15 FAMINES UNDER BRITISH RULE &TOTAL INDIANS DEAD 45 MILLION

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Chronological list of famines in India between 1765 and 1947
YearName of famine (if any)British territoryIndian kingdoms/Princely statesMortality
1769–70Great Bengal FamineBihar, Northern and Central Bengal10 million (about one third of the then population of Bengal). Disputed as excessive.
1782–83Madras city and surrounding areasKingdom of MysoreSee below.
1783–84Chalisa famineDelhi, Western Oudh, Eastern Punjab region,Rajputana, and KashmirSevere famine. Large areas were depopulated. Up to 11 million people may have died during the years 1782–84.
1791–92Doji bara famine or Skull famineHyderabad, Southern Maratha country, Deccan,Gujarat, and MarwarOne of the most severe famines known. People died in such numbers that they could not be cremated or buried. It is thought that 11 million people may have died during the years 1788–94.
1837–38Agra famine of 1837–38Central Doab and trans-Jumna districts of theNorth-Western Provinces (later Agra Province), including Delhi and Hissar800,000.
1860–61Upper Doab of Agra; Delhi and Hissar divisions of the PunjabEastern Rajputana2 million.
1865–67Orissa famine of 1866Orissa (also 1867) and Bihar; Bellary and Ganjam districts of Madras1 million (814,469 in Orissa, 135,676 in Bihar and 10,898 in Ganjam)
1868–70Rajputana famine of 1869Ajmer, Western Agra, Eastern PunjabRajputana1.5 million (mostly in the princely states of Rajputana)
1873–74Bihar famine of 1873–74BiharA large and generous relief effort was organized by the Bengal government. There were no mortalities during the famine.
1876–78Great Famine of 1876–78 (also Southern India famine of 1876–78)Madras and BombayMysore and Hyderabad5.5 million in British territory. Mortality unknown for princely states. Total famine mortality estimates vary from 6.1 to 10.3 million.
1888–89Ganjam, Orissa and North Bihar150,000 deaths in Ganjam. Deaths were due to starvation as famine relief was not provided in time.
1896–97Indian famine of 1896–97Madras, Bombay Deccan, Bengal, United Provinces, Central ProvincesNorthern and eastern Rajputana, parts of Central India and Hyderabad5 million in British territory.
1899–1900Indian famine of 1899–1900Bombay, Central Provinces, Berar, AjmerHyderabad, Rajputana, Central India, Baroda, Kathiawar, Cutch,1 million (in British territories). Mortality unknown for princely states.
1905–06BombayBundelkhand235,062 in Bombay (of which 28,369 attributed to Cholera). Mortality unknown for Bundelkhand.
1943–44Bengal famine of 1943Bengal1.5 million from starvation; 3.5 million including deaths from epidemics.





Madras famine 1877


File:Madras famine 1877.jpg
The skeleton of a starved man lying in a field after being eaten by vultures and jackals;BENGAL 1943

Children poking grain cars with wires, trying to pierce bags and pull grain down into bags Bengal 1943

Starving people  lining up for government handouts in Calcutta 1943

Hindus burning their starved dead at the Calcutta Myrone Memorial

Starving Hindus waiting for the government controlled Grain Shop to open 1943


calcutta 1943 starving woman




Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen:-He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his work in welfare economics in 1998.
"there is absolutely no historical account of any major famine in Bengal prior to the arrival of British in Bengal."
 "Most academic debates about Bengal Famine have missed the most essential aspect - criminal act of the British Government"

"Bengal was a victim of a criminal act perpetrated for more than one and three quarters of a century. British establishment indulged in brutal genocide in Bengal, at times to further their own interests and at other times out of sheer negligence of their duties. In either case, the British Government stands guilty of the worst crime in recent human history.
The Holocaust in Germany was a minor event compared to what the British did to a people, who trusted them and were loyal to them. Nazis have been accused and convicted of the Holocaust in Germany. Even today, there are attempts to hunt down ex-Nazis and bring them to justice. A few weeks ago, a court awarded compensation to a Holocaust victim."

