Mehta’s response was neither biased nor arrogant

Dear Editor,

I am responding to Malcolm Harripaul’s letter (‘The Federation of Indian Americans should not be endorsing a Guyanese presidential candidate’ SN, August 12) in which he made incorrect comments about the FIA, seeking to bring it into disrepute.

Although the FIA stated unequivocally that it invited President Jagdeo to its parade to celebrate India’s independence and he did not seek an invitation, Mr Harripaul insisted that President Jagdeo asked the organization for an invitation. Mr Harripaul must have seen the President’s letter for an invitation from his crystal ball. He now knows even more than the FIA.

There is nothing in Mr Mehta’s response to Mr Harripaul that is biased or arrogant, and Mr Harripaul just made a charge without supporting facts. Mr Mehta simply stated the fact that Mr  Jagdeo is invited to the parade and all of his guests are welcome.  How is that arrogant? The FIA further penned that everyone is invited to the parade. So where is the bias? No one is prevented from attending the parade.  In fact, I know that Africans, Chinese, Whites, Hispanics, Amerindians and people of all nationalities will be at the  parade marching with the FIA executives and President Jagdeo and superstar Rani  Mukherji.

Mr Harripaul  said Mr Mehta does not know Guyana. The rationale for the FIA invitation was  not premised on ‘knowing Guyana’ but on the fact that President Jagdeo is a head of state who happens to be Indian and Indo-Guyanese suggested the  invitation because they are proud of their identity. The parade celebrates Indian independence from which the forbears of all Indians come, and Indo-Guyanese wholeheartedly and fully participate in  celebrations commemorating India’s independence. Indo-Guyanese have been at the parade since 1980, and I have helped to promote the celebration among Indo-Guyanese.

The FIA has invited many high-ranking Indians from across the world in the past to be at the parade.  And it is on this basis that Mr Jagdeo has been invited.

‘Harripaulian’ logic goes even further by seeing invitations to Ramotar/Jagdeo as “gross interference in our domestic affairs.” Really? Mr Harripaul’s missive is premised on his woefully illogical and irrational conclusion re ‘endorsement,’ a superstructure built on a foundation of nothingness. The FIA is yet to endorse anyone for election, not even in America.  Mrs

Kamla Persad-Bissessar was invited last year. But no endorsement! On a separate note, President Jagdeo was invited to and visited India several times.  Was that an endorsement of Jagdeo?  Several African leaders were invited to India last year and again this year.  Is this an endorsement of them? President Obama was invited to India last year. Was that an endorsement  for his re-election? Somehow though, Mr Harripaul’s tea leaves tell him that an open invitation to Mr Ramotar is an endorsement. By the way Messrs Granger and Ramjattan also  have an  open invitation and are not prohibited from attending. What does the AFC open meeting with the US State Department suggest – that President Obama or America loves Khemraj Ramjattan and Sheila Holder and are endorsing the AFC? David Granger recently went to the US and met African politicians. Does this mean they endorse him? Mr Harripaul did not complain about that.  But an Indo-Guyanese leader has been invited to an Indian function and all of a sudden it is a problem – it is seen as racially biased. When the FIA invites African politicians to march in the parade, there is no bias.

Mr Harripaul again calls me a propagandist without supporting evidence. It is he who is the propagandist. All of his missives are endorsements of Granger, the PNC and APNU’s propaganda playbook. Mr Harripaul said I see Guyana through a narrow Hindu/ Indian-centric view. So when I fought the dictatorship for two decades that was through a Hindu/Indian view? Only Hindus/Indians benefited? And when I fought against the banning of dal, channa, flour, alou, raisins, etc, only Hindus/Indians benefited?  When I donated money to the churches and masjids in Guyana, I was seeing Guyana through a Hindu perspective? Only Hindus benefited?  When I made donations to the WPA, TUF, DLM, and dozens of charities, I was seeing Guyana through a Hindu/Indian perspective?

Let us accept that I am Hindu/Indian-centric.  What is wrong with that? How come Mr Harripaul’s paragon, David Granger’s Christian/African-centric religiosity is a source of acclaim but my Hindu/Indian-centric one is to be condemned? Those African politicians from other countries usually visit the Black Congressional Caucus – an explicitly political meeting. How come Mr Harripaul does not see that as an endorsement and an interference in the politics of other countries?

David Hinds, Eusi Kwayana, Clive Thomas, Ogunseye, Abu Bakr, etc, are Afro-centric.  And so were Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson, etc.  I am a Hindu and an Indian and am proud of my identity and will never deny it. Gandhi, Bose and Nehru were Indo-centric. So I am in good company. I have no problem with Mr Harripaul being Afro-centric and Christian-centric and promoting that way of life. I respect everyone for their background and culture. And I ask they reciprocate and not derogate my identity.

Yours faithfully,
Vishnu Bisram

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