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50 years—a reflection
As we approach our 50th year of political independence, the nation would seem to have been plunged into an atmosphere of convivality and jubilation, a feeling which no doubt comes instinctively from a people liberated from the shackles of slavery, indentureship and colonialism. However, the occasion should also be one of reflection over and assessment of our successes and failures and trials and tribulations over the period.
The attainment of independence in 1962 meant and was understood to mean that we were no longer to be governed by the British but people of T&T. Accordingly we promulgated our own Constitution, albeit a la British, established a Parliament and retained the Queen as head of state.
Like the British we opted for a Parliament with an Upper and Lower House and a prime minister, leader of the opposition and a judiciary. We further moved from a monarchical system of government to that of a republic.
The pertinent question that arises for consideration on the auspicious occasion of the 50th year of our independence is whether we have progressed morally, socially, economically and politically and, if so, to what extent. Socially and politically we continue to be racially polarised while educationally a substantial percentage of our people have remained illiterate or semi-literate.
Although our economy has been good, a substantial portion of our population has been living and continues to live under the poverty line and this notwithstanding our rich natural resources of gas and oil.
But that is not all. After 50 years of independence we continue to be relegated to the status of a Third World country and this notwithstanding our two universities and high-rise buildings and a gas and oil economy. After 50 years of independence our politicians have failed to recognise the importance of some of the basic necessities of life, such as a regular supply of water and a reliable transport system.
Under colonialism the British had provided us with a reliable railway service with low fares to meet the pockets of the poor and a water supply to almost every village. However, upon the attainment of independence the railway was scrapped by our politicians because it was deemed to be a relic of colonialism while on the other hand they retained BWIA, not because it was financially viable but because it had the potential for deals.
After 50 years, however, for whatever reason, our politicians have failed to provide a solution to our horrific transportation system, thereby inflicting on the people untold hardship and suffering with the concomitant loss of valuable man-hours in traffic jams.
What we celebrate after 50 years is the continued importation of our food supplies costing billions of dollars to taxpayers, which we send abroad to subside the econo-mies of other countries while our prime agricultural lands remain either underutilised or are being used for housing while our farmers remain idle and unproductive.
On the other hand it would appear that after 50 years of independence the psyche of our politicians have remained circumscribed around the quest for power and the amassing of wealth while the ethos of the nation has been mired in a state of lawlessness, bribery and corruption and a dependency syndrome.
Some argue that the steel pan is our only invention but that would appear to be an oversight since we have also invented Cepep, URP and Colour Me Orange. Unfortunately, after 50 years we are yet to establish a social order calculated to nurture and develop a society with high moral and spiritual values, free of crime and one with respect for the rule of law.
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