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Delhi famine under British rule photo

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BANGALORE FAMINE UNDER BRITISH RULE PHOTO

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 BENGAL FAMINE 1943 UNDER BRITISH RULE



BENGAL FAMINE UNDER BRITISH RULE 1943
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STARVING INDIANS WAITING FOR FOR FOOD [BRITISH RULE 1943]

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 STARVING AND DEAD INDIANS UNDER BRITISH RULE 1943

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 STARVING INDIANS PRAYING --INDIA UNDER BRITISH 1943



Illustration and story in Penny Illustrated, London, February 14, 1874, reporting Queen Victoria's donation of £1,000 in aid of famine relief. Since Bihar was then in the Bengal Presidency, the famine was also referred to as the Bengal Famine of 1873–74. The Queen is already referred to as the "Empress of India" two years before she added that title.

DEC 18, 2010


Relief work during the great famine in South India (1876-78)

This photograph is contributed by scancorner.com, a scanning and photo digitization company.
Famine
Late Victorian Holocausts/VersoVillagers in Rajputana in 1899. Nearly a million villagers died in the locally and British administered sections of Rajputana. Mike Davis, in his book Late Victorian Holocausts cites Pierre Loti, who arrived at Rajputana in 1899 by train to a haunting scene of wailing emaciated children: "Oh! look at the poor little things jostling there against the barrier, stretching out their withered hands towards us from the end of the bones which represent their arms. Every part of their meagre skeleton protrudes with shocking visibility through the brown skin that hangs in folds about them; their stomachs are so sunken that one might think that their bowels had been altogether removed. Flies swarm on their lips and eyes, drinking what moisture may still exude..."

The famines were planned by 


british ruler to 

1 subjugate indians by famine

2 to get indians as indentured labor

 to work i 

british colonies 

3 to plant commercial corps like

 opium

opium trade | British and Chinese history | Britannica.com

https://www.britannica.com/topic/opium-trade
opium trade: In Chinese history, the traffic that developed in the 18th and 19th centuries ... Taken orally to relieve tension and pain, the drug was used in limited ... The British East India Company established a monopoly on opium cultivation in ...
The British Library's new exhibition on the East India Company does not tell the ... Until recently, the champions of today's world trade order have usually given ...

British Drug Empire - the 5th World

5thworld.com/Paradigm/Postings/!NewHistory/BritishDrugEmpire.html
The British empire depended for its existence upon a healthy drug trade. ... by the British East India Company and after 1857 by the government of India, helped

STARVING INDIANS WERE SENT TO WORK UNDER BRITISH COLONY TRANSFER TO UGANDA AND KENYA{MAINLY FROM GUJARAT AS RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION WORKERS};

Uganda Railway - Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Railway
Jump to Construction - Before the railway's construction, the British East Africa Company had begun the Mackinnon-Sclater road, a 600 miles (970

Indians in Uganda - Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indians_in_Uganda
There is a sizable community of people of Indian origin living in Uganda, but it is less than in ... to Uganda on three-year contracts, with the aid of Imperial British contractor Alibhai ... Founder & First Editor of Transition Magazine · Shekhar Mehta - Kenyan rally driver ... "Indian Family Businesses in Natal, 1870–1950" (PDF).

Indians in Kenya - Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indians_in_Kenya
Indians in Kenya are citizens and residents of Kenya with ancestral roots in the Indian ... In 1887 the British East Africa Association was founded with its base in Bombay. ... labourers were recruited from India to construct the Uganda railway. .... The vast majority of Asians trace their ancestry to the regions of Gujarat and the ...km) ...
 WHILE FAMINE STUCK PEOPLE FROM BIHAR WERE SENT TO SOUTH AMERICA AS SEMI SLAVES

INDIAN SLAVES IN SOUTH AFRICA: A little-known aspect of Indian ...

www.sahistory.org.za › Articles
While most of the Indians were taken from Dutch trading posts in India, ... South African, American and other scholars have conducted painstaking research .... and South Africa, long before labourers were sent into semi-slave conditions in ... slaves may well outnumber the million people now known as Indian South Africans.

