India Day Parade invited President Jagdeo to participate

Dear Editor,

It was amusing to read a letter by one Mr Malcolm Harripaul in your newspaper (August 8) claiming that President Bharrat Jagdeo sent a memo to our organization requesting an invitation to attend this year’s India Day Parade scheduled for August 21 on Madison Ave (‘Jagdeo sought invitation to Manhattan parade of Indian-Americans’). We received no such communication from the Office of the President of Guyana and if we received one, we would have responded positively in a jiffy, for we consider it an honour to have a president of a country grace our event. We have been trying for years to get President Jagdeo to serve as our chief guest and we are so thrilled he has accepted our invitation.

We do not know Mr Harripaul, and our links to the Guyanese and Indo-Caribbean communities were through Mr Ramesh Kalicharran and his affiliate Shri Vishnu Bisram, both of whom are known as leading advocates of the Guyanese and Caribbean communities in America since the late 1970s.

Contrary to what Mr Harripaul penned, President Jagdeo did not ask for an invitation to the parade. Our only communication with the Office of the President was our invitation to him (recommended by Mr Kalicharran and others) and his confirmation of acceptance to attend the parade as our chief guest.

Also, we did not receive a request for President Jagdeo to ring the bell at the NASDAQ on August 22. And even if we did, it would be difficult for us to facilitate such a request as we have no influence or control over the NASDAQ.

If, however, now that we have the confirmation that we can ring the NASDAQ bell, and if President Jagdeo is available, he would be more than welcome to join us in this prestigious act.

Please be advised that President Jagdeo did not request an invitation for dinner with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. We do not have a dinner planned for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and the Prime Minister is not coming to NY for our parade, although we will be honoured to have him at the parade should he be willing to join us. In the past, dinners with the PM were organized by the Indian Consulate in NY and FIA members were invitees.

President Jagdeo, was repeatedly invited to our annual parade and declined the invitations because of his conflicting schedule. We are so grateful for President Jagdeo’s acceptance of the invitation this year, and we look forward to the honour of his gracing the parade. His eminent presence enhances the image of the parade and the Indian immigrant community in America.

We consider ourselves fortunate that the President is marching in our parade helping to increase the size of the crowd, especially from Guyanese and other Caribbean communities.

We have not received confirmation that Mr Donald Ramotar, a presidential candidate, will attend the parade. However, Mr Ramotar is welcome as our guest, as is any other person in the President’s delegation. The President’s guest is our guest and we openly invite Mr Ramotar to join the parade marchers. They will be our honoured guests at the parade, dinner and other events.

The last few paragraphs of Mr Harripaul’s letter reveal his true intention of penning this untruthful piece. Clearly, Mr Harripaul is engaging in political propaganda and is seeking to bring us into a controversy with which we wish no part.

We request that Mr Harripaul ceases and desists from this odious exercise. We are taken aback that a newspaper of high repute would publish libelous allegations without any effort to verify them.

Finally, I wish to use this opportunity to thank Mr Ramesh Kalicharran and his affiliate Mr Vishnu Bisram and others, who helped to facilitate the participation of Indo-Caribbeans at our annual parade and FIA activities. We also wish to thank the Indo-Caribbean media and journalists for promoting the parade and related activities celebrating India’s independence.

Yours faithfully,
Nirav Mehta
Past President
India Day Parade

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