I maintain that Dev’s Federalism proposal is highly flawed

Dear Editor,

On the eve of 2018, Ravi Dev attempted another roar. His features are referred to as “The Roar of Ravi Dev”.  This time he roared at Henry Jeffrey’s reiterated proposal of a “grand coalition”. This roar saw Dev denouncing “the studied refusal of African theorists to follow Lewis’ suggestion and include ‘Federalism’ in their proposal for ending the ethnic security dilemmas”.

Over the years, I have expressed agreement with Ravi Dev’s contention that majoritarian rule will not work for Guyana. In fact, Jeffrey also expresses that view. Indeed, our point of departure is Dev’s insistence that the solution must include Federalism.

His articulation of the theoretical benefits of Federalism are flawless but fails to address the reality of Guyana.

In the past,  he has offered specific suggestions about the geographical construct of Federalism, in Guyana. On this occasion, he omits that articulation but contends that “In a society where the majority ethnic groups each constitute majorities in different areas of the country, political devolution offers the largest number of incentives toward addressing ethnic insecurities”. Thus, by inference, he returns to his old idea of creating four states: Berbice, Demerara, South Essequibo and North Essequibo, or some such configuration based on ethnic dominance.

While I am an advocate of devolution, I maintain that his proposition of Federalism is highly flawed, Indo-centric and non-recognition of the contribution of other Guyanese to the development of Guyana; and their collective right to its patrimony. On another occasion, I will deal with the racist nature of his proposal.

Wherever Federalism has been adopted, its implementation has been associated with the inhabitants of a particular state sharing  some homogeneity and collective sovereign right. In Guyana, our occupation and development of any and every part of the country has been shared with ethnic sequential presence  and probable dominance, at particular junctures. No one part of “Guyana” can historically be attributed to any one ethnic group, except for the Amerindians, who are condemned to dominion in South Essequibo, in his construct. Having laid the foundation for the development of the entire coast of Guyana, Ravi Dev’s construct seems to provide African Guyanese dominion over Demerara, by far the smallest county with the least diversified resource base, the largest population and the largest number of Indo-Guyanese, in any part of the country. On the other hand, he seeks to hand dominion to the Indo -Guyanese in Berbice and North Essequibo, including Regions 7 and probably part of 8, amounting to approximately half of the country being under the control of about 20 percent of its population, not to mention the percentage of its wealth.

No ethnic group in Guyana, except the Amerindians can lay claim to any region or county of this country. Land rights and nationhood are the quintessential bases upon which Federal States have been established in every part of this world, albeit some evolved and others used devolution to correct the historical distortion and erosion of their sovereign rights.

There is therefore no basis or justification for Ravi Dev’s  roar.

The sound is occasioned but its direction reeks of serious sensitivity disorder, like a doctor with the right diagnosis but the wrong treatment. Let’s find the right way to make Guyana Rise.

Ravi Dev’s chronic penchant for misadventure on this matter, essays the need for close and critical examination of his other editorial ventures.

Yours faithfully,

Vincent Alexander

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