|Guyana Politics: The great war of the Paratha Roti||| Print ||
|Written by Paul Sanders|
|Thursday, 23 June 2011 14:50|
I've been having this bad dream for three weeks now, but it must be one of the lucid ones, because I'm always able to back out before it turns into a nightmare. Only this time it seems to have followed me, because I'm not alone.
There's something under the bed. I can hear it chewing. I can smell the crisp flavor of baked flour and the flavorful aroma of "chunkay" dhall. The smell does not do anything to my fears.
You know how it is when you're really scared, right? Your heart seems to stop, your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth, your skin goes cold and goose bumps rise up all over your body. Instead of meshing, the cogs in your head just spin and the whole engine heats up. I want to scream, I really do. It's the one thing I don't want to look at. It's the food police of the Burnham era.
Blame it on Burnham. Blame it on the PNC. Blame it on the Black people.
Forbes Burnham is back. And he gets to play the bag guy again. Public enemy#1.
This time he's not running off with the ballot boxes. This election the PNC maximum leader is conducting his own Inquisition: roti and dhall will be hunted down by the Gestapo, seized from the hands of hurting children, and hauled away to fatten the thugs and their families of the force.
The victims are mainly East Indians who support the PPP, most of them, pious Hindus whose dependency on these items have something to do with their Gods. When politics and religion face off -even though they are cousins - the drama gets quite epic. Touching the foods or offerings to the Gods is really infringing on religious freedom.
This is going to be a problem. A really big problem. A different problem. How East Indians subscribe to Historical Materialism and the diktats of the Communist Party of the
But the East Indian mind is a labyrinth: an intricate web of eclectic, tricky mechanism. It still seems to defy research.
No doubt, this is the season to be dottish. No wonder, the politics of roti has come back to haunt us this election time. Almost three decades after the ban on essential food items, the issue has once again raised its head, but this time with greater majesty.
The exhumation of this dead matter is significant for a few reasons. And it has nothing much to do with forensics, detective work or real inquiry. It has everything to do with an appetite for racial demagogues- real and implied.
For one, the command post for this sleaze is maneuvered by two of the most erudite representatives of ethnic ideology and Indian identity: world traveler and pollster Vishnu Bisram and a raving intellectual of the defunct
Both of these men have carried pieces of solid, tight, well written creep fest - while actively flouting the fiasco of the East Indian PPP's 19 years of governance - that further solidify them as the major forces in horror literature. You've got all the things here a horror fan craves: the violence, the mayhem, and the blood and guts; the repression and anguish of East Indians whose ultimate devotion to the deities were spat upon by the evil Forbes Burnham and the PNC.
And if you are not reading their crap then you are a damn fool. What neither of them failed to mention in their ethnocentric victimhood is that notable Hindus like Sase Narine, Gowkarran Sharma (whose imposition that Burnham was the reincarnation of Lord Krishna), the Misirs and countless scribes cowered to Burnham like the subjects of a Pharaoh.
At the feet of the great Kabaka, these sorcerers not only trembled to the dictator but betrayed Hindus and East Indians alike. Interestingly, these learned pundits worship the same Gods the down trodden Hindus and East Indians of the PPP bowed to. They read the same scriptures and found valid interpretations for the ban on wheat flour that Vishnu Bisram and Ravi Dev are screeching about. They are the same people on different sides of the river.
Isn't that like hijacking the Ramayana? Or the making of false prophets?
But that's really not the point. The issue is this. Both of these wise scholars chose to bring up the old pains and relive it in an election year when more and more distraught East Indians are shifting their political interests away from the PPP. The idea is to demonize the PNC via of Burnham, scare East Indians into ethnic paranoia and corral them back into the racial enclave.
Vishnu Bisram and Ravi Dev know that the East Indian votes are migrating. Traditional die-hards are disenchanted; malaise has stepped in; young voters are disconnected with the vibes of the old politics; and the overall experience of PPP's governance is a major, major turn off. The jitters are so revealing.
Why not talk about the Phantom Squad that was ruled by an American fugitive? Why not discuss the reign of terror on the streets, organized crime, the narco-world, the miscreants of the PPP that reside at the OP; the corner offices in public corporations? Why not lament about the gallery of scam artists whose blessings emanate from the Jagdeo administration? Why not talk about the travesty of justice; and corruption as a franchise in a country in which family and friends symbolize the right relationship? Why not raise the topic of the functional illiterates who are the big wig honchos of today: people like Donald Ramotar whose expertise so far is nothing, but nevertheless, is the PPP front runner?
And why won't any of these learned men give Desmond "Persaud" Hoyte, another evil black man of the PNC credit for restoring the importation of flour? Duh!
None of these commentators acknowledge the fact that the crisis of the food ban created the suitcase economy which later spawned what sociologist Ken Danns described as the "parasitic class." Now this "parasitic class" did not fall down from the sky; these were teachers, middle managers in the public service who were quitting their jobs to sell flour and banned items in an underground economy.
These folks weren't motivated by humanitarianism. They were inspired by the prospect of super profits first. Many of them were East Indians who became the status symbol of the society. Because undercutting the system via of bribes and other enticements was the only means of survival. Burnham's government offered that outlet for those who were willing to pay.
In Berbice where the bulk of East Indians inhabited, life went on as usual; the population tapped in to the
The rest is history. And each person suffered more than the other. That's the story. Can Vishnu Bisram and Ravi Dev reconcile that?
Nah. But they will not shut the front up. These PPP emissaries have found a clever way to go around their conscience as if a sudden transparency yielded new insights into the debate. So they have invoked old grudges that resonate with dumb people. And what they dredged up is the flour ban of the early 80's and reworked its racial, political and religious ramifications to renew strife.
What the narrative of the ban and its impact on East Indians does is to provide an attempt to recycle the Apaan Jhaat mentality. This is old school.
Nothing new here. The PPP has used the arsenal of pandits, mandirs, bottom house meetings to convey the "Rawanaism" of Burnham and the PNC. In effect, black people. Racism is colorful; the language is deceptively composed to irrigate racist tendencies and glorify the bigots.
The PPP has demonstrated an authoritative grasp on primal fears by pulling racial cords: they are turning to the dark period of the PNC era to stir up East Indian sensibilities so as to scare voters into the PPP camp. It is the method of marketing the future by reversing the present.
And the present is a whole lot darker than the past. The PPP knows it. That is why their stalwarts are reluctant to debate the 19 years of "democracy" but will cheerily narrate the "28 years" mantra like an old "gana" with boundless narcissism.
The threshold of such thinking is to congregate ethnic identity by the atrocities of the past. This is where Vishnu Bisram and Ravi Dev converge. Their purpose is to highlight the PPP, and by extension, the East Indians' enemies by selectively raise sensitive issues of historical relevance and perpetuating an ugliness and perspective with the sophistication of education and scholarship.
At least, so it seems. But go ahead, read their trash if you dare.