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Mapping Out: The Indo Caribbean Americans

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Indo Caribbean family

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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Ram Setu : Where Science meets Hindu religion, Science affirms but Congress Party denies

Science Channel affirms that Ram Setu was man made not natural, NASA released images

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Ram Setu
Ram Setu between India and Sri Lanka (Pic by NASA)
  • Science channel affirms that Ram Setu was man made not natural
  • In 2007 Congress Party submitted an affidavit in court saying Ram Setu is a myth

An American science channel on Tuesday affirmed on the existence of Ram Setu, saying that there exist evidence suggesting that the bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka was man-made not natural.

The Discovery Communications-produced show, “Ancient Land Bridge”, quotes American archaeologists to affirm that 30-mile line between India and Sri Lanka is made up of rocks that are 7,000 years old, older than the sandbar supporting them, which is approx 4,000 years old. The video claims that the structure is man made, not natural, citing images from a NASA satellite. Interestingly, the carbon dating of beaches near Dhanushkodi and Mannar Island sync with the date of Ramayana.

Ram Setu in Ramayana
Ram Setu (Satellite image by NASA)

The description of Ram Setu in Ramayana

In ‘Yuddha Kanda’ of the Ramayana, building of Ram Setu has been described. Rama Setu took 5 days to build by under the supervision of architects Neel and Nala. It is believed that Ram Setu is made of a chain of limestone shoals. It is 30 Km Long and 3 Km Wide. It Starts from Dhanushkodi tip of India’s Pamban Island and ends at Sri Lanka’s Mannar Island. Sea in these areas is very shallow. In Ramayana it is mentioned that the bridge was built by stones and these stone which floated on water by touch of Nala & Neel.

Ram Setu
Pic credit : Promo released by the US-based Science Channel

Politics on Ram Setu

Ram Setu is the historical and archeological evidence of Ramayana. The new findings by NASA have already sparked a political debate in the country with BJP leaders questioning the Congress’ previous stand where the party had told the Supreme Court that there was no historical proof that Lord Rama had ever existed. Congress party made u-turn and claimed they never questioned existence of Lora Ram. But In 2005, the UPA-1 government had proposed a shipping canal project that would have dredged the area and damaged the formation on sea, referred to as the Ram Setu by Hindus. The project was thus challenged by the BJP in the apex court.

Responding on the new affirmations, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said, “This is what the BJP has been saying all along.” Firebrand BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said, “the US scientists said what was already know”. On Tuesday, Smriti Irani posted the trailer of the show on her Twitter account, saying, “Jai Shri Ram.”

Ram Setu is the national heritage of India and it must be preserved.

– by Shaurya Ritwik, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

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Veerappan: India’s most wanted

Veerappan was hunted by the police for over four decades, making it the longest man-hunt in India

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Veerappan was a smuggler, poacher, murderer and extortionist who was killed in Operation Cocoon
Veerappan in his heyday, He was killed via Operation Cocoon
  • Veerappan was a smuggler of ivory and sandalwood in the southern states of India.
  • He killed government officials and civilians alike when they tried to stop his illegal activities.
  • He died in October 2004 during ‘Operation Cocoon’, which was carried out by a Special Task Force.

Poaching, smuggling, extortion, smuggling, brigandry, murder — these are some of the few charges against Koose Munisamy Veerappan Gounder, popularly known as Veerappan, for whom was constituted India’s largest manhunt, on which the government spent around 1.5 million Rupees. From his childhood, narratives about the elusive dacoit were laced with fiction, as he became an object of myth when he was only ten years old, and had infamously shot his first tusker elephant for ivory. His notoriety became a national concern when the government banned ivory trade in India, and he began felling trees for precious sandalwood, thus beginning a period marred by Veerappan killing government officials and locals alike when they became an obstacle.

Veerappan unleashed a reign of terror on the southern states of India from the early 1980s till his death in 2004; during which Veerappan killing police officers and civilians alike caused a nationwide uproar. In 1990, the notorious smuggler had beheaded a forest officer K. Srinivas, which wasn’t recovered until three years later. In 2000, he had kidnapped the Kannada actor K. Rajkumar, whose release was negotiated through Nakkeeran editor Gopal, to whom the infamous poacher admitted to murdering as many as 120 people. Matters came to a head when   abducted the former Karnataka minister H. Nagappa in 2002, and killed him when his demands were not met.

