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By Annesha Das Gupta
People who are ardent fans of cricket are well acquainted with the legendary player Sonny Ramadhin or the ones who call themselves bibliophiles celebrated when VS Naipaul’s was conferred with the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Both of them, are of Indian descent and both are born in Trinidad and Tobago. While Ramadhin was from Esperance Village, Naipaul is from the capital; Port of Spain.
This can make one wonder, from where do the people of Indian origin come into the Caribbean picture? Or are both of them the single cases, the exceptions.
We have the NRIs who have gone and settled down in the USA or at Britain; they might be one’s relatives or neighbors or else friends. The geopolitical realm of the Caribbean, whereas, does not come into the head, especially to an Indian one, when there come, a prospect for an education or a job. The Caribbean connotes to the mind, of the tropical beaches, the coconut trees and, of course, the West-Indies cricket team.
Unfortunately, many of us forget or are just oblivious to the fact that there is a community of Indians who did spread across the various islands much before the other portions of the Indian population dispersed to the parts of the West.
Who are the Indo-Caribbean?
The British, French and Dutch colonists were in a state of jeopardy when the century-old slavery of the Africans was abolished. The African ‘slaves’ used to work in the sugarcane plantations, but with no one to fill up the vacancy they turned towards the people of China and Portugal first. But the plan did not work and as a last resort for a substantial quantity of cheap labor, they sought out the Indians. And this time, they hit the bull’s-eye.
The indentured laborers as they are called were promised remuneration, the supply of food, and even the expense, the one which will be the responsibility of the plantation owners if they want to take a voyage back to their own country.
Two ships left with the first batch of Indians (about 400 people) to the British Guiana on May 5, 1838. The ships were called Whitby and Hesperus, which left the port of Calcutta with people mainly belonging to the Chota Nagpur area of West Bengal, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh.
Most of the people who took on the journey were from the lower class/caste strata or as known today, were the Dalits. It is worth a mention that very few women comprised the first batch; only a maximum of 35%. The reason for the scanty number of women who voyaged, at first, is explained by the historians and sociologists in three main points. Firstly, the colonists did not consider women to be economically beneficial.
Secondly, the men who came were mostly married and assuming that they will be returning to their homeland at the end of their contract (which was meant to be after 5 years), they did not bring their wives along with them. And finally, since most of the persisting societal norms limited the movement of women within the society, for instance, those who were unmarried, were not allowed to take a voyage alone and also that the widows had no provision to remarry and join the mass again, so the female population of the first batches was on a lower scale. Though the numbers hit almost about 50% by 1380-1390, but again fell during the end of the indenture era (1914) to about 40%.
The offer by the colonial powers seemed lucrative enough; an escape route to the poor of the country who suffered invariably and wanted an alleviation of their woes. But unfortunately, as the idiom goes: ‘All that glitters is not gold”.
They were about to face an infinite amount of hindrances, which none of them were likely to foresee. And the struggles continued for about 75 years, as history knows it and only ended with the annihilation of the indenture system in 1917.
What were the struggles of the Indo-Caribbean ?
All was not hunky-dory even before the two ships left for their destinations. Many of the laborers were given false promises by the professional recruiters who were aided by paid local agents.
They were deceived in innumerable ways, as cited by a post on The Indian Down Under blog: “Names of places would be altered, to fit a higher meaning. For example, recruiters told migrants, heading to Dutch Suriname they were heading to Sri-Ram, instead of Suriname, taking into account that Ram in the Hindu religion means a religious place where good triumphs over evil”.
Many died of starvation during the voyage and their bodies were thrown (about 17% of the population) into the sea (often called by the immigrants as Kala Pani), such were the atrocities done.
There was also an outbreak of cholera, malaria and dysentery on the ships. The mortality rate was only a meager of 25%.
Especially vulnerable were the women. They had to continuously endure the lecherous stares and advances from the British lots. And apart from that the authorities used to lock them up in the rooms for more than three or four days. The women had to sleep, eat and sit in their own filth.
A lot of them were even raped and pimped out from men to men while they worked on the plantations. It is evident from the fact that one 8-year-old was raped, named Nuneedy, as soon as the first batch landed.
A Brahmin named Jugmohan used to trade out the women among the British men (especially to the Scottish lot) and anyone who wanted to keep their wives safe was forced to pay an amount of one dollar.
