Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has commended the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) for choosing Mother Earth or ‘Dharti Maata’, as this year’s theme of the Divali Nagar.
Speaking on Thursday evening at the Divali Nagar site in Chaguanas, Persad-Bissessar said, “Today, Mother Earth is again under stress. The actions of so many are destroying her. She is, in a real way, beginning to react. We are seeing the manifestations of her distress in excess heat, floods, earthquakes, fires, and other formidable natural disasters.”
She said the theme was relevant today as, “Right now, we are experiencing the unpredictable effects of climate change around the world.”
“Across the globe, countries are involved in armed conflicts and outright wars. In our own beloved nation, we face annual devastation from unpredictable weather where it be floods whether it be drought. Floods are alternating with severe hot spells regularly.
“There is brutal and unprecedented violent crime, with citizens living in constant despair and terror.”
She added, “The very Mother Earth from whom this human body has come is tired and upset with the way we have mistreated her. She is reacting.
“Many areas of her body that produce food are now like deserts; the water she provides is in short supply.”
She said, “She is telling us that she is not happy with the lack of appreciation and gratitude we have for her, given that she has been the source and sustenance of our existence.”
Persad-Bissessar also commended new National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) President Independent Senator Deoroop Teemal.
She said, “Let me also extend my earnest thanks to outgoing president Pundit Dr Deokinanan Sharma for his longstanding, unwavering devotion to the work of the NCIC during the years he served as President.
“Pundit Sharma, you have genuinely shaped the NCIC and East Indian culture, thus leaving a legacy that will redound for generations.
“Your tremendous contributions and leadership took the NCIC from humble beginnings and into the mainstream of our national culture.”
Persad-Bissessar said Divali has become a proud part of the national identity.
However, she said there was a large gap between different cultures.
She said, “The State must play a greater role in developing and sustaining an enhanced cultural environment across the board, including the very successful ones like this Divali Nagar.
“There is a wide gap between the different cultural streams regarding understanding, respecting and participating. And I say we must work harder to close these gaps.”
Persad-Bissessar said, “I want to assure all cultural entities that the government I will lead again will support your cultural work.
“This is in recognition of the fact that our diverse, beautiful, and inspiring culture remains the foundation of our social stability and the promise of our future progress.
“When we return to the Government, we will ensure that both Ramleela and Divali… are marketed as tourism products and attractions on the international stage. This we can make with happen with the help and vision of the NCIC and other groups.”