him as they were neither Indians nor did they receive any concrete French identity.

This made him later take an initiative to restore the long lost individuality. He wanted to demolish the refugees’ being in a no man’s land, devoid of a background, culture and selfhood. He triggered a lawsuit in this light to attain a French citizenship to all Indians there. He volunteered himself as a lawyer. A long battle of around 19 years (1904-1923) took him to victory. Later, in 1946 France declared the Island as a part of it, though not a Schengen entity.

He is considered a pioneer in the socio-cultural history of Guadeloupian Indians. So much so that today he is considered equivalent to Gandhi for them. In 2013, his 150th anniversary was celebrated, commemorating his significant role in establishing this movement of acquiring a citizenship and was also rewared with the Félix Eboué Prize.

an image of the ceremony that took place in 2013
an image of the ceremony that took place in 2013

This is what his granddaughter said about his contribution:

“On the death anniversary of my grandfather, Henry SIDAMBAROM whom I knew well, (I remember like it was yesterday) that day a huge crowd had gathered in the Rue de la Liberté outside his house.His body was greeted by a eulogy delivered by Mr. Auguste SAINTE-LUCE deputy mayor of Capesterre Belle Eau. Today I have an affectionate thought for my grandfather, and I am very touched by your loyalty to his memory…….The creation of the Committee Henry SIDAMBAROM whose brother is President JACQUES SIDAMBAROM helped perpetuate the memory of this great man. I hope that in the future, his ideas survive and continue on their way just as a grain thrown to the ground winds, seed, shoot, and generates harvests.

Thank you!

Camille SIDAMBAROM” (translated text)

Without him, Indians would have long forlorn in the alien cultural baggage given to them and of which they couldn’t be a part.

Megha is a student at the University of Delhi. She is pursuing her Masters in English and has also done her studies in the German Language.) Email: loveme2010@gmail.com. Twitter @meghash06510344

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

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hindus
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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Lost and Never Found : UN Experts Find Direct Link Between Enforced Disappearances and Migration, Claim Thousands of Migrants are at a High Risk

While enforced disappearances are widespread, it is not possible to document its scale and scope because the practice is hidden and takes place in secret.

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Enforced disappearances
Migrants line up as they wait to be evacuated from a makeshift street camp, in Paris, France Friday, July 7, 2017. Paris authorities are evacuating some 1,500 migrants from a makeshift street camp as Europe faces an upsurge in new arrivals. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (VOA)

Geneva, September 14, 2017 : U.N. experts says thousands of migrants are at high risk of enforced disappearance. A special report by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances accuses states and the international community at large of turning a blind eye to the crime, which generally goes unreported and unpunished.

The report, presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, finds a direct link between enforced disappearances and migration. In some cases, it says, individuals may migrate because they may be at risk of enforced disappearance from their own governments or they could be abducted during their journey for political or other reasons.

It explains enforced disappearances can occur when a migrant is in detention or going through a deportation process. It can be a consequence of smuggling or trafficking.

ALSO READ Refugees and Migrant children more vulnerable to Deportation and Exploitation today: UNICEF

While the phenomenon is widespread, the vice chairman of the Working Group on Enforced Disappearance, Bernard Duhaime, told VOA it is not possible to document its scale and scope. That is because the practice is hidden and takes place in secret.

He adds it occurs in almost all parts of the world. For example, he notes cases of enforced disappearances in Libya and among refugees fleeing Syria.

“There are similar instances in South Asia, as well, in particular with the phenomenon of the migration of the Rohingyas. There are also examples documented … migrants crossing through Central America and through Mexico, as well who disappear.… The report refers to networks of traffickers and smugglers in Sudan, Eritrea – in that region, as well,” Duhaime said.

Experts warn the increasingly dangerous routes migrants follow expose them to greater risk of becoming victims of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances.

The report calls on governments to gather all information about people who disappear in or while transiting their countries and to do what they can to locate missing migrants. (VOA)

 

 

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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

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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.
Sincerely,
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
E-mail: dmahabir@gmail.com

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