Wakenaam rice farmers still owed for Mexico shipment

first_imgAlmost four months later Rice farmers who live and operate on Wakenaam Island in the Essequibo River are still to be paid, almost four months after they had sold paddy in March to a miller who converted their product into rice. This comes against complaints that they continue to face difficulties in trying to repay loans taken to acquire fertiliser, fuel, and equipment.According to information recently disclosed, those farmers, along with others on the Essequibo Coast, are still owed millions in total, after millers had bought their produce in March. Withholding such payments to farmers for more than 42 days, as <> has been reporting, violates the Rice Factories (Amendment) Act of 2009, which says that farmers should not wait longer than the mandatory 42 days before being paid for their paddy. According to the Act, the manufacturer (miller) is required to pay the paddy producer (the farmer) half the amount upfront, and the rest within two weeks of receiving that farmer’s paddy.On Saturday, <> was told that a popular Essequibo miller who owes several of the Wakenaam farmers promised to pay off the money owed on Friday last, since a Mexico-bound ship laden with rice recently departed Guyana’s shores. However, according to farmers, the miller pushed back the date again to next Friday. Efforts by this newspaper to contact that miller were unsuccessful, as calls were forwarded to voicemail.Millers are holding out that the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), a Government entity, owes them over $2 billion in outstanding payments from the Panama deal dating back to 2017. However, Head of the GRDB, Nizam Hassan, has since claimed that the GRDB is not responsible for payment delays from buyers in Panama.In fact, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder said recently that “millers should desist from using the farmers as a bank.”However, while denouncing responsibility for the shipment, it was Minister Holder and Hassan who met the Panamanian Institute of Agricultural Marketing on March 18, 2016, when a commitment was announced for the increased quota of rice from Guyana.“Our Government is extremely pleased that you (Panama) are happy with the services we (GRDB) have been supplying since the commencement of our relationship… I would like to assure you that the GRDB will continue to provide the same excellent and professional service to your Government,” Minister Holder had said following that meeting.The Guyana Rice Millers Association (GRMA) has always maintained the position that millers are signing agreements with the GRDB, which has a Government-to-Government arrangement with Panama; and, as such, GRDB has an obligation to pay millers. GRMA Head, Leekha Rambrich, observed last month that GRDB was violating laws that govern the sector, with particular focus on its delayed payments to millers under the Panama deal.He posited that with the signing of the Panama contract, the GRDB “is committing itself to a six-month payment plan”, whereby rice would be obtained and payments would come six months after. The official contended that this would be tantamount to withholding payments from farmers.“Where will millers get money to pay the farmers from? Why is it (that) the minister doesn’t let the GRDB pay the millers, so they could pay the farmers? GRDB is the exporter, and they are buying the rice from millers, and they are setting precedent and breaking the law. You cannot sign agreements to pay millers after six months; the minister is contradicting himself,” Rambrich told <> in June.Millers have outlined that they have been operating in overdraft. Information disclosed is that banks requested a payment schedule in which millers outlined how they would repay funds they had borrowed. Reports are that the GRDB had promised to pay millers since September last year, but revised the payment deadline to April 30, 2018.An industry insider told this newspaper that the GRDB had been in discussions with Minister Holder for him to release funds to pay the millers, as the GRDB reportedly has reserves in its coffers; and it was disclosed that the GRDB has been disbursing small percentages of the payments in the weeks after reports had surfaced in the media.last_img read more

Pensioner robbed at gunpoint after buying bread

first_imgA pensioner was assaulted and relieved of his personal items by two armed men on Wednesday evening in the vicinity of Ketley Street, Charlestown, Georgetown.Based on reports received, 66-year-old Aubrey (only name given) of Lot 31 Ketley Street, Charlestown went to Humphrey’s Bakery to purchase bread, and as he exited the business place, he was confronted by the two suspects, one of whom was armed with a handgun.Held at gunpoint, the elderly man was dealt several blows to his body by the gunman’s accomplice, who confiscated his two mobile phones and car alarm before the suspects made good their escape on foot into Albouystown.The elderly man was picked up and taken to the hospital, where he was examined and treated before being sent away.The Police were contacted, and a search has been launched for the two perpetrators.last_img read more

