Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sat does not speak for me

In her June 5 column in the Express Sheila Rampersad expressed the confusion I also share about the undeserved authority, excessive respect and unjustified government largesse the head of the Maha Sabha has commanded for the last four decades. Her column mentioned his boldfaced assumption that he speaks for all Hindus and, worse yet, that he also represents all Indo-Trinbagonians. I am pleased that I am not the only Indo-Trini to disapprove of his arrogance and presumptuousness.

It is deeply offensive to me that this man is chosen to speak on behalf of people like me who stand diametrically opposite to what he represents. However, to be fair, I believe the media was complicit in his unmerited renown. There appears to have long existed a twisted symbiosis between local media houses and Mr Maharaj; the journalists get their raw materials to sell print and air time, while Mr Maharaj gets his publicity.

The world is full of frauds who are given bully pulpits and presume to speak for a group by convincing them they are oppressed, despised, hated, discriminated against, cheated. Many people prefer to be told their misfortune is not their fault but someone else’s, the “system’’ is against them than to be shown how far they have come, how much goodwill comes from the other side and how much further they can progress if they work for it. The few who do follow Sat seem to have bought his snake oil of ethnic grievances. His false air of legitimacy was aided and abetted by journalism that never missed an opportunity to exploit his divisiveness, and at the same time do a disservice to the Indo-Trini community by portraying them as a monolith.

Just like the seemingly invincible Panday and Manning before him, Mr Maharaj will, thankfully, one day fade into forgetfulness even though he wore out his welcome decades ago. I am optimistic that Mr Maharaj is an embarrassment to the many young Indi-Trinis like myself, of all religions or atheists, who are fed up of the racial politics of years past. I stand with Ms Rampersad in declaring that Sat Maharaj does not speak for me.

Rakesh Mohan