Friday May 25, 2018
Home Indian Diaspora How Indians s...

How Indians shaped Barbadian culture

0
//
164
Photo: www.operationworld.org
Republish
Reprint

By Romar Parris

FOR OVER 100 YEARS, Barbados has been home to immigrants from East India, specifically Bengal, Gujarat and Hyderabad Sindh. Over the years, they have played a significant role in shaping Barbadian culture and contributed to the advancement of the Barbados economy.

They still maintain this role today. Unlike our African ancestors, the Indians residing in Barbados today were not brought here through means of slavery or indentured labor,infact, they came of their free will.

In the early 1900s, the underprivileged of India (then a colony of Britain) were in a very bad state. Being poor and without land, they found it very difficult to acquire wealth and status. Many poor Indians lived in small villages owned by landlords while having to “work like slaves for about 50 cents per week” (Nakhuda 2013:11).

Diseases such as cholera, smallpox and leprosy were common among the impoverished. Seeking a better life, many Indians travelled to Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa and other countries. However, the West Indies saw its first movement of the East Indians prior to this 20th century migration. After slavery was abolished across the British colonies in the Caribbean around 1838, a call for indentured labourers was made, particularly in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, St Lucia, St Vincent, Jamaica and Grenada.

The British brought East Indians to these islands to work the plantations since the newly freed slaves no longer wanted to be a part of the plantation system. None of these East Indian labourers was brought to Barbados, however. The British brought in “poor Whites” from Britain as indentured labourers to Barbados and unlike in the neighbouring islands, many slaves continued working the plantation. Therefore, there was no need for the East Indians on our shores. In Barbados most newly freed slaves stayed with the plantation because they had little option if they wanted to survive.

The plantation system dominated the sugar-based Barbados economy and its workers were in high demand. However, the island was considered to be overpopulated, thus access to workers was plentiful. The white overseers took advantage of this and mistreated their workers while paying them very little per week, knowing that if a worker chose to leave, another one could be easily hired. This continued until the 1937 Riots, which led eventually to labor reforms and better working conditions.

The arrival of the first East Indians was due to their personal decisions, not as a matter of national policy. According to Sabir Nakhuda, the first East Indian to reside in Barbados was a man called Bashart Ali Dewan. Nakhuda’s research showed that Dewan left India around 1910 heading for Trinidad after news of his father-in-law’s settlement there. He stayed in Trinidad for a while.

There he learnt the itinerant trading business from Bengalis based there at that time. Itinerant trading is the business of a door-to-door salesman trading on a credit basis. Hearing of a niche market in Barbados, he decided to go there for better financial profits. Dewan resided in various areas in Bridgetown, settling in Suttle Street and later Milk Market. He started his trade by purchasing products from the merchants in Bridgetown, and traveling to the countryside to sell them.

He eventually opened a store on Swan Street selling shoes, haberdashery and raw materials for ladies and gents. Dewan hired a “caller” to advertise for him. It is said that his voice could be heard from one end of Swan Street to the next.  By the laws of Islam, a man is permitted up to four wives. Not being able to afford to send for his wife in India, Dewan married his second wife by 1920, but within four years she left. He then married his third wife, Pauline Taylor, and had two daughters.

During the 1937 Riots Dewan fled Barbados and returned to India; sources said he was heavily in debt. Bashart Ali Dewan was the first East Indian merchant from Bengal on our shores and the pioneer of an aspect of Barbadian culture that is still a norm today. Stories of his venture ignited a trail of merchants to follow. Mentionable names are Mohammed Abdul Rohul Amin, Sheikh Nasrul Huque, Atar Ali, Arshad Ali and Babujan Dewan.

They all engaged in itinerant trade and built a close-knit network that served to support other Indians who later immigrated to the island. These merchants lived under one roof, sharing rooms and meals to save money for business use, and to send back to their families in India. Those already living in Barbados took the newcomers under their wings, giving them a place to stay and teaching them the ins and outs of the trade.

