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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Mobile operator's ads irk Indo-Trinidad group

a leading mobile phone service operator with perpetuating a negative stereotype of the Indo-Trinidadian community.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 10:20 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

The Trinidad and Tobago chapter of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (Gopio) has charged a leading mobile phone service operator with perpetuating a negative stereotype of the Indo-Trinidadian community.

According to a report in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper, Gopio's Trinidad chapter president Devant Maharaj has said that he has got numerous complaints about the advertisement policies of Digicel, the latest entrant in Trinidad's mobile phone service market.

Digicel currently operates in 15 Caribbean countries, covering a total population of 14 million people.

The report quoted Maharaj as saying that Digicel's advertisements tended to sideline the Indo-Trinidadian male, while the women are still being depicted as the "cane field doolahin" (bride).

As an example, he cited a recent newspaper advertisement of the company that showed an Indo-Trinidadian woman standing in the foreground of a cane field talking to a bald-headed man.

In another instance in which an Indo-Trinidadian family is featured, an Indo-Trinidadian female is shown as the wife while the husband is from a different ethnic group.

"Recent Digicel advertisements continue to perpetuate the negative stereotype about the Indo-Trinidadian community," Maharaj told the newspaper. "One particular advertisement shows an Indo-Trinidadian female positioned in a cane field making a call while her Afro-Trinidadian counterpart is in an urban setting."

He said the Indo-Trinidadian community was continuously resisting the image that its members were part of rural Trinidad. This, he said, was the only image promoted in the national stage.

People of Indian origin started arriving in this Caribbean country in the middle of the 19th century as indentured workers in the sugarcane plantations. The process continued till the second decade of the 20th century.

Their descendants today comprise 40 pe rcent of Trinidad and Tobago's population of around one million.

"It is distinctly noticeable that Digicel is woefully under-represented in supporting Indo-Trinidadian culture," Maharaj told the newspaper.

Refuting the allegation, Sandra Welch-Farrell, whose agency handles Digicel's public relations, sent an email to the newspaper stating: "Digicel is an equal opportunity company and does not base its business on race, colour or creed."

She also sent copies of other Digicel advertisements featuring members of the Indo-Trinidadian community.

First Published: Jun 17, 2006 10:20 IST