Operation Cocoon:

Veerappan leading his gang in moily forest,
Veerappan leading his gang in Moily forest. Wikimedia

A Special Task Force or STF was constituted for the capture of Veerappan in 1991, which, headed by K. Vijay Kumar, launched Operation Cocoon in 2004, which finally resulted in Veerappan’s death. Kumar, aided by his previous experience with Veerappan, based Operation Cocoon on human intelligence and interaction, during which multiple STF personnel blended in with the locals in areas frequented by Veerappan. The initial stages of Operation Cocoon consisted of gaining the trust of Veerappan’s associates, till they started divulging details about his failing health. In the years before his death, the elusive outlaw seemed to have lost much of his vigour and vitality, as he suffered from diabetes, and a cataract had almost blinded him in one eye.
On 18th October, 2004, the police lured Veerappan out of familiar terrains in an ambulance, and apprehended him at a roadblock, where he was killed in the crossfire between his team and the STF, via three bullets. The photographs after Veerappan’s demise show him in a pathetic light, bereft of his signature handlebar moustache, and the agility which had facilitated his escape for over four decades.

There have been a lot of controversies regarding his death, as many media houses and activists have claimed that Operation Cocoon has derived Veerappan of a fair trial by law. Some have even claimed that he was tortured to death in police custody. The facts regarding the elusive sandalwood smuggler remain inconclusive even after a decade of his death, due to the lack of concrete evidence.

 

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Exclusive Interview of Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley

Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley in an interview with NewsGram talked about missionary-marxist-jehadi nexus and a lot more

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  • “Christians have formed a multinational conversion business, they have created giant corporations with international connections operating worldwide, with international funding. India is their prime target. Hindus should not be this naive, they must assert their rights and identity” – Dr. David Frawley

New Delhi – In an exclusive interview with NewsGram’s Sub-Editor Shaurya Ritwik, Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley talked about necessity of Yoga and Ayurveda for a healthy lifestyle, science of self realisation, essence of Hindu Dharma, Ram Mandir Ayodhya, marxist-missionary-jehadi nexus of breaking India forces and a lot more.

Dr. David Frawley, First of all I would like to thank you for all the literary contributions you made for Hinduism, for being so vocal about human rights of Hindus and for inspiring us in many ways.

Thank You very much, Shaurya.

Dr. Frawley, you have written many books on Ayurveda and Yoga. We are witnessing a growing inclination towards Yoga everywhere in world but somehow Ayurveda is still not widely accepted in medical use as compared to pharmaceutical medicines. How can Ayurveda be utilised in mainstream medical treatment and how much effective is it?

Well actually, I have seen the Ayurvedic situation improve over the last 34 years that I have known about it. As you know, the British closed the Ayurvedic schools in India, so it only became a private study. Then after independence the Ayurveda underwent modernisation and development in independent India, and that include developing basically BAMS Ayurveda which include a lot of modern medicine, which is helpful in some ways but also have eliminated traditional Ayurveda. It changed Ayurveda quite a bit, removing things like Yoga, spirituality from it, largely for social and political purposes. But in past few years Ayurveda in India is again bringing in more traditional elements, more pulse diagnosis, more connection with Yoga, that is happening slowly, but it still has a long way to go as BAMS syllabus is very restricted. At the same time we have seen the improvement in selling of Ayurvedic products, for example Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali, Dabur, Himalayan etc. These Indian companies are producing better quality of products and broader range of Ayurvedic medicines. But the education system tends to looks down on Ayurveda, and the people who study modern medicine often give negative view of Ayurveda. And then people today often want quick pills to solve their problems whereas Ayurveda emphasises natural healing which requires us to change our behaviour, which means we have to change our diet, our patterns of sleeping, improve our exercise. Our state of well being is the product of our behaviour. Ayurveda is gaining respect in other parts of world. In the west people are more concerned with rejuvenation, improving their health and the positive way of promoting longevity. In terms of treating chronic elements and improving lifestyle Ayurveda has a lot to offer. You must understand that your health is the product of how you live, you can take a pill once in a while but in a long term you should have a healthy lifestyle and Ayurveda teaches that.

Dr. Frawley, in today’s corporate setting life is very fast, people have no time to look beyond materialistic world. In such chaos how can we get connected to our roots and dharma? How to move ahead in spiritual path of self realisation?

