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FORMER SENATOR: COOLIE TO THE BONE

GARY CARDINEZ Saturday, October 14 2006

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INDIAN HONOURS: NCIC President Deokinanan Sharma honours former UNC senator Surendranath Capildeo at Thursday's launch of the 2006 Divali Nagar at End...
INDIAN HONOURS: NCIC President Deokinanan Sharma honours former UNC senator Surendranath Capildeo at Thursday's launch of the 2006 Divali Nagar at End...

FORMER UNC Senator Surendranath Capildeo admitted to being a “coolie to the bone” (Coolie is a coarse, derogatory term for a person of East Indian descent) during his address at the formal opening of Divali Nagar 2006 in Chaguanas on Thursday night.

Capildeo was the chief guest and delivered the feature address on a night when the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) kicked off its 20th year of Divali celebrations. Capildeo spoke on the theme Hindu/Indian contribution to the world.

After speaking about the East Indian’s contribution in world affairs, the former senator said, “Let us turn to ourselves and take a good hard look.”

“Now ladies and gentlemen, let us consider you and I, let us consider the Indian.

“An extraordinary specimen of species Homo Sapiens, a remarkable survivor. You are looking at one, a real true, true Indian – a coolie to the bone.

“Indians have been on this planet for a very long time, whatever the period, my past, the Indian’s past is as they say shrouded in the mists of antiquity.

“We are like no other race, we are different, Indians are a world unto themselves. We regard ourselves as the eternal people.”

“Our religion is the eternal religion, we have been and are witness to a continuous unbroken thread of Indian civilisation which began before the memory of man.

“We have customs, we recite prayers, we do things Indian, as our ancestors have done for thousands of years before, you say, Christ set foot on this earth. So when you look at Indian, in Trinidad, or wherever, you just remember that an Indian is no ordinary being.

“He belongs to a special race and our unique history as a subjugated people sets us apart. If ever a race was meant to be subjugated and enslaved it was or as some would say is, the Indian race.

“The Indian mind does not submit to slavery, you cannot enslave an Indian mind. Not even the Vedic Gods of yore could do that. This is our legacy, this is our heritage. Now tonight, knowing all that, let you and I consider the Indian. Indians do not seek refuge behind the skirts of indentureship, that is history. History has its lessons, we learn and move on.”

The audience included Chaguanas Mayor Suruj Rambachan and his deputy Orlando Nagessar, Chaguanas MP Manohar Ramsaran, MP Sadiq Baksh and UWI Principal Bhoe Tewari.

After quoting from the Bhagavad Gita Capildeo continued, “Now I know we have been painted and tainted as a corrupt people who cannot hold high office. In fact, I am a regular victim of drive-by cussing with people telling me, ‘all ah all you, grey-haired Indian is thief.’ Do not be disturbed, this accusation is nothing new.”

Capildeo then went on to quote history as far back as 1847, where Lord Harris complained that Indians had a propensity to vagabond life and continued on to the recent revelation about the PNM’s bias against Indians. He chalked it up as “the more things change the more they remain the same.”

Capildeo reminded his audience to recall the efforts of their past leaders nearly all of whom he had the fortune to know from Roodal, Saran Teelucksingh, Clarence Carmichael Abidh, Ranjit Kumar, Chanka Maharaj, Ashford Sinanan, Basdeo Panday and Bhadase Sagan Maraj whom he described as the greatest of them all.

Capildeo also reminded the audience that “in the near future you will have the privilege of demonstrating your mettle as an Indian. I say to you, all of you, seize the moment with both hands and this time do not let go. Hold on, forever.”

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