August 2014 \
An Agenda For Change

By Yogi Ashwini Ji, Paras Ramoutar


Need to re-engage with the Indian diaspora, says UWI principal

A call has been made to re-engage with the Indian Diaspora to build a sustainable platform for our own development. Principal of the University of the West indies, St. Augustine, and Pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof. Clement Sankat underscored this point at the opening at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) at Divali Nagar on Friday night. Theme of the international conference, "Towards A Vision For The Indo-Caribbean Diasporic Culture".

"This development comes with a strong focus on science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. This is why this conference, dedicated to shaping a vision for Indo-Caribbean Diasporic Culture is so important. Some 169 years after the East Indian arrival in the Caribbean-it provides a platform whereby the link between the East Indian diaspora, the Caribbean and India can be nurtured and harnessed to bring value to our respective countries. We must look to the future," Prof. Sankat said.

Prof. Sankat said that the conference would reveal, "we are getting today a broader, deeper and richer sense of our East Indian ancestry, with many more descendants-sons and daughters of the diaspora, and the daunting voyage between India and the Caribbean being investigated and chronicled. Many more persons are connecting with their East Indian ancestry, their roots as we say."

"As communications become less challenging and as the first hand interchanges occur, new insights and revelations will also occur. Many facets of indentureship may in fact be rewritten as new stories unfold. The work that has been done to date, therefore, steadily updated and intensified. There is still much to be done as we look to a new future with India," Prof. Sankat added.

He said that the several East Indian conferences have stocked up a comprehensive body of knowledge has been created—papers, books and journals which can be found in the West Indian Section of our Main Library at the campus and in many other libraries around the world. "This is testimony to the rich chronicle of the East Indian presence and research done by the University of the West Indies to have this recorded for posterity.

This information and research that has been garnered will continue to play an important role in the future development of our people as it will give them a better understanding and appreciation of their ancestral roots, the challenges of indentureship and their hopes and aspirations for a better future in the lands of the Caribbean, he said.

Prof. Sankat said that as the leading regional tertiary educational institution, the UWI is cognizant of its role and responsibility to advance developmental issues such as the importance of the East Indian Diaspora to contribute to the development of our region. "I can speak similarly to advance developmental issues such as the importance of the African or the Chinese Diaspora in the Caribbean and building links with Africa and China. In this regard, as Principal of the St. Augustine Campus, it is my goal not only to fulfill our mandate to serve as a centre of scholarship, research and learning in a global world but more importantly, to extend our reach and engage our communities including the Diaspora with special emphasis on the historical links of the Caribbean with India, China and Europe."