Transfer rumours and paper review – Wednesday, August 5

first_imgHere’s the top transfer-related stories in Wednesday’s newspapers…Wolfsburg ARE ready to sell Manchester City target Kevin De Bruyne — but only for £50million. City are increasingly confident they will land the forward after fresh signals from his German club. (Daily Mirror)Edin Dzeko’s Manchester City career looks to be over with the striker on the verge of a move to Roma. The Blues have agreed a £14m fee with the Serie A giants for the Bosnian. (Manchester Evening News)Sunderland are in talks with Manchester United over a loan move for forward Adnan Januzaj. The Black Cats are on the verge of sealing deals for midfield pair Leroy Fer and Yann M’Vila, and it is understood that they are also hoping to secure a third loan by pulling off a transfer coup for Januzaj. (Sunderland Echo)Furious Louis van Gaal forced Paris Saint-Germain to pay an extra £3million for Angel di Maria after the player posted a picture of himself with the French club’s owner in Qatar. The French club originally believed a deal had been done at £43m but Van Gaal demanded £46m after Di Maria flew to Qatar without permission. (Daily Mirror)Manchester United are on the verge of completing a £20million deal for Barcelona forward. (The Sun)Louis van Gaal offered Pedro a role alongside Wayne Rooney and Memphis Depay in a new-look front three at Manchester United in order to convince the Barcelona forward to complete a move to Old Trafford. (Daily Telegraph)Baba Rahman has agreed personal terms on a switch to Chelsea, his agent has indicated. Jose Mourinho is looking to add Ghana international left-back Rahman to his squad following the sale of Filipe Luis but Stamford Bridge chiefs need to settle on a fee with German side Augsburg. (Daily Star)Chelsea and Juventus have both held talks with Cagliari over the signing of Ghanaian midfielder Godfred Donsah. (Daily Express)Bolton want to re-sign their former midfielder Kevin Nolan. Veteran West Ham midfielder Nolan, 33, is in the final year of his contract at Upton Park and wants to be playing regularly. (Daily Mirror)And here’s the latest talkSPORT.com headlines…Anders Lindegaard told he can leave Manchester United on free transferMan United blow? Porto leading race to sign £8m full backWest Brom launch ambitious bid to beat Arsenal to £11m-rated Belgian starletParis Saint-Germain plot £10.5m deal for Arsenal-linked defenderArsenal plotting swoop for Real Madrid starlet tracked by LiverpoolChelsea and Manchester United face losing out on £15m Brazilian starlet GersonReports – ‘Cambiasso replacement’ Napoli midfielder snubs Leicester City switchSouthampton eye Schalke midfielder as Schneiderlin replacementlast_img read more

The Chelsea transfer rumour that refuses to die down

first_imgWhile Chelsea would indeed be keen to maximise Griezmann’s goalscoring ability, it’s his versatility across the attack that would be a huge boost for the club in their bid to return to the Premier League’s summit.While Diego Costa has been strongly linked with a return to the Calderon Stadium, it’s looking increasingly likely the striker will spearhead the Chelsea attack in the next campaign, with Griezmann capable of providing stronger competition for a starting spot than Loic Remy and Falcao. Football statistics analysts WhoScored.com take a look at a long-rumoured Chelsea transfer target. For more Chelsea stats, check out WhoScored.com, and read all about what they have to say on the subject of Antoine Griezmann’s rumoured move to Stamford Bridge…While the winter transfer window may have slammed shut last week, gossip columns are still dedicating inches to possible moves.One rumour in particular that refuses to die down is that of Antoine Griezmann and a move to Chelsea.The Frenchman added fuel to the fire this week by admitting he is keen to ply his trade in the Premier League, with the defending champions long-term admirers of the Atletico Madrid attacker. 1 However, a potential stumbling block in any deal could be Atletico’s upcoming transfer embargo, pending an appeal.Diego Simeone’s side would be unable to bring in a replacement for the 24-year-old if they do opt to sell in the summer if their appeal is rejected, which indeed throws a spanner in the works for any potential deal.Nevertheless, if Chelsea can convince Atletico to sell their prized asset, they’ll have at their disposal one of the most promising attacking talents in Europe.Only four players have scored more goals in La Liga since the start of last season than Griezmann (34), accentuating his statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘finishing’.Meanwhile, of the 41 players to score 20 or more goals since the start of last season, only three have a better conversion rate than the France international (25.4%), so one can understand Atletico’s reluctance to cash in on the striker. Antoine Griezmann The Blues and their Spanish counterparts have regularly done business in the past and, if reports are to be believed, the two parties could once more enter negotiations at the end of the season for Griezmann, whose WhoScored.com rating (7.48) ranks among the top 10 players in La Liga this season. Of course, it’s possible that Griezmann could start on the right flank, thus allowing Willian to move to a more central position in a destructive attacking three, providing Eden Hazard remains at Stamford Bridge amid rumours linking him with a switch to PSG.The Atletico star has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com style of play indicating that he ‘likes to cut inside’, with the Frenchman carrying an impressive goalscoring threat from wide.Of the 34 league goals Griezmann has scored during his time for Atletico, 25 have been with his left foot. Only Lionel Messi (37) has scored more left footed goals over the same period. Indeed, the attacker is one who would significantly improve Chelsea’s attack, though is unlikely to arrive cheaply should they convince Atletico to sell.Nevertheless, while Griezmann would cost a hefty amount to snare from Atletico, Chelsea would be foolish to pass up the chance to secure his services should the opportunity present itself.He would significantly improve Chelsea’s misfiring attack and the new man at the Stamford Bridge helm next season would indeed welcome a player of his quality in the final third, with the Frenchman’s current boss among those thought to be in the frame.For more stats on Antoine Griezmann, click here to view his WhoScored.com player pagelast_img read more

