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Hotline

Medal of Honour for Dr Capildeo

Wednesday, June 6 2012

If Dr Rudranath Capildeo, one of the architects of the 1962 Constitution, was alive today he would “cry bitter tears” over the state of the country, 50 years after its independence, according to his nephew, Suren Capildeo.

Suren, a well-respected attorney, spoke of his late uncle, Dr Capildeo, in whose honour he received a gold Medal of Honour award. The presentation was made posthumously for Dr Capildeo’s meritorious services to the country. The presentation took place yesterday at Suren’s chambers on Edward Street, Port-of-Spain. Reginald Vidale, chairman of the Dr Eric Williams TC Memorial Committee, presented the medal.

Rudranath Capildeo was born February 2, 1920 in Chaguanas, Trinidad. He lived at the famous “Lion House”. A former national scholarship winner, he attended Queen’s Royal College (QRC). He began studies in medicine at Oxford University, but switched to Mathematics at the University College London.

He was a barrister-at-law in Trinidad and Tobago in 1958 and later founded and led the Democratic Labour Party (1960-1969), which helped draft the Independence Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago. Dr Capildeo was Leader of the Opposition in Parliament while his former QRC classmate, Dr Eric Williams was Prime Minister and founder of the People’s National Movement (PNM), which won the last pre-Independence general election.

Dr Capildeo received the country’s highest national award, the Trinity Cross, from the Government of TT in 1969 for his outstanding achievements. This is the second award given to Dr Capildeo although after death, but it adds to the celebration marking the 50 years of Independence, along with remembering the life of Dr Eric Williams. “The time has come some way or another, large or small as it may be, to recognise Dr Rudranath’s contribution to building the nation,” emphasised Vidale. He also added, “this country needs to step away from political affiliation and recognise their place in history,” hence the award recognises Dr Capildeo and Dr Williams’ long lasting foundation.

Attorney Suren Capildeo upon receiving the award, when asked about his feelings expressed “I am in a state of shock, and it has been a long awaited award that Dr Capildeo is most deserving of, because of his dynamic contributions to our freedom.” He went on to say that if it was not for Dr Capildeo and Dr Eric Williams’ hard work the nation would not have the freedom and independence they have today. He stressed that TT needs to show more appreciation for the forefathers’ of this nation, and its history.

Suren called on the Ministry of Education to find ways to better circulate the history of the country because, as he said, “people don’t know who Dr Capildeo was.” The establishment of the Rudranath Capildeo Learning Resource Centre is not enough, and there needs to be something done nationally to educate the young people more about their history.

Attorney Suren said, if his uncle had lived to see the present state of the country he would cry “bitter tears”.

“There is no one with the necessary capacity to bring it back to what it was; we are still indentured and under slavery because of the way we think, and so we need a master,” said Suren. He emphasised that the present state of the country was solely due to poor leadership, and it was not a social issue, that no one can be as strong as Dr Capildeo was, to revolutionise the nation and redeem the country.

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