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Indentureship Centennial hears rallying call for East Indian Uprising 

by Gary Eleazar

The Indo-Guyanese population has been called on, to rise up and protect the gains made in the 100 years since the abolition of indentureship, particularly when it comes to the rice and sugar industries and to fend off the frontal, targeted attacks by the ruling administration.

The audacious charges were made by Indo-Guyanese leaders that gathered under the ambit of the Guyana Indian Indentureship Abolition Association (GIAA) at the National Cultural Centre (NCC) on Friday (March 3, 2017) to mark the centennial anniversary of the end to indentured labour from Guyana.

The activity saw in attendance Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo—at the time performing the duties of President—Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, V. Mahalingam, Ministers of Government Cathy Hughes, Jaipaul Sharma and George Norton; business magnate Yesu Persaud, retired West Indies Cricketers Joe Solomon and Roger Harper (along with wife Elizabeth Harper), Roshan Khan, Yog Mahadeo, former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and a number of members of the diplomatic corps all joining with members of the Indian community to mark the occasion.


Billed as an activity to kick start the year of events to commemorate the 100 year anniversary, tensions ran high, as emotive presentations—politically unsheathed at times—were met with standing ovations or heckles of disapproval.

Author and pro-Indian activist, Ryhaan Shah—one of the names rejected by Head of State David Granger for the chairmanship of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM)—was among the presenters to tackle the question of state of affairs of the Indian population in Guyana.

She surmised that Guyana is in fact a transit point for Indians and reasoned “we came here on ships and we are leaving on jet planes.”

Shah told the sparsely populated auditorium of the National Cultural Centre that the future and security of Indians in Guyana is uncertain and that the country remains afflicted with the politics that came with self rule.

The politics that came with self government deepened the divide between the Indian and African communities and this spilled over into violence, according to Shah, who argued that this plight still obtains.

She said for many Indians, Guyana has become a stopover on the voyage out of India onward to places such as the United States of America or Canada. ““For many Indians in Guyana this place has unfortunately become a stopover of the voyage out of India, they now travel to new York and Toronto to the safety security and prosperity they feel are denied them here…” said Shah.

Uncertain Future

Shah argues that the Indian population in Guyana has been marginalized and lamented that in marking what should be a revered occasion, there is little optimism.

“Right now rice faces an uncertain future, more sugar estates are to be shut down,” she told those gathered and reminded of the hundreds of workers to be sent home and the concomitant effects on the families.

She drew reference too, to the recent Value Added Tax to be maintained on private tuition fees in addition to the shrinking business sector.

Shah has since asserted that the Indian Guyanese community feels that it is the intended target of these administrative policies being pursued by the ruling A Partnership for national Unity, Alliance for Change (APNU-AFC) Administration.

Calling out the representatives of both government and opposition, Shah said were there the political will to tackle the plight facing the nation, the country would take a different direction but instead what obtains is one-upmanship and self serving egos


Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Adrian Anamayah—representing Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo—was even more frontal in his accusations, pitting government against the local Indian population.

Anamayah told the gathering the administration was rolling out a raft of legislation including the State Asset Recovery laws which he said was meant to target successful Indian businessmen in Guyana.

“Indian businessmen are being penalized for their success,” according to Anamayah, as he argued that it is members of that ethnic grouping that will be feeling the brunt of the ‘draconian’ legislation.

The Member of Parliament also pointed to the sugar industry and repeated charges by the political opposition—sentiments that did not find favour with every member of the gathering since he was heckled piercingly by at least one patron, much to the chagrin of others.

“My Indian brethren, I tell you this is the time to stand firm and resist,” Anamayah charged.

Another of the presenters to echo similar sentiments was politician and Indian activist Ravi Dev. Deviating from his presentation tracing the Indian journey to Guyana, Dev said “we cannot talk about celebrating the end of indentureship when last December 1,700 persons were thrown out of work.”

Dev was at the time referring to the displaced workers at the now closed Wales Sugar Factory.

Arguing that the circumstances Indians find themselves in is not of their own making, and that every gain made was done through struggle.

Nagamootoo Absent

It was against this backdrop that the politician/activist called on the Indo-Guyanese population to honour the struggles of their fore-parents by putting up a resistance and “to rise up and do what is necessary to protect what we have built.”

Prime Minister Nagamotoo, was however absent as the Indian leaders threw barbs since he had left after making an early presentation in order to attend another pressing function.

He had told the gathering that 100 years after the abolition of indentureship in Guyana there is much to celebrate and pointed to achievements in numerous disciplines including sport, as was ably represented in the form of Solomon—also recognized by GIIAA to mark the occasion.

