Falling into tribal decay

 

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Category: Trinidad Society 27 May 07

 

The following is a response to last week’s column.

 

I am fed up with your weekly Hindu-centric rants. I will just like to point out a few points. Firstly, Trinidad and Tobago has the fastest growing economy in the western hemisphere after Chile. The Government must be doing something right. No training you say, (sic) I invite you to access the Web site of the Ministry of Science and Tertiary Education, and observe the myriad training programmes that are presented for young people.

 

Sometimes I feel that you people want Mr Manning to personally give out bank notes, as Peron did in Argentina in the fifties. A government is there to provide the opportunity for young people and they have it in T&T.

 

Free education from womb time (sic) to (sic) time? University is free right now as you know.

 

Secondly, medicine in T&T is socialised. Health care is free, (sic) prescription medicine is provided for free and you must know that all the great medicine in the US is not accessible to the ordinary person; (sic) unless you have health insurance.

 

Thirdly, the building at St Ann’s is the residence of the Prime Minister of T&T who (sic) ever is elected the Prime Minster, (sic) it is not Mr Manning’s personal home. Mr Manning will not be the Prime Minister for life, Idiot, (sic) and the cost is not $148m , it is 30m. I can go on and on, but I will not waste my time. So please right (sic) something intelligent.

 

My first response was incomprehension. What did the “righter” mean by “Hindu-centric rants?” I never mention religion in these columns. As the product of a Hindu father and a Muslim mother; educated by Irish nuns in Catholic convents in India; growing up with the background knowledge that a million Muslims and Hindus slaughtered one another during partition; attending an Anglican school in England, studying existential philosophy that questions everything from one’s own existence to the chair you are sitting on, why would I? I only claim to be against bigotry and tribalism, which is responsible for 28 wars globally. That’s my religion.

 

My second response was to re-read last week’s column. I trawled through it looking for traces of religion. Found nothing. I wrote about the lost potential in the faces of those handsome young boys charged for the murder of Vindra Naipaul-Coolman in a context of a country that despite its oil wealth is succumbing to the cycle of poverty illiteracy and brutality due to our crazy priorities, which pour oil funds on the PM’s residence and a stadium instead of spending on health and education, which is what we need to prevent crime.

 

Nope. Nothing about Hinduism. I was left to read between my lines.

 

The only Hindu-centric thing about my column is my name.

 

In the 70s my father, an Indian army officer was offered a wonderful opportunity by the Dr Eric Williams government to construct what is known as the Claude Noel Highway.

 

When I met Keith Rowley in the CNC3 studio last week he greeted me like a relative, he hadn’t seen me in a long time and we both proudly proclaimed our Tobago background. “Born and bred,” I shouted to Rowley as he left the studio, getting flashbacks of the warmth with which the Tobago people took us into their island and hearts and homes when our small family of five arrived as immigrants. The PNM gave us a life here. I would be ungrateful and weird if I suddenly turned into a PNM-bashing Hindu sadhu.

 

At the premiere of A Mighty Heart, a film about Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and beheaded in Karachi in 2002, his widow was quoted as saying that her husband, an intrepid journalist, “didn’t represent a country or a flag, just the pursuit of truth.”

 

What’s scary is that the e-mail I received equates criticism of the executive as “Hindu-centric.” Now I’m praying that this reaction isn’t a symptom of yet another society falling into religious and tribal decay.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur