Patrick Castagne composed the words of the national anthem way back in 1962. These historic words reflect the strength of the people of our nation as we live in unity in the midst of our diversity. Two lines stand out and have become relevant today against a background of controversy created by utterances of Mr Nizam Mohammed, chairman of the Police Service Commission. The National Anthem sings: "Here every creed and race finds and equal place, and may God bless our nation."
So that our children across our school system are free to sing about race and equality but our imported Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and other national figures seem to object Nizam Mohammed's report to a joint select committee of Parliament that "The police service did not reflect the composition of Trinidad and Tobago multi-ethnic society." We support the views of Mr Mohammed and we contend that he has every right to make the observation in the House of Parliament. He is duty bound to honestly tell Parliamentarians what is the reality in the Police Service.
In fact, Mr Mohammed reported that he received a letter from the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social and Welfare Association, Sergeant Anand Ramesar which was also sent to Dwayne Gibbs, highlighting concerns regarding the ethnic composition of the Promotional and Advisory Board of the Police. Although the population comprise more than 42 per cent Indo Trinidadians and approximately 37 per cent Afro Trinidadians, the five-member promotion board are all of African descent. This obviously affects the promotional prospects of Indians.
According to the Saturday Express of 28 March, Mohammed said, "Out of ten Assistant Commissioners of Police, you don't have a single one of Indian origin. Out of three Deputy Commissioners, none of Indian origin. Wait, we have one Commissioner of Police, Senior Superintendent, you have 15, all of African origin, none of Indian origin. "Happily when you look at the figures, you see the Superintendent level, you have 21 of African origin and ten of East Indian origin and since within recent times, we have been emphasising the question of meritocracy as opposed to seniority, and Monday coming, Superintendents should be writing their exams. The better one may move to Senior Superintendents and you may have a better mixture," Mohammed said.
Why is Nizam Mohammed being vilified for telling the truth that was made public and drawn to the attention of the politicians and the public in a publication "Ethnicity and employment practices in Trinidad and Tobago" in November of 1992? The Patrick Manning administration established a Center for Ethnic Studies whose objective was "to conduct research into the problems arising out of cultural diversions in an ex-colonial society and to make recommendations for addressing such problems in the context of public policy making." The directors of the centre were Professor Selwyn Ryan and Professor John la Guerra.
These two well-respected academics reported that "all things being equal, and given the fact that Indo-Trinidadian candidates are generally better qualified (academically), it should follow that the number of Indo-Trinidadians selected for training should be higher. It seems that they tend to do less well in the interview than do their Afro-Trinidadian counterparts." It continued, "For the past several years, the members of the interviewing panel have all been Afro-Trinidadians. Given the fact that Trinidad is a multi-ethnic society with nationals belonging to two highly divergent mainstream cultures, namely Indo-Trinidadian and Afro-Creole, it is to be expected that cultural factors could account for differentials in interview performance in favour of Afro-Trinidadians.
"It must be noted here that US studies on Afro-American Intelligence have shown that there are significant differences in IQ results when Afro-American children are tested by Afro-American, instead of White researchers. Increase IQ to the extent of 10 to 15 points indicates the significance of cultural compatibility even in what is considered a completely impartial and objective test. In an interview, it is virtually impossible for an interviewer to be detached from his/her ethnic community. Given the cultural dualities of Trinidad and Tobago, there could well be a cultural impediment inherent in the interview performance of Indo-Trinidadians."
Prime Minister Patrick Manning and the PNM government had the Ryan/La Guerra Report since 1992, but did absolutely nothing to correct the built-in promotional imbalance of Indian officers in the Police Service. Even Basdeo Panday was and the present PP government are mortally afraid to deal decisively with vexing racial issues. And now Nizam Mohammed, chairman of the Police Commissioner is headed for sacrifice. But all is not lost! Reasonable people see the truth and support Nizam's right to speak and in an article posted on the Internet on 28 March, attorney and former Senator Robin Montano wrote, "As a society we should not be so ready to shoot the messenger, even when he comes with a point of view that on the face of it might seem to be unreasonable. We should be prepared to listen carefully to the message and deal with it...one way or the other. Mr Mohammed has let this genie out of the bottle. It cannot be stuffed back in so easily by simply firing him."
Satnarayan Maharaj is the
secretary general of the
Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha