Letter from the express.
In the present political season it appears that Indians continue to bear the brunt of petty ethnic politics as the most outstanding Indian born in Trinidad and who has received international recognition—Sir VS Naipaul—has been slighted by the present political administration in its recent decision not to name the new library the VS Naipaul National Library.
The decision by the authorities is being received by the Indo-Trinidadian community as yet another instalment in the process of making Indo-Trinidadians second-class citizens of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Ironically, this decision to slight VS Naipaul comes on the heels of the Independence celebrations where the image of a united society regardless of religion and race was often touted.
It is indeed sad that in the international arena accolades are heaped on a son of the soil and here in Trinidad and Tobago Naipaul is being scorned in such manner apparently merely because he is Indian and Hindu.
One has no choice but to agree with former culture minister Ganga Singh when he described the decision by National Library and Information Systems Authority as “a tragedy”. On hearing the sad news, Singh stated: “It is a tragedy that they would not recognise the first locally-born Nobel laureate, especially in the context of our 40th anniversary of Independence, where there ought to be a level of maturity in these things. “It is parochial in their thinking not to acknowledge the real genius of Naipaul whilst he is alive. It is exactly the kind of parochiality that Naipaul has railed against.
“Naipaul is a world figure and they must acknowledge he is the best writer of the English language in the world today. He was born in Trinidad and ought to be acknowledged as such. I am sure Sir Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott have been acknowledged in their homeland of St Lucia.” He said he proposed to name separate wings after other Caribbean Nobel laureates. “It was the announced intention of the last government to name it the Sir Vidia S Naipaul National Library.” Indo-Trinidadians were heartened when Singh added, “we will rename it when we return to government on October 8”.
GOPIO (Trinidad) has already alerted the international community about the decision and the response has been one of shock and amazement. The denial of Naipaul by the government has resonated within the international community and expressions of disgust no doubt soon be flooding the local media.
GOPIO (Trinidad) will be mobilising interested persons and groups in Trinidad and in greater international community to organise a petition in an attempt to force the Government to reconsider its position and to name the library the VS Naipaul National Library. Any persons or groups interested in joining the struggle to have the library named the VS Naipaul Library are asked to contact GOPIO (Trinidad).
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