Facing critical challenges in the Guyanese homeland, like our shortage of skills and lack of a world class human resource capital pool, we need to exercise creative thinking to find solutions.
These challenges persist, stubborn, stifling our progress, and our nation stumbles along into its default future, with sporadic and limited development. Yet, solutions lie at our doorstep.
As a society, it’s astonishing that we face the sort of developmental challenges that baffle us today, in 2013. Government officials look around at the housing boom and the modern new buildings going up in the city and propagate progress. But the deeper development of our people, of our human resource base, remains mired in severe under-development.
We need to see the new reality in which the Guyanese nation exists. The Guyanese nation no longer comprises only citizens living within the geographic boundaries of the homeland. The nation now spans the globe.
This idea of a nation being an international enclave defines how many nations around the world see themselves, including India, China, Jamaica and European and North American societies.
We, too, now qualify as a global nation.
It’s one of the off-shoots of globalization and this shrinking of the global village that citizens of nations dwell in different parts of the world.
In the Caribbean we see Jamaica set the precedent with this idea, even reserving a section of its Parliament for the Jamaican Diaspora.
Guyanese all over the world tend to maintain their Guyanese citizenship, keeping their Guyana passport and maintaining strong family ties with relatives at home. In fact, it’s quite well-known that remittances from overseas-based relatives to local families fund a huge chunk of the national economy.
But Guyanese all over the world also maintain a keen interest in local politics, and news of what’s happening “at home”. Most Guyanese around the world wake up in the morning and turn on their computers or smartphones to check the newspapers online. They browse Guyana’s online newspapers, and read the news, discussing the state of their nation on social media.
We now span the globe, and in that we must recognize a real opportunity to accelerate and re-define our developmental method, and agenda.
Government’s failure to widen its thinking, to broaden its vision, to embrace the new world, stifles this golden opportunity for our nation to form a strong bond between the global Guyanese population, and local development initiative.
India, China, Jamaica, and many nations with large diaspora populations designed, for example, investment funds that allowed overseas citizens to invest in their homeland at privileged concessions.
Despite housing schemes and a token effort to tap into skills with a failed online website, we fail to exercise the kind of creative thinking that makes use of our global human resource assets.
Since the wave of migration started in the late 1960’s, through its swell from the 1970’s and continuing today, we developed a robust international Guyanese community. After decades of hard work, tens of thousands of Guyanese around the world have achieved economic, social and political stability. Our global citizens serve in the judicial systems of the world. We serve at world class universities. We hold positions of esteem and power the world over. We own and control thriving businesses – many corporate multinationals in nature.
Yet, in the homeland, we still see a sort of protectionist mentality, where locals feel that overseas-based Guyanese would dominate too much. In fact, while the local population may suffer from a kind of inferiority complex when it comes to overseas-based citizens, the Diaspora must be careful not to feel superior.
This seems to be a real problem, which limits engagements, cooperation and partnerships.
Would Government be so open as to allow free trade zones with tax holidays in depressed areas, like Linden and New Amsterdam and Anna Regina? Guyanese overseas would love to play a role in small enterprises and social causes, to contribute to community development. Even partnerships between local community organs and overseas groups would go a far way to contribute to local development.
We already see huge contributions to the local society from overseas Guyanese who came back home. Many of these serve in the Government today, and many more own businesses and work as professionals.
This idea of developing the Diaspora, the global Guyanese nation, playing a pivotal role in local politics, in social transformation, and in economic development, in partnership with local Guyanese, would go a far way in lifting us as a people.
We must see the Guyanese nation not just as a country, but as a nation taking shape. In his ground-breaking thesis titled ‘Clash of Civilizations’, the author, Samuel P. Huntington, defined what constitutes a civilization, a group of people with unique cultural traits. The Guyanese nation is a developing civilization, and in the context of the 21st century global village, now spans the world as a global citizenry.
This idea is of profound importance, as we seek to tackle the challenges that beset our society, as we face the task of developing the Guyanese nation within the realities of the Knowledge Age, of the global technology age.
The first and most crucial solution is enhancing our human resource pool. Given the wider net that we could cast, out into the entire global village, for skilled people, innovative thinkers, creative designers, world class achievers, it would be so much easier to develop a human resource capital pool.
Instead of looking only within the borders of the homeland, let’s look throughout the global village – for sports coaches, for community leaders, including village council leaders, for entrepreneurs, for teachers, nurses, journalists, university lecturers, and for skilled professionals.
One major objection, of course, is that Guyana cannot afford to pay a Guyanese living in England or America, and re-migrating might not be possible.
However, like India, China, Jamaica and other nations do, we must brainstorm and design ways and means of satisfying skilled professionals to play a dynamic role in the development of our now global nation, the Guyanese nation.
This in itself is a challenge we can solve with a think-tank involving the Diaspora and relevant local leaders, including the Government, private sector and civic organizations.