• 20 Jul, 2024

Bisram’s polling and relationship with NACTA explained in response to Freddie Kissoon of Guyana

Bisram’s polling and relationship with NACTA explained in response to Freddie Kissoon of Guyana

Bisram’s polling and relationship with NACTA explained in response to Freddie Kissoon of Guyana

Dear Editor, 
This is in response to letters from Mr. Freddie Kissoon and Mr. Jerrick Rutherford (KN Dec 15) querying the integrity and competence of Mr. Bisram to conduct polls, his relationship with NACTA, employment and his credentials. 

Mr. Bisram is a professional of uncompromised integrity and has been employed as an educator for three decades. For over two decades, he has been conducting authentic polls with myself and others. 

I have known Mr. Vishnu Bisram since 1977, the same for Dr. Baytoram Ramharack, when they were Freshmen students at CCNY. They were outstanding freedom fighters in Guyana’s liberation struggle against the PNC dictatorship. Bisram studied Bio-Chemistry for his undergraduate degree and subsequently also completed a second major in Political Science. He then did graduate studies (MA) in International Relations (I also studied IR) and graduate degrees in other Social Science disciplines and Educational Administration. Mr. Bisram studied at CCNY, NYU Grad School, and CUNY Doctoral School. We used to poke fun at Bisram for his countless number of degrees and teaching licenses. We assisted each other in our studies and in our teaching jobs. Mr. Bisram obtained teaching licenses in the natural sciences, social studies, and Maths and even thought at one time of acquiring a license in English. 

In addition, he has been licensed as a school administrator, district administrator, and Principal. Like Ramharack, Bisram worked as a tutor, college aide and an assistant to the librarian at CCNY. Later, he worked as an Assistant to the Director of International Studies and Director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and a Research Assistant to the Departments of Economics and History. 
Bisram, Ramharack, myself and several others who were involved in polling and the political struggle served or are serving as educators and as pollsters. Bisram and Ramharack were unique in their commitment to various causes to fellow students, the Guyanese nation and the Diaspora. They were deeply involved in the struggle against the PNC dictatorship and the campaign for free and fair elections in Guyana and against suppression of rights of ethnic groups in the Caribbean region and elsewhere. 
Together we were instrumental in the founding of several student and community organizations (including the Indo-Caribbean federation with MessrsVishnu Bandhu, Kali, etc.) and in organizing celebrations on various Indo-Caribbean cultural festivals when few were involved in such activities. In addition, Mr. Bisram, like myself, was elected to undergraduate and graduate student governments and became involved in political campaigns for American politicians. 

After Indo-Caribbeans were unwelcome in the Caribbean Students Association of CCNY, we became deeply involved in the India Club and subsequently founded the Indo (Caribbean) Club as well as other groups. Among our many activities, besides first and foremost political and human rights struggles, was polling, charitable giving, and educational studies. And this was how NACTA came into being. 

Dr. Ramharack was the pioneer of polling and founded TRPI. Messrs. Bisram, Ravi Dev, Rennie Ramracha, myself and others joined Ramharack in polling missions in Guyana. We used our own funds for our annual polling. We took paid ads in SN to recruit interviewers. The meeting place to recruit and train interviewers was the UG library. Mr. Freddie Kissoon showed up twice on two different years, responding to the ads, and made snickering comments of our poll and delirious gesticulations. We ignored him for it was not the time or the place to take on irrational behaviour. Kissoon also made it clear at the site and subsequently in writing (with very obnoxious remarks against Indians living in the Bronx) that the poll findings would be invalid because he “was not consulted”. 
In other words, the acceptance of poll findings would be based on whether Kissoon was a consultant to the poll. Messrs. Bisram, Ramharack and Rennie witnessed Kissoon’s behaviour and can attest to the truthfulness of this incident. After Dr. Ramharack became indisposed to polling around 1994, Mr. Bisram took up the mantle first individually and subsequently through NACTA. Our organization encouraged, supported and gave him permit to use the name. 

NACTA was the creation of myself and Dr. Latchman Narain. Bisram, as well as several other educators, made financial contributions for the launching of the organizations. We hosted lectures at various locations in NY, including at the Shree Lakshmi Narayan Mandir (Pandit Shri Jadonath can attest to this fact) and distributed educational supplies and cash to schools, organizations and individuals in Guyana, Trinidad, and other places. The SVN at CI, among other schools, was a recipient of our supplies and donations. 
Mr. Bisram became Director of Polling of NACTA. I accompanied him for polls in Trinidad as well as in Tobago. Mr. Mahadeo Persaud, and others attested that they accompanied Bisram on polling missions in Guyana. Mr. Navin Bhagwat was in Trinidad when Bisram conducted polls there in May 2010. I know of Bisram’s polling activities in 

Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, India,etc. He worked with teachers in several societies. Messrs Kamal Persad, the historian, Samaroo Siewah, the biographer, Devanand Sukhnandan, Ashram Maharaj, a writer, Rennie, etc. have helped him with polls in Trinidad. 

Mr. Bisram is among the most traveled individuals I have known, making trips on every school break and on several weekends. Contrary to what Mr. Kissoon thinks, the school calendar allows for several breaks that facilitate travel. The extended Thanksgiving weekend in last month for example, Mr. Bisram was in Jamaica and the Diwali weekend he was in Trinidad. And prior to that he was at so many other islands (like Turks and Caicos, Antigua, Barbados, Aruba, St. Martin doing surveys) in recent weeks. Last week, he was in Tobago. Like most organizations, NACTA did not have a formal office. Like other organizations, we operated on a shoe string budget based on voluntary contributions. Like other Guyanese organizations, we did not have paid officers. We used a post office box (Woodhaven, Bronx, etc.) as well as our own individual homes for communication purposes. 

Our organization is not as active as we were during the early 1990s. But Bisram remains very active in community activities and polling, perhaps most active among those of us who were involved in the political struggle since the 
1970s. We are grateful for his work and for the enormous amount of personal funds he spent to the benefit of the Guyanese, Caribbean and Indian Diasporas. 

Very few have expended the kind of energy and expenses like Bisram to benefit Guyanese. He continues to conduct polls under NACTA just like how Prof. Selwyn Ryan conducts polls under SARA and does not have an office. Not having an office does not render a poll less accurate than a polling outfit with an office. 

There are hundreds of pollsters in America. Only a few of them actually have an office. For example, Frank Luntz and Dick Morris, the pollsters who conducted polls for the AFC, don’t have offices and a staff. Kissoon did not question the validity of their polls. Kissoon was consulted on the AFC polls and found them credible because they stated the PPP would lose the 2006 elections. But he was not consulted on the NACTA polls and therefore he pronounced them unacceptable. For the edification of Kissoon and other critics, Bisram is authorized to conduct polls and serving as Director of NACTA. 
Vassan Ramracha 
One of NACTA’s Founders