Mathur Dealing in Psycho-Cultural Falsities

By Stephen Kangal
March 07, 2012

Stephen KangalWriting in her Sunday Guardian column of January 22, Ira Mathur a naturalized citizen of T&T but Indian, was born of military middle class parentage completely detached from the reach of the systems of Caribbean indenture-ship and slavery. She has unwittingly and falsely included herself as a victim of that system.

Ira is not one of the children of the indentures or the girmitiyas. Her parents never crossed the Kala Pani, nor cut canes in Caroni, nor lived in Caroni Barracks. She, therefore, cannot truly empathise with nor reflect the socio-cultural dynamics of indenture-ship. She demonstrates a total ignorance of the legacy of our ancestors in T&T and of their humble station in life in the famine, deprived and remote, inaccessible villages of the States of Bihar and UP during the period 1845 to 1917 from which the T&T girmitiyas originated.

Ms. Mathur proceeded to make the procedural error of classifying the indenture-ship and slavery systems of sugar-based guest workers in the Caribbean as being identical and to make the following psycho-cultural falsities and misleading generalizations:

  1. “…slavery and indentureship destroyed our most important resource. By stripping a people of dignity, separating families, coercing them to change religions, forcing them to neglect their native languages, forget their villages and cities by geographically cutting them off from their ancient histories and oral traditions we were virtually shorn of our humanity…”
  2. “… Powerless, dependent on hand outs, bereft of the soul of ancient civilisations, or oral traditions that could comfort us, make us self reliant, humanise us, we turned blank, harsh and empty giving us among the highest murder rates on the planet in a non warring country…”
  3. “… That there is not just grace in humility in that gesture, but economics that allowed the world’s largest democracy to break out of poverty through its ancient values of hard work, humility and sacrifice to become one of the most powerful in the world, then we will understand the true meaning of that gesture…”
  4. The real poverty we are battling now is the which stands poverty of the spirit ready to destroy us. We have to regain our humanity from somewhere. Why not here with a Prime Minister’s gesture?

I categorically object to her bungling and bundling of the two systems of labour because the wild conclusions she made did not apply to the system of indenture-ship that I know very well. I may not be able to speak for slavery with any authority. Nor can Ira.

The following is a summary of my response to this unfair, wholly erroneous and uninformed act of speculative journalism:

  • T&T is both racially and socio-culturally not a homogenous society.
  • The indenture experience and the ex-post facto reaction to the system of indenture-ship is not identical to that of the slavery experience.
  • We did not lose our humanity anywhere because our “Africanness” and “Indiannness”(6,000 years of acculturation) is deeply embedded in our psyche.
  • Ira being a high caste ex-patriate Indian domiciled in T&T (“shorn of our humanity”) would appear to claim to be a member of the two culturally different groups simultaneously although the minds and personalities of the indenture and the slave are fundamentally different. One is agricultural and the other service oriented; one is Hindu/Moslem and the other Christian.
  • Slavery was harsher than indenture-ship that was regulated by contract and The Protector of the Immigrants.
  • “the values of hard work, humility and sacrifice…” are part and parcel of the socio-cultural landscape of T&T and is not exclusive to India.
  • There is cultural persistence in the Indian community of the Caribbean because colonialism could not have wiped it out.
  • The Indian community is very self-reliant culturally and in the economic sphere.
  • The high murder rate is not the product of a de-culturalised people who could be classified as zombies( “blank, harsh and empty…” and who have no ancestral memory. It is drug and gang-related.
  • People were not allegedly deprived of their humanity by indentureship and slavery and we do not need to regain what we did not lose. Our humanity and spirit are what drove us to be the progressive people we are today.
  • Indians have practiced the goar lagay ritual continuously even after they came to T&T and for 167 years on a daily basis and we have not lost our spirit nor humanity. We also are very proud of the legacy of hard agricultural work, sacrifice, thrift and humility bequeathed to us by our pitris on the bases of which we have attained social and economic mobility and broken the chains of poverty that stalked us not only here but in the remote villages of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar from whence our pitris fled from famine and starvation in search of the better life while these same villages remain today fossilized in poverty and penury although they have the same values of thrift and hard-work but exposed to the caste system and marginalization.
  • The indentures perceived their advent to the Caribbean, although not as harsh as what they left behind in UP/Bihar, as a divine instrument for their advancement in life (Mission to the Caribbean”) and kept in touch with their ancestral villages because thousands returned (20%) and came back in subsequent voyages. Today thousands have traced their roots and keep in touch with their ancestral villages.
  • Indians were not shorn of their links with their ancient history because the Ramayan written by Sant Tulsi Das and other books including the Koran were in their proverbial jahajee bandles and this persistent ancestral connection was serviced via the films, visits of swamis, visits to India, ancient books, the Indian High Commission since the 1950’s etc.

