Preparing the Way for Kamla – Pt 5

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
July 4, 2018

PART 5

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeI have rarely received so many responses to my articles as those I received about my previous column. Once I had the temerity to describe the business activities of the Syrian-Lebanese community I opened up a whole batchak nest unleashing the deadly fury that such colonies contain.

Ant colonies, made up of thousands of insects, are precise, efficient and an organized machine. They behave as a deadly unit. E. O. Wilson, the evolutionary biologist explained, “The activities of the individuals in an ant colony are so perfectly integrated it is almost as though they were part of a single organism. The insects do everything by instinct and they literally are programmed automatons.”

A reader writes: “You have been writing a series of articles over several weeks now, the first highlighted the gruesome murders of three residents of Laventille, on the same night, by the same gun man. They were killed in their prime. From all accounts their murder was a random act of evil. With the exception of yourself, few persons have spoken about that.”

Many commentators have used the deaths of these young people to suggest that there is something inherently evil in the genetic make-up of black people. Similar charges were made against Indo-Trinbagonians. Between 1878 and 1882, wife murders became “increasingly frequent among the Indians,… and was a source of constant worry to Trinidad officials.”

“Indian men believed that they had the right to take their wives’ lives under certain conditions….All the cases of wife murder occurred only among the Hindus. A graceful lad of twenty-two replied, when confronted with his crime: ‘I kill my own wife. Why not? I kill no other man’s wife” (Judith Ann Weller, The East Indian Indenture in Trinidad).

On October 26, 1883, San Fernando Gazette reported that from their “industrial residence amongst us it became painfully obvious to reflecting minds that the murders committed by the Coolies were systematic and unvarying in motive—the large majority of murders in the island being perpetrated by them, and in the great majority of cases, under the impulse of jealousy…. [This] evil was but too manifest to be disregarded.”

On May 2, 1881, the Trinidad Legislature passed Ordinance 6 to counteract what the newspaper called “the murderous tendencies of the Coolies… [and] to arrest the crime of murder among Coolies.” Indo-Trinbagonians also resorted to “the suicidal alternative of further reducing their number by legal murder.”

The majority population postulated that the tendency to kill one another resided within the Indian’s genes.. They also believed that “two very distinguishing, nay, predominant, characteristics of the Coolies are his love of money and litigation, especially when the latter may be prosecuted with any prospect of success” (San Fernando Gazette, October 26, 1883).

Such an unsavory reputation did not prevent Indo-Trinbagonians from vaulting to the top of the island’s business. They saved (the primitive accumulation of capital) and sent back astonishingly large sums of money to India during indentureship.

The entrance of Indo-Trinbagonians into the national business field after indentureship was slow. In the 1930s and 1940s Timothy Roodlal and Sarran Teelucksing (both members of the legislative Council) entered the cinema business and did well.

As the century wore on, Indo-Trinbagonians penetrated into the manufacturing, business, and service sectors. They seized the opportunities offered by George Chambers, leader of a PNM government that made Trinidad the net export giant of CARICOM. An observer noted: “The platform for business development and growth that led to their wealth included generous fiscal incentives to the manufacturers, tax holidays, duty free concessions, and protection via negative listings.” The Industrial Development Corporation facilitated a lot of this growth.

By the end of the twentieth century, Indo-Trinbagonians rose from being local market vendors to distributors of manufactured products to regional and international markets by companies such as S. M. Jaleel, Dansteel, Joseph Charles (Solo) Charles Candy, Sunshine Snacks and Chief products.

Indo-Trinbagonians also extended their control to the construction and other industries. Their companies include Junior Sammy (construction and road paving); Coosals (road works); Namalco (construction and road works); Bhagwansingh’s hardware; Nutrimix (feed products); Penny-wise (cosmetics and skin care); Southern Sales (car rentals); Toyota (motor cars); Charles Chocolate and insurance companies; and Persad: the Food King (food products).

The economic growth of Indo-Trinbagonians is so successful they consider themselves the most powerful economic group in the country. While many commentators argue that they achieved economic success because of their entrepreneurial abilities (and they possess much of that), they could not have attained such economic prominence without generous contracts from government and favorable loans from the banks. They did not achieve success in spite of the government but because of the favorable treatment the government and the banks accorded them.

When political and social commentators attack me with such batchak ferocity, they are afraid that commentators such as me will expose the self-induced fallacy that they got to the top of the economic ladder solely because of their self-sufficiency and business savvy. They were assisted by their well-placed friends.

It would be a shame if Afro-Trinbagonians entered into the third century of their emancipation without demanding that the political party they support and the banks in which they put their money do not look support their aspirations.

Beware of their batchak attack. It looks ominous from where I stand.

13 Responses to “Preparing the Way for Kamla – Pt 5”


  • Listen man, The success of Indians is an international phenomenon. Do your research.

    Your article suggests that the T&T government and banks facilitated their success because of some kind of favoritism or opportunistic exploitation.

