The Indian Action Committee (IAC) is shocked and outraged by the insensitive ethnic remarks made by Education Minister Nicolette Henry in the National Assembly on Thursday, December 7, 2017, during her Budget Debate presentation.
The IAC recognizes that this government minister has been in a controversial situation before, when she referred to ‘Phagwah’ as ‘Diwali’, but the organization at the time excused the minister’s lapse given the fact that she was new on the job, even though, as a Guyanese, she should have known the difference for many years.
The IAC, in this instance, having watched and listened to the video of the minister’s comment in which she said the following words: “I am not a ‘chhatri’ so I may not know when there is Diwali or Phagwah…”, views this performance by Minister Henry as one which demonstrates an arrogant disdain for things Indian, thus illustrating unbecoming behaviour on the part of a government minister.
The IAC strongly feels that Minister Henry is out of order and has insulted more than half of the population of Guyana who are persons of Indo-Guyanese origin.
The IAC cannot make any sensible connection in the Minister’s usage of the term ‘chhatri’, on the one hand and Phagwah and Diwali on the other hand given that the term ‘chhatri’ refers to one of the main Hindu castes of India; and Phagwah and Diwali being distinct festivals of India and national holidays of Guyana.
The IAC is extremely bewildered by this statement of the Minister given the fact that she was already embroiled in a controversy regarding the festivals of Phagwah and Diwali earlier in March this year and the organization, this time, will not excuse this Minister for her gross insult to Indo-Guyanese.
The IAC, in light of this uneducated outburst, has lost all confidence in Education Minister Henry and is calling upon President Granger to ensure that she makes a public apology to all persons of Indo-Guyanese origin who have been insulted by her insensitive ethnic comment.