There is no poverty of the spirit in T&T because we are basically a God-fearing society that never lost its humanity because neither the Spanish nor the French nor the British had the superior capacity to play God and strip us of what they never had control over and to whom the indentures felt that they were culturally superior. The Indians were never the hand-out class and built every institution by the sweat of their brows because they were outside of the corridors of power dominated by the black – urban educated elites who imitated the Anglo-whites in every possible detail, form and fashion but more fashion that led Naipaul to refer to them as “mimic men”.

  • The ritual of the goar lagay cannot restore our humanity because we never lost it in the first instance. The inhumane indenture-ship system of treatment will have made us stronger and more determined to succeed against adversity and overwhelming odds and that is the platform for our success today as a society. The goar lagay is a cosmetic ritual that is neither here nor there because it is a custom and cannot usher in any fundamental change. It is like shaking hands or giving the namastay greeting.

51 thoughts on “Mathur Dealing in Psycho-Cultural Falsities”

  1. Kangal has exposed the the ignorant underbelly of the global argument advance to Secure “duty as truth”in both african and indian diasporic redemption.The estranged particularism of both cultural adherents tend to confuse as Mathur does”duty as truth”(Sankscrit satyakriya) in ancient Indian centrifugal to Brahmanism and duty as truth in context to Trinidad in regards to India.
    Mathur of course does not conveniently explain or refuses to recall instances where say a nagar caste person can assume to pollute the feet to whom he does “goar lagay”.Too much examples exist for her cite.The whole idea of pollution then becomes questionable in the idea of this duty.One can even argue the prime minister of one nation is she embedded with duty by her previous caste can obligate or arrogate her duty forgetting her role and function as a head of state.
    This a serious matter Kangal exposes with these reasonings.Given textual and customary context.Mathur may sound off on Ramcharitar and Rowley et she understands like many under heavy brahminization that Hidhu law does not prescibe the the obligation to reurn a gift( sanskrit dana)(cf. Axel analysysis of this ritual).That is to say Mathur in her writing misunderstands that Hindu law which is what explains this duty of goar lagay as an act or custom does not obligate a returning of gifts(dana)as greetings(abhiva-dana-dharma)and gifts(dana-dharma)contex to whole ideas of impurity of the gift.Some lower caste even their shadows can be harmful to follow the logic of greeting as a gift or duty.Mathur may be within her Zanadu flight of fancy to prescribed it which Kangal rightly calls out as a pshyco-cultural falsity.One could not agree more with Kangal’s impatience with Mathur’obtuse reasonings.

  2. Very well written piece Mr. Kangal and I agree that Indians have never lost their cultural centre; The African descendants of slavery, however, did, and the cultural legacy of that loss has led to a deep psychosis on the part of these Afro-Trinbagonian youths who espouse social mores rooted in an incompatible mix of Christianity (A European religion which does not resemble the faith of Yahoshua and his Hebrew disciples). I say all this to underscore my oft-repeated argument that the cultural asymmetry between Indo-Trinbagonians and Afro-Trinbagonians and its manifestations reflect this.

    All ethnic groups have to relate to the world in a way that reflects their cultural centre and the Indo-Trinbagonian group has done this and the Hindu and Muslim cultures are beautiful ones. The success and stability of the Indian Diaspora can be attributed to their steadfast connection to their ancestral roots, a fact which sadly does not obtain in the African Diaspora.

    Naipaul’s characterizations of Afro-Trinbagonians as “mimic men” is apt and culturally accurate. Your implication that an Afro-Saxon elite excluded Indo-Trinbagonians from the corridors of power is debatable and is one argument which I will not delve into.

    As one who has discover his ethnic roots (An ethnic Sudanese Arab), I will repeat my argument that there is nothing like knowing who you are. It adds stability to one’s life and a greater sense of purpose. I hope that my Afro-Trinbagonian brothers and sisters can rediscover their heritage and achieve the stability that their Indo-Trinbagonian counterparts have.

  3. “The success and stability of the Indian Diaspora can be attributed to their steadfast connection to their ancestral roots, a fact which sadly does not obtain in the African Diaspora”.(Triniamerican)

    The assumption that somehow the African diaspora has failed is totally wrong. I am not going to debate whether or not Africans in T&T are connected to their roots, but I can correctly state that Africans in T&T have not failed.Our national history is overflowing with examples of successes in all aspects of life.

    1. As a collective, it has. Who makes up the bulk of the professional classes in Trinidad and Tobago and which groups have achieved the most academic success? In my parents’ generation and earlier generations, Afro-Trinbagonians were more successful. However, the legacy of the cultural disconnection of the Afro-Trinbagonian has manifested itself in negative ways. Many of the poor black youth have adopted the souless hip hop and dancehall cultures, which glorify violence and debauchery. I make this observation as one who has grown up in the dancehall and hip hop generations and know about the psychologically destructive elements of this music.

      Anyway, this article is about the Indo-Trinbagonian cultural experience and I apologize to Mr. Kangal for straying too far off topic; However, as is evident, I am becoming impatient with the general level of dysfunction among the African-Trinbagonian community, particularly black youth. Pretending that the problem does not exist does nothing for the advancement of African-Trinbagonians.

