I AM NOT AFRAID
By NEWSDAY STAFF Wednesday, November 14 2012
WHILE acknowledging there may be difficult times ahead for the country and some of her decisions may not please everyone, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar nevertheless promised the nation that she would be a fearless leader as she continues to strive to do good for all the people.
Speaking Monday night — the closing night of the 2012 Divali celebrations at the Divali Nagar in Chaguanas — Persad-Bissessar said she is guided in her conviction by Hindu deity Lord Hanuman, from whom she said, she has learnt important life lessons.
She told the gathering that, fear, as declared by Lord Hanuman, “has no place in the personality and psychological make up of a leader. A leader who is filled with fear, has already lost the battle.”
“I want to assure you that as your Prime Minister, I will go about my duties without fear. I am not easily driven to be fearful. I might be cautious, as I need to be, but I am not afraid to treat with the challenges that confront this nation, its peoples and its principles,” Persad-Bissessar said as she addressed a crowd of several hundred persons.
Persad-Bissessar said that as leader of the People’s Partnership coalition government, her greatest happiness comes from the happiness of the people. “This has always been my mission and I want to assure you that in everything I do as Prime Minister, I ask myself, ‘will this action or decision of mine result in greater happiness for the citizens of this country?’ I know that not everyone will be happy with every decision I make. However, I am always guided by the public good,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Drawing from the teachings of Lord Hanuman as contained in the Ramayana (ancient holy Vedic text), Persad-Bissessar — who heads the People’s Partnership coalition government which comprises four political entities — spoke on the issue of partnerships.
“There is always strength in a partnership,” she said. “It will take patience, a spirit of give and take as well as the ability to create an environment of mutual respect to develop and sustain healthy and positive alliances.” She said in a multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society that is Trinidad and Tobago, partnerships, “in my respectful view”, comprise the best formula for peace and for both individual and the nation’s success.
She added that Lord Hanuman inspires her even as she leads the country’s government. “I have been inspired by the responses of Lord Hanuman, for it has always been my mantra — put God in front and then follow.
“The greater message therefore brothers and sisters is the message of humility. Hanuman knew, and we must all know, that whatever power we have, or position, or status, or skill, they have been gifted to us by God and we should use such power and position for the good of humankind.”
“This is also my personal philosophy as Prime Minister with respect to the use of power entrusted by the people. I have from the inception of my Government, always enjoined my ministers to serve the people.”
The Prime Minister then spoke of the power of light over darkness — the traditional theme of Divali –- when she referred to her now infamous bowing at the feet of India’s president Pratibha Patil in January during a state visit to that country where she received the Pravasi Samaan Award in Jaipur. This gesture was publicly ridiculed by Opposition Leader and People’s National Movement (PNM) political leader Dr Keith Rowley.
“On that visit, I received on your behalf, the highest award conferred by the people of India and in the most established and deepest show of reverence, I bowed at the feet of the president of India.
“The Opposition Leader (Rowley) expressed shock, contempt and poured scorn on this sacred exercise in devotion. Today, a few short months later, that same person came Kurta-clad to share your festivities and admire your art forms at the Nagar. The same individual who rejected your values. Such is the power of light that it can draw all darkness away from its path,” Persad- Bissessar said as she referred to Rowley’s attendance during the opening of the Nagar.
Persad-Bissessar later congratulated the National Council for Indian Culture (NCIC), which oversees the Nagar, for the 46 years of service to the local Indian community and the entire nation. She also praised and congratulated NCIC president Deokienanan Sharma on recently being awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the West Indies.
During Monday night’s festivities at the Nagar, Persad-Bissessar — with several of her Government ministers touching her shoulders — performed ‘aarti’ (a Hindu prayer ritual involving fire) at the feet of a Lord Hanuman statue.
Government Ministers present along with the Prime Minister included Justice Minister Christlyn Moore, Gender Affairs Minister Marlene Coudray, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Local Government Minister Suruj Rambachan, Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh and others.
Divali was celebrated nationwide yesterday with a public holiday.