‘It’s time we create a future that works for all of us’

-region’s latest Rhodes Scholar says better policies needed to achieve sustainable development

Zubin Deyal

It was during his formative years, living and travelling through the Caribbean that Zubin Deyal’s love for its varied beauty and nuances developed and he recognised the improvements that sustainable development could yield for the region.

“I take great pride in being a child of the Caribbean,” Deyal, the latest Common-wealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholar and a self-described ‘Caribbean national’ told Sunday Stabroek in an interview. “The beauty of the countries in our region and the similarities of our cultures is something which should transcend all discrimination. We are one Caribbean and it is time we create a future that works for all of us, especially the next generation. For, in the end, if we are not for each other, then who will be?” he asked.

Deyal, 20, was born in Barbados to Guyanese journalist and Stabroek News columnist Indranie Deolall and Trinidadian journalist Tony Deyal. By the age of eight, he had already lived in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, and Antigua and Barbuda.

A research assistant at the Inter-American Development Bank, he recently obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Finance with first class honours from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus.

Having gained the coveted Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship, which will provide full funding for two years, enabling him to study at the prestigious University of Oxford, in England, Deyal plans to pursue two Master’s degrees—one in Economics for Development and the other in Financial Economics—to assist in designing policies that will encourage growth in the region and mobilise finances for this purpose.

It should be noted that while Deyal now feels passionately about the subjects of finance and economics, his love for those disciplines was only recently cultivated.

Deyal entered UWI at 16-years-old, fresh out of the St Joseph Academy, in Antigua and Barbuda, where he had gained 16 subjects at the Caribbean Secondary Educa-tion Certificate examination, with 13 grade ones and three grade twos.

“I had to push myself to overcome a registration error that prevented me from doing a degree in physics within a new environment replete with alcohol, partying, and drugs,” he explained.

The enthusiasm he now has for economics, finance, and service, Deyal said, came while he attended UWI. “Since I adjusted and settled on a degree in economics and finance, I have become engrossed by the concept of Caribbean development, which has been stifled by low growth economies, limited financing, and poor planning,” he said.

He believes that “well-designed and coordinated policies are the key to solving these issues and achieving sustainability. In particular, strategies encouraging citizens trading stocks and bonds on regional markets would mobilise otherwise unused finances for development.”

Asked for his thoughts on managing Guyana’s expected oil revenues, Deyal said the “majority should be placed into a stabilisation fund, access to which should be governed by fiscal rules similar to those of Chile’s.

“This would minimise the effects of global fluctuations of oil prices whilst ensuring the country does not become overly reliant on oil revenues,” he added.

Deyal noted that while the discovery “has the potential to significantly increase the GDP of Guyana,” there is need for the funds to be carefully managed.

Taking failure in stride

At UWI, Deyal became fully involved in campus life, sports and student leadership. All was not smooth sailing though. In the environment that he found himself, just out of high school, he said, “It was incredibly difficult to focus at first, especially in my second year, during which I significantly under-performed academically. However, I took failure in stride, learnt from my mistakes, and explored myself to find what I really desired. Once I discovered what I really wanted, it became much easier to focus and remain disciplined.”

So from one young person to other young people, he says, “Explore yourself and know what you want to do. Set your goals and go for them. Don’t let anyone discourage you. With courage, discipline, and hard work, you can make your dreams come true.”

As the chairperson and deputy-chairperson of Keith Hunte Hall, Cave Hill campus, Deyal had to represent over 60 residents on the student’s guild. He was instrumental in securing a donation of US$1,000 from the First Citizens Bank for benches for the hall’s residents, and co-managed 20 students and US$7,500 for UWI Carnival’s Adrenaline Band, which supplied 150 costumes.

He was also the representative on the finance committee of the students’ guild for 350 residents from the three halls at the Cave Hill campus.

A sports loving person, Deyal represented Antigua and Barbuda in swimming in the 2009 OECS swimming championships, and played for Antigua and Barbuda’s youth cricket teams and the Leeward Islands cricket team between 2012 and 2014. Deyal stated that academics and sports complement each other perfectly.

“Sports has helped to build my work ethic, discipline, and team work skills, all of which have contributed to my academic performance. At the same time, sports has also offered me an avenue for relaxing and escaping the world of books and research papers for brief moments,” he said.

Noting that he would love to see the Caribbean youths increase their participation in all sports, especially cricket, he said, “Sports could help to do this for lots of other young people as well.”

The performance of the West Indies women’s team over the past few years, he said “is evidence to the power of sport. Not only has the team done extremely well with limited resources, but they are empowering women in the region and reminding us all of the strength of a united Caribbean.”

Thanking all, especially his family, who have helped him on his journey this far, he said, “I really appreciate the support you have given me and I hope to serve you and the Caribbean in whatever capacity I can.”          

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