Tony Blair could be running the Premier League soon

first_img 1 Every Championship club’s best signing of the decade, including Taarabt and Dack England’s most successful clubs of the past decade, according to trophies won Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? Tony Blair and Kevin Keegan play head tennis in 1995 Forbes list reveals how much Mayweather, Ronaldo and Messi earned this decade smart causal Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade How the Premier League table could change after the Boxing Day fixtures Every time Ally McCoist lost it on air in 2019, including funny XI reactions MONEY silverware Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain, is a name believed to be in the running for the Premier League‘s new chairman.According to the Mail, other names under consideration are former BT chief Gavin Patterson and Sky Sports boss Barney Francis, though these are understood to be unlikely because the nominations panel, led by Chelsea’s Bruce Buck, would not want to risk alienating other rights holders. REVEALED BEST OF Most popular football news Ronaldo warned Lukaku how hard scoring goals in Serie A would be before Inter move REVEALED RANKED impact ADVICE possible standings Every current Premier League club’s best kit from the past decade Blair, 65, has always claimed he is a Newcastle fan and in 1995, as he was gunning for Downing Street, took part in a stage managed game of head tennis with Magpies boss Kevin Keegan.He left office in 2007, having spent 10 years as Prime Minister. Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies wonlast_img read more

Antonio backs school measure

first_imgMayor Antonio Villaraigosa – who has made improving Los Angeles schools a key goal of his first term – joined district Superintendent Roy Romer on Wednesday to endorse a $3.985 billion school bond measure on the November special-election ballot. The fourth in a series of construction and modernization bonds, Measure Y would bring the Los Angeles Unified School District’s massive school-construction fund to more than $20 billion, including state matching money. “I want to use my political capital to help get this passed,” Villaraigosa said during an afternoon news conference at the 61st Street Elementary School. “We can’t say we honor our children and then put them in schools that look like prisons.” Earlier in the day, Romer told Daily News editors and reporters that the bond would be the last in the construction program, although he acknowledged several billion dollars’ worth of repairs and maintenance at hundreds of schools would remain unfinished. The proposed bond includes $1.6 billion for construction and $1.5 billion to modernize existing schools, such as improving fire safety and air conditioning and making basic repairs. The LAUSD is anticipating about $1 billion from the state, roughly divided between construction and modernization. The heart of the proposed construction bond is 20,000 additional elementary school seats on 25 new campuses, including five in the San Fernando Valley. With those additional seats, 19 other Valley schools could switch from a year-round schedule to a traditional calendar. The bond work is scheduled to be completed by 2012. The new bond would cost the owner of a $315,000 home about $190 per year. But Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which wrote the ballot argument opposing the bond, estimated that the owner of a $315,000 home would pay about $540 in 2009 for the LAUSD bond program – about 20 percent of that owner’s total tax bill. He said indications of declining enrollment should caution the district into rushing into additional debt. “We could find ourselves committing to greater debt to schools sitting idle in a decade,” Vosburgh said. Romer defended the expense of building new schools, saying that LAUSD test scores – while still lagging California’s as a whole – have climbed faster than the state’s scores since 1999. He said “small learning communities” being developed at the schools are reforming local education, while the schools themselves contribute to the quality of life – including recreational facilities and green space – for many neighborhoods. “In terms of the homeowner and business owners who have to pay for this thing over a period of time, there is a return on investment here in terms of if the quality of schools is raised,” Romer said. “I’m doing it because it actually affects the quality of teaching.” Added Villaraigosa, “It is past time to give our kids the schools they deserve. We need to build these schools now. Our kids have waited long enough.” Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 rick.orlov@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Buying flowers with your cellphone

first_img29 September 2008First National Bank (FNB) has partnered with leading online floral company NetFlorist to allow its customers to buy flowers for special and sentimental occasions online, and pay for them on their cellphone using their Cell Pay Point service.Registered cellphone banking customers with FNB just need to select Cell Pay Point as their choice of payment when checking out and simply follow the instructions.“As FNB we partnered with NetFlorist because they are the biggest online florist in SA and a well-known and well-respected brand. It is a win-win situation as it offers a safe and convenient way to pay for purchases,” said FNB Mobile and Transact Solutions CEO Len Pienaar in a company statement earlier this month.“The functionality is not limited to credit card holders, but can also be used by debit card customers provided they have an FNB account and are registered for Cellphone Banking from FNB.”Pienaar said that there was still reluctance on the part of some South Africans to use their credit card over the internet, and FNB’s Cell Pay Point facility provided them with an ideal alternative as it was safe and quick.In addition, he said that the venture afforded the bank the opportunity to market their services to the non-credit card market, who would rather prefer using cellphone banking services.“We are delighted to be working with FNB on this project and look forward to delivering many beautiful floral arrangements, gourmet hampers and other gorgeous gifts on behalf of their customers,” said NetFlorist MD Ryan Bacher.“From a merchant perspective, the new solution is ideal as it reduces the likelihood of fraud with no personal payment information entered online or on the handset.”Since its launch last year, Cell Pay Point has proven to be popular with FNB customers, the main attraction being its ease of use.NetFlorist, established in 1999, has become SA’s largest flower and gifting service making over 150 000 deliveries per year throughout South Africa, with 90 000 existing customers.SAinfo reporter Would you like to use this article in your publicationor on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Youth urged to ‘take up today’s freedom challenges’

