I have consistently maintained that in a pluralist society one race cannot govern alone

Dear Editor,

I am responding to Mr. Ronald Bulkan’s letter (`T&T PM said that the UNC would not negotiate with criminals’ SN Oct 27) in which he accuses me of “suffering from a full-blown panic attack” (of what – he did not say) and for “commencing the beating of well-known tribal drums”. The comments are not worthy of a response but Bulkan queries what “drives Bisram to offer gratuitous advice to the UNC” stating he “looks forward to being educated by me”. So I have decided to pen this response to instruct him on the matters he raised.

On a panic attack, last week, my home was burglarized by people not of my ethnicity cleaning me out (tens of thousands of US dollars) and I did not panic leaving the police to do their work although I know the police won’t do anything. Also, I travel a lot worldwide to conduct political, social and economic analyses and I do not panic even when I arrive at airports to check in at the last minute or miss connections. I decipher that my friend Ronald is panicking about my advice that ethnic leaders should come together for the interests of their supporters. He seems to prefer, instead, that one group dominate the political field.

On drums, I beat and love to listen to the dholak, tassa, tabla, European, and Chinese and African drums, etc., that make beautiful music. Bulkan should try beating and listening to tabla, dholak, and tassa, and dantaal and encourage his party to do likewise. They will be surprised how lovely is that type of music.

On beating of tribal drums, when I speak out against ethnic injustice and ethnic leaders coming together, that is defined as tribalism by Bulkan. But when the leader of Bulkan’s party raised the issue of the Son Chapman bombing (and to build a monument) that is not beating the tribal drum? When I donate my hard earned income (and materials) to Guyanese and Trini schools with non-Indian students, is that beating of tribal drums? When I visit Africa and help poor Blacks in South Africa that is not beating the tribal drum? When I fought against apartheid and racism in Rhodesia, that is beating Indian tribal drums.

When I was a political soldier who fought in the revolution against what VS Naipaul described as ethnic tyranny (1964 thru 1992), that ushered in democracy, that was not beating the tribal drum? When Bulkan and his party are enjoying the freedom of the press that I fought for, that is not defined tribal drum beating. When Bulkan’s party advocates closure of Guysuco, that is not beating tribal drum? When the PNC rigged elections, that was not beating tribal drums? When Indians are targeted for crimes, that is not tribal behaviour? It is only when Vishnu Bisram opposes ethnic injustice against Indians and other groups, that is beating the tribal drum.

I have consistently maintained that in a pluralist society (including US, Canada, Guyana, Trinidad), one race cannot govern alone.  No ethnic group should dominate another ethnic group. That is plain wrong. If it were wrong for one ethnic group to govern alone between 1964 and 1992 in Guyana, it can’t be right now. No country should have to endure ethnic dominance that took place in Guyana (1964 thru 1992), apartheid South Africa, and Ian Smith’s Rhodesia). Thus, I support and endorse ethnic alliance, accommodation, coalition and inclusive government in all pluralist societies and even in near homogeneous Korea and Japan.

With regards to Trinidad, my unsolicited advice (offered gratis) came from conversations with the people. I did not invent it. The people told me and interviewers of the ongoing tracking NACTA poll they want reconciliation and accommodation between the UNC (PP) and the ILP. I have a professional duty to state the peoples’ views – the voice of the people is the voice of God. Ethnic reconciliation, political accommodation and reconciliation between former friends who fell out are the best foot forward in a divided society.  In the season of Diwali, one must be prepared to bury differences to pursue the greater national interest of unity. That is not beating the ethnic drum.  I understand Bulkan’s rationale for opposing unity and reconciliation – it is self serving as it would benefit Bulkan’s party. That is plain wrong.

 Yours faithfully,

Vishnu Bisram

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