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Ravi Dev is an Indian civil rights activist and a former member of Parliament in Guyana.

By Dr. Kumar Mahabir

In the multi-ethnic countries of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname in the southern Caribbean, newly elected Governments were sworn into office this year, within two months, on August 18th, August 2nd, and July 13th respectively.

In Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname (East) Indians constitute the largest ethnic group in each country (35.4%, 40%, and 27% respectively).

In the recent election in Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley was sworn in (for a second term) as the Prime Minister after defeating the Opposition UNC led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar. This time his party won a three-seat majority (22 to 19) in a closely-contested election that was believed to be rigged.

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In Guyana, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali was sworn in as the new President five months after legal and other disputes over the recounting of votes. In Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi was made the new President after forming a coalition with smaller ethnic-based Opposition parties.

The following are EXCERPTS of a ZOOM meeting held recently (30/8/20) on the topic “How should Indo-Caribbean Culture be treated by the Governments in Trinidad, Guyana, and Suriname?” The Pan-Caribbean public meeting was moderated by anthropologist Dr. Kumar Mahabir from Trinidad and was hosted by the Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre (ICC).

The speakers were DR SAT BALKARANSINGH, a performing artist, author, and economist and former senior public servant; DR. DEV ANAND BHAGWAN, a graduate in Christian Theology from Acadia University in Canada; and DR KIRTIE ALGOE, a graduate of the Anton de Kom University of Suriname. The discussant was RAVI DEV, an Indian civil rights activist and a former member of Parliament in Guyana.

Culture” was taken to mean the visual and performing arts produced in public spaces; examples being Indian Arrival or Immigration Day, Divali, Phagwa or Holi, Hosay or Muharram, Eid ul-Fitr, kashida, Tassa, chutney, shows, songs, music, dance, drama, art, and craft, etc.

Indian culture is practiced by Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and non-Indians as well. Cultural presentations must be compared with their counterparts. For example, Indian Arrival Day must not be compared to Christmas or Eid, or Divali. Indian Arrival Day should be compared with African Emancipation Day. They are both historical commemorations; not religious holidays.

Perhaps the best unit of analysis to measure Governments’ treatment in all these counties is to calculate what percentage of Indo-Caribbean Culture has been represented in CARIFESTA (The Caribbean Festival of Arts). Invariably, it is a token Tassa performance here and a colorful dance there, and that is it.

Dr. SAT BALKARANSINGH of Trinidad said:

Initially, Indians were brought to the Caribbean to save their economy, and by 1920 did so. Now 100 years later, their offsprings must again assume leadership roles in saving the economies, especially in Trinidad, again in serious crisis. Failure to disregard this crisis is not an option.

DR DEV ANAND BHAGWAN of Guyana said:

In Gayana, it is vogue to proclaim that “all-awe-is-one” to undergird the notion of unity in the country. In one sense, the statement, “all-awe-is-one” is certainly veritable as it reflects the equality of all Guyanese that is enshrined in the country’s constitution. In the other sense, “all-awe-is-one,” is not accurate to describe the nation of Guyana. This country consists of various ethnic groups with distinct cultural backgrounds and expressions. There are differences in religions, traditions, food, music, and even oral communication.

Traditionally in Guyana, politicians have been cautious in addressing the thorny issues relating to race. Therefore, they emphasize the “one-ness” of the country and have been careful to avoid references to the ethnic composition.

The political, religious, and civic leaders must have the courage and wherewithal to remind Guyanese of the ethnic makeup: Indians are 40% of the population, Africans 29%, Mixed 20%, Indigenous peoples 10.5%, Others .5%. This information has important implications as it pertains to employment, funding for cultural events, and inclusion of cultural government programs.

Unity does not mean uniformity. The cultural mosaic of the country must be recognized, supported, and celebrated.

KIRTIE ALGOE of Suriname said:

Indian cultural policies should be part of a well-balanced national policy that brands cultural diversity. Two principles are key: income generation and sustainability.

The government should subsidize events and programs on the basis of extinction threats such as nagara and the impact on intercultural connections like Phagwa and Eid-ul-Fitr. In doing so, stakeholders must be consulted in the decision-making.