first_img3 June 2014While the youth of 1976 fought against apartheid, young South Africans of today should take up the fight against apathy, unemployment and HIV/Aids, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said at the launch of Youth Month at the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto on Monday.Youth Day 2014 will mark 38 years since the 16 June 1976 Soweto uprising, when the apartheid government killed hundreds of school children who were protesting against the imposition of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in their schools.With the advent of democracy 20 years ago, 16 June was proclaimed Youth Day in order to perpetuate the history and memory of the young South Africans who died for their country’s freedom.It also has since become a platform for encouraging South Africans to make their own sacrifices and play their part in growing their communities and the country as a whole.This year, the main Youth Day event will take place at Galeshewe stadium in Kimberly in the Northern Cape.Mthethwa said the aim of Youth Month was to educate young South Africans about their history and heritage and the role played by young people in the country’s liberation struggle.“During this month, we also encourage debates, discussions and conversations about the challenges that confront the youth of today and how they can take forward the baton of leadership. We will also use it to highlight government programmes and opportunities for youth development and how youth can access them.The minister said the government also encouraged oral reminiscences by 1976 veterans “as part of sharing the experiences of 1976 and identifying and celebrating untold stories and unsung heroes and heroines in every community and every workplace while mobilising society in the implementation of Vision 2030”.Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela said: “Collectively as young people we have to fight the scourge of HIV/Aids. We have to confront the challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality.“We have to be at the centre of changing our own lives. There is not going to be anyone, anywhere in the world who would do anything for us if we are not in the forefront of making a contribution to changing our own lives,” Manamela said.“From the lessons of Hector Pieterson, Tsietsi Mashinini and many others who died 38 years ago, they did not sit back, wait, they didn’t say that someone will free us, they were in the forefront of defeating the apartheid regime.“We are responsible for changing our own lives today as the current generation.”Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

Maintain grain quality with proper storage

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest As producers across the Eastern Corn Belt get into their fields this fall, care should be taken to ensure proper handling and storage of grain. Proper storage and grain handling is necessary in maintaining the quality of the harvested crop.It is critical to start with both a clean bin and handling equipment. Any moldy grain or grain infested by insects from the previous year can contaminate grain harvested this season. Storage facilities and aeration equipment should be clean and in proper working condition.Harvesting equipment that is adjusted and operated correctly will also preserve the condition of the crop. Combines should be set to clean grain thoroughly to eliminate foreign material/fines and handling equipment should be operated in order to minimize damage to grain. It is also important to use a spreader or distributor as grain enters the bin to evenly spread any fine materials remaining in the grain. Without a spreading device the fines will collect in the center of the bin and create aeration problems as well as a place for moisture to accumulate. Properly cleaned grain will minimize insect activity and allow for efficient air movement through the stored grain.Grain should be stored at proper moisture content in order to maintain quality. Corn should be stored at 15% for up to 6 months and 13% for storage longer than 6 months. Soybeans should be stored at 13% for up to 6 months and 11% for storage longer than 6 months. Grain should be cooled through aeration in the fall to provide the most favorable storage environment. The stored grain should be cooled gradually and evenly to 35 to 40 degrees F. This process will help maintain the condition of the grain and deter insect activity within the stored grain. Finally, it is important to monitor grain stored in bins at regular intervals to make sure that proper storage conditions are maintained, as well as grain quality.last_img read more