This is again a problem all over the world as people don’t have time. People have lots of money but they don’t have time. We have to understand that our time does matter. Unfortunately, there is no solution to healthy and happy life other than quality time to improve your life. There is no pill you can take. Young people are taking pills before they turn 40, they are depressed, they are unhappy, they are disturbed. So we have to change the lifestyle and we have to put pressure on the businesses to give time to people to renew their productivity. when you are young you need to create a foundation of positive habits for the future. So, this is a challenge, there is no easy way out. There are yoga practices, pranayama which you must devote an hour everyday, not just for physical health but also for spiritual well being. You need to empty the mind, do some meditation, do some chanting, because otherwise we carry the stress, over and over from one day to another. This is a suicidal problem.

Interview of Dr. Frawley
Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley aka Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (Photo Credit : Shaurya Ritwik)

Dr. Frawley, you have been very vocal about missionary-marxist-jehadi nexus in India which no politician can ever say out of vote bank fear or political correctness. We want to know how severely we are affected by this toxic breaking India nexus, and how we should resist to these forces?

This was the problem I recently witnessed in Kerala, it was a major problem there. Infact when I was driving down the roads I saw posters for communist gatherings with pictures of Marx, Lenin and Stalin, perhaps only place on Earth where you see such pics nowadays. In Kerala we also found out that the missionaries are aligned with communists, which they never do in United States or other countries, they are poles apart otherwise. And also this Marxist-Jehadi alliance is strong in South India. So as Hindu forces are getting stronger, the opposition is now forced to unite. Just for example we saw in elections the anti-BJP parties all got together even though they were fighting among each other, have different ideologies. In Kerala this is a big problem, karnataka also has this problem, Tamil Nadu also, to some extent everywhere. The main thing is that Hindu society is to be united, they should be ready to protest and take a stand. You can’t always be nice and say we are all good, we are all the same. Well, the point is hindus accept all religions but the other religions are still trying to convert Hindus. If communal harmony depends upon letting hindus being converted and loose their religion, that’s not communal harmony. Its a continuation of colonialism and religious extremism. So unity in Hindu society is most important. And also voting. If you vote for these guys you can’t complain them being in power. India is a country where Muslims and Christians are encouraged to vote their religion but Hindus are not. In this world today power is with those who are in power so you have to have a political paradigm. It is a long battle because India has been under siege by missionaries, marxist, colonial and Islamist forces for many centuries. After independence the control of british army and administration was gone but the marxist influence continued, the missionaries actually grew more power and the congress party was promoting the christian and muslim vote banks, so even after the independence of India the siege against Hindus at a cultural level has not ended so that need to be challenged.

Dr. Frawley, when we see communists of China and Russia, they are at least nationalist. But in India communists are very much anti-national, anti-hindu. We generally find in India that Hindus are against Hindutva cause in name of secularism. Why is this amnesia among Hindus regarding our past?

Well, Russia is now a Christian country, Russians have thrown out communist history, China is communist in name only, Chinese have confucian schools all across country promoted by government, you don’t have vedic schools by government in India. And you are right, Indian left is anti national, even Congress party is anti national, someone like Kapil Sibal arguing the case against Ram Mandir shows they are anti-hindu too. These people are putting their own privilege above all. India has been run by a dynasty, and they want their power to retain. This needs to be exposed. Now the fact is that thousands of Hindu temples were destroyed  and after independence we got only one back. How can a free India not have a temple for Lord Ram? Ram is your national image. It wasn’t just muslims, but Jawaharlal Nehru who stopped Ram Mandir Ayodhya. And even today, it is these leftist, marxist and Congress who are trying to stop Ram Mandir nirmaan in Ayodhya. Rahul Gandhi is visiting Somnath temple but it is just hypocrisy. You go to Kashi Vishwanath and you will see that the back part of temple is still a mosque, even in Krishna Janambhoomi. But again, Hindus must unite, you can’t just let go. Hindus need to recognise their political and social power.

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Dr. Frawley, We generally see that Islamists and Christians use religion as a political force, they tend to recognise political power whereas most of the Hindus believe that religion and politics should not be mixed up. Hindus also believe that secularism and inherent inclusiveness of Hinduism makes it special. Some people argue that even after centuries of foreign rule we survived because of this soft nature but they forget that once Afghanistan, Indonesia, Myanmar etc were also Hindu. Do you believe this soft nature of Hindus make them easy target for civilisational jihad? Do you feel somehow Hindus are also responsible if they are letting their poor section of society being converted by missionaries?

