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Secrets of the census in Trinidad and Tobago


Devant "Parsuram" Maharaj


Indians in T&T form a clear majority but continue to be treated like a minority! The State undertook a national census in 2000. Census Day was heavily advertised as June 8. The Maha Sabha advised all Hindus and the general population to fully co-operate with personnel conducting this important exercise.


To date, the data collected have not been made available to the general population. The Maha Sabha suspects that there is political interference to suppress the data because the data must direct the expenditures and other State inputs into areas that reflect growth. Population growth demands additional social facilities.


This census information is to see what areas of the country need what. If a town or district has more children living in it than it had ten years ago, then this will be a place that needs a school. If workers in the cities are spending too much time getting to work because they are stuck in traffic, then it will be necessary to build more roads.


The critical census data will also point to the ethnic composition and could force the politicians to rethink their efforts of imposing a state culture on the majority population.


The US conducted a nationwide census that was more complex than the T&T census. This exercise conducted on April 1, 2000, also marked 210 years since the first census was taken in that country.


According to US publications, its 2000 census has grown to be a sophisticated tool. It not only counted the population but also “sampled the socio-economic status of the population, providing a tool for government, educators, business owners and others to get a snapshot of the state of the nation.”


In T&T, the politicians in charge are deliberating about withholding publication of the 2000 census results to deny the population “a snapshot of the state of the nation.”


The secret numbers and other data of census 2000 are held in the Ministry of Planning and Development at its Statistical Office, National Statistical Building, 80 Independence Square, Port-of-Spain. They cannot be published because finance is not being made available.


The Maha Sabha, however, was able to access what has been described as “response data.” The data does not help businessmen or religious groups to make decisions, but we were able to extract the racial composition of T&T, according to age, sex and ethnic origin in the various geographical areas.


We now understand why the numbers are being deliberately withheld from the people of T&T. It is because they reflect the rising Indian population and the falling African population. The African population is a minority in T&T and if Tobago is excluded, its minority status becomes more pronounced.


According to the 2000 response census data, the total population of T&T was 1,114,772. The three major ethnic groups listed are Africans, Indians and mixed.


The Indian population in T&T is 40.03 per cent, while the African population fell by more than two per cent to 37.5 per cent. The mixed rose to 20.46 per cent and the other groups just around two per cent.


An examination of the census data from 1980, 1990 and 2000 shows that despite heavy migration to North America by Indians under the regime of ANR Robinson’s National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR, 1986-1991), the Indian percentage of the population has held steady.


In 1980 it was 40.7 per cent, in 1990, 40.3 per cent and in 2000, 40.03 per cent.


On the other hand, the African population was 40.8 per cent in 1980, in 1990, 39.6 per cent and in 2000, 37.5 per cent.


The mixed population seemed to have benefited from the African drop. In 1980, it was 16.3 per cent; 1990, 18.4 per cent and in 2000, it jumped by two per cent to 20.46 per cent.


Dr Morgan Job has been attempting to influence the people of Tobago to seek a federal relationship with Trinidad. He even advocates outright independence. I say let the 44,190 go independent if they wish or, for that matter, let them join a federal relationship with Grenada and let Morgan Job be president.


The result will make the African population of Trinidad a smaller minority by another two per cent. With the Tobago figure taken out of the 2000 census figures, the Indian majority will climb to 41.85 per cent while the African will slip to 35.04 per cent.


These census figures that are being suppressed have serious implications for the disbursement of funds for education, culture, regional development and other State realignments.


Failure to respond to these new figures will surely witness appeals to the international community for economic, cultural and other interventions.


[Devant "Parsuram" Maharaj is an Executive Member of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Inc. [SDMS] - the largest Hindu body on the island. in 2002 Maharaj was appointed the SDMS Delegate to the Inter-Religious Organization [IRO] of Trinidad & Tobago.

In 1996 Devant along with Kamal Persad began the first Indian oriented radio talk show called "The Hindu View Point" which ran for 2 years on 91.1 FM. Recently in 2002 Maharaj has been appointed President of Global Organization for People of Indian Organization [GOPIO] Chapter. 

Mr. Maharaj is a weekly columnist with the Trinidad Newsday since 1997. He has also been published in, amongst others, the Trinidad Guardian, The Jamaica Gleaner, The Barbados Nation, The St. Lucia Star, India Post, Asian Age, BJP Today, Hinduism Today, Indian Express and India Abroad.

Maharaj along with Dr. Kumar Mahabir began in 2003 an on-line network discussion group dedicated to the Indian Caribbean Experience:]





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