The Nowhere Man

first_imgThe forever-affable New York Times on March 26 ran a story on its culture pages about multicultural life on Coney Island Avenue. It is a collection of rapid observations on cultural harmony among diverse immigrant groups in the city. One gets the image that this place is a veritable feast of food, languages and music, all blended in a wonderful image of contemporary urban America. The story entitled, “On Brooklyn’s Avenue of Babel, Cultures Entwine,” is fully mindful of the times in which it is enunciated as it summarizes the issues about immigrant life and America: “here civilizations that clash elsewhere share not just blocks but grocery stores.”This is how one of the leading newspapers in this country sees diaspora. It is a vision of harmony among themselves and a romantic image of American public life.In this mainstream vision of multiculturalism, diasporic communities are an attractive feature of a society where diverse cultures live side by side, each in their enclaves, but fully assimilated in public life. That is, cultural clash is dissolved when we think of food, music and other “non-political” features of multicultural life.Americans like to embrace diversity with a certain historical distinction. After all, this is a country of immigrants, and as such it offers a colorful mix of different races and peoples from around the world. In fact, one of the most common metaphors used for this vision is that of a melting pot, where everyone blends in perfectly into a multi colored but distinctive mix of diverse peoples. Those who believe that multiculturalism, as it is lived, is more like a salad, a mosaic, a quilt, where each identity can be seen distinctly without blending into each other, contest this vision. Proponents have claimed that this multiculturalism makes this country distinctive. But if its claims on a society founded on the principles of Enlightenment are to be true, it must respect this diversity and face the real life issues about equality and respect while maintaining diversity. No doubt, this has been a contentious debate and in many ways, as we will see, it figures into the intellectual debates among Indians as well.It is possible to see Indians in this country as aligned with their host land, as harmonious contributors of food and music in a generally attractive “Orientalist” vision of the society. Else, they could be seen as one of the major components of an egalitarian society. Some of us may like to take stock of 40 some years in a picture of “progress” and “achievements”: steady immigration, a gradual growth of “Little India’s” everywhere from California to New Jersey, an increasing presence in public and cultural life of this country, and a visibility led by everyone from the physicians and cab drivers to television talking heads, journalists, scientists and engineers. If you look inside the community and see this dominant vision of accomplishment, and progress for the community, there is no doubt a great deal of truth in these claims. Empirically, as this society has grown, Indians have grown too and that growth has not been minor by any assessment.The image of the Indian community situated on a road to perfect harmony defined by the mainstream may equally be seen in a different light. The temptations of measuring any historical phenomenon in terms of progress are attractive, but they do not grasp the complexity of uneven development and even more importantly, they miss the elements of contradiction, a rich and veritable presence of forces that shape diasporic identity. The New York Times sees compatibility in terms of food, music and other forces of innocence. But what escapes them entirely is the underside of culture where this harmony is played out in a struggle between reality and representation.To understand Indian American identity, one may find in Walter Benjamin a concept sharp and potent enough to approach the complexity of these issues. Alarmed by the claims of progress and narratives of history, which record only victories, Benjamin proposed a different method. The march of history, he thought, has no regard to the mechanisms of exclusion or violence of contradictions. His idea of a dialectical image, therefore, is an instrument that can reveal the relationship of Indian community in the United States at this historical juncture. As a given moment frozen in front of you, its time and elements nakedly inviting one’s introspection, a dialectical image is very much a juxtaposition of elements positioned to bring out the contradictions, the hidden hits and misses, silences and pronouncements.Without regard to a catalogue of progress or claims of unyielding march, a dialectical image generates provocative thought because it plays up the contradictions ignored by the narratives of progress. It is an exercise in hreflection, and makes us realize that the Indian community in the United States appears to conform to neither The New York Times’ vision of melodic cultural clash nor the cacophony of claims of diversity simply because one finds a solace of independence in these claims.In recent times, both here and in their homeland, Indians in America have come to be known as part of the NRI community around the world (non-resident immigrants).Within their own community, this notion prevails over all the others. It is very difficult to leave the country behind even though you have left it in a palpable sense. The internal character of this community is inescapably Indian. Whether we witness this in the grocery stores, the large traffic in Bollywood film rentals, growing number of temples around the country or their rising prominence with the sheer weight in numbers, Indians are a group protecting their identity as Indians.If we listen to the steady but vigorous dialogue within its confines, best embodied in the views of young writers and publications within the community, these concerns are about being an Indian. It is about maintaining one’s own culture, traditions and values, starting from family values and celebrating all things Indian.Since the immigration of Indians has grown steadily since the early waves in the 1960s, there are now problems at generational levels. Here, the conflicts are embedded more in the tension between the imperatives of the culture in which the younger generation is growing and which their parents and elders think are simply corrupt and not genuinely respectful as those they had brought with them. The second and third generational issues are of main concern to the internal mechanics of how the Indian community functions and how it treads the waters of an aggressively and rapidly changing culture in the United States. While these problems are not uniquely Indian by any means, they are brewing here with greater intensity and do surface as a major issue of representation in cultural gatherings, writings and even films and television shows.Part of the drive to define ourselves as genuinely and strongly Indian is influenced by the urge to establish ourselves as non-resident Indians. There is, among Indians, an unyielding urge to belong to India. This raises all sorts of puzzling and endless questions at a practical and intellectual level.Clearly, this irrepressible desire for dual citizenship speaks for maintaining dualism in diasporic life. Part of it is motivated by a desire to draw financial benefits from a dual relationship and, given this, there are few who could benefit measurably from this new status. But we need to remember that the desire to acquire dual identity is also driven by an illusory aspect of diasporic identity everywhere, the desire of belonging to the land that one has left behind.The status of an exile is never an easy one. But for one who is