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No Conflict Between National Identity And Ancestral Pride
- Jagdeo tells India Diaspora conference
January 10th 2004

President Bharrat Jagdeo, in his address to the Second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in New Delhi, India, a conference devoted to the Indian Diaspora, told participants that "love of one's country of origin is natural and that there ought not to be, therefore a conflict between national identity and ancestral pride".

Speaking yesterday at the opening of the conference where he is the chief guest, Jagdeo also advised, "However, one must always be careful to distinguish between ancestral pride and national loyalties. As President of Guyana, a land of six races, I represent all of the people and I am duty bound to govern in their interests.

At the same time, I am very proud of my Indian ancestry and I experience no conflict in my determination to work towards forging greater national cohesion. In my country each ethnic group is encouraged to preserve and express its heritage within the national context and we are determined to live and work together as a single united Guyanese nation."

Jagdeo also said those of the Diaspora "have a duty to ensure that our children are imbued with the virtues and values that have made us what we are, without becoming parochial. In many parts of the world children of Diasporas are subjected to various pressures to abandon their culture and forsake their heritage and indeed are even made to feel that both are inferior. We must find creative ways of developing in them a sense of pride in their cultural legacy without affecting their ability to assimilate and develop loyalties to the countries in which they live."
Day one of the conference ended with a cultural evening at which Rikki Jai and Drupatee Ramgoonai [from Trinidad and Tobago] showed off the talent of the Diaspora. Dressed in a flaming red trench coat and matching pants, Jai treated his audience - which included [Basdeo] Panday, Jagdeo and former Indian film star turned politician Vinod Khanna - to "Doolahin" and "Song of Unity". He creatively used the chorus of Ras Shorty I's "Om, Shanti Om" to introduce Song of Unity’s message of "love and peace all over the world."

Sources: Stabroek News, Trinidad Express


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