Though this did not subjugate the women folk entirely. They formed self-protective circles, which might have come together as they were already organized as groups which plucked weeds in the cane fields, to fend off the lecherous overseers.If one goes to Gaiutra Bahadur’s blog Coolie Women, they will come across the quote which will make anyone shudder who will dare enrage a woman’s modesty ever again –
“They would strike him to the ground and thrash him as well as do other more nasty things. In one incidence, they pinned the overseer to the ground and took turns at urinating on him. On another occasion, they made a line and walked over the overseer until his excreta came out”.
Like The Africans who were paid a wage of only one shilling, the indentured laborers were not paid even the bare minimum. They were exploited relentlessly no holidays were allotted to them. If someone took even a day off, they ran the risk of being in the jail for as much as five days.
At the year when the contract was supposed to have ended, the laborers did not find any ships at the port which would have taken them back to India. Thus, the injustice was followed by strikes which were held by the workers. One plantation named Anna Regina refused to give them the supply of food as a result. The people even insisted on paying in exchange for the food, which clearly explains that they feared that accepting rations would leave them in debt.
Later, men confronted with the British colonial police in wake for the sake of the women and the demand for obtaining their wages. Later they submitted an affidavit to Guiana Governor, Henry Light; where ten men marked the sign ‘X’ next to their names stated that they want to return immediately to their country as it was promised in their contracts.
Historians mention the infamous Rose Hill plantation conflict (1913), where many of the workers were killed and a vast number of people were injured. It was probably the deadliest indenture era suppression as stated in Bahadur’s blog.
Many laborers committed suicide during this period. They tried to run away several times by trying to cross the rivers as it was a common belief that they were not so far away from India while some even faked illness.
Another thing, worth mentioning is that the British played their old trick of ‘Divide and Rule’ even in the Caribbean. The villages of the Africans and that of the Indians were segregated. Also, as the Colonists did not want too much intermixing of the two communities, which they feared will ultimately lead to the solidarity of the workers, and that’s why the indentured laborers were allowed to keep their own religious customs, the institution of marriage, their holy books and even their own priests.
Though, where do the confluence of the slavery of the Africans and that of the indentured Indians occur? Like the Blacks, the colonists also used to whip indentured laborers, rub salt and pepper on their wounds. And perhaps, that’s why the indenture system was called ‘a new form of slavery’ and indentured laborers as the ‘bound slaves’.
By the end of the indenture era, much of the regulations were relaxed and the married couples were allowed to leave outside the plantations, in their own quarters.
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, an eminent educationist, and politician, also the creator of Banaras Hindu University, lobbied for the rights of the Indo-Caribbean people to the Indian Congress and urged them not to allow anymore Indians to take a voyage there. Among the other famous names, who protested against the human rights violations of the Indo-Caribbean were Mahatama Gandhi.
After the termination of the indentured system, the colonists offered the Indians their plots as they did not want the complete emancipation of the workers as their African counterparts. Though many chose to stay and continued to work on the plantations under many peaceful conditions, about 66,000 of them decided to head back again for their motherland.
How are the Indo-Caribbean people today?
For the first two or three generations, the descendants of the indentured workers were not sure about their identity of either as Indians or as members of the Caribbean islands. They slowly have incorporated themselves as people of Indo-Caribbean origin. The amalgamation of two very dynamic cultures.
We can have an idea of them, in the recent times, by looking at the numbers of days, celebrated in different parts of the Caribbean islands as ‘Indian Arrival Day’. It is to commemorate the presence of the community and their valuable contributions in the arenas of agriculture, economy, education and politics.
The Indo-Caribbean community also helped to expand the cultural spectrum of the regions. For instance, the Indo-Caribbean gave birth to the musical genre of Chutney, whose pioneers include Drupatee Ramgoonai. The songs have lots of Hindi and Bhojpuri lyrics along with Caribbean English. Also due to the Indian influence, ‘the Roti’ has almost become a staple food of the masses there.
Jamaica was the first to start celebrating, the arrival of the Indians on May 10, 1995. Many other countries followed suit and declared holidays to respect the people of the community like Guyana (May 5), Trinidad and Tobago (May 30), etc.