      So while the Indian-Trinbagonian continues to go from strength to strenght with a firm cultural platform, the Afro-Saxons will continue to be walking contradictions with no roots in themselves.

      1. Trinamerican thank you for taking the time to give your feed-back. It is only on the basis of dialogue that one can arrive at a progressive definition of one’s identity that is important for cross cultural understanding and cultural co-existence in a multicultural mosaic. The ferment will attain its natural equilibrium with the passage of time and clash of ideas and issues.

  4. Never read so much tripe in my life. I never experienced the metapysical poets but I write about them. I never experienced what it feels to be an illiterate man but I write about him. I never experienced rape, incest, adoption, homosexuality but I write about it. People all over the world marching against apartheid did not expierence it but they empathized. What a terrible blow to the imagination to the power of communicating if we all wrote only what we experiened. Incidently my thesis in university was on the economy of slavery. I dont think the Indian or African expereince is drastically different. Both were ill-treated. Both lost language. Both lost history. I dont think rituals in a language you dont understand and a single remembered menu from a single area of india regurgiated as “Indian” constitutes an entire culture. I dont deny that all groups have an atavistic memory of their place of origen but it stops there. That gap has been filled by the beauty of connectivity betweent he people of this country, a whole new idenity that is fantastic. But the sooner we realise we have a collective history the better it is for unity for us as a people.

  5. Stephen Kangal, you must be congratulated for an analysis that is carefully and skillfully enlightening, and replete with bias … towards objectivity!


  6. It’s unfortunate that historical antecedents are used to promote and foster ‘racial hegemonic superiority’ and by extension greater cultural and social entitlement. I fondly remember the controversy engendered when Black Stalin sung “Caribbean Man’ and alluded metaphorically that we all made the same trip on the same ship. Great offence was taken by those espousing cultural and social distinctive and separation as a means of national identity and resource allocation. HOW UNFORTUNATE…

    1. His Holiness The Real Bishop of La Trinite
      There was a time when the Indian community through lack of education, communication skills and little access to the print and electronic media, being confined to the rural fringes, allowed others outside of the community to monopolise the definition our socio-cultural reality/personality. But we reserve the right to do so now and to object to us being viewed and portrayed via afro-centric/ex-patriate Indo- lenses that are both factually and pedagogically incorrect just as people viewed history written by Europeans as biased and prejudiced. In the current history books of T&T Indians are a foot-note according to Dr.Williams with no literary and scholarly significance worth mentioning. We did not come by the same ship and did not make the same trip because slavery was indeed harsher and more inhumane than indenture-ship that was subject to contractual terms and conditions including the return passage to Calcutta. Indians have and always had a right to object to Stalin’s classification in his concept of the Caribbean Man because that was an Afro-centric concoction since we reserve the right to define who we are having been intellectually emancipated thanks to the Presbyterian Church of Canada and in ownership of some media that was always beyond our legitimate reach and in which we were regarded as total strangers and foreigners.

  7. Mathur’s emotional and petard response here is not at all suprising.Once again she misses the profoundity of the implications of what she endevoured to speak.Kangal could have gone further to upbraid her for being woefully superficial and ignorant.Sure one can agree to her on one thing She is free to speak her mind.But she is subject to critiue and why not.For me Kangal deals in no tripe on this matter.Lets prove this…
    Mathur disagrees with Rowley and Ramcharitar?
    About “30 seconds gesture of the prime minister…bowingdown to touch the feet to touch the feet..”To her the gesture was absolutely correct.Why does she thinks so?”To do otherwise would have been rude”Here one can ask rude to whom?As one head of state to another?AS a custom?As a cultural practice.But we see further Mathurs aim is to suggest humilty.Even if she is uninformed and confuses humility and customs with gift(dana) giving as in the prime Minster’s duty as as truth.Mathur other reasoning to justfy her own tripe makes for unsettling reading.
    She downs the hatch.Her forays intocnadian student life,Thatcher,Best,Rampersad,Demas ,Roti,Indenturship and slavery which by the way are two completely different systems wielded in had of Europeans oppressors,with differentiated purpose presumably economic but with vicious impact thats has nothing to with the practice of humility.Lost or stolen.How much indentured descendants still practice “goar lagay”?Kangals thinks the practice continues in Caribbean diaspora.
    Both slavery and Indentureship can be proven to be vulgar practices.Both had its own forms of oppression but its a fact that slavery was unfathomly harsher than Mathur suggests.To generalise about both Kangal is rightly offended.
    Is Mathur conducting a lazy caste base analysis?Respect for elders.Humility?Mathur attended school in Tobago,Did she find the African there to disrespect elders beacause they lack ancient tradition or lacked humility.So lets get this straight all the murders,kidnapping,trival warfare,bride burnings,upper class killing of lower caste are happening because in Idian we keep tp an ancient tradition and humility and do goar lagay.This is what so faulty about Mathur,s reasonings.For Ira
    Mathur tradition means humilty.Cause and effect?The matter is not so superficial as Kangal states.Yet there is a deeper issue past the veneer of cultural adherency of duty as truth.One cites the following to turn Mathur views into a different spectacle:”The ancient..lawmakers did not base their social conduct on the organic holistic vision of of he great mystics and sages..but on custom and tradition.. wHILE GOING FOR A BATHE IN THE SACRED GANGES SHANKARACHAYA HEARD THE SHOUT,’KEEP AWAY.”HE LOOKED AND SAW A LOW CASTE CHANDALA RETURNING FROM THE RIVER.HIS CAMPANIONS WERE TELLING HIM TO KEEP AWAY FROM THE PHILOSOPHER AS EVEN HIS SHADOW WAS SUPPOSED TO POLLUTE SHANKARACHARYAMA HIGH CASTE BRAHMIN.SHANKARACHARYA INNTICTLY REPEATED WHAT HIS COMPANIONS WERE SAYING.tHE MAN SAID TO HIM,”YOU TOO,SIR,SAY THIS TO ME?..SHANKARACHRYA WAS STUNNED BY HIS WORDS..hE SAID TO THE CHANDALA,”YOU ARE MY GURU,I BOW TO YOU,”AND TOUCHED HIS FEET”(cf Joshi 2002:22).
    This instance the practice takes voluminous texture beyond the limited purview of Mathur’s reasonings of cause and effect.