(The story first appeared in The Nation News)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

British Columbia Looking For Skilled Indian to Join Tech Related Jobs

"India would be a very crucial market for us. There are many international immigrants including Indians in Vancouver".

0
//
29
British Columbia, the Canadian province that is a leader in technology and has one of the fastest growing tech ecosystems in the world
British Columbian Flag.Wikimedia commons

British Columbia, the Canadian province that is a leader in technology and has one of the fastest growing tech ecosystems in the world, is looking at a shortfall of 30,000 skilled individuals to fill tech-related jobs, with India as an important catchment area for recruiting immigrant talent.

“India, the Philippines and Nigeria are the countries we are looking for tapping talent in the Information Technology (IT) sector,” says Patrick Mackenzie, CEO of the Immigrant Employment Council (IEC) of British Columbia, the southwestern province in Canada which accounts for more than 10,000 companies and approximately $29 billion (Canadian dollars) in revenue.

Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of the third annual BCTECH Summit here, Mackenzie said there are huge openings for immigrants as information system analysts, consultants, software engineers and designers and computer system managers.

“The current supply cannot meet the industry’s growing demands for tech talent. By 2021, there will be an anticipated shortfall of over 30,000 skilled individuals to fill tech-related jobs in the province,” he noted.

Unless immediate action was taken by the provincial and federal governments, tech employers, the settlement and integration sector and other key shareholders, this employment gap will severely limit the potential growth of the industry, Mackenzie added.

The “2016 Tech Talent BC Report” identifies three talent pools — new entrants or recent graduates, immigrants and other local supply to include career transitioners and people from under-represented groups.

The focus of the report was immigrants and the country needs to source 8,500 more immigrants than are currently projected to arrive in BC by 2021 to meet the growing tech sector demand.

British Columbia’s Premier John Horgan, in his remarks at the plenary session on Wednesday, put the figure at 9,600 which the province needs to bring people from across the world into the tech sector.

British Columbia, the Canadian province that is a leader in technology and has one of the fastest growing tech ecosystems in the world
British Columbia is willing to hire numerous skilled personnel for their technical industry. Pexels

The tech and innovation sector in BC has grown rapidly over the past 10 years, transforming its economy in many ways that people could not have imagined. It is evident in the increase of technology jobs from 66,000 in 2002 to more than one lakh in 2016.

Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, British Columbia, said the province is home to globally-recognised talent, trained at international renowned post-secondary institutions and some of the most successful and innovative companies in the industry.

Ralston said the government of British Columbia actively supported the tech sector to build the good, highly-skilled jobs of tomorrow and to keep their traditional sectors stay efficient, sustainable and globally competitive.

“However, we know the government cannot grow the tech sector alone, and we need strong partnerships –within the private sector, with other levels of government, with educators, and between our traditional industries and innovative tech companies- to continue to develop the emerging economy,” he added.

Mackenzie says even this year, despite the high number of openings, actually over 3,600 jobs will get unfilled till 2020-21 if we don’t find ways to fill them. “We need 8,500 immigrants with skills,” he added.

Asked about the emphasis the IEC would have on India as a pool for scouting talent, he said: “India is a leader in the tech sector and the Council has a very clear picture how to rope in talent and to tell the immigrants what they can look for and do in Canada”.

“India would be a very crucial market for us. There are many international immigrants including Indians in Vancouver”.

It is not just tech jobs and there are openings everywhere, the IEC CEO stressed.

One of the key findings of the IEC report on “Employer Challenges in Attracting and Integrating Immigrant Talent into BC’s Tech Sector” was that most employers had used at least one of the programmes to source international talent and had mixed reviews.

YouTube to Launch YouTube Music: YouTube to Add Another Service For Its Users From May 22

The other was the alignment between immigrant talent and tech employer needs as they relate to soft skills (language) and hard skills (technical).

With a few exceptions, most employers felt that immigrants’ soft skills were in short supply and, in particular, their interpersonal communication styles often do not align with Canadian employers’ expectations.

The final theme of the report involved settlement and integration services and support for newcomers and their families.

British Columbia is home to international tech giants like Microsoft, Google and others.