The Indian Mindset


On April 16, Abu Bakr wrote (KN)  “There is of course no doubt that Indo-Guyanese, like all Guyanese and indeed people everywhere, have a “mindset” or set of cultural reflexes generated from a matrix of values that of itself merits study and description. And Freddie Kissoon was writing particularly about a bias in the group that led to the reflex vote for the PPP and the sentiments of racial solidarity that powers it. It would be nonsensical to further insist that these factors are absent in our politics or to seek, as some have done, to source the said sentiment in an ancestral terror born of their contact with blacks and the “security dilemma” it engendered.”

Using Bakr’s own logics one must then draw a similar conclusion about an African mindset  ‘that of itself merits study and description’. Similarly one must also conclude that there is a bias in that group ‘that led to the reflex vote for the PNC and the sentiments of racial solidarity that powers it’. And, logically it would then be nonsensical to source the said sentiment in their contact with Indians.

Of course one can point out to Bakr et al that psychologists Norman Epstein and Donald Baucom (2002) describe five distinct cognitions that affect relationships: assumptions, standards, perceptions, attributions (explanations) and expectancies (expectations) and that since Epstein and Baucom state that these are unique to each person, it would seem that attributing mindset to group think is quite problematic. Even the Annales school of historians were divided down the middle on it, and in fact, has continuously lost ground since the 1960s in this respect.

However, while one would leave Bakr et al to reconcile their conclusions with the findings of Epstein and Baucom, their argumentation logically poses the following questions: what is the Afro-Guyanese mindset? What is the Afro-Guyanese mindset that gave rise to the X-13 plan that underpinned the era of violence and terror in the sixties? What is the Afro-Guyanese mindset that resulted in unwavering support for Burnhamism, rigged elections and all? What is the Afro-Guyanese mindset that gave birth to kick down door banditry in the eighties characterized predominantly by Africans perpetrators victimizing Indian? What is the African mindset that characterized criminals and their reign of crime and violence as a freedom struggle? In fact, even the spate of crime and violence that has persisted since the Camp Street jail break has seen a greater percentage of victims being non-blacks and  a greater percentage of perpetrators being blacks.

The reality is that Indians are being labeled and lumped together simply because they vote PPP. Yet none of those who make these characterizations have ever attempted to analyze the real reasons behind this behavior. For one there is the impact on their collective psyche resulting from years of suppression, victimization and discrimination under the PNC. And to argue that the current generation is so far removed from that era that its actions could not be influenced therein is to ignore the impact of socialization, especially its gregarious socio-cultural underpinnings. Secondly while some make comparisons between the PNC and the current PPP government they close their eyes to the one fundamental difference – the PPP has not rigged elections. It is a legitimate government and no amount of pontificating can transform ‘electoral irregularities’ into electoral rigging. Thirdly Indians are continually cognizance of the reality that Africans continue to dominate the security forces and the public service and they will want to ensure that the deck does not become completely stacked against them. Afterall they’ve been down that route before.

The bottom line is that Indians will only vote for another political party when they are convinced that the resulting government will not be race based and its policies will not be premised on race. And contrary to the wishful thinking of a few who fail to recognize the psycho social problematics that underpin electoral behavior in Guyana, any political movement that feels it can establish such a government has to move beyond mere rhetoric to be able to change electoral loyalties.

In effect the belief of those who have established such deep antipathy toward a group of people, that any action taken by that group is inherently bad, and the group must therefore be demonized regardless of principle or practicality, seems to be the prevalent mindset of those who seek to characterize Indians as a group guilty of homogeneous assumptions, standards, perceptions, attributions (explanations) and expectancies (expectations) – the five cognitions of Epstein and Baucom. Ironically some of these very people argue for some sort of political collaboration that would necessarily include the very group they demonize.

Annan Boodram

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About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
This entry was posted in Guyana Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Indian Mindset

  1. caribvoice says:

    Dear Dkingston14@gmail.com please try to understand context. For this article the context is Guyana in contemporary time and this article is a response to the writings of others. It has noting to do with ;hundreds of years, so stop using historicity as a rationale for Blacks to say anything about Indians and then feel that Indians have no right to respond. With all due respect it your response that reveals a racist mindset.

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