    Revisit the qualities of successful entrepreneurs and the requirements of successful business practices all over the world ask then ask yourself if Afro Trinbagonians have demonstrated these qualities.
    I am confused by the introduction of Indian wife murderers into this discussion, except to feebly rationalize the spiraling crime fiesta in which Afro-Trinidadians are buried in…. A truly puzzling analogy or simply irrelevant to this issue of the one percenters.

    Institutions can only support sound, well prepared, and profit making aspirations. We have long progressed beyond the stages of financing discrimination against Africans.
    Show your qualifications, your track record, your sound financial analysis, your long term predictions, your personal sacrifices, your dedication and you will be approved!

  • Very good article one that celebrates the indo business acumen. Where would Trinidad be without those entrepreneurs who employ large number of citizens. It is the capitalist model rather than the communist model that thrives best in this culture. Free enterprise is the lifeblood of economic development, when stifled a nation dies.

    Trinidad should consider the Surinamese model for development. The black man wears the uniform manages the government and stays out of the way of Indian businessmen allowing them to focus on what they do best build businesses. It is a model that has worked well in their history. The Guyanese model was the opposite of such where the black man view with envy the indos and embarked on a rampage of destruction that put Guyana into backwardness. Such backwardness as being the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. That should not have been so given the size of Guyana and its enormous resources. A nation must understand and embrace the strength of its diversity rather than viewing it as a threat to their existentialism. We see such progressive thinking in the white man country where Indians in America though less than 2% comprise 65% of the doctors. On the other hand ghettoes are dead end streets with over 50% of inmates in jail are black men. Whose to blame?

    Perhaps the best model is the Chinese model. The Chinese government gives Chinese businessmen money to open businesses across the world. As a result Africa is swamped with a strong Chinese business class. It is the model that the government can adopt with the Indo business entrepreneur, give him money to set up businesses across the Caribbean. Not only in Trinidad but on a global scale, Africa remains an untamed frontier for Indian businessmen. Dr. Rowley needs to take a delegation of Indian businessmen to Ghana and begin the business marriage. He could be the first prime minister to help the mother land or rather the grand mother land.

    But I end here thanking the professor for pointing the way to the land of milk and honey….

    • You two (Mamoo and Tman) funny we.

      A few weeks ago, I was reading this headline, ‘Samsonite CEO resigns after falsely claiming he had a PhD in business administration’… And said to myself, “Nah, they cyah be that bold”……….Wrong, yes ‘they’ can…

      Anyway, don’t we have a PNM internal election on the horizon… One would think that ‘the base’ is happy with Dr. Rowley’s leadershi* (fill in the blank)..
      Let’s do this..

  • Selwyn R. Cudjoe

    As of 2005, the period in which statistics are available 40,838 doctors of Indian origin in the United States of America and they account for 5% of all the doctors in the USA and 20 % of all International Medical graduates employed in the US work force.

    Analysis has little to do with generalizations in terms of what happens in Suriname or Guyana. We are talking about T&T and the facts there. I bring up the Indian murder epidemic of the 1880s to demonstrate that one cannot understand any social phenomenon if one focuses only on the here and now.

    When Donald Trump passes a big tax bill that favors the rich it is just another way of showing how capitalism/politics work: the use of public policy to facilitate the fortunate few or, the massive transfer of wealth from one group to another.

    • “Overall, Indian immigrants have much higher educational attainment compared to the foreign- and U.S.-born populations. In 2015, 77 percent of Indian adults (ages 25 and over) had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29 percent of all immigrants and 31 percent of native-born adults. Notably, among college-educated Indian immigrants, more than half had an advanced degree“

      Thanks for the correction there doc. What I meant was those who have degrees. It is higher that the 65%.

      But I degress.

      I agree about the slow entry into the business arena by Indians. The Hindi cinema at one time was the only place where you could go to be entertained. I know I attended the cinema religiously. Saturday morning I would go to see the latest Bollywood movie.
      But one cannot underestimate the influence of Ram Kirpalani. Kirpalani store was the most famous store in the south land. Once word got around that Kirpalani’s had sale every one I knew would join the line to purchase products .

      Today Indian small business is the economic engine of the nation. Whilst the upper class has a lot of money in foreign banks the middle clas thrive due to the entrepreneurial skills of middle class Indians. All should be proud of this. There are risk however and the primary risk is the criminals who are prepared to kill and make their sacrifice to mamon.

  • All Nattering, but who are the wine tasters, where are the Standards? some comments tend to show the prowess of Indentured manufacturing, while not willing to admit the sub-standard of their products. Indentured manufactured SODA/SWEET DRINKS, is the #1 factor for Diabetes/OBESITY in the Island States, where these products are used. Trinidad, continues to be POISONED by SUB-PAR and corrupt “GET RICH OVERNITE” business men. One of the most poisonous of all foods in Trinidad, is “BARA & CHANNA/DOUBLES”, with the exception of the Channa, the BARA has no nutritional value, but real,real trouble long term with your Cholesterol. Don’t get me wrong,i’m not anti Trini manufacturing, far from it, but we need STANDARDS, we need to know that you are not KILLING us long term, because of your monopoly. There was a time, not too long ago, when the INDIAN woman walked 2 steps in the back of her husband, when the first male son, in the event of his Fathers demise, would treat his Mother like DIRT, MURDER was rampant among this group, OH, how the cycles are changing, and with it comes forgetfulness, this is what MATERIALISM does to those willing to go out of their way to achieve, they usually LOSE THEIR SOUL.

