April 2008

Vol 7 - No. 10
























Rest of the World | April 2008



GOPIO Split in Trinidad and Tobago


The newly elected executives of GOPIO-Trinidad Chapter were formally installed at a very prominent event held on the evening of Friday, February 29, 2008 at the HCU World Select Gem Convention Centre in Freeport, Trinidad. The event was very well attended by over 300 that included high ranking officials of the government and opposition parties as well as foreign representatives, well wishers, the press and the general public.


The feature speaker was the Indian High Commissioner Jagjit Singh Sapra. Newly elected executive officers of GOPIO Trinidad and Tobago were inaugurated by GOPIO Secretary General Ashook Ramsaran and GOPIO's Caribbean Region Vice- President Ambassador Krishna Nandoe.


The new officers are: President Deosaran Bisnath; Vice President Reuben Girdhar-Niranjan: Secretary Rajnie Ramlakhan; Asst. Secretary Sacha Mahabal; Auditor Davindra Singh; Directors Pandit Jaganath Seeram Maharaj, Doolarchan Hanoomansingh, and Niranjan Bhaggan.


Indian High Commissioner Sapra delivered the keynote address and praised GOPIO's community. Minister Lenny Saithin the Prime Minister's Office congratulated the newly elected officials of GOPIO of Trinidad and Tobago and extended greetings from Prime Minister Patrick Manning. Albert Ramdin, Assistant Secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS) remarked that GOPIO's effort on local and international levels are quite admirable.


Contributing remarks were made by Deosaran Bisnath, newly elected President of GOPIO of Trinidad and Tobago chapter; Ashook Ramsaran, General Secretary of GOPIO International; Ambassador Mr. Krishna Nandoe, Caribbean Region Vice- President of GOPIO International; Mr Yesu Persaud, a founding member of GOPIO and currently Chairman of Guyana; Mr Basdeo Panday, Leader of the Opposition Party. Also in attendance was Suriname's Ambassador to Trinidad and TobagoFidelia Graande-Galon; as well as Ramesh L. Maharaj, Parliamentary Whip. Prominent civic and religious leaders were also in attendance.


GOPIO of Trinidad and Tobago recognized the contributions of the following persons who have made significant contributions in various segments of the society: Ramdath Jagessar; Rev. Ralph R. Umraw; Phoolo Dhany-Maharaj; Zahir Baksh; Pundit Capildeo Maharaj and Valene Maharaj. The awards were presented by High Commissioner Sapra and assisted by Ashook Ramsaran.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation.


At a meeting with Minister of Culture, Donna Cox, Deosaran Bisnath elaborated on some of the community programs being planned by GOPIO T&T. These include educational seminars on alcohol abuse, diabetes and education. MinisterCox welcomed the efforts and offered the support of the Ministry of Culture.


The meeting with India's High Commissioner Sapra was held in the office of the High Commissioner and attended by the delegation of Ramsaran, Nandoe, Persaud and Bisnath. Discussions included GOPIO's request to increase the number of scholarships, promoting "Get To Know India" program and including GOPIO Trinidad & Tobago in the selection process. Sapra also elaborated on future collaboration with trade exhibitions and business conference. 


A full press conference was held at City Hall. Members of the press met with the delegation of Ramsaran, Nandoe, Persaud and Bisnath, and posed questions relating to GOPIO Trinidad & Tobago, GOPIO International and how the chapter plans to work with others in its efforts to address community issues, working in close collaboration with other civic groups.


The GOPIO delegation of Ramsaran, Nandoe, Persaud and Bisnath then met with Prime Minister Patrick Manning. While Ramsaran and others in the GOPIO delegation re-iterated GOPIO's position of being non-political and secular, Prime Minister Manning welcomed the change in the executives of GOPIO Trinidad & Tobago.


A release from the Office of the Prime Minister stated that Ashook Ramsaran General Secretary of GOPIO International met with Prime Minister Manning and assured Manning that to “guarantee that no such misunderstandings would reoccur”. The Prime Minister’s release further stated that “Prime Minister welcomed the new local incarnation of GOPIO” 




GOPIO International by meeting with the Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Patrick Manning, essentially sold out the Indian community with one fell swoop, alleges the former President of GOPIO Trinidad and Tobago (GOPIO T&T), Devant Maharaj.


Maharaj declared independence from the International body and launched GOPIO T & T vowing to continue to defend Indians against discrimination by the State. He stated that GOPIO has sold out the Indian community with this move given the history of discrimination by the government.

The newly-formed GOPIO T &T  alleges that the move by GOPIO International the local chapter will no longer defend discrimination against Indians in Trinidadians.

GOPIO Trinidad and Tobago chapter had for the past six years challenged the Manning Administration for discrimination against the Indian population on issues such as national housing, public service employment, national security, and other areas.

GOPIO’s chapter in Trinidad and Tobago had also taken the government and state agencies to courts on the issue of discrimination successfully. The government of Trinidad and Tobago stands out in the Caribbean as having lost many cases of discrimination from the high courts of Trinidad and Tobago to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

President of the local chapter of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) Trinidad and Tobago Deosaran Bisnath has disassociated his group from the "press release factory" of GOPIO T&T, which he says has misrepresented the policies and principles of GOPIO International.  

Bisnath claimed that GOPIO T&T was serving the political purposes of one man, its president' Devant Maharaj, who had been issuing news releases on a number of "nonsensical" issues which have nothing to with GOPIO and do not benefit society.  

He gave the latest example of a news release from the group in which they had called for an investigation into claims of withdrawal problems at the Hindu Credit Union (HCU).  

Bisnath said his group is the only authorised chapter of GOPIO International in this country.



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