  8. “…we were virtually shorn of our humanity…”
    You were not the child of an indenture/slave. You cannot therefore classify yourself as part of a system that you or your parents were not part of. You could write about rape but not include yourself as being raped or being a victim of rape. You are saying that you are falsely a victim of indenture-ship and then proceeding pedagogically incorrect to make psycho-cultural falsities and generalisations and claims that cannot be supported by empirical data. When or where did we lose out humanity when these adversities made us a more determined to move from plantation to port- from rice to oil/gas and from being hewers of wood and drawers of water. You have insulted the people of T&T by the unfair descriptions in your speculative, irresponsible journalism.

  9. Ira certainly got Kangals goat no question about that. While I do agree with some of his criticisms, others not so. How can he relate to indentureship when he never experienced it (unless he is well into his dotage). As a son of someone who did indeed cut cane and whose great grandfathers were both indentured labourers does that make me any better qualified than Ira to speak on the issue?
    If so my POV differs drastically from Kangals. Trini Indians may have kept what they perceived as Hindu practices and traditions and maybe this gave them an identity (I dont for a minute subscribe to this but some do). My point is that in Hinduism, the status quo is sacred… stagnation is revered, elders are to be respected and never upbraided or their assertions (no matter how idiotic) questioned. The role of a traditional woman is likewise laid out as subservient to the males and maybe this is why Kangal goes off on such a rant (Ira being a strong and successful female). How then can Kangal account for the sudden upsurge of successful Indians in T&T after almost 125 years of subservience? What happened in the 60’s to account for the successes of the 70’s-2000’s?
    Was it the decline of religion in the everyday life and/or a more assertive and open generation who shook off the dust of hidebound tradition and expanded beyond their traditional roles (agriculture, religion). One thing is for sure, there werent any doctors, lawyers, engineers etc on the Razack *S* but a lot of poorly educated and illiterate people who clung to religion with all the fervour of a drowning man, shunned as they were by both the White man and the newly freed Blacks.
    This is an area of much debate on blogs and the staunch Hindus would vehemently disagree with my position vis a vis the constricting role of iron clad religious traditions and rules on an aspiring and upwardly mobile generation. Trini Indians experienced their own renaissance when they finally were able to move foward in their own homeland of T&T and forsake the idea of “Mother India” We, as Ira said, have our own lives in our own homeland now and are developing our ow cultural identity as Trini Indians. We do not need to harken back to the olden days and ways to be confident on who and what we are or what we seek to achieve

    1. Thanks Vik. You have said everything I wanted to say and much better than I could have ever said it. And you have the authenticity of being a proper Trini since I am now being lumped with the “Indian High Commissioner”. This was the authors post today on a blog. Apparently the author thinks T&T “gifted” me with a husband which is among the strangest things I have had told to me. He got awfully personal which means he doesnt have the intellectual capacity to deal with the issues. Kangal wrote on a blog:
      “do not obfuscate the issue. I said that you cannot claim to be a victim of indentureship/slavery and proceed to make psycho-cultural false statements on these systems( one for you) when:

      * you are not a child of indentured or slave parents or pitris
      * your parents or pitris never crossed the kala pani to reach Nelson Island
      * You do not have a Bhojpuri cultural background
      * you or your pitris did not experience the inhumanity of the system of indentureship/slavery although your trini husband’s parents may have
      * you arrived in T&T long after indentureship/slavery was abolished (1834 and 1917)
      * you do not belong to the cow-belt of UP/Bihar to use Job’s term of denigration
      * you come from an aristocratic middle class ex-patriate military background with Kashmiri facade

      You are not one of us who escaped Mitras alternative to the crossing of the Kala Pani
      However we welcome you and ask you to respect the terms of the engagement as we have made clear to the Indian High Commissioner recently.
      On this basis I said that you do not know what you are talking about and you should write on what you know. I never told you not to write or to return to India. T&T has been kind and hospitable to you, your parents and even provided a husband for you. Your late brother was a gentleman. The least you can do is to have some respect for us and not try to make us look like de-humanised zombies and head-less chickens as if we still living in Job’s cow-belt and Bhelupuri’s cow-pen. We have arrived if you can catch my drift and proud of it to the marrow.
      To thine own self always be true.”
      Go figure Vik. Thank Goodness this man wasnt PM when we came from India. He would have sent us back on the next plane because we are middleclass!

