We do not have caste problems in Guyana

Stabroek News

October 11, 2003

Related Links: Letters on 'Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana' death
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Dear Editor,

The recent debate over Dr. Kean Gibsonís book has brought out some very surprising comments from both sides of the divide and as usual it has taken a racial swing. This does not surprise me at all.

I do not want to get caught up in this debate. However, I would like to add my bit. I do not think my Hindu brothers fully understand the Indian caste system, I do not think Dr. Gibson understands the Indian caste system and this is because none of the two are affected by it. The Swamis and Pandits might have an understanding and some even say it is important for some are born to perform various functions e.g. Our fingers are not the same length yet they all come together to hold. We in Guyana like to debate, talk and talk. The reason for this is the fact that we are never truly affected by what starts the debate or what it is that we always talk about or take for ourselves.

Let me take you to a country where the caste system is felt by some of its citizens severely and in some cases being a member of a certain caste can be fatal. Yes you guessed correctly, India.

In earlier times e.g. 1947 an untouchable would be beaten if their shadow touched a higher caste person. Of course things have changed somewhat.

In 1981 in the state of Gujarat people rioted for seventy-eight days because a high caste student was denied entry to a medical school to make way for an untouchable. In Uttar Pradesh two friends from the untouchable caste were burned because they fished in a pond used by upper caste persons. I can go on and on.

Let me tell my fellow Guyanese something, especially my Hindu brothers and sisters. We do not have caste problems in Guyana and do not wish for it to come. Let me also state that skin colour does not matter, there are clear skinned untouchables and dark skinned Brahmins.

In closing, sir, I would like to ask the Swamis and Pandits to comment.

If persons are interested they can get a copy of the June 2003 edition of the National Geographic Magazine and read about Indiaís untouchables. Many of you after reading that article would see how blessed we are as a nation.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Sam