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Girmityas’ Legacy of Slavery: Indian Diaspora in Fiji Marks 100 years of Indian Indentured Servitude system

On 14th May of 1879, the British colonialists took the contracted laborers from India, transporting a mass segment of the population to the Fiji archipelago

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Indentured Laborers taken from India. Wikimedia

November 9, 2016: History says, the last ship that sailed from India was the ‘Sutlej V’- on 1916. It arrived in Fiji on 11th November. November 2016 marks the 100 years of the of British Indian Indentured Servitude system in Fiji. The arrival of the last Girmit ship ‘Sutlej-V’ from India to Fiji was at the Albert Park, Suva in Fiji on 9th November 2016

To mark the 100 years of Indian Indentured Servitude System, Indian Diaspora in Fiji organized amazing centenary celebrations today. This was followed by the police band of Fiji, who led a float procession. Needless to say, that the events and the functions have wonderfully served the purpose of the celebrations.

The Indo-Fijian community dates back its history to the time of 1879. That year marks the historic arrival of the indentured laborers from India to Fiji. On 14th May of 1879, the British colonialists took the contracted laborers from India, transporting a mass segment of the population to the Fiji archipelago. The first ship, “Leonidas”, hit the shores on Fiji and marked the beginning of a long period of heavy labor, struggle and unmentioned tortures!

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Albert Park, Suva, Fiji Islands. Wikimedia Commons
Albert Park, Suva, Fiji Islands. Wikimedia Commons

The system of bringing the laborers got popularized as ‘Girmits’, mispronounced from the original term “agreement”, which had the Indians bound in a contractual labor to the foreign lands under the British rule.

Fiji saw the arrival of total 87 voyages in between 1879 and 1916. The history of the Girmitiyas is well narrated in a documentary concerning the indentured laborers. ‘Calcutta to the Caribbean- an Indian Journey’, directed by Gideon Hanumansingh, portrays the plights of the Indians who got transported to the Caribbean and post the abolition of slavery, started working in the sugar plantations.

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Post the historical sail of the ship ‘Fatel Rozack’ that carried 217 Indian men and women and reached the port of Trinidad on 1845, the voyages followed and about 1, 43,939 Indian indentured laborers got shipped to Trinidad in the course of the next 72 years. The majority of the workers, that is 2, 40,000 were shipped to Guyana, 36000 to the land of Jamaica and smaller numbers of the population to Grenada, Martinique, St. Vincent and St. Lucia.

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The contract-bound laborers were taken from various states across the country that included- Bengal (through the port of Calcutta), Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Oudh. In the earlier times of the transportation, laborers were taken from Chennai as well. The workers mostly belonged to Hindu faith and a few of them were Muslims.

History records the torture, struggle and the painful lives of the doomed laborers. A contract that got them cursed for lives. Their journey and their laboring period tell us a lot about slavery. The multiple numbers of voyages that carried the indentured Indians to the foreign lands are cataloged in history. The National Library of Australia holds the record of a proper catalog of the pass-numbers and the year and date of all the ships that carried the laborers. It includes names of ships like- Leonidas, Berar, Syria, Howrah, Ganges, Bruce, Allanshaw, Jamuna, Arno, Virawa, Sangola, Mutlah, Chenab, Sutlej and many more.

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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US Government’s International Religious Freedom Report 2016 lists Growing Attacks on Hindus

The report lists growing number of attacks against Hindus in India as well as abroad

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International Religious Freedom Report. Facebook
  • On Tuesday, the US government released its State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2016
  • The report lists the growing attacks against Hindus in India as well as abroad
  • Particularly in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Malaysia, the attacks against Hindus is common

US, August 17, 2017: On Tuesday, August 17, the US Government released its State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) for the year 2016. The report lists growing number of attacks against Hindus in India as well as abroad.

The report, released by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington, particularly talks about the growing number of assaults on Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Malaysia. Furthermore, there were also mentioned incidents of assault against Sikhs in Denmark and France.

ALSO READ: 2017 Hindu Human Rights Report Released by Hindu American Foundation (HAF): Here is What you Need to Know!

Interestingly, the recent incidents of Gau Rakshaks of India are also presented in the report. It has highlighted the increasing attack against individuals from minority groups by cow-protection activists.

In Bangladesh especially, there has been a sharp increase in the attacks against Hindus who constitute the religious minority of the country. This can be attributed to the presence of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

The IRFR also reports an incident from October in Bangladesh. Over a Facebook post that some may find offensive to Islam, more than 50 Hindu families and over 15 Hindu temples were ruined by hundreds of villagers. This attack claimed the lives of 25 people.

The report has also recognized Pakistan government’s inability to help safeguard the rights of religious minorities, particularly Hindus. But a larger problem that exists in Pakistan is the forced conversions of Hindus and Christians.

ALSO READ: Forced Conversion of Hindus in Umerkot and Tharparkar Districts

There have also been offenses against the Sikh community present in France and Denmark. In France, Turbans are banned in schools, offices, and other public spaces. In Denmark, court judges are prohibited from wearing the turbans. These bans include the religious symbols as well as crucifixes.

In England and Wales, 1,055 crimes against other religions such as Hindus, Sikhs, and few Christians were recorded by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the US government report.