      1. Ira
        When Col. Mahendra Mathur came to T&T he was recruited by the PM via the Ministry of National Security to head NEMA in Tobago. Class was not a selection criterion then. How could the PM whosoever he might have been “… have sent us back on the next plane…” when he was indeed invited to T&T? You are trying to impute prejudice, personal antagonism and declining into victimhood just as you alleged that you were a victim of the inhumanity of slavery/indenture-ship and without any humanity that you believe the goar lagay will restore to you.
        Pray tell us more about the “economics” of the goar lagay when the Bhelupuris and Lakshmanpuris have been doing that for centuries and are yet fossilized in povery and penury in accordance with the Ashok Mitra’s article that I sent you.

  10. It seems that Kangal is seriously offended by Ira’s theory that Slavery and Indentureship were very similar experiences.He exposes the internal psychological source of his anger and protestations when he tries to define the superiority of the Indian indentureship as compared to slavery and the cultural superiority and progress of Indians in Trinidad.
    Ira is so correct when she states that,” That gap has been filled by the beauty of connectivity betweent he people of this country, a whole new idenity that is fantastic. But the sooner we realise we have a collective history the better it is for unity for us as a people”.

    1. TMan I said that the system of indenture-ship was different from that of slavery and I did not say nor allude to the cultural superiority and progress of Indians. I said:
      “..The indenture experience and the ex-post facto reaction to the system of indenture-ship is not identical to that of the slavery experience…”
      I said of Ira: “…She has unwittingly and falsely included herself as a victim of that system…” That is a statement of fact.
      I did not substantially compare slavery with indenture-ship when I wrote:

      “…I categorically object to her bungling and bundling of the two systems of labour because the wild conclusions she made did not apply to the system of indenture-ship that I know very well. I may not be able to speak for slavery with any authority. Nor can Ira…”

  11. But I never witness such arrogance.I don’t now your beef with Kangal but really Mathur one may ask whats person The “authenticity of being a proper Trini”look like? If thats the way you debate this substantive issue.To have to deal with Kangals public critique of your critique in contex of other sides of the view on The prime Minister’s act of touching the feet of another head of State.To Vikram K obsfucation of the Issueas well as she does in bulding a false ethos.We can vehemenetly disagree.So Kangal is well into his dotage the victims trajectory of within Indentured system.He is anti Hindu woman? Those ridiculous insights.If you of the view Mathur’s view on the matter remains vague,misleading,replete with usual aryanized debunked view,prosecuting with aplenty phycho cultural drivel as repeated up to the minute by the minute and worse yet voluminous misleading generalities are still applicable.Authentic Trinis included?
    But wait a minute Mathur does show that she like others does try to mend the trojan horse from within.They cannot understand the subjective narrative from within both slavery and indentureship.Her narrartive is like the blind touching the elehphant.And it matters not the genearation.Immigrant view versus indegenous view.Would extremes of both yield truths such our culture lacking humility for the reason she says we do.What utter subtefuge.The view from without seeks to impose a foolish agenda where duty as truth and gifts(dana) is confused for the pinion of status quo.Those that challege this get dragged ,quatered and mained.Is she only one with intellectual capacity?If you don’t need “hearken back to the old days don’t impose the view from which you find convenient to belittle other that struggle with your personal narrative.Whats that got to with goar lagay anyway.Either put up of shut up.

  12. Jo Mode, if you view my insights as ridiculous so be it. The good thing about T&T is that we are free to put out whatever we believe and you are just as free to attempt to rebut them or in this case to simply dismiss them without debate.
    Kangal is entitled to his views on whatever topic he chooses but he has to be able to take criticisms as well as dish them out. His stupid (yes I said STUPID) assertion that only those who have experienced something or only those whose pedigree is approved (offspring of an indentured labourer) are qualified to write on it simply beggars belief. HE himself has NO idea what life was like under indentureship since he WAS NOT THERE. He can only relate to it via oral history from Great grandparents or grandparents. Therefore Ira, having recieved as much information as he did and possible (in fact probably more) from a variety of sources is as qualified as anyone to write on the subject even if she is a recent immigrant to T&T (1st gen)
    Now having been on other sites where Kangal has posted, I note that his vituperation towards Ira Mathur far far exceeds that to any male posting much the same argument that she did. Given his propensity towards “traditional” Hindu values I put forth the thesis that his views and responses were biased by the old fashioned view of a womans place

    1. VIR
      I never indicated that Ira must not write. She must not pretend to write about things that she knows not about. I said that being what she is, she cannot honestly claim to be a victim of indenture-ship/slavery for the reasons that I have provided. Have you read what statements she has made of the population of T&T including that we have no humanity and that the goar lagay will now restore it? She does not know what is goar lagay which says volumes for her lack of knowledge of the pschyo- cultural personality of the people of T&T.

