TRIBUTE TO MR. RANJI CHANDISINGH BY ROBERT H.O. CORBIN, M.P. LEADER OF THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM AND LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION--Friday, June 19, 2009
Today, I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to salute and pay tribute to one of Guyana’s patriotic sons, former Parliamentarian, Mr. Ranji Chandisingh, who, after life long service to his native land, made his exit from the stage of life a few days ago.
For fifty years or more, fortified by his ideological beliefs and his love of country, he strode the political stage of Guyana using all of his energies to achieve political independence, national unity and genuine national development.
Even after his retirement from the political stage, he remained concerned for the welfare and wellbeing of Guyanese until the day of his death. I doubt that there could be any controversy over the assertion that he was an outstanding politician and educator of unquestionable integrity and patriotism who used his strength and his practical experience to embrace a vision for a truly united, progressive and developed Guyana. Indeed, it was this commitment, which led him neither to be imprisoned by any political or ideological dogma nor by the confines of any political organisation.
An objective review of his life would reveal his multifaceted personality: a man who was courageous with his convictions and never wavered in his beliefs. Yet, his brilliant and analytic mind made him tolerant and respectful of differing opinions. He possessed an unfailing sense of humor and unmatched humility. His life was a fine example of what a human being can achieve by holding to values and principles that serve to better the lives of his fellow human beings. The PNCR is particularly grateful that his skills, knowledge and humane values were placed at the service of the Party and the Nation in a variety of positions from 1966 until his retirement from the Foreign Service in 1988.
He was a living example of the words of Khalil Gibran in “The Prophet”
“YOU GIVE BUT LITTLE WHEN YOU GIVE OF YOUR POSSESSIONS,
IT IS WHEN YOU GIVE OF YOURSELF THAT YOU TRULY GIVE.
FOR WHAT ARE YOUR POSSESSIONS BUT THINGS YOU KEEP AND GUARD
FOR FEAR YOU MAY NEED THEM TOMORROW…..
THERE ARE THOSE WHO GIVE LITTLE OF THE MUCH WHICH THEY HAVE AND THEY GIVE IT FOR RECOGNITION AND THEIR HIDDEN DESIRE MAKES THEIR GIFTS UNWHOLESOME.
AND THERE ARE THOSE WHO HAVE LITTLE TO GIVE AT ALL.
THESE ARE THE BELIEVERS IN LIFE AND THE BOUNTY OF LIFE,
AND THEIR COFFER IS NEVER EMPTY.
THERE ARE THOSE WHO GIVE WITH JOY, AND THAT JOY IS THEIR REWARD,
IT IS WELL TO GIVE WHEN ASKED, BUT IT IS BETTER, TO GIVE UNASKED THROUGH UNDERSTANDING”
I can attest to the fact that he gave his all to Guyana with joy and a deep understanding of the times. His political career embraced the political struggle for independence and nation building. He was educated at Harvard University, and, like most of his generation of the 60’s, he regarded Marxism/Leninism as a vital tool for transforming this country. He joined the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) soon after his return to this country and became a member of the Cabinet of the PPP Government in 1961 as Minister of Labour, Health and Housing. He was also a leading ideologue of that Party and became the Principal of Accabre College. It is sufficient to say that he forged ahead with what he believed to be good for Guyana, even when he faced the criticism and carping of lesser men who did not share his vision.
Martin Luther King, reminds us that,
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”
It is in this context that his joining forces with the PNC in 1976 need be understood.
I had heard much about him through regular heated debates with his students in the then PYO and had formed certain impressions of him as a rigid ideologue who was doctrinaire and inflexible, but when I had the pleasure of meeting him for the first time in 1975, I soon realized how perceptions and misinformation could lead to misunderstanding and prejudice. He was not the man that I was led to believe he was. Since then we developed a healthy and long relationship that led to great admiration and respect. I recall our several animated discussions on ideology and his remarkable simplicity yet profound thought and analysis. Indeed, I was the beneficiary.
Joining the PNC in 1975, he became Director of Studies of Cuffy Ideological Institute at Loo Creek, Soesdyke/ Linden Highway and a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Party. In that capacity he wrote the highly informative booklet entitled “Education in the Revolution for Socialist Transformation and development” In January 1980, Mr. Ranji Chandisingh was appointed Minister of Higher Education. In the following year, he became Minister of Education, Social Development and Culture and in 1984, he replaced Dr. Ptolemy Reid as General Secretary of the People’s National Congress when the latter retired. He also served as Vice President and Deputy Prime Minister and later, in 1998, as Guyana’s Ambassador to the Soviet Union before retiring from active politics.
As a person Mr. Ranji Chandisingh was gracious, well spoken and honest in his personal and social relations. His private hours seemed dedicated to reading and thinking about the various issues affecting humanity in general and his fellow Guyanese in particular. Indeed, he was a Guyanese who has been a credit and a blessing to this nation.
‘His sledge and anvil lie declined
His bellows too have lost their wind
His fire extinct, his forge decayed
And in the dust his voice is laid
His coal is spent, his iron gone
His nails are drove, His work is done’
As a grateful nation, we must recognise all those who contributed to the political and social development of this country. Accordingly, therefore, the PNCR recognises the valuable contributions that Mr. Ranji Chandisingh made to the development of the PPP, the PNC and the country as a whole.
The PNCR extends sincere condolences to his dear wife, Veronica, his son Yuri and all his other sorrowing relatives and friends.
As I reflect on his life and those who worked tirelessly for Guyana’s development, the words of the familiar poem by Martin Carter comes to mind, and I say,
if it must be
you speak no more with me
nor smile no more with me
nor march no more with me
then let me take
a patience and a calm –
for even now, the greener leaf explodes
sun brightens stone
and all the river burns.
Now from the mourning vanguard moving on
dear Comrade I salute you and I say
Death will not find us thinking that we die.”
May his soul rest in peace!
ROBERT H. O. CORBIN, M.P.
LEADER OF THE PNCR
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
Friday, June 19, 2009
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