aware of its own state of being it is especially difficult. Those who want to belong to India want to belong to the mythical India of their memory, their own sense of what it was and has been. This from a group of people, specifically the earlier generation in large part, who adapt to new structures of feeling here, but don’t want to lose their anchor in rapidly imaginary waters. But the impulse is strong. It is maintained, nurtured and even cultivated by this internal and internalized culture of preserving their own India.It is always fascinating how we hang on to imaginary identities and the means we use to do so. Since the frame of hreference they want to keep alive is changing, Indians have wonderfully resorted to a larger mythical achievement of their memory and public life back home, the omnipresent and prodigious presence of movies in their lives. Bollywood films, available now from major neighbourhood stores, their own grocery stores (which are an important part in holding on to this identity process in general), and a variety of mail order outfits accessible from all parts of the country , have to be one of the most mysterious vehicles of culture and memory ever imagined. Since the idyllic life we believe we have left behind is not accessible through other means, it is kept alive by Bollywood cinema.  The weddings, the romance, the family politics, the religious rituals, the ever cacophonous chorus of (the so called uniformly) Indian values coming from blockbusters preserve an India that is not easy to reproduce by any other means.It is a powerful medium, and unlike in countries like Trinidad, where the separation from the homeland is more clear and contact with it is scarce, it is not the only medium.  Never mind that Bollywood cinema itself is a gigantic production of a homogenous myth called India, a machine successful at projecting a dominant vision of India. More importantly, it has become a prominent mechanism of cultivating and preserving a sense of Indianness among Indians.If we visit this notion of what it means to be an Indian, we realize that an entire set of discourses are underway to maintain it as a theoretical possibility even while it remains a practical difficulty in the lives of Indians. In large communities, where there are sizeable sub-ethnic Indian groups, where Bengalis and Punjabis, Maharashtrians and Tamils coexist, the idea of an Indian identity tends to be quite mixed. Here the divine claim to the separate identity of one’s real place in India takes precedence over the larger pressure to be called Indian. One is a Bengali before one is an Indian. In smaller communities where the numbers don’t force you to retreat into your specificity, there are no imperatives to claim any particulars. But this perpetual pull toward the specificity is a fundamental part of lived identity for many Indians. It results in the formation of small enclaves based on regional and linguistic identities. Finally, it decides what needs to be preserved and what needs to be delineated. Several of the regional groups have the equivalent of “Sunday” schools in their temples, where old folktales, religious texts and rituals are kept alive for second and (now) third generation of Indians.If we think of how problems of any culture find their place in the public map of representations, it becomes clear that those who have the means and the language to do so succeed. There is this old tale among linguists. When learned and upper class kids are caught in a mischief, they weasel their way out of it because their sophistication of language allows them the privilege, while uneducated and lower class kids, in the same situation, face the consequences, because the skills of representation are not at their disposal. The literate, the articulate and those who can afford the leisure of intellectual pursuits dominate the discourse of identity. It is legitimate to ask: whose identity is it anyway – those who can articulate it or those who suffer it?The rise of an underclass among immigrant Indians has grown sizeably over the past two decades. But their concerns, struggles and issues have not reached the register of the conscience in the media or the public life of Indians. Often survival in economic crossfire or simple issues of immigration and health insurance are sufficient to take your mind off dual citizenship, mythical reconstruction of India in Bollywood films, or various manifestations of what it means to be part of a diaspora.There are the perennial cab drivers in the city, graduate students who work for pitiful wages called assistantships, waiters in Indian restaurants who are denied even the minimum wage and the gratuities assumed to be part of living wages, untold number of household help in Indian and other homes. All of them face accumulated problems of nitty-gritty survival in an economy that brings them hope and often just that. Identity for them is so far removed from theoretical and conceptual considerations, but the very thought of it exposes the larger forces that weigh in on the lives of individuals. Diasporic identity becomes a luxury for those who have the language, the conceptual structures and the intellectual leisure of contemplation.The U.S. economy is increasingly driven by demands made on the low level workers. It is not simply a glorious service economy, where there is more information processing than manufacturing, but an economy that requires labor which must go unnoticed to the larger concerns of politicians or numbers on Wall Street. It is no wonder that the U.S. President recently asked for legislation that would grant legal status to a large number of illegal Mexican immigrants. True, it is a cruel cynical ploy in an election year, but it speaks volumes for the necessity of this labor in the economy. A sizable part of the Indian community is made of this level of workers whose identity must be articulated by those who have the means to do so.All our vaunted claims to Indian values of family and community collapse as we realize that many of these workers (including students, without whom undergraduate teaching in universities would simply collapse) do not have health insurance – a disgraceful feature of the richest country in the world today.In a country that holds so many physicians from India in high regard and where the Indian community is increasingly considered to be affluent, the silence of the helpless continues to grow.Sure, there are scattered examples of generous arrangements between individuals, but the picture is less than heartening.The irony of seeking dual citizenship and guarding the “Indian” values of community, family and our cultural character while we contribute to the segregatory and selfish aspects of American society is not lost on those who have a broader view of the Indian American diaspora.Perhaps the most generalized and prominent pressure on finding ourselves in a strange land we now call home is the old struggle between assimilation and independence. Indians do not have any exclusive claim on this dilemma any more than other groups of immigrants. Our plight is shared and separated from that of others. This dialectic remains at the heart of what it means to be an Indian and what it means to be an Indian American. Much of it depends on the political make up of this land and much more on the politics of multiculturalism itself.The Indian community finds itself gathering strength in numbers, in its ability to flex financial muscle and an overall prominence in the social role accorded to it, because of numerous cultural, social and historical achievements of Indians and their country of origin. Despite all this, they cannot erase their racial identity in this race-conscious society. This aspect