I grew up in a house that admired Cheddi Jagan. But looking back at those days, that was natural; Indians rooted for Jagan, Blacks for Burnham. Neither of the two halves of our population took time to assess the essence of each man.
Myths in each community were born about these two men. Those myths have even taken over the minds of educated men and women; not engineers or scientists or poets who because of their particular field of study wouldn’t have had the time to research Jagan and Burnham, but people who studied the humanities and social sciences.
I was told that Hindu priest, Aksharananda, has a doctorate in sociology from an American university. What has he learnt from his studies? Look at the ethnic basis of his thoughts. President Granger is a deep admirer of Forbes Burnham. I doubt Granger could ever exonerate Burnham from the accusations of authoritarian power in any debate. Such has been the power of Jagan and Burnham in this country. For generations to come, people will continue to put them on a pedestal, and scholarship will go out the window. I guess you can call that the education of failure and the failure of education.
Burnham and Jagan nurtured what nascent feelings of racial consciousness that was there in society. They certainly didn’t introduce it, but they helped to fertilize its fields of ugliness. Both Presidents are accused of racism from across the cultural divide of Guyana. My research never led me to accept that. I really don’t think each man cared about hating the other half of Guyana. But once you play the race card, a monster is born, and he devours what he sees in front of him. This has been the story of Guyana.
We are in the midst of a controversy over the Coalition Government having a propensity to dismiss Indians from state jobs and replace them with Africans. The PPP played that song so much that it has been sung out. The PPP rang that bell so often that is has been rung out.
Other Indians have taken up the PPP’s sermon. The first to sing the PPP’s mantra was Aksharananda. In several letters, he accused the Government of dismissing Indians from their state sector jobs. I replied to one of those sermons of this “holy” man and asked him to answer the question; how did they get their state jobs in the first place?
It goes back to President Cheddi Jagan in 1992. Jagan wanted to change the entire face of the public sector staff for two reasons – his Freudian fear of a return to the confrontations with public servants when he was Premier of British Guiana, and secondly, the need to have ethnic balance in the public sector.
Cheddi Jagan from day one, in his presidency, set about to infuse the entire public sector with Indian people. That would have been justified if there was a holistic approach to ethnic balance in Guyana in totality. But while Jagan was bringing racial fairness in the state spheres, the economy was still almost ninety percent dominated by Indians.
Ravi Dev sought to push the PPP Government even further. He wanted the security forces to have ethnic balance. Rohee took what Jagan started and singlehandedly cleansed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of African Guyanese.
So we come back to the question Aksharananda must answer. If the Government is removing Indians in state employment, how did they get there in the first place? I recommend to readers my research paper which formed the chief evidence in the libel trial the then-president, Jagdeo brought against me.
Captioned, “Ethnic Power and Ideological Racism: Comparing Presidencies in Guyana,” I documented the forced exodus of African Guyanese from every sector of the public realm in the avenues of employment. Even in scholarships and sale of state assets, Indians were favoured. I honestly felt revolted at the statistics I discovered when I researched that paper. What I found were the most depraved forms of ethnic preferences ever seen in the entire history of Guyana.
In the forties, the Portuguese were favoured in jobs in the banking, insurance and commercial sectors, but Africans were still employed as teachers and policemen and state bureaucrats. What happened from October 1992 to May 2015 was the success of the PPP in changing the face of the public sector. It was ethnic preferences that violated the sacred fulcrums on which stands natural law. Surely, Mr. Aksharananda, you don’t expect the present government to live this cultural sarcoma. The alternative is called poetic justice.
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