Tributes flow as IAC remembers Dr Cheddi Jagan

first_img100th birth anniversaryAn Indian Action Committee (IAC)-sponsored symposium at the National Library on Tuesday, to reflect on the life of late President, Dr Cheddi Jagan, saw tributes and discussions on the principles of the legendary leader in light of present-day Guyana.Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall cited concrete examples where Jagan exercised his vision for a better Guyana – a vision driven by principles the coalition Government was still trying to take up.He pointed to Jagan’s hydropower initiatives during the early years of his time as premier, the building of one of the first native universities in the British colonies and the formation of cooperative farming societies through legislation, a move he saidLate President, Dr Cheddi Jagancoincided with Guyana being labelled as the breadbasket of the Caribbean.Nandlall made it clear that Jagan would never have accepted the oil contract the current Government has “foisted” on the people of Guyana. He stressed that Jagan had established a balance between being anti-poverty and pro-business.“Dr Jagan, whether you wanted to call him a communist, was a communist who was pro people, (anti) poverty, he was pro-business but against exploitation of workers. So, yes, you can have foreign investors,” Nandlall said. “What was his position? You can have foreign investments, but they must not be to the detriment of the local people. Jagan would have never ever tolerated an oil contract like the one foisted upon this nation right now.”Social commentator Ramon Gaskin took pains to stress that had Jagan been alive or his vision continued, the mass firing of sugar workers without severance pay would never have occurred.People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament (MP), Collin Croal pointed to Jagan’s emphasis on youth development. He cited the creation of the University of Guyana and his mentoring of the youths as an example.The former President’s son, Dr Joey Jagan, was also present. Reflecting a more personal side of Jagan, he recalled his resolute good humour while incarcerated by the British. He recalled that as a child when peering at his father from the building adjacent to the jail, Dr Jagan would always be seen with a smile on his face.EvolutionAnother MP, Vickram Bharrat, fielded questions as to whether the Party had moved away from Jagan’s founding principles. He refuted suggestions that the Party no longer reflected Jagan’s ideologies, while noting that as time progressed, the PPP has evolved.“…as a young person within the PPP, I want to say the Party is grounded along Cheddi Jagan lines. Sometimes, we tend not to differentiate between Government and Party. Sometimes, we tie the Party and Government actions into each other.”“And we say that the government between 97 and 2015 did not act in this way and that way. But it is a different era. And we often say, maybe if Jagan was alive he would have taken these decisions that our leaders are taking today. One famous comment he made is we must learn to walk within raindrops. It means that as time moves, as people change, it may require different ideological thinking, policies and you must adopt it. As time changes, we have to change with it too.”Cheddi Berret Jagan was born on March 22, 1918, at Plantation Port Mourant, British Guiana. He was a politician and a union activist, who in 1953 became the first popularly-elected Prime Minister of British Guiana (now Guyana). He headed the country’s Government again from 1957 to 1964 and from 1992 to 1997.last_img