Trinidad to host Indian diaspora conference

By Paras Ramoutar, IANS,

Port-of-Spain : Scholars from India, Europe, North America and the Caribbean are expected to participate in an Indian diaspora conference here July 11-13.

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The conference is one of a network of activities planned to mark the 50th anniversary of the National Council of Indian Culture(NCIC), an organisation that promotes Indian culture in Trinidad & Tobago, according to Primnath Gooptar, coordinator of the conference.

“Over the years, the Caribbean Indian diaspora has given rise to a large body of literature that has mobilised the interest of scholars on a wide range of issues relating to the diaspora both within the Caribbean and internationally, and despite this scenario there is a paucity of literature on emerging and future trends,” Gooptar told IANS in an interview.

“The conference will bring together intellectual and practice-based contributors who will examine the concept of Indo-Caribbean literature as a constructive characteristic of future community life. It is projected to explore the full range of Indian cultural experiences in the Caribbean communities in charting the way forward,” he added.

The future of Divali Nagar, an annual religious, cultural and social programme that coincides with the Indian festival of Diwali, is one of several topics that will be discussed, according to Gooptar. He said that the focus would be on the socio-religious context of Divali Nagar, future trends, possibilities and perspectives for the 21st century. The impact of Indian films on the Indian diaspora will be another subject of deliberations.

Other topics include sustainable Indian cultural development, the Indian historical and heritage contexts, healthy lifestyles, culinary and medicinal health, performing arts and technology.

The conference, therefore, affords an open, collaborative atmosphere for scholars, leaders, specialists, visionaries, reformers and innovators to discuss future opportunities and challenges facing Indo-Caribbean culture, he pointed out.

It is also hoped that this forum would serve to stimulate further exchanges of ideas and strengthen existing linkages within, he noted.

“The NCIC proposes that the conference examine issues and challenges relating to the future conservation, transmission and integration of the Indo-Caribbean diaspora and offer fresh perspectives on issues such as racism, assimilation and identity on how these impact the diaspora,” Gooptar said.

According to him, while the Indian diaspora in Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, Mauritius and Fiji were formed through indentureship, since the second half of the 20th century, a re-migration process has been taking place from former colonial communities to countries such as the US, Canada, Holland and Britain.

Trinidad and Tobago’s East Indian population, originally sourced from India, mainly from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar between 1845 to 1917, makes up 44 percent of the country’s total population.

(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at [email protected])