I quote from a letter of April 15, 2016 from Hindu religious teacher, Aksharananda, “Since the present administration came to office, a large number of officials has been dismissed from their positions, or, as has been euphemistically stated, ‘sent on leave’. Among these are persons who occupied high profile offices, but as we are learning, the dismissals did not stop there. Individuals from across the board have been affected with lives and families damaged… it would appear that the vast majority of those dismissed are persons of a particular ethnic group. I would like to suggest a sort of ethnic impact statement to include the ethnicity of those dismissed, the positions they held, and reasons for the dismissals. Of course, such a statement must also include whether those positions have since been filled and by which ethnic groups. Such transparency will immeasurably help the cause of social cohesion.” (Unquote)
There are a number of questions that come into focus that Aksharananda needs to answer. Given Aksharananda’s mood since the 2015 election campaign, it is doubtful he would want to respond. When Indo-centric and Afro-centric commentators write on the ethnic problematic in the study of politics in Guyana, there is no enlightenment because an inherent bias kills off objectivity and even academic decency. We have a virtual ocean of ethnic protection and ethnic defence material on government’s performance since Forbes Burnham’s descent into authoritarian rule right up to the final days of Mr. Ramotar’s oligarchic presidency. It doesn’t seem to stop. It will not stop. The sad irony of it is that in offering solutions when they write on the race problematic, these mentally fixed Guyanese contribute to the deepening chasm of the ethnic divide.
There is the Aksharananda letter quoted above and a missive from Mr. Milton Bruce. Let me repeat; it will not stop. That is the tragic fate of Guyana. Bruce wrote on April 18 on the fantastic economic transformation blueprint (and it was fantastic) of President Burnham, then asked the question; “… why then did the WPA oppose Mr. Burnham’s ideas, which were definitely revolutionary? Was it just ego? What political concept could they have grasped that Mr. Burnham would not have known or understood…?”
I don’t think Mr. Bruce was being mischievous or devious when he asked that question. He was just simply letting his Freudian mind roam. And that Freudian mind concentrates on the economic and developmental genius of Burnham without any recognition of his grave political failings. To answer Mr. Bruce’s question, the WPA was pointing Burnham in the direction of great Caribbean thinkers like Franz Fanon and CLR James on the need for post-colonial democratic inclusion of the masses. This was the context of Rodney’s insertion into the post 1970 political discourse of Guyana that started with the Tiger Bay radical group – The Movement Against Oppression (MAO).
Burnham was brilliant in inventing an alternative survival plan for the Third World. He was banal and arid in his understanding of the politics of inclusion. The rest is sad history. Askarananda’s letter is far more unhistorical than Bruce’s; Bruce avoids the race problematic. Aksharananda is not honest with it. One is painfully and frustratingly compelled to ask Aksharananda where was he when the origins of these offices were being filled by the then government. It makes people want to accuse Aksharananda of ethnic bias in his understanding of his country’s sociology. I accused him before. I am doing it here again.
How were these offices filled before the May 2015 change of government? What objective criteria were used? Is Aksharanada saying he doesn’t know? If he doesn’t then surely, he must know that his take on what he thinks is ethnically based dismissals must be backed by research. It was the Ethnic Relations Commission that commissioned a research to determine if there were ethnic criteria in the awards of scholarship. The Ministry of the Public Service absolutely refused to submit the list of awardees during the tenure of the PPP. It makes you question the integrity of PPP leaders, including Donald Ramotar who wrote in a published letter last week that the PPP Government never practiced race bias.
Mr. Ramotar while in office made huge mistakes and one has to be his government’s refusal to produce the list of scholarship holders. It makes no sense to be accused of racial preference when the evidence would prove otherwise. I mentioned this case of the scholarship thing to show Aksharananda that ethnic preference and ethnically driven dismissal did not begin after May 2015. But I doubt Aksharananda would care to know that.
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