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National awards, Republic Day celebrations and independence

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

President Carmona’s decision to move the National Awards ceremony to Republic Day has initiated much debate. This outcome powerfully demonstrates an argument that I have pursued for some years albeit with limited success ie the need for clarity in defining the issue(s) to be resolved.

Our national penchant for knee jerk responses and the application of instant resolutions without carefully defining the issue being addressed guarantees a non resolution and simply adds to sterile debate.

President Carmona has argued that the Republic Day Celebrations on September 24 were jaded and lacked the elements that may usefully contribute to strong concepts of nationhood and the development of a meaningful national psyche.

Taken within this context it would appear that the substantive issues to have been addressed were firstly, the meaning/significance of national awards and secondly, the role that these awards can/should play in nation building. If we accept this proposition then it begs the question, does the proposed change to having the awards on Republic Day resolve them? I would think not.

I do believe that a different approach is required. Indeed, there is urgent need for a rethink on associated public expenditure on every aspect of national life. There is a clear distinction between expenditure on national holidays, but the state should stand aloof of unnecessary expenses associated with all public awards/competitions as well as with the many religious and so-called ethnic and cultural festivals however styled under the guise of “multiculturalism”.

The task is to build pride in our nation with a distinct “Trinbago” culture—a humongous task that requires thoughtful and purposeful-planning and execution over several generations.



Samuel B Howard


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