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Indian Diaspora in Czech renders hope to ‘Romas’

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Czech Republic: Kumar Vishwanathan, an NRI in the Czech Republic and a part of Indian diaspora, aims to alleviate the ‘Romas’, a ‘marginalised’ community which is believed to be having roots in India. He proposes the initiative by integrating them into mainstream society in that country’s industrial city of Ostrava.

“They (Romas) are a severely stigmatised and marginalised ethnic minority in Europe,” Kumar Vishwanathan who landed in the Schengen country, then Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s told agencies during a visit here.

Vishwanathan’s efforts resulted in the formation of a unique housing project, now known as the “Vesnicka souziti” or “Coexistence Village”.

The Romas and non-Romas both reside in the village, along with some poor elderly white families.

He noticed the suffering of the Romas or gypsies, as they are addressed derogatorily in Europe. Romas basically reside in a neighbouring industrial city of Ostrava.

He claims the Romas have their roots in India, “often sharing features from the sub-continent”.

Vishwanathan completed his Masters’ degree in physics from the Patrice Lumumba People’s Friendly University in Moscow. He later on married Ladislava Universalova, an art student and Czech national, and settled down there.

After the plight of the Romas caught his attention, he left his former career as a physics teacher in the ‘historic’ city of Olomouc and decided to turn into a human rights activist.

Romas basically witnessed their major downfall after the floods of Czech in 1997.

According to him, the Romas probably are an ancient Indian diaspora but later on, gradually mixed with other groups.

There are about 20,000 Roma people in Ostrava, which is about 120 km from Olomouc and about 250,000 Roma of a total 10.3 million Czech population.

“It is said they left India in the middle ages.” After quitting his teaching job, he floated the ‘Vzajemne souziti’ or ‘Life Together’ along with some students of Ostrava University and Roma community members in 1997. (Inputs from niticentral.com) (picture courtesy: masterdmc.com)

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Ethnic Indian Jai Sears responds to complaint against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada

Jai Sears wrote in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier

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Gandhi
Mahatama Gandhi, leader of non violence

Jai Sears from Grenada, Caribbean has written a letter to editor in response to complaints against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada. Here is the text:

I write in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier and published in the Grenada newspaper, The New Today (Nov 3, 2017). In his letter, Rougier is asking the Government to remove the bust-statue of Gandhi which overlooks Sauteurs Bay in Grenada where East Indians arrived 160 years ago. Rougier’s opinion is based on the false notion that Gandhi was racist because the Mahatma reportedly considered Indians to be superior to black Africans when he referred to the latter as “kaffirs.”

Gandhi was only 27 years old when he made that contextual statement. If Rougier had done his research, he would have found that Nelson Mandela said: “Gandhi must be forgiven for these prejudices in the context of the time and the circumstances.” The quote can be found in “Gandhi the Prisoner” by Nelson Mandela published in 1995. Gandhi was a man; he was not god. And even god made mistakes.

In favour of Mahatama Gandhi
Photo of Jai Sears

Rougier must instead focus on the Gandhi’s vision of non-violent protest and his belief in satyagraha which inspired rebels and revolutionaries around the world. Gandhi’s ideas influenced leaders of the African National Congress and the struggle by Indians and blacks against white apartheid rule in South Africa. From as early as 1956 when he was 27 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”

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Following the success of his boycott, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles. The fact is that Gandhi saw people of all races, castes, colours and creeds as equal which led to his assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948. So who is this unknown Josiah Rougier? Is he as illustrious as the great Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King? And is he disagreeing with his possible heroes?

A friend to all.
Jai Sears
Grenada, Caribbean