Gallimaufry: INDENTURED LABOUR[SEMI SLAVES]FROM INDIA ...Related image

https://gallimafry.blogspot.com/2013/07/indentured-laboursemi-slavesfrom-india.html
INDENTURED LABOUR[SEMI SLAVES]FROM INDIA UNDER BRITISH BRUTAL ... remembered is the first arrival of 36 Indian workers from the Bihar provinces, ... Under the Dutch occupation, Chinese convicts were brought in from Batavia but .... in the north east of South America, began under an agreement that has been ...

Indian indenture system - WikipediaImage result for From Bihar to Aapravasi Ghat

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_indenture_system
Jump to Colonial British Indian Government regulations - Colonial British Indian Government Regulations of 1837 ... conditions for the dispatch of Indian labour from Calcutta. ... of India with a written statement of the terms of the contract.

Indentured servitude - Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indentured_servitude
An indentured servant or indentured labor is an employee (indenturee) within a system of ... Upon completion of the contract, indentured servants were granted freedom and occasionally plots of land. In many ... Until the late 18th century, indentured servitude was very common in British North America. It was often a way for ...
The Americas · ‎Oceania · ‎Africa · ‎Legal status

Indian indentured labourers - The National Archives

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your...guides/indian-indentured-labourers/
As Indian indentured labourers were British colonial citizens, the Registrar General of ... Later many others signed indentured labour contracts, including Hindus, ...

indentured labourers - The National Archives

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk › Exhibitions › Black Presence
Indians, under an 'indentured' or contract labour scheme, began to replace enslaved Africans on plantations across the British empire, in Fiji, Natal, Burma, ...

Indentured labour from South Asia (1834-1917) | Striking Women

www.striking-women.org/module/map.../indentured-labour-south-asia-1834-1917
Indentured labour was a system of bonded labour that was instituted ... for the low wages on offer on the sugar farms in British colonies in the West Indies. ... recruited from India, China and from the Pacific and signed a contract in their own ...Related image

Did Really the Biharis from India Migrated to WestIndies? When Did It ...

https://www.quora.com/Did-really-the-Biharis-from-India-migrated-to-WestIndies-Whe...
Yes its hundred percent true. He is not only migrated to Westindies but also in Nepal, Pakistan, ... He formed a colony for agriculture and forcefully send the people in his ... My father and uncle and I look like South Indians whereas my grandfather, ... Not only Bihari, many peoples from different parts of India were migrated.
Image result for From Bihar to Aapravasi GhatEAST INDIA COMPANY 1600-1857: Indian slaves-east India co: in a ...
 




Sunday, January 18, 2015


Indian slaves-east India co: in a hurry to make money

35 000 slaves that had been imported into South Africa from India, Ceylon, Malaysia




Trinidad and Tobago experienced an influx of tens of thousands of Indians during the nineteenth century. Some Indians came directly from India but many are the descendants of indentured labourers from other Caribbean islands. These originally worked on the sugar plantations and then on the newer plantations which produced cacao, the basis for cocoa and chocolate. The Indians of Trinidad and Tobago are mainly from the Hindi belt in the central north of the country and are ethnically Hindustanis.

Roster of Arrivals/Indentured Labourers in South Africa who were indentified by their numbers only. Picture source: book titled 'From Cane Fields to Freedom'.
these Indians were made poor and lost their land when ENGLISH  forcibly took their land for cultivation of commercial corps
the famers of bihar and bengal lost their land for british forced cultivation of 











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  3.  PHOTOS OF INDIAN SLAVES{INDENTURED LABOURERS}
      

     

    Lesson Plans: Early Colonial lLabor Force: Indentured Servents and ...

    www.teachingushistory.org

    1744 Indenture of Michael Gyger
     

    Indigo dye - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigo_dye
    Jump to Cultivation - Cultivation[edit] ... literature, the play Nil Darpan by Dinabandhu Mitra is based on the slavery and forced cultivation of indigo in India.