Even Mongolia was traditionally buddhist, now its getting christianised. There was big Buddhist and Hindu influences in Central Asia. Hindus are tolerant and they allow muslims and christians to convert them. Hindus say all religions are same, Muslims don’t, Christians don’t so it is clearly a one way street. And Muslims and Christians are giving bad image of Hindus. They are constantly making an attempt to take you over. As you asked, of course Hindus are also responsible. Hindus have to challenge missionaries. And they have to be willing to pay for things, to take care of underprivileged section of their society, to help them overcome poverty. Hindus have to be stronger in their expression, their assertion, their identity. In few decades Christain-Islamic alliance will eliminate you, don’t be naive. Christians have formed a multinational conversion business, they have created giant corporations with international connections, with international funding. India is a main country in world which allow missionaries in, China does not. Islamic countries do not. Yet the missionaries are criticizing India and not China or Islamic countries because they have some levarage here. Like in Gujarat the bishop can ask christians to vote, that does’t occur in other countries. That’s a blatant interference in public affairs. These groups are surviving in India because Hindus are tolerant. Hindu society must introspect and resist such forces.

Dr. David Frawley, In India the education system has been long controlled by leftists, most of the history taught to us was distorted, for last 60 years leftist mindset was imposed in academics. When Narendra Modi became Prime Minister it was expected that some course correction will follow. But we can not see any drastic changes yet. The moment government tries to rectify previously committed blunders in academia, national and international media start screaming the song of intolerance. Government is also concerned about its secular image (pseudo-secular) worldwide and this is taken as a leverage by breaking India forces. Will it ever be possible for government to course correct hundreds of years of distortion?

Yeah, but that takes a little bit of time. And when this govt came in power, the previous Congress government bankrupted all the institutions. There was no money to run the country. There was corruption everywhere. So even keeping the country afloat was difficult. Then they have ruined all the international status, economically and politically. So naturally it takes time, which is going to take good 10 years at least. So its important that Hindus continue to apply pressure but the first thing is you have to stay in power. And secondly you have to workout things bit by bit, and many of these problems have various related complications. Make sure to increase the political power. For example when Yogi Adityanath took charge in Uttar Pradesh that radically changed the situation in U.P. So changes are going on, for example in Madhya Pradesh they are starting Adi Shankara Yatra. Also, Hindus have to educate their own children, you can’t wait for schools to tell your child what Hinduism is. For Christians and for Muslims religion is simplistic, believe in Jesus and Bible and you are a Christian, believe in Mohammad and Quran and you are Muslim, the Hindu tradition is one of Sadhana and practice, its about becoming a better person, so that requires more effort. We must understand that Hindu Dharma has a much broader view of life. Islam is growing by reproduction, not by thoughts. Christianity is declining in Europe and united States, churches have to import priests from India to give sermons.

People say India is the first home of Dr. David Frawley. You have been coming to India for so many years, writing about Hinduism, Ayurveda & Yoga and Indian culture & civilisation. What was your transition point towards Hinduism and how your love for India grew over time?

Well you see there was several transition points, not just one. As I grew up in late 60s, in my later teen, we already had Gurus from India, teachings were available of Paramhansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Aurobindo, Raman Maharishi. I was fortunate enough to coming in contact with those teachings during formative stage of my thoughts. So they were part of my growing up. So the main background was Yoga Vedanta. In studying Shri. Aurobindo’s work I also came in contact with vedas and that gave me an interest in Indian history. While studying Rigveda I found a very advanced civilisation. I realised that ancient history of India has been distorted. And then when I came to India, I was surprised to see the anti Hindu sentiments. I saw Indians were not interested in Aurobindo and Vivekananda but they were interested in Karl Marx. In Rotary club of Mumbai, I criticised Marx and people were up an arms against me. I said Marx had a very small mind, you can put entire brain of Marx in one corner of Aurobindo or Vivekanand thoughts. The vedantic view, Karma, Moksha, self realisation made perfect sense to me. Other things seemed to be very superficial. And over time I gained the greater understanding, the broader feel of Sanatan Dharma.

Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley interviewed by Shaurya Ritwik in New Delhi, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik