Dear Editor,

Why the PPP keeps Indians out of the army?

Fifteen years after the ascension of the Indian-supported PPP to political office the Guyana Defence Force still remains an African-dominated state institution. In fact there are less Indians in the army in 2005 than there were in 1980 when the PNC dictatorship was at its pinnacle.

The PPP has been peddling the lie that Indians do not want to join the army, hence the continued state of affairs. This is a total lie.

During the 1992 election campaign I and other ex-army officers had short listed 80 men from West Demerara for enlistment in the GDF. So from my personal experience I can say that Indians were ready for military duties.

However Ms. Jagan personally intervened after the elections and told me to cease our activities in identifying Indians for the military. When I pointed out that the army must be ethnically-balanced she retorted that it was none of my business and that the party knew what was best.

Dr Cheddi Jagan. Photo courtesy

Dr Cheddi Jagan. Photo courtesy

On the morning after he was sworn in as President, Dr Jagan told me that he was assured that the CIA would not destabilise him and that the PPP would be allowed to rule, and as such he would not effect changes to the security forces. One early morning a young skinny Robert Persaud came to my home all breathless and excited. He wanted to know if it was true that I had planned to go to Camp Ayangana to demand that Joe Singh hand over the GDF to me!

I was flabbergasted, as I had never even entertained such a thought. In my security plan that I gave Dr. Jagan, I had proposed diplomatic postings for the top echelons of the GDF and accelerated promotion for some officers with George Gomes as Chief-of-Staff.

I had never asked for anything for myself. When I expressed shock at Robert’s inquiry and denied any intention of demanding the GDF from Joe Singh, Robert breathed a sigh of relief, grabbed my phone, called Ms. Jagan and told her, “The info is not true. Comrade Malcolm still in he pajamas at home.” I guess that the PPP leadership was fed misinformation to check the response.

What it all points to is the fact that the PPP never had any intention to balance the security forces, and by 1998 I had figured out why. When I explained to Mr. Ravi Dev and Dr. Baytoram Ramharack why the PPP would not balance the army they had disagreed with me.

In fact we had several arguments. They were insisting that, in view of the street protests by the PNC and the violence unleashed on Indians, the PPP would have to inject Indians into the army. They insisted that it was the rational thing for the PPP to do as it would strengthen Indian support for the PPP.

Both Dr. Baytoram and Mr. Dev were thinking as reasonable and rational men. However the communist PPP leadership operates in devious ways, as its Attorney General Dr. Fenton Ramsahoye pointed out to the Home Affairs Minister Mr Balram Singh Rai in 1962. The reason why the PPP did not, and will not, balance the security forces is a bit convoluted.

Why do Indians vote for the PPP? Is it because of its communist ideology, its economic policies, or is it because of race? It is because of race. The Indians, ever mindful of their subjugation during PNC rule, developed a fear of Africans. It is this fear that the PPP takes advantage of at elections time to mobilise Indian votes. Without Indian votes the PPP will never win an election.

Without the fear of Africans the Indians will not vote as a block for the PPP. So the PPP cannot afford to remove the Indian fear of Africans. It has to continually keep that fear alive and keep building up that fear.

How can that fear be removed?

One way is to make the security forces ethnically balanced. The whole of Guyana will benefit from balanced forces as one of the contributory factors to social instability, a lopsided ethnic-dominated army and police, will be removed. In the process the new Indian soldiers will undergo personal transformation.

They, as individuals, will no longer fear Africans. This new group of Indians will then think outside the racial box that their previous fears had placed them. With society becoming stable and Indian fear of Africans receding, Indians will begin to think of their own interest rather than that of the PPP.

But this is a scenario which the PPP cannot afford. It is indispensable to the PPP leadership to keep Indians in a state of perpetual fear of Africans. All the violence unleashed on Indians since the 1960s have caused Indians to huddle around the PPP. The PPP is a direct beneficiary of such violence.

So the PPP will never alter the racial composition of the security forces.

Malcolm Harripaul