From April-November 2016, eight Hindu temples were vandalized in Malaysia. Hindu leaders of the country have alleged that the police is ignorant of the problems.

US Government released its State Department's International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) for the year 2016. Click To Tweet

Zakir Naik, controversial figure in India, was warmly received by the Malaysian government as Hindus protested his speaking tour. Zakir Naik’s speech is always intended to insult Hindus and promote extremism. Bangladesh, on the other hand, had banned Zakir Naik’s Peace TV Bangla as it was spreading extremist ideologies.

In Fiji, three Hindu temples were desecrated in 2016. In Mauritius, no religious violence took place despite the growing tensions between Hindus and Muslims.

This report by the US Commission has come under heavy fire from the Hindu American Foundation. The leaders of the foundation have asserted that the International Religious Freedom Report was outsourced to writer and activist Dr. Iqtidar Karamat Cheema than being written by the staff of the US commission. The Foundation’s allegations have raised questions about the nature of credibility of the commission.

Furthermore, the Foundation claims that the author has cited “alternative facts.” Also interesting to note is that Dr. Cheema has been honored by several Pakistani government bodies previously who has supported separatist agendas.

–  prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


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Fiji is home to Indian Diaspora, Emerging as Perfect Destination for Vacationers

The Fijian archipelago is home to the Indian diaspora, which has an inescapable presence in ranges of economics and politics

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Fijian Archipelago
The Fijian Archipelago is the perfect destination for a romantic trip. Pixabay
  • The Fijian archipelago is home to the Indian diaspora
  • Suva, which is Fiji’s greatest city, has a noteworthy number of Indo-Fijian population
  • Nadi is brimming with resorts and feels like any Indian residential community

Fijian archipelago, August 11, 2017: The Fijian archipelago, situated in the western part of Pacific Ocean, houses the Indian diaspora, which has an inescapable presence in a few ranges of economics and politics.

The greater part of Fiji natives with Indian family line is the fourth or fifth era successors of Indian workers who were sent to Fiji Islands as indentured labor (Girmityas or Jahajis ) under the famous arrangement framework to deal with the sugar cane ranches in the late nineteenth century and mid twentieth century. A few late Indian entries came as dealers and now Fiji is home to a flourishing Gujarati business group. Suva, Fiji’s largest city, houses a noteworthy number of Indo-Fijian population.

ALSO READ: Grimitya’s Legacy of Slavery: Indian Diaspora in Fiji Marks 100 years of Indian Indentured Servitude system

Lautoka is the second largest city in Fiji after Suva. Numerous Indo-Fijians reside here. It swings to a film music beat in Hindi and saris replace sarongs.

Those Indian workers who arrived over 100 years back carried with them flavors of their country however the relatives of the primary entries have received ‘Fiji-time’ and a more untroubled state of mind.

Fijian Archipelago
The Fijian Archipelago has a pervasive presence in areas of politics and economics. Pixabay

Nadi is brimming with resorts and gives the feeling of any Indian residential community. It is fixed with shops offering auto parts, groceries, Indian customary garments, eateries serving food similar to actual Indian flavors.

Labasa is a town in Fiji’s Macuata Province. The larger part of Labasa’s occupants is the Indo-Fijian plunge, making this little settlement extraordinary compared to other spots. It is one of the best attractions to show the Indian commitments to Fiji’s interesting mixed culture – an enduring heritage belonging to the Indian workers who initially reached the Pacific.

– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025

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Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival 2016 showcases documentary ‘Diwali The Gift Of Dance’

Carribean is a magical womb where different types of cultures nurture which we don’t really find anywhere else in the world

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Diwali. Pixabay
  • The Festival, as usual, is featuring some of the works of a large number of budding filmmakers and fresh new voices are coming out in Caribbean cinema
  • 2015 Documentary Diwali The Gift of Dance was screened at Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival 2016
  • It is a magical womb where different types of cultures nurture which we don’t really find anywhere else in the world

Sept 24, 2016: Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival 2016 started on September 20 and will continue till September 27 showcasing talent from different genres. It is taking place at various venues in Port-of-Spain; this Film Festival features some of the works of a large number of budding filmmakers and fresh new voices which are coming out in the Caribbean cinema.

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Steve James, an artist born in Trinidad, a multi-talented person who has experienced in music as well as in the making of films got the golden chance as TTFF decided to present his 15 minutes documentary shot Diwali The Gift of Dance on Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, 2016.

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Steve James is a director who uses various tools to promote the Caribbean around the world. The successful writer/composer, renowned film director, and brilliant sound engineer released his documentary Diwali The Gift of Dance in 2015 and Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival presented it this year.

His documentaries are vibrant and they are more of a tribute to the region’s incredibly rich diversity of cultures. Also, showcasing the historical and natural heritage of the place, and most of all, its people.

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The documentary shows the Caribbean is more than a melting pot. It is a magical womb where different types of cultures nurture which we don’t really find anywhere else in the world. Carribean’s Indian link is quite old and it is a great news for Indian Diaspora living there, to get the opportunity to watch it on the big screen. It tells about the Trinidadian of African descent who can become the master of Indian Dance, as Tassa rhymes with Gwo Ka on the night of Diwali.

– by Pinaz Kazi of NewsGram. Twitter: @PinazKazi