Dr. Indira Speaks

Global Indian Diaspora - 1

Both India and China,the two most populous nations of the world enjoy the unique distinction of being the large exporters of their population all over the world.Wherever they have gone,they have

successfully created little Indias and little Chinas.Many factors brought about this human exodus.Excess population, deprivation ofsustainable livelihood and political instability are some of the causes promoting emigration

The decline of handicrafts increase in land revenue,repeatedfamines,lack of industrialisation,lack of resources and obsolete attitudes that prevented increase in agricultural production were some of the "push" factors encouraging emigration.

Largescale Indian emigration is noticable in during the last three centuries.Earlier movements were for the spread of Indian culture and trade.The emigration of the last three centuries was the outcome of the founding of colonial empires.Emigrant population settled mostly in British colonies

During the 1830s,the majority of emigrants were from the districts of Chotanagpur,Bankura,Birbhum and Burdwan districts of Bengal.Gradually,the areas of recruitment of labour moved westwards to the Hindi speaking areas of Eastern Uttar Pradesh which supplied the largest number of workforce.Subsequently,in the South,Tanjoredistrict,Madura,Ramnad,inAndhra,Vizag and Ganjam districts also joined the race.The workforce included people from all religious groups and castes but in different ratios.

In the early stages,the emigrants were predominantly male.What initially began as a voyage for seeking livelihood to improve their economic conditions eventually led to them settling down in foreign land

It is interesting to study that apart from the local economic compulsions,what other factors promoted this exodus.Indian Hindu society was deeply conservative and crossing the oceans referred to as "Kala pani" invited ostracism by the society.The establishment of the British empire and the abolition of slavery in 1830 were two important landmarks in the history of Indian diaspora.Slave trade can easily be described as a fore runner to the indenture and Kangani systems that were introduced by the British to fulfill their labour requirements in their colonies.

Aug 21, 2014
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Dr Indira Ramanathan

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