Minister of Social Cohesion in his remarks to the assembly shied away from the attacks on government and instead read from a prepared statement which traced the Indian journey to Guyana and lauded their contributions to the cultural and economic development of Guyana.

Following the oral presentations, patrons were treated to a bevy of cultural performances and sweet meats

  • Second Coming

    When folks talk about uprising, are they instigating open rebellion? Where was the uprising when Jagdeo wastedUS$200m on the Skeldon? Where was the uprising when the PPP refused to tell rice farmers the Venezuelans gave early notice of ending demand for Guyanese rice? Nevertheless, if folks want to stage an uprising, then don’t just urge it and then go and hide; make sure you are in front of the pack.

    I want to ask Guyanese Indians, and especially rice farmers and sugar workers:The PPP had 23 years in power, so what has it done for you in that time frame? How many sugar workers or rice farmers were given even a plot of land in Pradoville 1 and 2?

  • Fedup / GT

    Shah why not take the plane back to India instead.
    Where was your voice when Jagdeo close down Dimond estate, bauxite and replace Clarence with Sattar?

  • GTMassive

    They are preaching division..and acting like the so called business men are angles ..everything needs checks and balances..smh

  • Parbudin Mackanlall

    The rice and sugar industries went into a downward spiral starting May 2015.Everything was fine with them in the preceding twenty three years. Furthermore the government has no right to close any sugar estate. It is supposed to continue to subsidize the sugar industry while it drags the rest of the country under.
    The fact that private schools make huge profits but do not pay their taxes is irrelevant. Asking them to pay taxes even before the implementation of VAT on school fees, was a clear act of racist oppression.
    The country’s stolen assets should not be recovered by the current administration. How dare this government deny people the right to steal the nation’s money. For that matter, how dare they seek to clamp down on drug trafficking. What more must you do to make a good living.
    This government must think that these are the days of old when Indians acquired wealth by hard work, thrift and conventional business sense. Those backward practices are not for today. Jagan set a very bad example when having become a dentist he helped to finance the tertiary education of his younger siblings. Wealth has to be acquired by the easiest means available and laws and regulations be damned. Who the hell are Granger and entourage to say otherwise.

    • Paul Cockfield

      well said mr mackanlall

      • Col123

        yea, he fingering those same Indian folks who put the PNC in power…well said if you can add more grease or whatever to his finger….

  • Garfield Fields

    Another Haiti in the making .They have the type of Government already now it is just time for all Indiands and Portuguese to leave,It will be Mashramani every day and dasheen bush for breakfast lunch and dinner.Guyana is dead to all East Indians living abroad,Cant get better

  • Emile_Mervin

    I concur because the PPP did not do anything for them. The pretenders looked after themselves

  • Col123

    Somehow I have this urge to dispute your point…be it color or ethnic discrimination/racism…, it could be from my personal exposure and experience with racism . I believe most humans can reach their life long goals despite their color or ethnicity.., of course, it takes effort… which in fact makes those goals more cherished and rewarding..

  • H_ali

    the gains they made in the past 20 years is via the underground economy, now that the drugs money is drying many of their ‘businesses are closing down one by one. and then you have those who are drug addicts killing dem mattie look at the devastating effects in the PPP strong hold Berbice, just recently st least four East Indian was charged for the murder of one of their own

  • brain dead idiot

    true true

  • brain dead idiot

    funny as soon as indians start to call them self indians and make a thing about their indentity seems to be a big offense they all get branded as drug lords i can remember talk show host in open defiance of the past government and openly prasing the freedom fighters that were robbing indians and killing them, indians will not take that type of action they have much to loose they are the backbone of this nation without them ass gon eat grass and oil money can’t save nobody.

  • Lance Vance


    • Col123

      Don’t go there is important that we pause and reflect upon our history and those who leveled that road ahead of us…

  • dougla

    What did you all show for freeloading during the KABAKA 28 yrs of brutal Dictatorship? Now this Dictatorship just started and nothing to show bur rob and thief, Indians can bare dem chafe without dry coconut and eddo leaf,,

  • RLSG

    These words are incendiary and they had better be aware of what they are asking people to do … “an indian uprising” … really. Just in case we forgot there was a time when there was a ‘racial war’ in Guyana … Indians against black people’. If it is a fight they are calling for they had better be aware that actions have consequences. I am sure that they will not want a repeat of the past which no one seems to either remember or have forgotten. Unfortunately as a child during the 60s I lived through it … with road blocks set up in negro villages with ‘vigilante patrols’ to defend themselves against the Indians in the housing schemes.

    I think that if this is to happen Indians have a lot more to lose than black people .. so be careful Ryhaan Shah, Ravi Dev and Adrian Anamayah … be careful … things could get ugly real fast.