  13. So the various systems of oppression slavery and indentureship which lieave marks on its generations can better be objectified by adherents of the trojan horse view than those emotional connected.Therefore Black Americans who seek reparations can be lectured by a Dinesh DeSouza and post German supremacist can tell the fighters to bring Nazi views to the heel.Because following your logic the immigrant view is more becoming that the generations od deecent.I say Kangal need NOT explain his vicarious experienceS but HE WOULD SAW FIRST HAND BEING OLDER THAN ..the effects of Indentureship and expains that.He rightly refuses to talk about slaverY out of respect AND IF HE DID HE HAS RIGHT BUT ANY CAN CHALLENGE HIS VIEWS.Thats way to go.Call you elders stupid because you disagree.WAs that not Mathurs view about humilty.But I knew this nothing but the aryan agenda again,Critique his deas leave his person untainted even iif you Mathus think he cross the line.Am so glad the idenenous view will always take precedence over all the structuralists crap Mathu spews from time to time in her quest to be what ought.She allowed her views.AS to you my learned friend keep on trucking.lets challenge ideas not peopls persons.Mathur’s views on this topic of goar lagay remain absolutely juvenile.Touching the feet in ancient india has its meanings and contex it falls under the context of Satyakriya and abhividanadharma.Certain astes were not allowed near or touch the feet of others because they were too dark,considired unclean and polluted.Have heart man.Who is dotish here.

  14. Ira
    You claim to be included among the children of the girmityas by use of the royal”we” as well as knowing the Bojpuri culture of the indentures and yet you do not know the ‘goar lagay” ritual. This is self-explanatory.

  15. Just be informed that both my mother (child), my grand-mother and my paternal grand-father came as girmityas to Trinidad and I grew up in front of them. I lived in the Caroni Barracks and have immersed myself in the cultural life of the indentures and their generations. I have also worked in the cane-fields of Caroni and lived all my life in rural Trinidad.
    When I write I write of things that I know especially the Indian theme that needs to be addressed. I have also attended all the Hindu/Indian academic conferences held in T&T. I have also listened to “kheesas” from all my grand-parents and am a child of the indentures and proud of that accolade.I wrote seven articles on the recent rip to India from a T&T perspective. I do not have to establish my credentials on this subject/theme/issue.

  16. Then you will know its not ‘kheesas’ but khisas which is an urdu word which means you have an excellent Islamic background in addition to your Hindu one and your Christian first name which suggests the missionaries have also been part of your life. A true true Trini. Noone is questioning your credentials but it is exceedingly bad taste to bring up the dead brother of the person you are attacking, or a reference to her husband and parents suggesting an unseemly interest and knowledge of my private life and an inability to have a issue rather than personality based discussion. Otherwise thought of as creepy or even stalker-like.

  17. The literary transportations from the Urheimat from the Old proto-Afro-Asiatic meeting with both the Sanskritic and so-called proto-Dravidian yields interesting morphology of words some of it current in the various threads of a new Carribean narrative where Indus once again meets with the Nile and the spread of Nilotic civilizations also for example. The word ‘Kheesas” with two vowels “e” or a double “e” has a different meaning from the Urdu context. Even when meanings overlap and interchange the context and usage of the terms vary in precise correspondences for example. Kheesas (Appiah and Gates, 2005: 613)forms a part of the mouthing of really considered Indian folktales, within the context to the Indian Diaspora. But then if we want to take it out of context and become vexacious. There is a wide supposedly Urdu interpretation of the term “khisas” which means something totally different. Rather than getting wrapped up in them. Let us see Urdu as a meeting between Arabic and Sanskritic derived languages. Here, when speaking from a linguistic perview and of course the Afro-Asiatic and proto-Asiatic meanings to these two different words is quite fascinating. Other contexts do exist for example the last President of India in an address in an Ashram school. Vivekanada Vidypeetha says for example, “.. towards the preservation of tribal words. I was shown the highlights of vanishing tribal languages, words like ‘lage” meaning string, and “k(h)eesa” meaning pocket. Of course the sibilant, “s” is missing here and we have across the board correspondences of the word “keesa”, (Abdul Kalam, Goldbaga, 2010, Appiah and Gates, Clark, 1960:12, Singh, 1987: 428).
    The Afro-Asiatic language known as “Arabic” brings the term into usage in a far different context. Amongst the Peite a transborder tribe between India and Burma the term “keesa” means a “deer”. (cf Kamkhethag, 1988: 239). In Urdu “kheesa” means associatively a rough rubber, pocket, etc. (cf Shakespear and Sangali, 1983: 651). Of course, variety of meanings and correspondences to these words “keesa” and “keesas” proves exactly what linguistic is for to devote and coonnote meanings as an additional function of words in the global lexical bank. To be quite honest Kangal means “kheesas” which forms part of the narration of Carribean indentureship as folklore or “anancy” tales. He could not have meant the Arabic, Urdu or for that matter Advaisi or Pro-Afo-Asiatic meaning to be quite honest. He knows what he is talking about, grant him that respect freely. He meant ‘kheesas” meaning “folktales.”

