It takes a lot more to get people to understand any point
or principle regarding the need for racial equality, because
we are so politically and personally sensitive.
The Guardian editorial on Friday is a case in point. Titled
Promotion cant be based on ethnicity, it proceeded to
(quite rightly) argue that it would be an absurd and
dangerous argument, if taken to its logical conclusion, that
the highest ranks of the police service should be decorated
with officers based on their ethnic orientation and not on
the basis of merit.
There are many Indian officers who were bypassed for promotion
to the senior ranks who gained the maximum possible marks
for performance and ability.
All things being equal (ie, if they have the ability and can
do the job), why should we not take into account the need
to redress the racial imbalance as a legitimate consideration?
At no time have I ever advocated promotion based on race.
The point regarding the need for racial balance in the police
service is premised on the simple principle that a police
service should reflect the ethnic composition of the society
that it intends to protect and serve without sacrificing the
principle of merit.
Are there no Indian officers deserving of promotion in the
upper echelons of the police service? And if so, why not?
The editorial boldly asserts the reality is that Afro-Trinidadians
in far greater numbers chose the police service as a career.
The argument that Indians dont apply in equal numbers
for jobs in the public service is incorrect. This is a thing
of the colonial past.
In the past 50 years that has not been the case. Where are
the statistics and evidence to back up this claim, I ask?
The fear and reluctance of compiling racial statistics shall
forever force us to argue on emotional perceptions without
any reference to facts.
Even so, doesnt it beg the question: Why are they not
applying? Is it because they think they are not welcomed or
wanted? Is it because they feel there is inequality in promotion
and career advancement?
Dey doh apply is a trite excuse that is no longer
accepted in modern countries, because it is in itself symptomatic
of a racially unequal system.
The modern approach is the one used at present by the British
Scotland Yard. Go to the people. Dont wait for them
to come to you.
Following the marches in East London, the police immediately
set up recruitment offices in areas that were predominantly
Indian, African of Asian.
Career-guidance seminars were held in the schools and pamphlets
advertising vacancies were distributed to every single household.
The community was reassured that they were wanted and would
be welcomed. This resulted in a significant increase in the
number of non-white police officers in London. (Ever see the
army or police recruiting in Penal or Barrackpore?).
In Britain, they are publicly advertising the fact that they
are head hunting Africans, Indians and other racial
minorities, and this is being backed-up by clear, positive
action with tangible results.
Scotland Yard is said to be in T&T currently, trying to
help us out. Perhaps we can learn from their experiences and
policy of ethnic monitoring.
Their much-publicised, aggressive recruitment drive to attract
African, Indian and Asian police officers has changed the
face of the Metropolitan police service.
Racial equality measures were instituted alongside policies
that monitored the ethnic balance in the police service.
These schemes were implemented via the Commission for Racial
Equality and under the provisions of the Race Relations Act.
We must address the need for racial equality in the protective
service. The last survey conducted by the Centre for Ethnic
Studies, UWI, found a glaring under-representation of Indians
in the protective services.
It can be done without sacrificing merit, unless Indians suffer
from some collective unidentified deficiency that makes them
undeserving or unworthy of recruitment and promotion.
Of course, there are historical reasons and explanations for
these racial imbalances. But then again, there are historical
explanations in every country to explain the status quo.
What is patently wrong is the disingenuous use of ones
history to justify present-day inequalities, in the secret
hope that the status quo will prevail and continue as is.
The example set by other countries is worthy of emulation:
public acknowledgement of the problem, and a definite policy
that targets under-represented groups of all types and ethnicities
in different areas, in both the private and public sector,
to achieve racial equality without compromising the concept