The Indian Diaspora Council International (IDC) fully endorses Ravi Dev’s proposal for May 5 to be declared Indian Arrival Day and a national holiday in Guyana. It’s a long-overdue recognition of the tremendous contributions of people of Indian origin to the unique history, vibrant culture, and economic progress in Guyana.
As we near the 184th anniversary of Indian Arrival in then British Guiana, we pay homage to those who left India for Guyana (Guiana) and other colonies to seek better livelihoods for themselves and their descendants. While survival under very harsh conditions must have been the primary concern, they persevered to maintain their sense of origin, traditions, culture, accomplishment, recognising and appreciating the sacrifices and achievements made on their behalf.
We also recognise the invaluable contributions made over several generations by persons of Indian origin to the diverse culture and economic development of Guyana.
History has thrown us together, the people of Guyana, and history would look kindly on the success of our human spirit if it is triumphant in a shared destiny. We were thrown together as commodities for profit, as we forged a new path for our shared destiny. Our past, present and future have become inextricably intertwined. Together, we have weathered the storms of slavery, indentureship and colonialism to emerge with common and shared aspirations and energy to mould a new nation. Together, we are the “salt and sugar” of Guyana.
This initiative does not, in any way, diminish or compare to the many contributions of other ethnic groups in Guyana, in particular the descendants of African slaves, who were brought to then British Guiana against their will, yet persevered under inhumane conditions.
It should be noted that several countries with significantly smaller percentages of people of Indian origin celebrate Indian Arrival Day as a national holiday. Examples: Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname, among others.