Permit me to raise a query with Dr Tarron Khemraj regarding his last letter to SN of Monday September 30 (‘The Ethnic Security Dilemmas thesis needs to be upgraded’). In that letter he attributes the formulation of the theory of the Ethnic Security Dilemma in respect of Indians to the British Guiana East Indian Association, and while paying due regard to the importance of theory, posits that it is a poor predictor of crimes. This theory holds that Indians and Africans in Guyana vote race because they are afraid of each other. He cites so many points of deviation from what the theory should predict but leaves the impression that he believes the theory has enough predictive power to merely need updating. So he leaves it to survive after shooting some holes in it.
I wish to draw to his attention another point for his consideration. In Trinidad and Tobago, the elections tend to also be along ethnic lines. However, while in the 2007 elections the PNM won with 26 of the 41 seats, in the 2010 elections a party led by an Indo-Trinidadian won the elections with 29 seats to the PNM’s 12. There was no significant ethnic shift in the population from 2007 to 2010. There were polls released before the 2007 elections indicating that Indians were not going to vote for the then Indian leader Basdeo Panday in the traditional numbers.
We can conclude that Indians in Trinidad and Tobago are not afraid to lose an election. Given that they are 35% of the population compared to 34% Africans (2012 census), as opposed to Indians being 43% of the population to 30% Africans in Guyana (2002 census), if Dr Khemraj wants to leave this theory with any validity he should be able to reconcile a fearless 1% margin with a fearful 13% margin in Guyana. It seems to me that things are upside down. It should be the Guyanese Indians who are fearless as with a margin of 13% they could take back any power lost at any subsequent election.
The Ethnic Security Dilemma was created to be periodically dusted off and polished to justify the appeal to a carefully nurtured, strategically developed, tactically deployed, and therefore very valuable fear.