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EXPECTATIONS OF INDIANS OF INDENTURESHIP ORIGIN AND OTHERS IN JAMAICA FROM INDIA

Ajai Mansingh, Jamaica

INTRODUCTION

Jamaica is the largest English-speaking Island in the Caribbean Sea, and the most populous in the Commonwealth Caribbean. With a population of over 2.5 million living in Jamaica and another 3 million abroad, its economy and purchasing power baffles economists. Its political influence extends from Cuba in the North to Central and South American countries along the Caribbean Seaboard.

Indian immigration to Jamaica occurred in three phases. Indentureship introduced 12,412 immigrants into the island between 1845 and1917, 12,000 of whom returned to India. Today, there are about 50,000 descendants of indentured Indians (DII) and 250 to 300 thousand mixed Indians, who have been passively assimilated by the Afro-Jamaican majority. The Sindhi businessmen and the professionals, who started to settle in the island since 1927 and 1970s, respectively, have retained their culture and religion fairly untarnished.

Politics in the Caribbean is along racial divide, particularly in the countries with majority DIIs. The psyche of Afro-Caribbean is shaped by the experiences during slavery and the processes of religious and cultural de-Africanization and Europeanization. Looking through the colonial spectacles, Afro-Caribbeans believe in being the rightful inheritors of the British throne. They look down upon the Indians, Hinduism and Indian culture.

Strong faith in their sense of belonging in time and space and cultural heritage has enabled DII to survive the assault on their very being, and thrive to a great extent in their karma bhumi.

It is, therefore, not surprising that India is perceived by most Afro-Caribbean as backward, primitive, poor, ‘heathen, pagan and wicked’, in spite of the fact that many among them use Indian goods and owe their health to Indian pharmaceutical industry.

EXPECTATIONS OF DIIS AND PIO FROM INDIA

1.

Recognition of Uniqueness of DII from Other PIO. It is expected that in view of the facts that:

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