…on Indian Arrival Monument
At long last, the Indian Arrival Monument (IAM) has been installed and officially dedicated at Palmyra in Berbice. Mirroring the passage of the original Indian immigrants across the Indian and Atlantic oceans, the construction of the monument had more than its fair share of travails.
First of all, unlike other monuments dedicated to other groups’ histories, this one had to be proposed, funded, and crafted by a foreign country – India.
Then came the modelling – done by two local Guyanese sculptors (one Indian, one African) almost a decade ago. It was later cast in bronze in India, but returned only in early 2015, whereupon it stood in some warehouse for four years.
The six stylised figures are shown disembarking, presumably from a ship that had brought them across the dreaded Kala Pani/“black waters”. There are three men, two women and one boy. Anachronistically, one of the men is wearing a “Nehru/Congress” cap, which was fashioned only after indentureship and during India’s struggle for independence.
The siting of the monument then stirred controversy. While the first Indian immigrants did set foot first in Berbice, it wasn’t at Palmyra, but miles upriver, at Highbury. For years, Indian Arrival had been commemorated at that location, and permanent structures had been erected to facilitate the activities. But since it was off the beaten track, the previous Government had decided to situate it right opposite the Berbice Bridge, to ensure anyone entering or leaving Berbice would see it. It’s as if the US moved Independence Hall – where their declaration of Independence was signed – from Philadelphia to New York, so that more folks could visit!!
But, believe it or not, the biggest struggle was to construct the base on which the 17-ton sculpture would stand. The spot at Palmyra was in a cane field that had to be cleared and levelled. Disregarding the plans left them by the departed PPP Government, the new PNC Government awarded the $42- million contract to some mom-and-pop firm from Linden that had absolutely no experience in heavy construction. Rather than casting solid concrete walls for the base, the Lindener used hollow blocks for the walls, which not surprisingly crumbled when they started to sand-fill the base!!
It took a year to start over and complete a much more modest (lower) base, but by then the cost had doubled because of the hollow blocks fiasco.
But the travails weren’t over. The Minister of Social Cohesion – who’s responsible for monuments and such like – announced that the IAM would be unveiled on April 17, even though Indian Arrival Day was only three weeks away!! Your Eyewitness understands the Indian High Commission had to dig their heels in for the May 5th date!!
…and square pegs
PNC leader Granger’s certainly making a mockery of governance. First, he created the largest Cabinet in the history of Guyana with 24 Ministers – plus another 4 who aren’t members! By comparison, the USA, with a Budget of US$4.5 TRILLION, makes do with 15 Ministers (called Secretaries)!! He seems to believe quantity is a substitute for quality!!
Another idiosyncrasy is that he doesn’t ever fire Ministers, no matter how flagrant their transgressions or the non-performance of their tasks. His solution is to “transfer”, as if character flaws like corrupt behaviour or laziness can be solved with new job titles!! But then, the practice of putting square pegs in round holes once they’re loyal to the PNC was par for the course under his hero Burnham, wasn’t it? How else can you explain his latest decisions to deal with the 4 resignations ensuing from the dual-citizen constitutional violations?
Imagine someone whose foreign service experience is limited to flying to NY being made Minister of Foreign Affairs!
Granger’s playing Russian roulette with our future just to reward PNC loyalty!
…and shafting Indians
Granger was fulsome in his praise of Indians’ achievements at the IAM ceremony. So how come he couldn’t find 1 Indian Permanent Secretary out of 17?
Have they regressed in the last four years? Or been shafted?