IAC slams Education Minister’s disdainful ethnic comment

…calls for apology

The Indian Action Committee (IAC) has said it is “shocked and outraged” by the insensitive ethnic remarks made by Education Minister Nicolette Henry in the National Assembly on Thursday, December 7, 2017 during her Budget Debate presentation.
The IAC, in a statement, said it recognises that this Government minister has been in a controversial situation before, when she referred to ‘Phagwah’ as ‘Diwali’, but the organisation had at the time excused the minister’s lapse, given that she was new on the job, even though, as a Guyanese, she should have known the difference for many years.
The IAC has said that in this instance, having watched and listened to the video of the minister’s comment, in which she said the following words: “I am not a ‘chhatri’ so I may not know when there is Diwali or Phagwah…”, this performance by Minister Henry is being viewed as one which demonstrates an arrogant disdain for things Indian, thus illustrating unbecoming behaviour on the part of a Government minister.
The IAC says it strongly feels that Minister Henry is out of order, and has insulted more than half of the population of Guyana, who are persons of Indo-Guyanese origin.
The IAC has said it cannot make any sensible connection in the minister’s usage of the term ‘chhatri’, on the one hand, and Phagwah and Diwali on the other hand, given that the term ‘chhatri’ refers to one of the main Hindu castes of India, and Phagwah and Diwali are distinct festivals of India, and are national holidays of Guyana.
The IAC said it is “extremely bewildered by this statement of the Minister, given the fact that she was already embroiled in a controversy regarding the festivals of Phagwah and Diwali earlier in March this year, and the organisation, this time, will not excuse this Minister for her gross insult to Indo-Guyanese”.
The IAC, in light of this uneducated outburst, has lost all confidence in Education Minister Henry, and is calling upon President Granger to ensure that she makes a public apology to all persons of Indo-Guyanese origin who have been insulted by her insensitive ethnic comment.