When will Indian Arrival Day be declared a national holiday?
Stabroek News
May 29, 2002

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Dear Editor,

The Indian Arrival Day celebration on May 5 at Highbury, Berbice was a virtual hijacking by PPP/C supporters using their political clout and administrative power. The PPP/C as a political party which has always been careful about distancing itself from an Indian identity sent the President's wife and her father to attend the function. The local PPP machinery sidelined the main organizers of the functions such as the supporters of ROAR.

In her speech, the First Lady reminded the audience of the traumas the ancestors underwent by rightly comparing with the conditions of the road leading to the monument. From Edinburgh to the Highbury monument, the entire stretch of road is in a pathetic condition, even though it has been under contract for repair twice in the past few years. One can even say that the journey is much harder than the Jahaji journey from Calcutta to the Caribbean. Yet the PPP government boasts its single biggest achievement for the past ten years is the improvement in the infrastructure - particularly the roads. Driving through this road is a nightmare even if one has an army of vehicles.

The arrival day celebrations are times to remember the sacrifices made by the Indian ancestors in the Caribbean.

Except for the eloquent speech made by former PPP member Rudranath who lives in Florida, nobody even cared to mention anything about the struggles of those indentured labourers.

The major attraction in the cultural programme was the Hindi film music and dance by young girls, which has nothing to do with the sufferings of those Jahajis. Except for the masterly rendition of Tassa Drums, which also became embroiled in controversy about who will pay for the musicians, the programmes were unsuitable. Of course, the masterly reciting of Krishna Bhajans by Mrs Maraj was timely.

The original organizing committee had totally different programmes including folk music, and other cultural programmes, which were changed by the later entrants into the committee.

We demand to know from the honourable leaders of the party and the government about their position with regard to Indian Arrival Day being declared a national holiday.

Yours faithfully,

Baldeo Chaitram