One of the most important scholarly books to be published the past twenty years is “Capital in the 21st Century” by French Professor, Thomas Piketty. The vast statistical outlay is staggering and it goes back to the 19th century.
Measuring poverty and the economic assets of classes and ethnic groups is now banal academic research. Economists can tell you which ethnic groups in multi-racial countries are on top of the economic ladder. I read a few years ago that Koreans and Chinese immigrants do better on the economic front than other communities in the UK.
We know these answers because of statistics. This is why PIketty’s book is so phenomenal. Using statistics, Piketty was able to show that the American dream is over – the poor, the lower middle class and the essential middle class have been getting less from the pie of the US the past fifty years. The wealth of the US reading Piketty is highly skewed in favour of the wealthy classes.
For many on the other side of the ethnic divide, the present government of Guyana is essentially a PNC-led formation thus an Africanized government that favours PNC constituencies.
As the government got older in office and covert and overt manifestations of downsizing the presence of Indians in the upper tiers of the broader state sector and the corresponding expansion of African people in top positions, new life has been given to the concept of the Ethnic Security Dilemma (ESD) by Indian rights activists.
The reality of the no-confidence vote (NCV) has driven a wedge straight down the middle of the fabric of this nation. The Indian ESD proponents have been busy since the NCV. It isn’t going to stop before the anticipated 2019 election and if the APNU+AFC wins again, it will continue.
Dr. Tarron Khemraj is the leading publisher of the ESD from the Indian perspective. As recent as yesterday, he wrote again on it. The ESD is a healthy polemic if you are devoid of ethnic subscriptions. If you are a dispassionate scholar doing research on the ESD, Guyana can benefit from your insights. If you take a race based position on the ESD then you will end up preaching propaganda and bias.
On the African side, I can think of Barrington Braithwaithe. He writes on the SED as often as Dr. Khemraj. But you get a bias that comes with the possession of race instincts that it exacerbates the problem rather than trying to solve it.
Braithwaite is a funny fellow. It tells us that the Indianized PPP has a history of rigging elections. But accusations of the Africanized PNC rigging elections are “stock propaganda.”
Braithwaite, writing as recent as yesterday in this newspaper did, what any Guyanese will find disturbing. He traced race incitement and ethnic violence from 1960 to the present and concludes that they were the inventions of the PPP only. Surely, that must send historians and Indian citizens of Guyana soaring to the skies with rage.
Khemraj is more sober in his concern about Indians. But the bias is there and it will not encourage healthy exchanges. Let me quote Khemraj because he cites me in his rejection of my contention that the economy of this land is predominantly in the hands of Indians.
He writes; “These days we have misrepresentations by bloggers, politicians and a newspaper columnist (that is me he is referring to; I am more than a newspaper columnist; also like Khemraj, I am a trained academic going right up to the doctoral level at the University of Toronto where I spent three years) that Indians control 95 percent of the economy.”
In all their debates on the IESD, Indian academics will cite statistics on Indian poverty but never even a modicum of statistics on Indian assets in Guyana. One of these Indian gentlemen published the outlandish statement that there are about 200 persons that control the Guyana economy and a majority may be Indians. This guy just pulled 200 out of the skies. The reality is 180 degrees different.
I would say about 10, 000 persons have a direct ownership status of the economy. The categories would be large; semi-large, medium, intermediary, family-owned, semi-small, and small. These categories take in all forms of financial, economic, commercial and agricultural transactions. In those categories, Indians predominate in all.
Why would one want to deny those statistics? These statistics do not mean that there aren’t poor and poverty stricken East Indians. They are and in whopping thousands. Unless you have an interest more in politics than scholarship, then you would deny who owns and controls the economy of Guyana.
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