I am humbled by Suresh Singh’s citation of me, among a few other NY-based Guyanese, as someone who is deserving of the Indian Pravasi Award in letter captioned ‘There are others who are deserving of the Pravasi Award’ (SN, Jan 15) in response to Ashok Ramsaran’s recognition from the Government of India (GOI).
I do believe Mr Ramsaran has worked hard on behalf of the Guyanese and Indian diasporas to earn his stripe from GOI and I am proud of his achievement. While it is true Mr Ramsaran may not be grounded in the Guyanese diaspora, like myself or the other names Mr Singh mentioned, he is above the fray in “NY Guyanese internal politics” and as such can make objective assessments about the community and take actions to benefit it. Indeed he has done just that during the time I have known and worked with him, and he has made some significant contributions to the Guyanese diaspora. I can attest as someone who spends hours daily in service to others, community work requires a lot of personal sacrifice away from family and at the cost of personal gain and for this Mr Ramsaran’s service is deeply appreciated.
Mr Ramsaran is the only Indian-Caribbean from the US to receive the coveted Pravasi Award, and as readers can imagine, many in NY are very excited that one of her sons has been so honoured. His achievement is an example to all to work hard and commit some time in service to humanity.
I can attest to his dedication and commitment in working on diaspora issues. I have worked closely with him on diaspora matters collaborating on creative ideas like the Kolkota Memorial and Museum, digitizing indentured documents, tracing roots, promoting Indian investments in diaspora countries, etc, and we have spoken on these issues on an ongoing basis for many years.
I have known Mr Ramsaran since 1999 when we collaborated on helping to organize GOPIO’s 20th anniversary conference at the La Guardia Holiday Inn and we have worked closely on several other projects. We worked together on organizing academic conferences in 2000 and 2004 at St John University and again for GOPIO’s 30th anniversary in 2009 and the first Indian diaspora health conference last November at Holiday Inn, etc. I have supported and promoted Ashok’s community activities encouraging him to carry on his work in spite of tremendous obstacles and to stay focused in executing community programmes. Over the last few years, we have become closer speaking and or communicating almost daily on matters relating to the Guyanese, Caribbean and India diasporas, nagging him to follow up with government officials from India and Caribbean countries on various projects we conceptualized and initiated, including the Kolkota Memorial. His outstanding team work and foresight has made it possible to achieve difficult outcomes in several nations.
Mr Ramsaran possesses a relentless work ethic and over the years I have nagged him to follow up on projects to their completion. Whenever I offered an idea, he ran with it. I am glad to see the fruition of the Kolkota idea and look forward to seeing the completion of more projects that we conceived. The Kolkota project is important to Mr Ramsaran and myself because it will bring Indian-Guyanese closer to their ancestral homeland and lead to renewed focus on the history of indenturedship which has been neglected in Indian history. I am pleased that the Indian government has recognized Mr Ramsaran for his work in the diaspora. And I am confident that GOI will honour others in due course for their service to the diaspora. And I thank Suresh Singh for the confidence he has shown in my community activities.