Fears of Indo-Guyanese success as early as the 1920s
Our President is now in India. News report indicate that “H.E. Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana , will be one of 27 persons bestowed with the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians – Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA) – for the year 2023.” President Ali joins other persons of Indian origin/non-resident Indians who have been recognized by the Government of India for their outstanding achievements both in India and abroad. Other Guyanese who received this award were: Sir Shridath Ramphal (2003), President Jagdeo (2004), Yesu Persaud (2006), President Ramotar (2015), and Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha (2019).
In light of this award to President Ali, my friend Danny asked me, “So why is the PPP Government refusing to add ‘Indian’ to ‘Arrival Day’ – an action supported by the PNC.” If the PNC supports renaming of the day, can the PPP Government explain its objection? What is the down side if the PNC is in support and will not invoke racism, favoritism, discrimination, or any such criticism? Is this not a no-brainer Mr. President and Mr. VP? What do you have to lose by renaming the day? Or is the PPP’s refusal supposed to show that the government is not an “Indian Government” (as the PNC likes to say) and will not do what prominent Guyanese of Indian descent have requested. President Ali may want to explain his Government’s stance on this matter which is a simple fix, but the Government has refused to do it, the way they have vowed not to renegotiate the oil contracts so Guyanese can stay destitute. In an article, “ Holiday should be renamed Indian Arrival Day,” ( KN, May 5, 2022), it was stated, “May 5 is designated Arrival Day. It is no secret it is the day in which Indians first landed in then British Guiana in 1838. Although that is the day that only Indians arrived in Guiana, and no other group uses it for self-reflection, observance, and recognition, succeeding governments in Guyana have consistently refused to rename it Indian Arrival Day (IAD). As Ravi Dev penned, when it was approved by the Parliamentary Committee in 2004, it was called IAD. The government side changed it to Arrival Day.”
While the idea of the Indian Arrival Monument started under the PPP, it was completed under the Coalition Government in 2019. We also need a status report on where we are with charging more people for the Mon Repos market terrorism, as the Attorney-General promised. There is an abundance of footage identifying the perpetrators of violence at Mon Repos and West Coast Berbice. Where are we with new preemptive legislation that imposes harsher penalties for blocking roads where we have a one road situation. If we don’t, Indians will continue to bear the brunt of assaults from hooligans and marauding bands.
Since the President is getting an award from India, he may also consider why his Government has not given out any national honours which could right the wrongs against those of its supporters left out of past PNC awards lists. Why no Senior Counsel honors last year, and why no “Guardian of Democracy” awards as promised in a special televised address to the nation. Why no plan to have Diversity in the Public Service now that we have an “Indian” Government as the PNC likes to say as a criticism of the PPP. These are easy things to do, so the Government’s failures are mindboggling.
Dr. Jerry Jailall