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Mapping Out: The Indo Caribbean Americans

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Indo Caribbean family
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By- Annesha Das Gupta

In May 1838, more than half a million people from India sailed across the “Kala Pani” to various parts of the Caribbean islands and settled down there as indentured laborers  in the sugarcane plantations.

After the immense struggles for their rights, under the heinous policies of Colonists, they managed to gain their freedom in the year of 1917.

After a gap of several decades, the trend of the migration emerged again.

Starting from the mid-1960s, a lot of people, particularly from Guyana started migrating again to the different parts of the USA. This was due to a combination of a couple of historical facts like the Civil Rights Movement in America which led to more liberal migration policies and the political imbalance under the autocracy of Britain which continued till 1991.

They wanted to expand their horizons in the vistas of education, politics and economics. Therefore, a significant number of the community settled themselves in the Richmond Hill area of the Queens in New York. Also, it will not be much surprising to hear that today the whole expand of Richmond Hill is colloquially known as ‘Little Guyana’.

They now identify themselves, as Indo-Caribbean Americans. The members of diverse cultures and heritages. Historian and Sociologists also termed them as ‘twice migrants’.

Concentrating more on the Richmond Hill and Florida sections of the community, one can delve into several aspects of their lives. Such as:

Economics:economic-growth

According to Darrel Sukhdeo an activist and a business coach, after the economic crash of 2009, the community was in a financial turmoil. A lot of businesses closed down and many people lost their homes.

But the community which fostered a rigid spirit, turns around once again.

And it is evident from the recent economic report which tells that the household income standards hit about the marks of 65,000 dollars on average which is more than the rest of the New York’s average. Thus, it means that the members of the community are able to pay more taxes and contribute more to the economic development.

Education and Politics:education india

 Indo-Caribbean Alliance (INCA), a non-profit organization helps the community to raise their voices about all concerned issues, to inject their own perspectives into the national discourse. They also monitor the youth educate them about their historical background and help them to take pride in their own ethnic identities.

In 2010, they conducted a consensus to encourage the people of the community to embrace their sense of being Indo-Caribbean Americans and mainstream their contributions at the global platforms. They also found out that the Indo-Caribbean Americans are the third largest emigrant group in the whole of Queens.

Whereas another organization named Jayadevi Arts Inc (JAI) working in the regions of South Florida work in the sectors of preserving arts, cultures, and heritage of the Indo-Caribbean. They help the community to have self-esteem in their historical and political connections by conducting and hosting programs, cultural and art festivals.

It also may be noted that Florida has the second largest population of the Indo-Caribbean in the whole of the United States.

Now, to come in the direction of education and learning, it is well-known that a crucial number from the community are in the fields of legal, medical as well as political studies. Their contributions have also been in the sectors of economics, politics and itself in the area of education.

It should be known that the attributes of hard work and persistence of the community can be found in the facts that many sacrificed their own careers to give their children an excellent education by saving for their college tuition fees and also that many decided to take up their incomplete education by going back to the universities. Most of them are in their 40s or 50s and they took the decision only after their children had managed to get them accomplished.

Entertainment, Festivals, and Religions:

Ramlila performance staged in Guyana. Photo: Guyana Times
Ramlila performance staged in Guyana. Photo: Guyana Times

The community regularly draw their source of entertainment from Hindi songs and films. They especially are enthusiastic about a musical genre that is their very own invention, Chutney, and Chutney-soca. The Florida Melody Makers is a well-known band from the community which continues to give to the audiences many pleasures through their performances.

The most popular festival among the Hindu community there is the Phagwah Parade, which is essentially the celebration of Holi. The community also celebrates Diwali, Id and various other festivals from across the whole expand of religions.

Talking about religions, the community holds the spirit of pluralism.  People from Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism etc., live together in complete harmony. It is known that there are about 60 Hindu temples in and around the area of Richmond Hills, along with numerous majids and gurudwaras.

The community also celebrates the ‘Indian Arrival Day’ on May 5 with much pomp.

Finally, the estimated Indo-Caribbean population in the States is considered to be more than 300,000.

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

Also Read: British Parliament Access Internal Facebook Data Scandal Papers: Report

Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)