Tribute to a dear friend and comrade

Navin Chandarpal

CDE Navin – Navindranauth Omanand Chandarpal a dear and loving father, a genuine and loyal husband, a brother, friend and Comrade is no longer with us physically.

On Sunday, thousands turned-up at the International Conference Centre to say farewell to an icon; a true revolutionary. For us our Comrade, Navin Chandarpal was indeed a proud member, militant activist and genuine leader of our Party, the People’s Progressive Party.

Navin Chandarpal was born in Berbice. He was a Berbician in his heart and to his bones. Navin’s father was a headmaster, as a consequence, Navin attended several schools around the country. However, it is at Berbice High School that Navin really establish himself as a young militant activist of the Progressive Youth Organisation.

At Berbice High School Navin excelled as a student. In 1967 he wrote GCE O’ Levels and was the top student. He went on to write “A” Levels and again he was the top student.

Navin came to Georgetown for his University Education. While studying, he was a teacher at several Secondary Schools in Georgetown including St. Roses High School and Queens College.

Navin served as a Lecturer in Mathematics at the Cyril Potter College of Education and a Lecturer in Physics at the University of Guyana. As an educationist, a teacher in particular, Navin influenced thousands of students.

He was a militant activist on Campus. Navin was popularly elected as the President of the University Student Society in 1974, after the PNC slaughtered, murdered and beat Guyanese people during the massive rigging of the National Elections in 1973.

During the heavily rigged Elections in 1973 Navin’s wife to be Comrade Indra Dhanraj was badly beaten by the PNC Thugs. Two of Navin’s Colleagues, Bholanauth Parmanand and Jagan Ramessar, were murdered on the eve of the Election in their struggle for free and fair Elections in Guyana.

Cde. Navin Chandarpal took a conscious decision that we the Members of the Progressive Youth Organisation must struggle to put an end to PNC beating and killing of our sisters and brothers.

Cde. Navin, in memory of those two young Comrades who the PNC slaughtered, was instrumental in organising the Annual Ballot Box Martyr Cycle Race.

While on Campus, Navin founded the Campus “Flame – which was indeed an informative bulletin that educated and organised the University student population. He championed the call for brilliant intellectuals such as Mohamed Insanally and Dr. Walter Rodney to be employed at the University of Guyana.

In 1975 the brilliant UG Graduate and Member of the Central Committee of the PYO was the leader of the best ever batch of PPP students that left Guyana to study in the Soviet Union. Navin was the leader of twelve members and to date none of them have jumped ship; only the lord separated a few from our Party – PPP.

The others like Navin remain committed activist of the PPP.

Navin in 1975, while he was a student in Moscow, received an offer to do his Masters in London. Navin was asked to stay at home and take over as First Secretary of the PYO. The true revolutionary gave up his studies for the trenches and streets to struggle for a better Guyana.

Navin Chandarpal was brilliant and influential. He was able to build a strong PYO. He was instrumental in setting up a powerful structure. A strong Pioneer section was developed along with a militant student section. He was a cultural person who wrote several poems and songs. The PYO battle song was written by Navin. The PYO Organisational Structures Groups, Districts and Regional Committees connected the PYO with the Youths and People throughout Guyana.

The dirty and vicious Paramountcy, PNC, refused to give the PYO Youth Arm of the PPP access to any school to hold their Congress. The PYO held its 25th Congress at Enterprise under a Tent and yet another Congress at Bath under a Tent.

Cde. Navin was elected to the Central Committee of the People’s Progressive Party and quickly he was elected to our Party’s Executive Committee.

In 1975 Navin married Cde. Indranie Dhanraj and they became proud parents of two brilliant children. Rabindranauth and Gitanjali both Queen’s College students and both of then went on to graduate with their Masters.

Navin Chandarpaul was indeed one of Dr. Cheddie Jagan’s greatest cadre. He was an intellectual that was also deeply rooted with the working class and farmers.

With the dawn of a new Era in 1992, Navin pioneered numerous national initiatives on sustainable development, many of which form the core of current sustainable development practices, policies and legislation in Guyana. He served as Adviser to the President on Energy, Natural Resources, Science, Technology and Environment from 1992-2001.

From 2001 to 2003 Navin served as the Minister of Agriculture and a Member of Parliament. Over the last 10 years, Navin reassumed the role of Adviser to the President of Guyana, this time in the area of Sustainable Development, Science and Technology.

Navin’s contribution to Environment and Sustainable Development in Guyana remains incredibly significant. He piloted the first Environmental Protection Legislation in Guyana, which established the Environmental Protection Agency, and was instrumental in the creation of the Iwokrama International Centre. He was also responsible for laying the groundwork for a land use agenda in Guyana, a science and technology policy, and more recently efforts in the area of sustainable development.

Navin chaired the Natural Resources and Environmental Advisory Committee (NREAC), through the 90’s, and led a number of initiatives to establish a comprehensive national framework for sustainable development in Guyana.

He chaired several other Committees and Boards, such as the Guyana Gold Board, Board of the Guyana Forestry Commission, Board of the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science and Technology Council, the National Water Council; and served as the Director of the Board of Trustees, Iwokrama International Rainforest Programme, the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Committee, and the Cheddi Jagan Commemoration Committee.

Navin was also well known in the Caribbean since he served in several capacities related to the goal of pursuing a path of Sustainable Development in the Region. He served as Chairman of the Caricom Task Force on the Environment (1992-1997), Chairman of the Caribbean Council for Science and technology, CCST (1995-2000) and Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Caribbean Water Partnership 2004-2006. Navin also had an international presence, heading Guyana’s delegations at dozens of high level international conferences.

Over the years, Navin published numerous articles on national, regional and global issues, delivered hundreds of speeches in various parts of Guyana and presented numerous papers at Caribbean and international meetings. Navin later utilised his vast experience to serve as Editor in Chief of “The Caribbean Environment” a quarterly journal about Sustainable Development in the Caribbean.

More recently he served as the Principal of GAWU Labour College from 2010-2011.

Navindranauth Omanand Chandarpal battled cancer for two years before he departed this life on October 28, 2014. His legacy lives on through his invaluable academic, political and social contributions to Guyana and the World.

Navin served in the leadership of our Party and he was totally committed to our Party. He was a man of substance, integrity and he had a passion as a Party Activist to get things done.

Navin has left us with a legacy that will steel us and keep our Party United.

As a Party Comrade he led by example. He was on the streets with his Placards. He marched and protested for Democracy all over Guyana.
He was a Teacher, Educator, Organiser and Leader of our Party. He certainly left us with a legacy that we belong to the PPP and we must never leave the PPP. He recognised the struggle and had a vision for our Party and People.

In Navin Chandarpal’s passing, we must resolve to stay united in the PPP and continue as a PPP/C Government to build on this massive transformation of our Society.

Today, because of the struggle of the People like Comrade Navin, we are living in a better Society and we must work to continue building Guyana with the PPP leading the way.
Long Live Cde. Navin Chandarpal !

(By Neil Kumar)