Indian Indenture Labor - Caste less society
It was the time when European were ruling most of the world though colonies in early 19th century. The power house of these European countries was the slaves of Africa . The European countries established enormous size of sugar industries, cotton industries, as the result of Industrial revolution. The African men and women worked as slaves contributed to the comfortable and luxury European way of life. after years of struggle, revolt and mass struggle finally In 1833 British legally abolished slavery thorough The British Slavery Abolition Act.
The abolition of slavery forced the European colony plantation owners to seek cheap alternative. The plantation owners in their quest to find an alternative to slaves invented a new labor system called Indenture labor. Indenture labor means people work under a plantation owner after signing an agreement. The dusk of slavery system gave birth to the dawn of new slavery system called Indenture labor. Innocent, illiterates people from the colonial Indian villages were brought under Indenture labor and send to various corners of the world like Mauritius , Caribbean Islands , Fiji , and South Africa . Etc.
Though it is labor by agreement the ill treatment, working conditions is same as it was during slavery. This is slavery in disguise.
People of India who enters into this system were mainly from the Rural India where life had become tough due to political, economical and social conditions. Ship carrying this indenture labors begins their journey from port of Calcutta , Madras and Bombay . Thousands of Indians were loaded in ship like cattle and were send to distance part of the world. Most of the people have never seen sea and does not have any experience in sea journey. The journey lasted for months, many fell sick, and few died during the journey. Many opted to leave their mother land to have a better life, to get richer, to escape from caste humiliation, due to famine, business loss etc.... Many Indian indenture labors worked in sugar plantation, they made millions of people to taste the sweetness but they lived a bitter life.
The initial agreement was for 5 years working in plantation with monthly salary, rationed food and return ticket to India after 5 years. Many in fact came back to India , some went back, and even some of them went to different countries as labors again. Many of these labors were unable to return due to various reason starting from new relation ship in new country, quarrel with family members in India, not having enough money to come back to India and so on.
Sincere, loyal and hard working of this Indenture labors from India contributed to the success of many tiny islands in remote parts of the world.. Contribution by these coolies as they are commonly referred is undeniable and amazing.
. As a nation of millions people with million worries we all tend to forget our fore fathers and mothers who migrated to distant land after across the ocean. No history books tells their stories and the hardship encountered by the workers.
These are illiterate Indian population of 19th century India belongs to different caste, religion and class went to work in a distant land after crossing violent seas. As the old tradition says who ever cross the sea will loose their caste, Indians who crossed the sea in fact lost their caste, the tough sea journey, life in new land and hardship during indenture labor period made them to forget their caste. These people commingled with others to form a casteless society.
The story of each and every indenture labor is unique, painful, filled with hardship.Their story forced me to ask a question to myself
" When will we Indians who still live in motherland will cross the sea of social Hurdles to build a caste less society?"