Indo-Caribbean history: An analysis of the lost Indians in St. Kitts

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By Megha Sharma

This video, published on August 18 in 2015, is an extensive study of the eminent anthropologist and assistant professor at the university of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Kumar Mahabir on the migrated Indian population and their later vanish from the West Indies Island, St. Kitts.

Watch it here:

The islet is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the vast Atlantic Ocean with an approximate distance of about 2100 km from Florida. The land is the first British colony in the Caribbean Sea, becoming the richest of them by 1776. It is a well-established place with a national park, famous medical universities, and even the smallest nation throughout the world to host the cricket world cup 2007.

map of the island near the Caribbean Sea

The data provided examines the number of Indian immigrants to the Caribbean Sea, where this land comes under the ones received the least by these people. From around 250000 individuals, only 337 opted for it. The researcher also observes how even the literary fields are devoid of any exploration of Indians’ presence in this space.

A personal visit to the place too didn’t fetch him a substantial amount of record to scrutinize into the matter as he just received a few documents of National Archives to satiate this search. Further, the St Christopher Advertiser, a newspaper maintained by a free-coloured family ran from 1782 to 1915. He has otherwise not found any digitised information on the same from the English National Archives.

361 immigrants of different Indian places retreated from Calcutta on February 26, 1861, on the ship Dartmouth, with 337 setting foot on the Island and 2 dying during the voyage. The immigrants included 209 males and 128 females and children who were distributed to work in 25 estates.

These people converted to Christianity, some even changing the names of their children to Christian ones. The scenario totally turned with only 10 Indians on the Island absorbing in the local population after seven years with 21% moving to their origins and a great mass settling in Trinidad.

A beautiful view of the island of St. Kitts

It is seen how the whole population of Indian outsiders scattered throughout the Islands was too small in numbers to form settled communities wherein Dr Kumar studied the case of a Trinidadian novelist Merle Hodge.

These studies analyse how these Anglican Indians lost the essence of their lands and are immersed in the cultural discourses of their alternative identities. The recent people who have put their roots in the land are Sindhis establishing retail stores and supermarkets. Archibald, a Kittitian author, observes how political actions were taken to hold the increasing immigration to these lands.

(Megha is a student at the University of Delhi. She is pursuing her Masters in English and has also done her studies in German language.) Gmail- [email protected]