shapes their external, social identity in the United States. The polarized tensions between the African Americans, who have an entirely different claim on the notion of synthetic, dual identity, and white Americans of European origins, have formed an axis of how race is seen across the spectrum. The degree of tolerance is often shaped by one’s place on that continuum.As the social and policy debates become more intensely polemic and polarizing, Indians find themselves in a dubious position of being exploited and privileged at the same time. Their various tones of skin color have been accommodating in place of American blacks on issues such as affirmative action or general racial make-up of companies, universities and other social organizations. That is, in many cases, the system has discovered that one can fulfill the requirements of a racially diverse group by choosing darker Indians who are considered less troublesome, sometimes more competent and no doubt socially advantaged. It is entirely possible in this nexus of competing forces of accommodation and social needs that Indians find themselves targeted for racial bias precisely because of their skin tone and general social success, both of which invite scorn and categorization in a society that attempts to be egalitarian, but lives by the old dictum of fair skin superiority.Various hate-crimes and dispersed incidents at workplace and in everyday lives of individuals will attest to this complex picture of what it means to be brown in a rainbow of uneasy multiculturalism. The recent climate of Arab bashing has only exacerbated the situation, exposing the hypocrisies and pretensions of this society. Stories are abundant since the time of the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, where a number of brown skinned students from India were roughed up and intimidated, especially in the hinterland of Middle and South America.The much-publicized attacks and a murder of a Sikh in the South only underscore this deep ignorance among Americans who cannot distinguish in their hatred between the beards and turbans of Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts, and those of Sikhs or anyone else’s. A country so deeply oblivious to the complexities of global cultural scene was woken up by the attacks of terrorists. But much of the awareness quickly degenerated into an expression of its deep-rooted beliefs and misplaced conceptions of the world it dominates.Some years ago, Pat Buchanan, a right-wing talk show host and a flaming Republican who ran for his party’s nomination for president, spoke about how difficult it is to open doors to immigrants from all over the world. In rhetoric reminiscent of the other dark era of the last century, he told his fellow Americans and policy-makers that it is good social policy to bring Europeans to this country because they are easy to assimilate. Increasing the variety of this populace by choosing people simply based on merit or need as it is mostly done now, would simply corrode the country’s basic fabric, which is founded on European ethic, as Buchanan sees it. While much of that is worth paying attention to, simply to understand the diagnosis of racism on the right, Buchanan identified the dilemma of assimilation quite well.If this were a truly egalitarian society and one founded on the principles of immigration (not to speak of the injustices done to the “other” Indians), it would be possible to see one’s place here as that of equal, but different, of similarity and difference. Indians, one can assume, are negotiating this at two levels, cultural and political.As we have seen, the pressures to absorb an alien culture into your own were met with much less success among the early immigrants, now the first generation elders, rather than the recent and second (or third) generation members. But their social involvement plays out quite differently at the political level. Since politics or the theatre of politics proper is quite simplistic and bipolar in this country, with conservatives and liberals or Republicans and Democrats occupying the easy poles, one has to navigate one’s place in less complicated land.Since the mainstream of this country, thanks to the likes of Buchanan who remind us, was founded on European identity, Indians have found themselves aligned with those who fought for civil rights and who valued the core of the principles of free speech and freedom that are unrestricted in the spirit and letter of the law.In some quarters, it is a given, as such alliances are considered natural, losers bound together in a common cause, in an empathetic bond and a shared political purpose. One would assume that is still the case and the sensibility of Indians may be with the larger multicultural project of this country.But Indians bring layered complexity to this problem. The students in the sciences and engineering, doctors and technicians in the computer economy and the natural sciences have dominated the Indian community of immigrants. As some of us in the humanities have observed, the community’s outlook is dominated by technical or instrumental rationality. Their orientation separates them from the question of values and binds them to the efforts of technical, competitive efficiency.This group, quite large on several fronts, is known for its extraordinary competence and professionalism. But it also embodies a servile submission to political pressures since these were supposed to be out of our gambit of establishing ourselves. That includes a growing business class of Indians in this country. Conservatism has always been a good ally of instrumental rationality. For them America represents a land where dreams come true and rags-to-riches is not a fairytale, but a distinct possibility. The intense attractiveness of this country to others, one argues, is founded on this perspective. One does not live by politics alone, one works hard with faith in the system so as to put food on the table.The recent rise of the candidacy of Bobby Jindal for the governorship of Louisiana positioned against the first time woman candidate from the Democratic Party (who finally won) underscores this approach. For him, a simplistic faith in the conservative principles is identical to the offerings of this nation as such. One could prosper with plenty of opportunity and less of regulation. A dedication to the principles of free enterprise is much more valued than that of free speech or social responsibility. The continuing dallying of fundraisers and political action committees by Indians for the right comes close to endorsing this blend of blindness to one’s place in this complex world with the uncritical endorsement of the ideas that fundamentally delineate us in the first place. Among the newly emerging chattering class, the issue of representation has become central in every sense. Dinesh DeSouza, Ramesh Ponnuru and Fareed Zakaria among them have occupied airtime and visibility in the public sphere. Their Indian-ness pronounced, they have become powerful spokesmen of mainstream positions. Someone like DeSouza is more of a wonder child to the right as he presents views more fervently to the right than those who seem to lose the energy to defend them. In a country that values free speech, this would be a commendable achievement were it not for the vapid lack of any self-conscious, historical perspective of what suffering is and how it can be alleviated.But this group believes in the power of rhetoric and they are the rising stars of the media and politics. Their racial identity is entirely hidden to them in their own discourse, even as it becomes the first screen through which the rest of the culture sees them.Fareed Zakaria’s claim to a place in the corridors of