A group of prominent NY Indo-Guyanese held an interactive session with the leader of a political party in India, Dr Subramanian Swamy, President of Janata Party, in New York last Sunday. The seminar was held at the Hall of Lights in South Ozone.
Dr Swamy, a former Harvard Professor of Economics and a Minister of Government in India, and an accomplished legal mind who won several cases before the Indian Supreme Court, made remarks on who is an Indian, the Mahabharata War, Western influences on Hinduism, the Indian diaspora, politics and religion in India, ethnicity in the US, rape and corruption in India, the caste system, Aryan and Dravidian theories, British propaganda versus scientific proofs, relationships between India and China, Pakistan, and other topics.
The seminar was organized by Berbician born NY Guyanese activist Patanjali Rambrich.
Asked who is an Indian and where Guyanese fit into that defintion, Dr Swamy said a DNA project in India has shown that “all Indians have a common DNA and therefore Indians in the diaspora, including those in Guyana have a common DNA with those in India. The question of who is an Indian can be ascertained by DNA.”
Asked about divisions in India, Dr Swamy said India should have a uniform civil code and that his party and others are against a truncation of Indian territory. He said he is against discrimination or special privileges for any group.
Asked about global terrorism, Dr Swamy said India and the world have to gear up diplomatically and politically for it. “Today the world is sick of the terrorism and we must make strong allies with countries that are taking on the terrorists.”
Asked about China’s incursion in Indian territory, Dr Swamy said, “We must find ways to make China see our interests. We cannot be enemies.”
On the issue of Rama Sethu or the bridge (causeway) built by Lord Rama (as stated in the Ramayana) from Tamil Nadu to Lanka, Dr Swamy contended “there is a causeway that has been confirmed by scientific tests and that all evidence suggests it was the bridge built by Lord Hanuman on the instruction of Lord Rama.” Dr Swamy said many opponents of Hinduism questioned facts in the holy scriptures saying the Rama Sethu, Saraswati River, Dwarka City, etc, did not exist and were all myths in the holy scriptures, ie, Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata. “Yet archaeologists and scientists have found evidence of their existence. He said scientists recently found Dwarka City under a river and efforts are now being made to raise and reconstruct it. Scientists have discovered the Sarasvati River as mentioned in the Vedas.”
On his position on the rights of Indians in Guyana and the diaspora in India, Dr Swamy said: “My position on overseas Indians is the same as that of overseas Italians, Jews, Irish, Germans, etc, with regard to their ethnic origin. You are a German regardless of where you are born and the same for several other ethnic groups regarding their nation of origin. Once a DNA certificate shows you are Indian, you should enjoy the same rights and privileges as other Indians in India.”
Dr Swamy lauded the Indian diaspora project started in 2003 to link Indians everywhere. When told that officials of Ministry of Overseas Indians Affairs do not come to the Indo-Guyanese communities, Dr Swamy said he knows that when officials from the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs come to New York or other places, they don’t go among the ordinary people and the bulk of the overseas Indians get left out. He said he knows they don’t spend too much time among Indo-Caribbeans, Malay-sians, Nepalese, Indo-Fijians, etc. He said he heard that complaint everywhere he goes in North America, Europe and even in Trinidad ‒ “That will change under a new NDA government. I can assure you of that.”
When told that so many Indian politicians come and make promises but never deliver to the Indo-Caribbean community, he said the NDA will be different. “You should hold me accountable when I become part of the government.”
He praised Indo-Guyanese and others for holding on to their identity. He said “many of you are more Indian and more Hindu than me.”
Dr Swamy urged Indians in the diaspora to learn Sanskrit, saying it is the mother language of so many Indian and European languages and that it is used in computer languages.
At the conclusion of the interaction, Guyanese Dr Baytoram Ramharack and Dr Basdeo Mangru presented books on Indo-Guyanese history to Dr Swamy.