Some of the Indo-Caribbean people have become twice or thrice migrants by settling down their communities in places like that of New York.
The current population of the Indian community in the various islands of the Caribbean is estimated to be over two million people.
Still there remains much to be done on the topic about the heritage and history of the Indo-Caribbean to be induced, into the mainstreamed dissemination and discourse. Whether the goal will be achieved or not, only time can tell.
Annesha Das Gupta is a student of Sociology,pursuing her degree from IGNOU, Kolkata. She has a special interest in the branches of Feminism, Sexuality and Dalit Studies. Twitter: Dancingbluepen
By Prerana Agarwal Saxena
In all the wedding excitement, it's easy to overlook the impact a wedding has on the environment. While everyone is making their big fat Indian wedding dreams come true, they are also adding their carbon footprint and undue energy consumption. Modern couples are now looking for ways to have a wedding with a sustainably conscious mindset. It's become about incorporating less waste, locally sourced and seasonal food, natural materials over the use of plastic. Mindful wedding planning and decor includes the use of recycled paper and goods along with eco-friendly venue needs. Check out this quick guide to achieve a sustainably conscious wedding without compromising on luxury:
Choose locally sourced material to uplift artisans
Sustainable can be luxurious too, incorporate some native flavour into the decor and theme. With the use of locally sourced materials and local artisans coming into play, the wedding instantly becomes sustainable. Include the work of local vendors ensure minimal packaging requirements, thus saving on unnecessary plastic and lamination. It also decreases the need for transporting elements from other cities and hence lowers the carbon footprint. For instance, at one of our weddings, we made use of sand art for a setup in Jodhpur. This helped promote local work while also being environmentally friendly with zero wastage of other materials. In another instance from Rajasthan, the traditional glass-blown technique was used to build decor items while giving a cultural touch to the destination wedding.
Sustainable can be luxurious too, incorporate some native flavour into the decor and theme. | Photo by Jason Coudriet on Unsplash
Say yes to recycling
One should be mindful and avoid the use of plastic and other non-recyclable materials in decor wherever possible. It can be a small step such as making a conscious switch from plastic water bottles to copper jugs or glass bottles. Also use artificial floral decor thus minimising the wastage produced from real flowers. This recyclable decor is then donated to various NGOs, further ensuring sustainable use of resources. Such steps, however small they might be, keep the environment free from the release of any additional carbon footprint.
One should be mindful and avoid the use of plastic and other non-recyclable materials in decor wherever possible. | Photo by Ravin Rau on Unsplash
Go for zero-waste wedding decor
Make use of fabric as it enhances the elegance of the wedding while being sustainable. Include vibrant colours apt to the theme of the wedding and bring in bright sprightliness with breathable fabrics. Ensure to include LED lights for lighting. They can be incorporated as string lights or be used on passageways with innovative decor items. They also help conserve energy and bring in soulful energy for nighttime decor. Choose virtual invitations, keeping up with the digital times. Make a conscious choice of plated dinner menus rather than a buffet as they allow less wastage of food and ensure enough food for guests in attendance.
LEDs can be incorporated as string lights or be used on passageways with innovative decor items. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Include Sustainable Gifting
Gift sustainable wedding favours -- gifts that grow. Offering a plant or a succulent, is a great idea. One can also gift recycled organic fabrics and cutlery or zero-waste kitchen and bathroom essentials to use in their homes as some distinct gifting options.
Gift sustainable wedding favours -- gifts that grow. | Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
Acting in the best interest of the environment and the society, Theme Weavers Designs has started a social cause, Weaving Hope, where a part of their earnings along with food and decor are donated to social communities. Royal Rendezvous, is an event started by us to put India on the Global Map, inviting international wedding planners to India to experience the rich culture and heritage, also employing and displaying the work of local artisans to this international audience.
By applying the values of sustainability, you can reduce the energy consumed and the resources used as much as possible. Go ahead and have a luxurious zero-waste wedding and navigate into the world of green living! (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Luxurious , Gift, sustainable, wedding favours, gifts that grow. Gifting, recycling, locally sourced, material. zero-waste
The Tamil Nadu health department has administered 16,43,879 lakh doses of vaccine in the second mega vaccination camp organised by it. The state public health department in a statement on Sunday said that this has taken the total vaccination to one crore since the beginning of September till date. The vaccination was administered from 7 a.m. till 7 p.m. and the compiled data was made available late at night.