    1. JO MODE
      Your impeccable, linguistic, knowledgeable intervention is needed to salvage and rescue me again, with grateful thanks and dhanyabad, for the use of the word “Jaanam”.
      I may have forgotten the universal admonition that:

      Hell hath no fury like a woman criticised!
      I promise not to make that mistake again to compensate you for saving me again and am steering clear of treading on the toes of Indian womanhood. But I still want to take on Dana Seetahal on her “Single Forever”. What’s your advise learned guruji?

  18. The word “Kheesas” was part of the distinctive and unique Trinidad Bhojpuri dialect that may have originated from Urdu. I am celebrating the fine memory of your brother who I knew personally if you can appreciate my drift. I am not attacking you- I am holding up your issues and ideas to close scrutiny and that is why I listed those ideas in quotes at the beginning of my article to ensure that I was focusing on what you wrote although what you wrote should derive its legitimacy and its merit or lack thereof from what you are or pretended to be that is to say a victim of slavery and the indenture-ship system of labour of which you are patently not- not at least in this janaam or incarnation.

  19. I think you mean janum. Janaam is not a word. Janaab is an urdu word. Jaanum is also an urdu word. Janum is a Hindi word. This is what I mean about losing language. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This is why you will find that when you go to India you are much more of a Caribbean man with your Christian name and Hindu surname and Trini dialect and English language and knowledge of Christmas and Carnival than an “Indian”. There is no mother India. There may be grandmother India, but you are very removed from her. You belong here now with your African brothers and sisters and you should be proud of it as I am to be part of this amazing rainbow country.

    1. “…The reality is not so simple. First of all, when our ancestors made the great journey to Trinidad, Hindi was not one of the native languages they brought with them. What they brought were dialects of Bhojpuri, and other local dialects from the larger hinterland of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and varieties of Tamil and other local dialects from South India. And just as sugar boiled down and crystallised in the great vats on the sugar estates, a new variety of Bhojpuri came to life in Trinidad, at a time when Bhojpuri in India was still a fragmented scattering of village dialects. So in a sense, Trinidad led the way: in India Bhojpuri is only now beginning to standardise as a major regional language of literature, media and political discourse…” ( Dr.Peggy Mohan who authored her PH.D. dissertation on Trinidad Bhojpuri writing in the Trinidad Express recently)

      This is what you said:
      “…slavery and indentureship destroyed our most important resource. By stripping a people of dignity, separating families, coercing them to change religions, forcing them to neglect their native languages, forget their villages and cities by geographically cutting them off from their ancient histories and oral traditions we were virtually shorn of our humanity…”
      There you go again with your arrogance/ignorance to try to tell and define for me, a native Indo-Trinbagonian, what I am and what I should be. That is the expression of the penchant of the traditional ex-patriate Indian’s superiority complex who feels that they can legislate to us and even deceive us into submission to an Indian way of life.
      The word ‘Janaam” that is derived from Sanskrit has the same meaning as ‘yug” was part of the vocabulary of Trinidad Bhojpuri and means “an era” or “life-time” That is what Peggy Ramesar spoke about in the above-mentioned quotation that is diametrically opposed to and does violence to your misrepresentation about us losing and forgetting our native dialects and language and indeed our humanity.
      The least you can do now is to issue an apology to at least the Indian community in T&T for having denigrated, held to ridicule and portrayed them as headless zombies and headless chickens drifting aimlessly as drift-wood in the sagar of the Eastern Caribbean.
      Trinidad Indians (girmitiyas) contributed to the development of a unique and distinctive genre of Bhojpuri of which we are indeed very proud and we were not shorn of our languages, culture, religions or our ancestral memory.
      Have you even given thought as to why the Indian community celebrates in T&T and in Guyana their arrival on the cane-fields of Caroni whilst our African brothers celebrate their departure therefrom.
      Do you honestly believe that we in T&T today are worse off- without humanity- compared to the humble (God Bless their souls) nagarites of the villages of Lakshmanpur and Bhelupur who are still living in poor agrarian, remote and inaccessible villages after the passage of 167 years? Time has stood still for these our remembered ancestors but for us we have progressed thanks to the legacy bequeathed to us by the hard work, thrift, land-ownership and a religious ethic and value system our pitris which you want to deny in us and make them exclusive to the Bharatiyas.
      There is a saying in T&T:
      You cannot play sailor mas and ‘fraid powder. You are getting a lot of talcum powder for thinking that you can foist misrepresentations on us and we will be amenable to your type of superiority-complex driven indiscretions and venturing into areas where angels fear to tread.