The discussant RAVI DEV of Guyana said:

The three main speakers – especially those from Trinidad and Guyana – emphasized the paucity of funds granted to Indo-Caribbean culture by their respective governments. As emphasized before, this is due to the reality that in all three countries “national culture” has been equated with “Afro-Creole Culture”.

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In Trinidad, the Maha Sabha had long called for the Ministry of Arts and Culture to be renamed the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism to implement a needed policy shift. In 2010, this was accepted by the United National Congress (UNC) government under Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.


Photo by Pixabay

Upcoming medical colleges in Uttar Pradesh will be named after saints and sages

The new medical colleges being opened in Uttar Pradesh will be named after saints and sages.

The state government has issued an order naming four district hospitals that are being converted into medical colleges.

These district hospitals are in Bijnor, Fatehpur, Chandauli, and Siddharth Nagar.

The Bijnor medical college has been named after Mahatma Vidur, a philosopher during the Mahabharata era and uncle of the Pandavas and Kauravas.

The Chandauli medical college has been named after Baba Keenaram, said to be the founder of the Aghori sect.

The Siddharth Nagar district hospital will be called Madhav Prasad Tripathi Medical College after the BJP politician from the region. Tripathi, popularly known as Madhav Babu, was also the first Uttar Pradesh BJP chief. He was elected MP from Domariyaganj in 1977, besides being two times Jan Sangh MLA and also a member of the UP legislative council.

The Fatehpur hospital has been named Amar Shaheed Jodha Singh Ataiya Thakur Dariyawn Singh Medical College, after the freedom fighter of 1857.

It is said that he was among the first to use Guerrilla warfare against the British, as taught by freedom fighter Tatya Tope.

Meanwhile, according to official sources, the medical college in Deoria will be named after Maharishi Devraha Baba and the medical college of Ghazipur in the name of Maharishi Vishwamitra.

The medical college of Mirzapur will be in the name of Maa Vindhyavasini, the medical college of Pratapgarh in the name of Dr. Sonelal Patel and the medical college of Etah will be named after Veerangana Avantibai Lodhi. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Medical Colleges, Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, India, Politics

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Indian cricket team on the ground

Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has picked India as the favourite to win the ongoing ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Oman and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Inzamam feels that the Virat Kohli-led India have a greater chance of winning the trophy as the conditions in the Gulf nations are similar to the subcontinent, which makes India the most dangerous side in the event, according to Inzamam.

"In any tournament, it cannot be said for certain that a particular team will win' It's all about how much chance do they have of winning it. In my opinion, India have a greater chance than any other team of winning this tournament, especially in conditions like these. They have experienced T20 players as well," said Inzamam on his YouTube channel.

He said more than the Indian batters, the bowlers have a lot of experience of playing in the conditions. The Indian Premier League (IPL) was played recently in UAE and most of the Indian bowlers did well in that leg.

Inzy heaped praises on the Men in Blue for the confident manner in which they chased the target against Australia on a challenging track without needing Kohli's batting prowess.

"India played their warm-up fixture against Australia rather comfortably. On subcontinent pitches like these, India are the most dangerous T20 side in the world. Even today, if we see the 155 runs they chased down, they did not even need Virat Kohli to do so," he added.

Though he did not pick any favourite, Inzamam termed the India-Pakistan clash in the Super 12 on October 24 as the 'final before the final' and said the team winning it will go into the remaining matches high on morale,

"The match between India and Pakistan in the Super 12s is the final before the final. No match will be hyped as much as this one. Even in the 2017 Champions Trophy, India and Pakistan started and finished the tournament by facing each other, and both the matches felt like finals. The team winning that match will have their morale boosted and will also have 50 percent of pressure released from them," Inzamam added. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Pakistan, Sports, ICC T20 World Cup, UAE.

Photo by Diana Akhmetianova on Unsplash

Skin problems like itchiness, dryness and flakiness can occur anytime if you're not moisturising your body enough.

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man in white crew neck t-shirt Moisturising the body in the morning sets your skin up to face countless irritants and environmental factors during the day. | Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

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