SDMS president general: Protect and promote Trinidad and Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

OUR HERITAGE: Dancers in traditional East Indian attire perform during the Maha Sabha’s Indial Arrival Day celebration and procession along the SS Erin Main Road in Debe on Thursday. PHOTO BY VENESSA MOHAMMED –

President general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Krishna Rambally has called on the East Indian community to protect and promote this country.

Delivering greetings at the Maha Sabha’s Indian Arrival Day celebrations at Parvati Girls’ Hindu College, Debe on Thursday, Rambally told hundreds of celebrants that TT is their motherland.

“I am hoping that we all remember that this country is our…motherland. This is where I live, where you live, where your children will live and where your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren will live. So it is your duty to do everything to protect and promote your country,” Rambally said.

When asked by Newsday about those who view India as the motherland of East Indians, Rambally said: “If I am born here and I grow here and my children are born here and they grow here, this is our land. I belong here. I am not going anywhere. That’s not an individual statement. That represents the view of hundreds of thousands in Trinidad.

“Many years ago, when we had our grandparents and our great-grandparents, they came from there (India). So that was their motherland. We had no problem to say it then. But now, let’s be realistic. We are here.”

At the celebrations, India’s High Commissioner to TT, Pradeep Rajpurohit, commended the East Indian community, who he referred to as India’s diaspora, on its accomplishments in the 179 years it has been a part of TT’s society.

“They made this conscious effort and their decision to move out of the country so far away for a better life, better livelihood, better things for their children.

Members of the Satya Drishti group before they took part in the Maha Sabha’s Indian Arrival Day celebrations in Debe on Thursday. PHOTO BY VENESSA MOHAMMED –

“This is the day to recognise all those efforts, all those sacrifices down the line. The generations have done well and through the children, the descendants of those so-called labourers or workers, today we are proud of the Indian diaspora here. They have excelled, from politics to agriculture, to business to services to all the sectors around and this is what mother India is proud of,” Rajpurohit said.

The high commissioner asked members of the diaspora to “connect back to the motherland.”

“The Motherland wishes to embrace the diaspora and in that process, we seek support from all of you in this process, that how we can make benefit out of this.”

He said there are programmes available through the High Commission to facilitate this like an overseas Indian citizenship card which grants citizenship without voting privileges. let’s use this opportunity. This is an effort also to establish your ancestry, your family roots back in India.”

He said there are also a number of scholarships and programmes available to the diaspora, so they can visit India.

Thursday’s celebration kicked off with students from the majority of SDMS-controlled primary schools and temples joining in a procession from Ramsamooj Trace, Debe to the college.

Despite intermittent downpours, the students paraded many dressed in traditional East Indian wear, played cultural instruments, depicted Hindu deities, and even paid homage to the demographic’s formative years by having a tractor tow a boat which symbolised the Fatel Razack which on May 30, 1845, brought the first batch of indentured labourers from India to these shores.

Thursday’s celebration was held not too far from where sugarcane was grown, harvested, weighed and transported.

Cane was grown in the area up until the sugar industry was closed in the early 2000s.

Part of the Solomon Hochoy Highway, which ends in Gandhi Village, and the unopened University of the West Indies’ south campus, now sit on lands that once grew sugar cane.

Also speaking at the celebrations was Maha Sabha secretary general Vijay Maharaj who expressed concern at the large number of people and families leaving TT due to its high crime rate. He called on the nation not to abandon the nation but to stay and fight the good and just fight.