Navin Chandarpal’s contributions hailed- as hundreds turn out to say good bye

Navin Chandarpal
Navin Chandarpal

[] – Glowing tributes were paid to the late Presidential Adviser Navin Chandarpal as hundreds of relatives, family, friends and government and political party representatives attended his funeral service at the Guyana International Convention Centre, Liliendaal, yesterday.

Leading the tributes was Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony, who said the outpouring of same from “friends, comrades, colleagues, family and most of all ordinary people was testimony to the man being honoured today”.

 Minister Anthony said that in his life Chandarpal was able to condense many passions into a single lifetime, adding that he had many designations and roles which he served with distinction. The late government official, the minister said, always found time to give advice, to help where necessary, and possessed an extraordinary ability to remember names and faces.

“It was his style of saying that everybody, whatever or whoever you are, you are important to his party.”

President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), Komal Chand spoke of Chandarpal’s courage, calling him a “pillar of his time”. He noted that when many others shied away from the struggles enveloping the country during his lifetime, he chose the path of engagement and struggle. His record was one of personal involvement and worthy of emulation, Chand added. He stated that he also had the rare attribute of being at home in intellectual discussions as well as with the grassroots. Chandarpal was also remembered for his service as a lecturer and administrator for the GAWU organised classes, contributions to the Guyana Public Service Union, the Guyana Labour Union, Critchlow Labour College and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana.

A passage from the teachings of Karl Marx was used to describe the contributions of his late party comrade, by PPP General Secretary and Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, who said, “In it, Marx captures the limits of human endeavour, but reminds us of how men are constrained by time and space, geography and history”. He described the loss of his comrade as “incalculable” for the working people of Guyana, the People’s Progressive Party and historical science saying that the void left will sooner, rather than later make itself felt. Chandarpal embodied all that is good, healthy and positive about the PPP, he explained saying that the best tribute to him would be to preserve and extend those attributes. After reciting a short poem, in the style of his late friend, Minister Rohee noted that while everyone dies, not everyone lives and said that his comrade lived and will continue to live in the hearts and souls of his colleagues.

President Donald Ramotar described the time of his late advisor and confidante as being a product of the period in which he was born into, when Guyana was going through great changes and was “pregnant with hope”. This was the time when the PPP was formed and led by former President Cheddi Jagan and the fight for independence was taking shape, he said. It was the beginning of the transition from colonialism to independence, then the subsequent split in the party and the country, which the president said is still being felt at present. He recalled that Chandarpal’s father was a part of the PPP’s early struggle for freedom and independence, leading district and regional committees of the party, “I’m sure that his activities would have had an impact on his son  and helped to form some of his views at a very early stage”.

It was in the period following Guyana’s first massively rigged general election in 1968, that President Ramotar said, “the Navin generation” came to maturity and really became part of the PPP. Chandarpal showed his level of strategic thinking by organising, not only picketing exercises, to protest the PNC government’s refusal to hire Professor Walter Rodney, but also lectures for not only the political activist, but also for Professor Insanally who was fired by the then government. This was a “very bold move” the president said and it allowed more people to come into contact with the ideas of Walter Rodney.

Chandarpal was the General Secretary of the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) and played a key role in the various early struggles of the PPP in the fight to restore democracy, locally. The input and advice of Chandarpal in the campaigning for the general elections in 1980, forced the PNC to conduct the most massive rigging exercise, and according to President Ramotar, this action marked “the beginning of the end of the PNC regime”.

Chandarpal’s strong science background, leadership skills and strong political inclinations were recognised, the president said, and these were instrumental in him being sent him to Moscow to improve his skills. The discipline and ability to stand with the PPP, displayed by Chandarpal, during the Burnham administration was one to be admired, the president said.

Navin Chandarpal, born on April 25, 1951, hailed from Number 71 Village on the Corentyne. After attending various schools across Guyana, he earned a BSc degree in physics and mathematics from the University of Guyana. He taught for several years, then entered politics, serving as PYO First Secretary from 1976 to 1986. He lectured at several institutions including the Cyril Potter College of Education and UG. From 1992 to 2001, he served as Presidential Adviser on Energy, Natural Resources, Technology and the Environment. From 2001 to 2003, he served as Agricultural Minister and a Member of Parliament. The last 10 years saw him serving as Presidential Adviser on Sustainable Development, Science and Technology and Principal of the GAWU Labour College from 2010 to 2011. He chaired, and was a member of several boards, including the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Guyana Gold Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Caricom’s Task Force on the Environment and several others.

 He passed away on October 28, 2014, after a two -year battle against cancer.



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