Sat Maharaj, secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, must
be commended for pledging support for fostering better relations between
various ethnic groups in Trinidad and Tobago.
In response to a promise made by President George Maxwell Richards to
start educating different ethnicities about each other, Maharaj vowed
that so long as you pursue that, and as long as the Prime Minister
puts that into action, the Maha Sabha and Sat Maharaj...will be with
More poignantly, Mr Maharaj added: This is our land. We love it.
It is noteworthy that Mr Maharaj and President Richards made their respective
promises at a dinner function of the Maha Sabhas to mark Indian
Arrival Day. The holiday, its name the subject of public and political
controversy, has become a benchmark date for passionate discussions
on race relations in T&T.
With Mr Maharaj, an influential leader in the Indian community, publicly
vowing support for Government plans to bridge the ethnic gap in the
country, talk on this emotive topic should now turn into action.
In reviewing the history and accomplishments of Indians in T&T,
President Richards already has a plan in mind to appoint a committee
to develop strategies for unearthing such knowledge and presenting
it systematically to the national community over a sustained period
of 12 months.
Recognising that polarisation could be a sign that we need to
get to know one another and ourselves better, President Richards
plan is a step in the right direction. Whatever constraints the Head
of State may face in the operationalisation of this plan, he has given
birth to an idea that warrants attention and should not be allowed to
fall by the wayside, awaiting the next Indian Arrival Day holiday to
come up for discussion again.
With the Presidents support, coupled with that of Mr Maharaj,
bridging the ethnic divide in T&T can become everybodys business.
As so it should be. It is a fact of life that there is much sharing,
culturally especially, between the two major ethnic groups in this country;
it is no idle boast that T&T is a multicultural society.
It is also a fact of life that this process is happening, daily and
unplanned, among the people of this country, uninfluenced by politics,
government policy or official directives. Mr Maharaj must know this;
President Richards will learn of it. The ethnic divide is not so glaring
as politicians, with an axe to grind and votes to get, make it out to
What we expect President Richards announcement to now do is to
provide the impetus for individuals and groups to bring forth plans
and strategies for fostering further cohesion between ethnic groups
in T&T. And we expect that the data collection and information process
will include the accomplishments and contributions of all ethnic groups
in T&T. For, apart from serving to foster ethnic cohesion through
an understanding of each other, such information is really the history
of Trinidad and Tobago and therefore the nations heritage.