It is with deep sorrow that my family and I received the news of the passing of Mr. Balram Singh Rai, 100 years old.
Mr. Rai was married to my cousin Shannie, and shared a very close relationship with our family, so much so that he gave his Chambers to my brother and I when he was leaving Guyana permanently. Balram Singh Rai will be remembered.
At a very early age, he joined the Public Service, and became a member of the executive of the Public Service Union. He then departed for England to study law at one of the Inns of Court, where he passed with honours, after which he returned to Guyana. This young barrister, in one year, was published in the newspapers as personality of the year, as he looked like a young Indian prince – he was that handsome.
He was a devout Hindu of the Arya Samaj Sect. I am aware of his utter devotion, as he did sandhya at his home in High Street twice per day – morning and evening.
Mr. Rai strongly believed in the peaceful co-existence of all races, with their various cultures in Guyana. He became involved in politics in the 1940s as Dr. Jagan was contesting a seat in Central Demerara. He saw Dr. Jagan as the axis on which not only Indian rights and identity would be given notice, but the entire nation of Guyana would be awakened to the great horizon of opportunity, personal identity, and individual glory. This was not to be, as experienced by him in his personal political life.
It was known that the contest for Chairmanship of the PPP was rigged in favour of Brindley Benn, who became Chairman and who boasted, “It is easier to stop tomorrow than to stop communism”.
Mr. Rai held the view that this vast country of various resources ought to be owned and developed by the citizens of Guyana, who are the descendants of slaves and indentured labourers, by means of private and public investments. This was not to be, as it was pontificated, according to him by the PPP, that the state must own the sugar estates, the bauxite companies, the insurance companies, the Banks and the lands of large land owners.
He was not part of this view, and as a result was viewed with suspicion.
Communism is Godless, as it believes completely in total materialism; that life does not flow from the Godhead, but from mere sensuous passions of sexual union. Mr. Rai held the view that God is the fountain of energy and the creator of all things. He said, “The PPP holds the view of befriending the religionists whilst fighting the capitalists, and after defeating them, you turn upon the religionists and annihilate them by explaining religion in a materialistic way.”
The cause of Mr. Rai leaving Guyana was due to his refusal to the offer by the then Prime Minister Mr. Burnham to become the Attorney General in his Government. His parting words to me were these: “Jai, I am leaving permanently. Guyana will be a glorified prison where the people will shed tears of blood in suffering and want.” He left proudly; he died last week.
Let the citizens now ask themselves who is right: Dr. Jagan in his communist ideology, or the deceased Rai, whom we mourn as one of the finest human beings to have been on this earth; whose majesty of character, integrity, discipline and outstanding conduct have now left behind a country of paramount private investment, capitalism, and the persuasion and invitation by Dr. Jagan’s former communist party seeking to attract investments from all over the world.
Eternal rest give unto the soul of Balram Singh Rai, oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. AUM