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Kamla Persad Bissessar is the new PM of Trinidad & Tobago
Everyone was singing her praise from the day one when she threw her hat in the ring to fight the electoral battle. She had broken away from the mother party led by her mentor and political Guru, Basdeo Pande, nicknamed the silver fox.
WITH GITA in her hand, Kamla Persad Bissessar took the oath of office as the first woman Prime Minister of the Caribbean nation, Trinidad & Tobago. There was festivity in the air and victorious mood all around. She had swept the polls winning 29 out of 41 parliamentary seats wresting power from the ethnic African dominated political party that had ruled the country for decades.
 
It was a change for the better, so said man in the street. The common man, both of ethnic Indian and African descent had reposed faith and confidence in Kamla for a clean and transparent administration that would work for betterment of the people.
 
WHO IS KAMLA
 
Everyone was singing her praise from the day one when she threw her hat in the ring to fight the electoral battle. She had broken away from the mother party led by her mentor and political Guru, Basdeo Pande, nicknamed the silver fox.
 
Pande was unhappy at this breakaway faction that went by the name of People’s Partnership. Pande called Kamla a drunkard but she never used abusive language for him. Instead, she showed respect and acknowledged his contribution in shaping her political personality. The civility and clean language of her campaigning won her support of the opponents too.
 
Kamla believes in the existence of a plural society. She knows that Trinidad & Tobago comprises 40% people of Indian origin, 37% of African origin and the rest of mixed origin from different parts of the world. Christianity is the dominant religion. Hindu Dharma came next, followed by Islam. Kamla herself was born a Hindu of Hindu parents but was baptised as a Christian at the age of 12 in the school.
 
Since, most of the good educational institutions are run by Christian missionaries, directly or indirectly they influence others to convert to Christianity. However, many who converted to Christianity remained Hindus at heart and followed Hindu rituals all along. Perhaps that explains why Kamla held a copy of GITA in her hand while taking the oath of office as the Prime Minister.
 
Many Christians acknowledge that Hinduism is a cultural way of life and influences most people in the country. There is no religious tension and no divide on lines of faith. The Islamist terrorism is conspicuous by its absence from the twin island nation in the Caribbean Sea.
 
The oil rich country having a vast reserve of natural gas that it exports to the United States of America, an average citizen has a better income than those living in other parts of Latin America. Kamla wants to make an average family richer by the time she completes her first tenure. She means business and is determined to achieve results. Of course, her biggest challenge is to keep all political parties of the coalition together. She cites the case of the coalition government in the UK and says that the Mother of Parliaments shows the way to her too.
 
Kamla, now the Prime Minister of 1.4 million strong  -nation, will promote health and happiness of her nation. The life expectancy is 66 years for the male and 73 years for the female population. Economic boom comes and goes with the rise and fall in international price of oil. However, the country is on the route of Drug traffic, especially of cocaine.
 
Cosequently, the drug related crime is on the rise. With a lot of money changing hands illegally, corruption in police and bureaucracy makes inroads and saps the moral strength of the nation. As the Prime Minister heading a 24-person cabinet, Kamla has to ensure providing a clean administration to her people. She has impressed on her colleagues in the cabinet that they are servants of the people and that People are the Government. If the cabinet works as a team, maintains cohesion and remains available to listen to complaints of people and address them to people’s satisfaction, Kamla would have won half of the battle.
 
KAMLA’S EDUCATION
 
Kamla was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She has risen to this high post by dint of merit and hard work. Born on22 April 1955 in Siparia, she went to neighbourhood school. Her higher education was imparted in the University of West Indies. She went to the Norwood Technical College in the UK and later attended the Law School. She obtained the degree of Executive master’s in Business Administration and later became Attorney-at-Law. This legal acumen held her in good stead in becoming the Attorney General of Trinidad & Tobago later in life.
 
Kamla Persad Bissessar is married to Dr Gregory Bissessar and they have a son. Her family life has never been a hindrance to her political life and vice-versa. Kamla has chalked out a career that is people-centric. People mean everything to her. She lives for them and she works for them. No wonder, people have great expectations from her.
 
Kamla’s ancestors had reached the shores of the Caribbean island 165 years ago. By the way, Christopher Columbus who had set out on a voyage for India had landed in West Indies by mistake and Trinidad was the first island that he had sighted. Kamla’s ancestors came as indentured labour. They left India to escape the poverty and caste discrimination. Little did they realise that in the New World they would face bigger problems, which are harder to solve.
 
No wonder, Kamla paid tribute to the early settlers, both Indian and Africans, who displayed great courage in clinging to their traditional cultures and showed resilience to injustice and professional deprivation. They won ultimately and today’s generation is reaping the harvest.
 
LOOK FORWARD TO FUTURE
 
Kamla started her political career in 1995 in the right earnest when she was elected as a Member of Parliament from home constituency. From 2006 to 2010 it was a story of rise and rise. One success led to another and she became Leader of the Opposition. In a snap poll called by the then Prime Minister to stave off a defeat on the floor of the House, in May 2010 Kamla landed with a majority of seats in the Parliament. Her becoming the Prime Minister was a foregone conclusion. And there she was as the First Woman Prime Minister of the twin islands.
 
Her first few words spoken on assumption of office are indeed remarkable. She advised her cabinet colleagues thus:
 
Lead by example; follow by learning to Listen.
There should be no room for arrogance.
The People are the Government. 
All of this is as much my Mantra as yours.
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