By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
November 02, 2011
Speak to any non-Indian in Trinidad and Tobago and one is asked the same question: What dese Indians want? It may be an unfair question, a paranoid response, or just the reflection of feelings of anxiety. Yet, there lingers in the minds of many non-Indians that there can be no pleasing Indians in Trinidad and Tobago. Do they yearn for equality or do they seek dominance?
Anyone familiar with the antics of Devant Maharaj and the Maha Sabha prior to May 2010 cannot forget how they railed against what they saw as inequities in the society. With the assistance of Anand Ramlogan, they utilized every facet of the law to exact their pound of flesh. To hear them tell it, they were discriminated against at every turn. The sole function of the society, read PNM, was to suppress Indians until the day they die.
Dr. Eric Williams was the biggest villain. After calling them (so they say) a “recalcitrant minority” and describing their schools as “cowsheds”, his sole mission was to keep them subservient to Africans. He never named a Hindu to his cabinet which sealed the deal. He was the devil incarnate and his every action was designed to return Indians to the sugar plantations and the rice fields.
And then a strange thing happened. With the help of many Africans, the United National Congress won the elections and then the pay-back began. Initially, there were a few tentative acts of revenge against anything wearing a black skin. With growing confidence, the onslaught took on a new intensity. Amidst the deafening silence of the African members of UNC’s coalition, anyone black was a fit target. He or she was pronounced to be a PNM and there could be no room for him or her in the inn.
The first signs of the pay-back started when Suruj Rambachan paid his first official visit to the Trinidad and Tobago Consulate in New York. Arrogantly, he asked the Consulate General,
“How many persons work here?” to which the Consulate replied “Thirty.”
“How many are Indians.” He was told there were ten employees.
“That’s not good enough,” he retorted.
With that retort came the order that the number of Indian employees must be increased. It was a signal that ethnic cleansing had begun. Quickly, thereafter, Nizam Mohammed targeted the Police Service. There were too many Africans in the Police Force. This couldn’t be good for Trinidad and Tobago. Needless to say, ethnic cleansing was an art with which his party were intimately acquainted. Long before the Foreign Minister’s remark, the Minister of Education made the same point with regards to the medical profession at Mt. Hope.
Since then, ethnic cleansing is the policy of the UNC government. Regardless of competency; regardless of need, each government department must have its quota of Indians and this is presumed to be equality. As I noted earlier, Indian Time ah come and the world must know who the new boss man is.
No one should be surprised that the so-called victim, who is now the victor, is intent of committing all of the sins of which he accused the previous victor. And his Indian sympathizers, intent to twisting the language, ala, Alice in Wonderland, is determined to make the language say what they want it to say even though it does not match the reality of what they say.
Take the example of Clive Spencer, former General Manager of the Port Authority, who refused to carry out Devant Maharaj’s “orders” (that’s what they do, they order) to fire all the legal representatives used by the Port and reassign all of the work to Fortis Chambers and Subhas Panday. Trying to hold on to his dignity and do the right thing, he was subsequently fired by Maharaj.
Questioned whether a decision was taken to fire Spencer, Maharaj retorted: “He was never hired so I don’t know how he could be fired.”
Spencer, he announced was not fired. He was “dis-appointed.”
He observed further: “Well all of us could be disappointed. I could be disappointed…Once you are there at the pleasure of the government you could be replaced in a day or in a heartbeat. Nobody has a mortgage on any position.”
No one would have thought that citizens’ rights, circumscribed by the constitution, could be disregarded so blithely.
But, as Maharaj claimed: “I run my business with the boards rather than in the media.”
Listening to Spencer, one heard the voice of a humiliated person:
“These people are too vulgar. When they can’t drive you into submission they try to destroy you.”
Here was Spencer trying to run his board with a little bit of integrity but there was Maharaj giving directives from his office, “instructing the board to fire wholesale the panel of attorneys.”
Therefore it was not inconsistent that similar behavior, meant to humiliate, occurred at the Airports Authority. Felix Hernandez, doing his duty, was accused of “disrespecting the chairman.” I suppose that he, too, will soon be “dis-appointed” from his position on the board on the grounds that “all of us could be disappointed.” And this behavior will continue until every African is grounded into the dust.
So that when non-Indians ask what more does Indians (more specifically Hindus) want perhaps they ought to look more closely at Maharaj’s behavior and ask what is his moral compass and whether words such as equity, morality and ethics have the same meaning for him as it does for non-Hindus and whether it is alright to cite certain moral and ethical invocations when one is not in power and then do the exact opposite when one gets into power.
We will have to answer these questions if we hope to understand “what dese Indians want” and if we are to avert the crisis that will soon entangle our society. Different religious systems offer different interpretations of these concepts. It is a conundrum that we in Trinidad and Tobago will have to answer now that the “victim” has become the “victor.”