Furthering an agenda at the expense of others
Reference is made to the Kaieteur News’ editorial, 5th May, 2012, titled “Arrival Day should be preserved.” This editorial seeks to laud the contributions and influence of Indians in Guyana and why the holiday should be preserved, albeit it was argued by the PPP government that the holiday would commemorate the arrivals of all indentured racial groups.
The editorial argued that, “Guyana’s ability to cultivate rice is credited to the Indian immigrants.” This statement is false. A nanosecond journey to the Guyana Rice Development Board’s website exposes the myth. Refer to http://grdb.gy/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=2
On the Home page, under the section “History of rice in Guyana,” it is stated for all to read, that “Rice was first introduced into Guyana around 1750 being brought from South Carolina, during the occupation by the Dutch. Another importation was recorded about 1782 during the French occupation from the French colony Louisiana. From these early introductions, and up to 1838, isolated attempts were made to grow the crop commercially. However, for the most part these attempts failed and this was attributed to the lack of knowledge of rice cultivation by the slaves, and to planters’ refusal to permit growing rice outside the environs of the sugar plantations (Ramgopaul, 1964). In 1848, rice was freely grown in Berbice by Timini Africans.”
The first batch of Indian indentured servants came to Guyana in 1838 and from the recount of Guyana Rice Development Board’s website, rice was being planted before, and in 1848, it was Africans who had freely grown rice. From 1750 to 1848, Indians were not mentioned in rice development. Yes, Indians played an important role in developing the rice sector and must be given credit, but others who predated them must also be given their due and not at the swipe of someone’s agenda their contributions be discarded.
Another glaring dishonest input in the editorial reads, “When one considers that just a few decades ago the Indians were not as keen on education as they are today, when one considers that the Indians sought economic activities in every corner and succeeded beyond people’s wildest dreams, then one can see why Guyana is perhaps the economic capital of the Caribbean.”
The so-called absence of keenness for education on the Indian part has many attributing factors, one of which was schools prior to nationalization were largely run by religious groups, mostly from the Christian belief and had Christian influences in the education curriculum. This obviously would be a deterrent to Indians who were largely non-Christian in their beliefs.
Another view is that with nationalization, non-denominational, universal, school feeding and uniform programmes, free and compulsory education up to secondary level, a policy advanced by successive PNC governments, education became attractive and more accessible for all. Free university education also played a role in educational and economic advancement, another benefit of the PNC administration which was taken away by the PPP administration. And by no stretch of the imagination is Guyana “the economic capital of the Caribbean.” Barbados is ranked the third richest state in the Americas, after Canada and the USA and, Guyana comes nowhere near the capital might of Trinidad.
On May 1st, the PPP’s Labour Day message in Kaieteur News attributed that “Our Party led the fight for Universal Adult Suffrage.” This again is not true. The fight for universal adult suffrage was led by Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow and the trade union movement, which predated the political parties, and was a cause to which the PPP added their voice.
What stands out in the 5/5/2012 editorial and is most troubling is the brazen and dishonest attempt to rewrite history in this enlightened age. Persons must be proud of their achievements, but when efforts are going to be made to manipulate history it hurts more than help the image of those promoting their achievements. There are Indians who are proud of their history and want it to be recorded truthfully, including its pluses and minuses, because imperfection is a human characteristic. But to those who see the need to manipulate history to give them the superior edge, they are the ones who will go to any length to deny others, and this makes them very dangerous.
The truth be told, Indians came to Guyana and did not meet a perfect society, and made contributions to building the country. Equally so, Indians did not meet a society lacking a solid foundation, absent of economic activities, persons hanging from trees, living in caves, naked/half-naked or laying about waiting to be directed, taught or civilized. The society is still not perfect and has distance to cover, but to make any claim (implicit/explicit) that thanks to the Indian presence actions, civilization and development have cometh is stretching reality into absurdity and causes persons to frown at the level of deceit some will go to, to further an agenda at the expense of others.
It is wicked and dishonest to our history and to the other racial groups who have equally made sterling contributions to developing Guyana. It is insidious, nauseating and disgusting, and it must stop.
M. A. Bacchus