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Indian Diaspora World Convention in Trinidad from March 17-20

This global convention will be declared officially open on Friday 17th March by Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

Dance Program
A Dancer in a Festival (representational image), Wikimedia

– by Dr. Kumar Mahabir and Ms. Razia Mohammed

Trinidad, March 16, 2017: The Indian Diaspora Councils of New York and Trinidad will be hosting an Indian Diaspora World Convention from March 17-20 at various venues in Trinidad.

Speaking last week at a press conference at the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC), Dr. Rampersad Parasram, Chairman of the Indian Diaspora Council (TT) said:  “This convention will culminate a series of events around the world commemorating the 100thanniversary of the abolition of the recruitment of indentured labourers in India.”

Parasram referred to the implementation of the Indian Act of 1917 as a “significant milestone in mankind’s quest for social justice and human rights.” He said that the convention will provide a perfect opportunity to reflect on the injustices of indentureship.

Parasram added that the convention will also provide a forum to discuss the impact of indentureship on the millions of descendants of indentured labourers worldwide. He stated that the objective of organizing the convention is to create a platform for critical dialogue towards the advancement of the global diasporic community in developing their respective nation states.

This global convention will be declared officially open on Friday 17th March by Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, and will be followed by a concert and dinner. According to Dr. Deokinanan Sharma, President of the NCIC, the cultural programme will showcase various art forms such as Indian folk songs. He said that the performances will take attendees on an artistic journey from 1845 in India to contemporary Trinidad.

The theme of the convention is “Charting New Frontiers.” Highlighting topics to be addressed over the two-day academic conference to be held at the NCIC on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th March was Conference Coordinator Dr. Primnath Gooptar.

He listed the panels for the conference which included “The Heritage and Historical Contexts,” “Identity in the Indian Diaspora,” “Challenges Facing the Diasporic Indians,” “Documenting the Indian Diaspora,” “The Global Indian Diasporic Community in the 21st Century” and “Youth and Gender Issues.” 

Gooptar said the conference will host over 36 speakers from 15 foreign countries such as Belize, the Netherlands, Canada, St Vincent, India, UK and Japan. Attendees can expect interesting presentations such as “The Significance of History and Archaeology in the Indian Diaspora” by Nisha Ramracha, “Racial and Political Discrimination and Victimization in Guyana” by Vishnu Bandhu, “The marginalization of Indian men in advertisements in Trinidad and Tobago” by Kumar Mahabir, “Indo-Caribbean’s growing economic status in New York” by Tarachand Singh, and “Indian Involvement in Cricket in the Caribbean” by Daren Ganga.

The academic conference is free and open to the public on both days (March 18-19) by registration at 8:30 on mornings.

A gala banquet will be hosted by the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) at their St Augustine headquarters on Sunday 19th March. SDMS representative, Vijay Maharaj, said the banquet will include performances by some of the students of the SDMS’ 52 primary and five secondary schools. Feature speakers at the banquet will include Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Yacoob Ali, President General of The Anjuman Sunnat-Ul-Jamaat (ASJA) (a collaborating partner of the convention).

Another event included in the global convention will be the release of new books on the theme of Indian identity in the Diaspora. There will also be tours for foreign visitors to various places of diasporic interest e.g. Indian Caribbean Museum, the Temple in the Sea, and the 85-foot Hanuman Murti (scared statue).

A reception and dinner will be hosted by the Indian High Commission at India House for conference presenters. Community outreach academic programmes have been planned for Felicity, Sangre Grande and Penal. In recognition of the abolition of the recruitment of indentured labourers in India, a plaque-unveiling ceremony will take place at the office of the Mayor of Chaguanas.


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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

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