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There was a time when the sun never set in the British Raj. The biggest reason for this was to enslave all the countries of the world. In other words it was called colonization. The Industrial Revolution started in England in 1800. In such a situation, Britain started colonialism in Asia, Africa and Australia. The need for a large number of workers was felt for all these countries. To fulfill this need, the British rulers used to take hardworking, honest laborers from undivided India. Later these laborers came to be called ‘indentured laborers’.

There was a time when the people of India, suffering from poverty, helplessness, unemployment and starvation, wanted a peaceful life. For him, peace meant only one roof, two times’ bread and clothes on the body. The situation in the slave country was so bad that even the Indians of that time could not get it. In such a situation, the clever British used to take them away from their country to unknown countries on the pretext of getting them work on the agreement.


who are Girmitiya (indentured) laborers

 That country used to be such, where no one was his own. In the sorrow of being away from their loved ones, these workers used to break so much that they could not sleep for many days. He used to cry, cry and get still. Due to the agreement, they could not even return home. This cycle continued for many years. In the end, these workers had to make the foreign country their own. They had lost everything, but keep your culture in your hearts. Now these indentured laborers are no more, but they have become owners. Not only do they do their own development, they are also playing an important role in the development of India. Now let’s tell the whole story in detail.

The British, who came in the seventeenth century, captivated the common Indians with a single roti. Then they started sending people abroad on the condition of slavery. These laborers were called indentured.

 who are Girmitiya (indentured) laborers

 The word ‘Girmit’ is said to be a derivation of the English word ‘Agreement’. The paper on which thousands of workers were sent every year to South Africa or other countries with their thumb impressions, was called ‘Girmit’ by the workers and owners.

Based on this document, the workers were called indentured. Every year 10 to 15 thousand laborers were made indentured and taken to Fiji, British Guiana, Dutch Guiana, Trinidad, Tobago, Natal (South Africa) etc. All this was under government rule. The people doing this type of business had government protection.

The indentured practice was introduced by the British in 1834 and was outlawed in 1917.

Plight of the contractees

Slaves could not be freed from slavery even if they were paid, but the only obligation with the indentured was that they could be released after five years. The indentured could be released, but they did not have the money to return to India. They had no choice but to work with their own masters or contracted to another master. They too were sold. They can be tortured for not working or not working.

It is generally contracted whether a woman or a man is not allowed to marry. Even though some indentured marriages did marry, the rules of slavery applied to them. Just like a woman can be sold to someone and a child can be sold to someone else. Forty percent of the women left with the indentured (men), and the young women were kept as concubines by the lord and sexually abused. When the attraction was over, these women were handed over to the labourers.

The children of the indentured were the property of the owners. If the owner wants, when the children grow up, they get them to work or sell them to others. The indentured were given only livable food, clothing, etc. They were denied basic necessities like education, entertainment etc. He used to work hard for 12 to 18 hours a day. Hundreds of laborers die every year due to inhuman conditions. There was no hearing of the atrocities of the owners.

Mahatma Gandhi’s cooperation against the indentured system

Mahatma Gandhi had started a campaign in South Africa against this inhuman practice. In India, Gopal Krishna Gokhale proposed to abolish the indentured system in the Imperial Legislative Council in March 1912. The 22 members of the council decided that they would continue to move this resolution every year until this inhuman practice is ended. At the Congress session in December 1916, Mahatma Gandhi proposed the India Security and Contracted Practices Act.

A month later, in February 1917, a massive anti-insurgency meeting was held in Ahmedabad. CF Andrews and Henry Pollock also gave speeches against this practice at this meeting. Apart from this, Indian leaders like Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya, Sarojini Naidu and Jinnah also contributed a lot in ending the practice of indentured labour.

The indentured people of Fiji like Tota Ram Sanadhya and Kunti have also contributed a lot in ending the indentured practice. After this the anti-girmit campaign intensified. In March 1917, the indentured opponents gave an ultimatum to the British government to end this practice by May. In view of the increasing displeasure of the people, finally the government had to think seriously. On 12 March itself, the government published an order in its gazette that workers should not be sent to countries outside India under the indent system.

Used to work in these countries

These people went to Mauritius, Suriname, Fiji, Seychelles, and West Indies. Today even the heads of state of many of these countries are of Indian origin.

Fiji was the first abode of indentured

Mahatma Gandhi called himself the first indentured. However, in the 18th century, a consignment of indentured laborers reached Fiji before India. Indian laborers were taken there to work in the sugarcane fields, in order to preserve the local culture of England and also to benefit the European owners. Today there are more than 3.5 lakh, people of Indian origin, out of the 9 lakh population of Fiji. Even the language of Fiji is Fijian Hindi.

Indians are hardworking

In countries like Fiji and South Africa, the local people are annoyed with Indians simply because they work hard. In terms of business and enterprise, they dominate the local community there.

They Are the spinal cord

Apart from indentured laborers and people who have taken foreign citizenship, there are about 25 million people in the country who are living outside as non-resident Indians. They are not only contributing to the economy of the countries where they live, but they are also helping their country’s economy by sending money to India.

Modern indentured labor

However, this was the talk of indentured laborers. Now let’s talk about modern migrants. Whether it is the IT sector of America or the construction of Saudi Arabia, the engineers of Dubai, or the businessmen of Britain, the people of India are everywhere.

Indians earn more than foreigners

5 million Indians live in America. While an average American earns $50,000 a year, an average Indian earns $90,000 there.

Talking about Britain, there are 19 lakh Indians living there. After whites, the largest number of Indian citizens live there.

Saudi Arabia’s engineering and building construction industry is running on the basis of Indians. About 30 lakh Indians live there.

It is 100 percent true that people become indentured laborers in odd circumstances. Today they have improved their condition with their hard work. In many countries, the head of the nation is also of Indian origin. Due to this, we are very close to these countries. Even after leaving their homeland, the indentured laborers proved that we start walking from where people come and stop. Maybe you will also agree with me on this point.

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