Ancestral Footprints: East Indian Indentureship – By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

Ancestral Footprints: East Indian Indentureship – By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

If you took a plane from JFK Air- port to Calcutta the chances are you will be tired by the time you get there. On May 5th 1838 the history of the Caribbean changed dramatically as 396 East Indians landed on the shores of British Guiana. This was no joyride and there was no time for niceties.

The journey from Calcutta to British Guiana was fraught with hardships, and like the slave ships of an earlier era there were deaths on the way. The two ships that landed were the Whitby and the Hesperus. Their cargo was to usher in a new form of slavery that changed the complexion of the colony.

READ MORE: Ancestral Footprints- East Indian Indentureship – By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

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  • Gigi  On 01/19/2018 at 5:45 pm

    Dr. Narine, worth mentioning too is that indentured servants were treated worst than slaves. Whereas slaves were bought and owned and treated as valued personal property, Indians were not. An example that best describes this is owning a horse versus renting a horse. When you own a horse and are reliant on the horse for your livelihood, then in is in your interest to care for the horse since to lose the horse is to lose not only the money spent to purchase it, but your livelihood too. When you rent a horse for a period of time, there is no such value. Firstly, it is not yours,you don’t own it. Secondly, payment is not up front but spread out over the period of rental. Thirdly, your interest is in maximizing the most work you can get out of the horse within the time period with the least cost to you.

    The colonizers did not abolish slavery because they had an attack of morality. They did because indentured servitude was and remains economically efficient and profitable. Too sick, hurt, old to work? Tough luck… there’s the door and don’t let it hit you where the good lord split you. Realistically, how many people today would favor a life of slavery? I’d say the number is pretty darn high. Interesting, one of my daughters and I recently watched the documentary The Queen’s Garden. At the end of the program I turned to my daughter and said that my ideal life would have been to be a gardener at Buckingham Palace or such a place. To have a little cottage on the grounds and get to decide what to plant and what goes where and live like it was my very own. That’s a slave life and a happy one. Being in the military is akin to slavery. And NO country is ever short of such slaves. See, when it’s dressed up a certain way, it quite appealing to most. But indentured servitude? As the masses today can attest to, it’s a hard, brutal, vicious, ugly, heartless existence!

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On 01/20/2018 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks Dr. Narine for the overview of the Indian indentureship system. I will have lots more to say in an upcoming book, hopefully by mid-year.

    Specifically, it will be a rebuttal of Prof. Emeritus Clem Seecharan’s scathing indictment of the Indian indentureds (in a speech he delivered in 2014 in GT) and particularly their supposed racist treatment of African Guyanese, bred from the Hindu caste system; and that “Mother India” was so caste-ridden and patriarchal that young women/children as you as 10-yr old ‘ran away’; and that the ‘Mother’ was so impoverished and rampant with “thugs” (the areas where your “Ancestral Footprints” would have begun) that she was incapable of feeding her people, hence the exodus.

    I noticed that Prof. Seecharan was bestowed an ‘honouraryD.Litt’ by UWI in Oct 2017. It is not surprising as much of what he had to say would suit the Black West Indians and Guyanese (viz. the Hindu-bred racism of Indians on Blacks). I will bust this myth showing that in the very earliest encounter with Blacks the Indian indentured opinion about Black maltreatment of them was set. As for “Mother India” unable to feed her people, here is a major reasons (if you haven’t already seen it) given by Dr. Sashi Tharoor.

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