• 23 May, 2024

Guyana Democracy Project (NYGDP) Salutes Brinsley Samaroo

Guyana Democracy Project (NYGDP) Salutes Brinsley Samaroo

Guyana Democracy Project (NYGDP) Salutes Brinsley Samaroo

The New York based Guyana Democracy Project (NYGDP) salutes Prof. Brinsley Samaroo for his tireless contributions to and focus on studies pertaining to the Indo-Caribbean people in the greater caribbean region and the diaspora. Dr Brinsley Samaroo who passed away last Sunday. The organization issued a press release noting that the passing of historian retired UWI Professor Dr. Brinsley Samaroo is a big loss to history and social science academia in the Caribbean particularly the studies of Caribbean Indian history and on Indo-Caribbeans in general. Dr Samaroo published much on the Indian community and taught many thousands of students.  The NY GDP wrote: "The fraternity of Indian Caribbean social science and history scholars has lost one of its stalwarts. He will be sorely missed but will be remembered for his many works".

The NY organization also notes that "Dr. Samaroo was very  helpful and friendly to Guyanese students and academic visitors welcoming them at UWI and helping to make them feel comfortable having learned that their life of hardship in Guyana during the Burnham dictatorship".

The release notes that Samaroo co-organized several academic conferences including the First, Second, and Third Conferences of Indians in the Caribbean. And he put a structure in place in 1987 to organize the 1988 4th international conference of Indians in the diaspora that was hosted by a group  that included Dr Mahin Gosine, Dr Tara Singh, and this writer Vishnu Bisram in New York.

Dr Samaroo provided much needed assistance to delegates from Guyana at academic conferences held in 1975, 1979, and 1983. Guyanese delegates were not allowed to travel with more than $15 and lacked funds to pay for local travel, accommodations, and meals. Samaroo himself was also fondly treated by Guyanese hosts at conferences in USA and in Guyana.

NY GDP penned: "Samaroo’s life time academic work was focused primarily on topics related to slavery, indentureship, agriculture, and politics.  He published extensively in national and international journals and was the author and or editor of several books including books used in classes on history of Indians in the Caribbean.

He was also a politician and served in the lower and upper house of Trinidad and Tobago. His academic pursuits and professional responsibilities and involvement in politics merged in a rare blend. He worked with the former Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday who went on to become PM. And he also served as advisor to PM Kamla Persad Bissessar . And he was a Minister of government under ANR Robinson during the NAR administration (1986-1991)".

The organization describes Samaraoo as "a teacher and researcher of the highest order. He published extensively in journals, books, magazines, and newspapers. The meticulous manner in which he prepared and delivered his lectures has been widely acclaimed by students from the 1970s thru his retirement in the early 2000s. He also presented exceptional papers at academic conferences in USA, Guyana , Trinidad, India and Suriname. Despite his monumental academic achievements, his humility and dedication to work were exemplary. He is fondly remembered by those who read his works and listened to his lectures for his extraordinary scholarship and teaching abilities. He supervised several students for their MA and PhD degrees.  His mentoring qualities were of the highest order and under his stewardship the department grew up to become one of the most prolific research centers at UWI.

Besides academia, Prof. Samaroo was a good person and a humble human being. He will be dearly remembered by all as an affectionate and beloved teacher who gave his best to students and colleagues and as a person of highest integrity, honesty and sincerity".

NYGDP President  Dr Tara Singh says:  “Dr Samaroo is an iconic Caribbean man of history, and his great works would live through his countless students". 

The NYGDP extends "deepest condolence to his bereaved family.” 

Dr Vishnu Bisram

Dr Vishnu Bisram is Guyanese born who received his primary and secondary education in Guyana and tertiary education in the US and India. He is a fourth generation Indian. His great grandparents from both his mother and father’s sides were born in India -- Gurbatore from Ghaizpur, Amru from Azamgarh, Sau from Chapra, Mangri from Mau, Bhuri and Bhura Singh from Bharatpur, among others. They all came at different times to then British Guiana (1880s and 1890s) to work on sugar plantations as indentured laborers. After serving ten years, they were freed laborers. They remained on the colony rather than returned to India, married and had children. They used the savings from indentureship to purchase landholdings to cement their ties to their adopted land. They were not given free land. Vishnu Bisram is ninth of twelve children of Gladys and Baldat, rural farmers, she also was a seamstress and he a taylor and they attended to a kitchen garden as well. Vishnu attended the St Joseph Anglican (called English) primary school from 1966 to 1972. In 1972, he passed the annual nationwide Common Entrance exam winning a scholarship place to attend the government Berbice High School in New Amsterdam, some 17 miles from his home village of Ankerville, Port Mourant. He declined the placement scholarship and opted instead for the private Chandisingh High School to which his family pad to pay a tuition. He entered for eight subjects at the Cambridge University Exam in 1977. Vishnu migrated to the USA in 1977 to further his studies. He enrolled at the City College of City University of New York September that year at age 17, studying Bio-Chemistry and also completing a major in Political Science. After his BSc in Bio-Chem, he pursued graduate studies in International Relations earning a MA. He went on to complete multiple post graduate degrees including doctorates in Economics, Sociology, History, Political Science and Educational Administration. Dr Bisram taught for over forty years in various subjects in the US. He also served as a newspaper reporter and columnist for over four decades and is a well-known pollster in the Caribbean region. He is a specialist on the Indian diaspora traveling extensively around the globe to research and write about Indian communities. He published countless articles on various subjects in the mass media, journals, and books. He also organized international conferences on the Indian diaspora and presented papers at many conferences. He was a guest lecturer at universities in Mauritius, India, Fiji, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, USA, and other countries. He is a well regarded political analyst on American and Caribbean politics. He makes him home in Guyana, Trinidad, and America and travels frequently to India.