    2. Ira please write a Sunday Guardian article espousing what you understand by Kamla’s claim that India is her (our) grand-mother and how this is different from or a reinforcement of Williams’ Mother Trinidad and Tobago concept.
      You said “…No Mother India…”. Pray tell us de-humanised, “blank, harsh and empty” Indians what you mean out of respect for our Canadian-driven emancipation from the cane-fields of Caroni to our arrival in and to the Court of St.James.

  20. Just as a foot note I have no desire nor aspiration to be seen or viewed by the Indians of India as a mainland, sub-continental Indian. Also how they view me and how you view me do not matter. I cannot take that to the bank because it is not a bankable asset.
    I want to be seen, conduct myself, portray myself and be perceived as an Indo-Trinbagonian at all times even though I have cultural links with India of which I am proud to the marrow.
    I did not drop from the sky in the Caribbean.
    According to Raviji”
    Indenture is onlt half de kheesa(story)

  21. Sir kangal sometimes let some arguments stand on its own merits your right; position need not attend a single or married life.freewill argument nonetheless.

  22. Any foray into Historical linguistics withs its features,correpondences and developments over time can clear certain doubts.The Bhojpuri word जनम (janam)birth means exactly birth(in this lifetime,existence,and so forth)CONTEXT NESSCARY,IRREGADLESS.Setting aside, Janum,jaanum,janaab,all words base atleast on the Sanskrit janma, meaning birth.The possibility of the feature of “fronting” of the double vowel (aa),/aa/ in janaam ,possibly peculiar to to indentureds featured pronuciation.a study can be done to prove this and more.Needs further appraisal.And cannot be dismissed by saying that its not a word.Language does not work on rigteous indignation and is matter really of historical linguistics process as as dialects,pidgins and so forth.So yes Janaam is the said bhjpuri Janam.

  23. JO MODE
    Thank you for saving me once again since I used the word “janaam” as a synonym for “incarnation” or birth. That is a very common Trinidad Bojpuri term that is very much part of my vocab.When I used to ask my mother for something and she did not want to give she said :”not in this janaam”.
    Since hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, I give you the quid pro quo and solemn undertaking never to take on a woman again even polemically because I cannot win and will be a victim of her fury. I am living dangerously close to annihilation if I were ever to do. May Mother Saraswatee forgive me for treading also where angels fear to tread.

  24. Jo Mode….the word JANAAB is not of Sanskrit origin. It comes from Urdu. Remember Urdu is a balanced mixture of Persion, Arabic and Turkish and of other Central Asian languages like Tajic, Uzbec etc. Urdu was born lately during Mughal CONQUEST of India.` Thanks.

  25. Thanks my learned friend for the correction,The highlight here is word comes from the old persian into Urdu and possible Sanskrit lingua franca.Faylasoof(c.f Plats:Dictionary if Urdu,Classical Hindi and English)indentifies /jannab/ in the cmpound:
    . Here the meaning in the new contex changes.No longer a simple matter.Raj you raised a curious matter.To which sir Kangal had no mischief and followed suit,but no worries am glad Sir Kangal did not get voted off the island so speak. Raj not that old Sanskrit and Old Persian are accepted as diverging from Indo-Aryan?Where when?still to be decided.
    Janaab means mister now in modern urdu and in South India its Jinaab and according to ther sources pronounced only as janaab in the plains of Punjab>Here language is breathing walking organism which we can track down in socio linguistics formulation rather that philogy method I used.I used sorces that were not mine and so they and you ought to credited.nevertheless we have strayed from the these posed by the venerable Kangal Indendered Idians retained much of their language and so forth.And Africans spending loneger time from different ship under a harsher wip lost much even though some rention can be proven.The harshness however made for sufferers and hard workers in different contex but still holding on to humanity that sometimes is precarious and misunderstood.Migrant ansysis beware!!!

  26. Raj, The compound should have been cited here it is:
    >janaab sami3iin-e-waalaa=esteeemed listeners and of course
    >janaab naaziriin-e-waalaa=esteemed spectators. forgive errors. thanks


  27. This is not the first time that there is opposition to lumping indenture-ship and slavery together. We opposed Stalin’s Caribbean Man and the “All Ah We Is One” Placebo.
    How did both communities produce internationally acclaimed icons if we are what is being said by Ira?- without humanity etc, including the best writer of the English Language?
    Are you saying that those who stayed back in Bhelupur and Lakshmanpur are better off than those who dared to cross the Kala Pani- a view discredited by Mitra who is of Indian nationality?

  28. “I think you mean janum. Janaam is not a word. Janaab is an urdu word. Jaanum is also an urdu word. Janum is a Hindi word. This is what I mean about losing language. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

    Now this is getting into the realm of ridiculous.
    The spelling of the above words are transliteration of the Devnagari script. So who is to say how it is to be spelled.

Comments are closed.