The Indian indenture system was a scheme of bonded servitude in which more than one million Indians were transported to labor in European colonies, as a substitute for slave labor, following the abolition of slavery in the early 19th century. The system was used in the British Empire from 1833, in the French colonies from 1848, and in the Dutch Empire from 1863. British Indian indentureship lasted until the 1920s. It resulted in the development of a large Indian diaspora in the Caribbean, East and South Africa, Réunion, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Fiji.
Indentured laborers were recruited to work on sugar, cotton, and tea plantations, and on rail construction projects. They were contracted with false promises and misinformation. Some of them were kidnapped, “enslaved” and compelled to work on the plantations where they suffered all kinds of human rights violations, abuse, and exploitation. Should there be reparations to the descendants of Indian indentured for crimes committed against their forebears who were duped into leaving India, underpaid and cheated for their labor, jailed, beaten, and robbed of the land that they were promised?
Indentureship is one of the subjects included in the Centre for Reparation Research (CRR) at The University of the West Indies (UWI). The CRR’s mission is threefold: (1) to promote research on the legacies of colonialism, native genocide, enslavement, and indentureship in the Caribbean, and how to bring justice and positive transformation to these legacies; (2) to promote education at The UWI and across Caribbean school systems on the legacies of colonialism, enslavement and native genocide and the need for justice and repair; and (3) to promote advocacy for reparatory justice by building a capacity for consultancy to CARICOM, Caribbean states, the UN and other relevant institutions, public-awareness raising, and supporting activism for reparatory and decolonial justice from grassroots to governments.
Please join us THIS SUNDAY for a joint CRR (UWI), ICC & AGI ZOOM Public Meeting, May 22, 2022, at (1.00 p.m. Belize), (3.00 p.m. New York/Eastern time), (3.00 p.m. Trinidad/Atlantic time), (3.00 p.m. Guyana), (4.00 p.m. Suriname), (8.00 p.m. England), (9.00 p.m. South Africa), (Mon 12.10 a.m. India, ND), (Mon 7.00 a.m. Fiji).
Should Indians in the Diaspora demand reparation for indentureship?
PROF. VERENE SHEPHERD (UWI) – Director of the Centre for Reparation Research (CRR), University of the West Indies (UWI). Vice-Chair of The CARICOM Reparation Commission.
PROF. DAVID DABYDEEN (UK) – Director of the Ameena Gafoor Institute (AGI). Former Professor, University of Warwick & Director, Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies.
DR. KUMAR MAHABIR (Trinidad) – Director of this weekly Sunday ZOOM programme. Anthropologist, university lecturer, and author of an oral history of indentureship The Still Cry.
ASHOOK RAMSAAN (Guyana) – President of Indian Diaspora Council (IDC). Activist in the New York as well as the global Indian Diaspora community of People of Indian Origin (PIO).
DR. MAURITS S. HASSANKHAN (Suriname) – Researcher and former Head of the History Department at Anton de Kom University. Co-author of the Historical Database in Suriname.
LENROY THOMAS (St. Vincent) – Co-Founder of the SVG Indian Heritage Foundation. Researched records at the National Archives, UK. Author of Stories from our Indian Elders
DR. AKSHAI MANSINGH (Jamaica) – Dean, Faculty of Sport, UWI. Senior Lecturer in Sports Medicine. Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. Justice of the Peace, Director, Cricket West Indies
KIRU NAIDOO (South Africa) – Writer based in Durban with a keen interest in workers’ histories and women’s voices during indentureship. Bangladesh Market remains his centrepiece
PROF. KHAL TORABULLY (Mauritius) – Writer, poet, semiologist, and author of 25 books in French, English and Creole. Devised a theoretical framework to include slavery and indenture
PROF FARZANA GOUNDER (Fiji) – Linguist and lecturer; author of Indentured Identities, and co-editor of Women, Gender, and the Legacy of Slavery and Indenture (2021).
ARLEN HARRIS (India) – Award-winning filmmaker with over 30 years’ experience working mainly for British broadcasters such as Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV and BBC TV and Radio.
Followed by Q&A
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