The health department officials also said that as the state has almost exhausted its quota of vaccines, there would not be any vaccines on Monday. Regular vaccination will resume after the vaccine supplies arrive from New Delhi, officials said. The state health department had expected to vaccinate 15 lakh people on Sunday in 18,824 centres spread across primary health centres, anganwadis, noon meal centres, government hospitals, schools and some auditoriums.
The health department officials also said that as the state has almost exhausted its quota of vaccines, there would not be any vaccines on Monday. | Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash
Of the 16,43,879 people who were inoculated, a total of 10,85,097 received their first dose and 5,58,782 their second dose of vaccine, the statement said, A total of 9,66,568 people in the age group of 18-44 were vaccinated on Sunday and vaccines were administered on 5,02,578 people aged between 45- 59 in the mega vaccine camps.
State health minister Ma Subramanian, who inaugurated the vaccination at Pollachi, also visited the centres in six districts -- Coimbatore, Erode, Namakkal, Tiruppur, Dharmapuri and Salem. The state government, according to the health minister, is to receive the next allotment of vaccines on September 21. Minister while speaking to IANS said, "We will be receiving the next allotment of vaccines on September 21 itself and we will resume vaccinations immediately. The state has already touched one crore vaccine-mark in the month of September till date." (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: COVID, vaccine, vaccination camp, Tamil Nadu, India, vaccinated, mega camp
Festivals are just around the corner and while you brainstorm about OOTDs (outfit of the day), don't forget the right makeup. Hanisha Kapoor, COO, ArchiesBeauty.com shares makeup trends experimented by these Bollywood divas throughout 2021 for inspiration. While some stuck to the classics, others mixed it up... take a look:
The Classic Red Lip
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. The right way to achieve this celebrity look is to focus on accentuating your lips and keeping the rest of the face minimal. Give your lips a good scrub to plump them, moisturize and follow it up with a red lip liner to define the shape of your lips. Now go on with the perfect shade of red and finish your look with a slick of eyeliner, minimal concealer, and foundation.
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. | Photo by Ina Garbé on Unsplash
No Makeup Look
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look. This natural beauty does a wonderful job of achieving the minimal soft look by softly cover any dark spots or blemishes and highlighting features she's most proud of. To achieve this start with concealer and use small dots to brighten your darker areas like under eye, corner of the nose or upper lip, and any visible spots, and set it up with loose powder. Apply a soft pink lipstick, light blush, and mascara.
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look | Wikimedia Commons
This look shouts pink. When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. Everyone should try a rosy look once in a while. As we are focusing on only one shade, this look is pretty easy to achieve. Bring out your favourite pink lipstick, favourite pink blush, and a matching shade of eye shadow. Start with the base - concealer, and foundation and set it up with loose powder. Follow it up with eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush. Remember to draw a line by not using any pink mascara, eyeliner, or a bold shade of lipstick, as this is meant to be soft on the eyes.
When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. | Wikimedia Commons
Glass Skin Makeup
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. This look is slightly complex with an equal focus on skin before makeup, so slather on those moisturizing serums and creams to prep your skin first. Start with a highlighting primer, keep your foundation and concealer minimal to avoid looking cakey. Follow it up with soft blush & nude lips and lots and lots of highlighter. Use the highlighter on the main points of your face, like upper cheekbones, the centre of the forehead, the tip of the nose, cupid bone, and chin. If you are feeling a bit extra, don't hesitate to put some on your shoulders and collar bones. This celebrity makeup look makes your skin glow without the need for a spotlight.
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. | Photo by 邱 严 on Unsplash
Pop It Up
Put a zing to your party look with the pop of funky colour. This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. This works with your eye makeup while keeping the rest of the face minimal. Start with the base - concealer, apply a bit extra on your eyelids to make the colour pop. Don't mind going the extra mile and colour blocking your eyes with complementary colours on eyelids and under the eye. Apply nude lipstick and a soft blush to balance your look.
This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. | Pixabay
(Article originally published by N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Celebrity, makeup, Deepika, Jhanavi, Korean, Red Lipstick, Glass Makeup, Pop makeup