power (as editor of the international desk at Newsweek and a prominent commentator on U.S. policy on television) takes him to new heights as he espouses full military campaigns where democracy does not exist and advocating authoritarian governance in places where democracy isn’t endemic. Along with the triumph of the instrumental rationality of science and business minded Indians, this is an equally glorious victory for those speaking for power without realizing how power speaks through you.Zakaria and DeSouza would be eminently ordinary in the panorama of Indian identity. But for Americans in the public sphere, they are emblematic of Indian identity. It is a vision of multiculturalism, where individual representatives of diverse cultures are so absorbed in the mainstream that they achieve exemplary status for all Americans. If one is finding a place in this culture as an Indian, one negotiates one’s relationship to the views and presence of the rising stars whose Indian-ness is marketed cleverly by those who use them.One also negotiates social identity in the sphere of media representations. For over ten years, an immensely popular animation series on prime time, The Simpsons, has constructed a persona of Apu, a convenience store vendor, who typifies his presence as an Indian through a thick accent, a consistent devotion to deities in the workplace, orthodox views on community, a selfish and protective approach to customers and his occasional forays into lust.So broad is his popularity that Apu has come to represent Indians to most television viewers. His accent has become so common now that most other characters on television shows use it to lampoon all things Indian. And in a move typical of parochial ignorance, Apu’s accent has been adopted as a generalized diction for all people east of Europe. It is not surprising that Osama Bin Laden and other brown skinned terrorists now speak like Apu in the American media.The problem of representation of the other in the West has always been a troublesome one. The stereotypes and caricatures have long been a privilege of the powerful. That defines one major dimension of the relationship between Europe and its other. American media has not been immune to this and, if anything, has carried the torch quite well. Apu merely leads the pack of the buffoons; the heavy accented cab drivers, the clumsy Harondi Bakhshi’s (memorialized by the inimitable Peter Sellers) and the typical doctors or dentists and like Apu, the managers and staff at Dunkin Donuts or area convenient stores.The issue is complex as we find that this constructed identity is what one lives with; it is the screen that one wears in each encounter with the world. It is never too amusing to see someone sport a surprise at the fluency of English spoken by Indians, the simple assumptions that everyone is a computer wizard, or that doctors are made brilliant and kind in India, or that it is Kama Sutra that causes the population explosion in the land of mystery and wonder. One lives with these issues in diasporic identity, which is never a given, never a peaceful state of being and never a comfortable phase of growth in between two lands.Meditations on identity are best shaped in the academic world. Identity has become a buzzword in scholarly circles, a fashion of intellectual pursuit and also a feat of advance in hreflective thought. It is a mixed world and the most heartening aspect of it is that in a changing and challenging world, it is still a formidable issue for scholars.One of the most common hrefrains is that identity is not a static idea, that it is constantly changing and being modified. In a world that once reverberated with struggles defined over the dimensions of class, race and gender, it is identity that rules intellectual circles.The focus on identity leads to a two-fold approach. One foregrounds identity itself, a fundamental notion of who we are and what we have become. Identity politics is a veritable feast of self-proclaimed positions, statements and ideals. In a rapidly mainstreamed field of cultural studies, with its specific provinces in universities, scholarly conferences and publications, identity is something tangible to hold on to, while proclaiming that it is a fluid concept, given to the whims of social and cultural factors, which seem to have a logic of their own.A somewhat more productive approach comes from an exploration of other forces that produce identities, which is nothing more than a window to the world of real politics. The focus here is less on self-gratifying proclamations of identity and more on the complex forces and social conditions that shape them. We are now in the realm of social and historical analysis rather than confessional psychology. This would be a provocative aspect of intellectual work if it were not for the divide between intellectual labor and the real world of political forces, a divide, which is as wide as, well, the Grand Canyon itself.The world of intellectual inquiry in the United States is showing signs of enjoying the surplus luxury of analyzing the world by removing oneself from it. Diasporic studies are fast becoming a fertile ground for practicing this remote control intellectual pursuit. It is common to witness conference sessions and papers with titles such as “The homing of diaspora, the diasporizing of home,” which claim the art of name-dropping or cursory attention to revolutionary concepts of exile or political responsibility of diasporas around the world. The American academy is uniquely situated to exploit this divide with the real world of people.All of this forms the context of diasporic identity for Indian intellectuals who are one of the most complex and dynamic of such phenomenon in the contemporary world. Unlike their counterparts in the realm of science and technology, scholars in the humanities are, by and large, socially conscious and progressive and far removed from the trappings of power. The identity of those who analyze and hreflect on issues of identity with scholarly fervor is indeed instructively engaging.With the rise of postcolonial and cultural studies and a healthy place for the study of diasporas, the presence of intellectuals on university and college campuses has been strong. Led by some brilliant work by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Homi K. Bhabha, one notices a whole cadre of faculty members and graduate students working on these issues. All of this work is certainly affected by the language games in cultural studies, with obscurity, esoteric tones, ritualistic lip service to revolutionary concepts and a deliberate distance from the contingencies of real politics. It raises anew the issues of intellectual responsibility in our time, of the role of the public intellectuals, of academics willing to engage in public sphere outside of their own parochial enclaves of conferences, journal publications and tenure battles.This irony of the divide between the stated political ambition of post-colonial discourse on identity and the vast separation from the problems and spheres of political issues of our time is at the heart of the enterprise of political engagement by Indian intellectuals in the United States.In this country, tenure and resources of academic institutions provide a protection that is unparalleled around the world. But instead of using that security as an engine for political involvement in the public sphere, we retreat into scholarly hreflection that is without accountability.This challenge is by no means exclusive to intellectuals of Indian origin, but it is certainly a challenge that will test the viability of the project of diaspora, of being in two places and belonging nowhere.  Related Itemslast_img read more