  • “It would be a shame if Afro-Trinbagonians entered into the third century of their emancipation without demanding that the political party they support and the banks in which they put their money do not look support their aspirations.“

    The Afro-trinbagonian has done exceptionally in tnt. Since independence the Afro population has been the employee of choice for government jobs, police, army, coast guard, nursing, civil service. Even Kamla gave them 25% increase spanning her five year period. At one time these government service had over 80% Afros employed. The PNM built thousands of houses for Afro people many of them today live free not paying anything. A voter bank. In the 50s and 60s over 50,000 Afros flooded tnt. Many of them being employed in nursing and police service. A substantive amount of them moved to Point Fortin mainly Grenadians and St. Vincentians where they got some of the highest paying jobs in the oil industry.

    Today as a symbol of Afro power all sectors that are state control are being “restructured” with high level of ethnic cleansing where Indians are pushed out the door. Our Prime Minister, Chief Justice, DPP, President, all Afros. The position for CoP is being reserved for an Afro despite the selection of an Indian. All an sundry is moving with a Congo plan.

    Indians on the other are being moved to the back of the bus in large numbers. Kamla faces stiff opposition from Mikela and Caroline. The crab n barrel mindset continue to prevail despite overwhelming evidence that the split vote puts the unc in opposition. Whilst they fight amongst themselves the PNM continues to do what it has always done “take care of the tribe”

  • Dr. Cudjoe correctly claims that Indians in Trinidad could not have attained such economic prominence without generous contracts from government and favorable loans from the banks. He also reports that they did not achieve success in spite of the government but because of the favorable treatment the government and the banks accorded them.

    The same opportunities were also available to all nationals and may still be available today.
    Let us not forget the work of the Government’s Industrial bank initiated by Eric Williams and utilized by multiple PNM supporters who started small companies to take advantage of these opportunities. Many of these start-ups have failed due to bad management and a lack of entrepreneurial dedication and skills.

    Let us also not forget that there are also many very successful businesses being run by Africans in T&T.

  • Tsk…Tsk….Tsk….Tsk…Tsk…Tsk.!!!!!!!!!

  • “The majority population postulated that the tendency to kill one another resided within the Indian’s genes.. “

    The 1960s was one of the best eras to grow up. Today the above statement would be meaningless. But in the 1960s when corporal punishment and beating children was the norm in schools and society, violence often displayed its ugly head within Indian society.

    Places like Debe, Barrackpore if you were a black man it would have been best to avoid those areas. Some black folks from North was going to a beach lime in the south, they stopped Debe picked some water melon and went their merry way. The people in Debe came together and waited for that bus to return. They stopped the bus by blocking the road entered it and rain lathis on the thieves.

    Barrackpore was perhaps the worst for violence, say the name Valley Line Barrackpore and it sent a chill through the spine. Cutlass was the most famous means of extracting Justice. I remember being in weddings as a young boy and without a doubt if that wedding side came from Barrackpore you could be certain there was going to be a fight. These guys just came looking for trouble. My good friend told me that he and his brother would go to the bars just to start a fight on Fridays after work. Alcohol being the chief fuel for such behaviours. My neighbour son used to get in fights quite often. He would board a bus and say “nigg*r move to the back” Poet Justice came when his daughter married a black man (smile).

    Yes back in the day violence was a major part of Indian culture. Myself,it was our class versus the other class on the bank of the river. Our Goliath mastered the art of moving his hand on the back of his victims as we listen for the air blasting out of his victims. Whoosh. We never lost a battle, he went on to become a police officer. The war over land is for another time. I had the steel rod over my victim ready to smite his skull, fortunately my elder brother reached just in time to stop me…. I was shaking uncontrollably such was the intensity.

  • Very Interesting MAMMO,I’m waiting on your take “FIGHTING OVER LAND, a few columns ago, Br Shah’ had some very powerful things to say on the land issue. “T MAN” was very vociferous, with what i had to say, you MAMMO, did not contribute to Br Shah’ take, i’ve seen your reason. Your small history may not all be factual, the mayhem/killing, was all Communal, it live on today, in a more sophisticated/materialistic way, CASTE within a CASTE. The Conservative leanings of a people, who, as a Group is still considered not worthy to be Human in some cases, with the Freedom inherited in TRINIDAD,and other states,they spew a Nationalism that does not incorporate”TOUTE MON”.Is this what this is all about?.

  • Maybe this story might be a little diversion, but nevertheless incorporates some of the same attitudes exhibited in Trinidad towards black people:

    https://www.hindustantimes.com/fashion-and-trends/meet-india-s-very-own-rihanna/story-YEltwsuDXNSjROQSb37jwI.html

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