  4.  indigo cultivation in Brazil, 1806


      CRUEL BRITISH LAND LORD WITH WHIP IN HAND BOTTOM PHOTOS-BIHAR AREA
     indigo
    www.columbia.edu
    "Indigo manufacture in Tirhoot, Lower Bengal," from the Illustrated London News, 1869















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    Indigo Cultivation in India - GradeStack

    gradestack.com/.../Indigo-Cultivation...India/14836-2939-2417-study-wt...
    Classification of Indigo Cultivation Indigo cultivation can be classified into two: The 'Nij' System of ... Indigo cultivation in India increased in leaps and bounds.
  6. [PDF]INDIGO PLANTING IN INDIA.

    https://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/articles/mmn_indg.pdf
    Breaking up the land for cultivation. INDIGO PLANTING. IN INDIA. BY M. N. MACDONALD. INDIGO, the most beautiful and expensive of all dyes in common 
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    IN MADHYA PRADESH{OLD NAME CENTRAL PROVINCE}FARMERS WERE FORCED TO GROW OPIUM-FOR FORCIBLE EXPORT TO CHINA

    History of opium in China - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_opium_in_China
    the figure had leaped; 4,500 chests were imported in the year 1800. .... British exports of opium to China grew from an estimated 15 long tons (15,000 kg) in ...


    England and China: The Opium Wars, 1839-60

    www.victorianweb.org/history/empire/opiumwars/opiumwars1.html
    Jun 24, 2006 - decorated initial 'A' he Anglo-Chinese Opium Wars were the direct result of China's isolationalist and exclusionary trade policy with the West.

    Opium Wars - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars
    Jump to: navigation, search. The Opium Wars were: First Opium War (1839–1842); Second Opium War (1856–1860), also known as the "Arrow War" ...
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     INDIAN SLAVE LABOUR {CALLED INDENTURED LABOUR}
     FROM BIHAR THEY WERE SENT TO SOUTH AMERICAN COUNTIES OF GUINA AND NEAR BY ISLANDS AS SLAVES TO WORK IN SUGAR FIELDS OWNED BY BRITISH
     
     

    New evidence of indentured Indians' mass graves in Suriname

    January 23

    As the Suriname government granted permission in early January to researchers to begin operations to discover the forgotten mass graves of Indian indentured workers killed in police firing in 1902...
    continue reading

    Aapravasi Ghat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    en.wikipedia.org

    A sugar plantation on the island of Réunion, which also received a substantial number of indentured laborers, [6] in the late 1800s.

    Indian Indentured Laborers, Coolies 1800- on Pinterest | 48 Pins
    www.pinterest.com

    Indians brought to South Africa from 1860 as indentured plantation labourIndian South Africans | South African History Online
    www.sahistory.org.za

    From bondage to freedom - The 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indian workers in South Africa











    1. Coolie - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolie
      The word was used in this sense for labourers from India. In 1727 .... In South America, Chinese indentured labourers worked in Peru's silver mines and coastal ...
    2. Indian indenture system - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_indenture_system
      Jump to Ban on export of Indian labour - As soon as the new system of emigration of labour became ... via Pondicherry (a French enclave in South India).
    3. Indo-Caribbean - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Caribbean
      Indo-Caribbeans are Caribbean people with roots in India or the Indian subcontinent. They are mostly descendants of the original indentured workers brought by the British, ... countries and, following further migration, in Europe and North America. .... A minority emigrated from other parts of South Asia, including present-day ...


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    Indian Diaspora: 150 Years in South Africa

    by Rekha Bhattacharjee

    The sun never sets in the Indian Diaspora”, was said by Dr LM Singhvi – Chairman, High level committee of Indian Diaspora and former High Commissioner of Great Britain. He had held wide consultation with the Indian Diaspora of 20 million people before the establishment of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

    The Indian civilization is founded on the principle of ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbatam’ – the entire world is one family. Where ever our brothers and sisters have gone, they have preserved the essential family and social values in their own communities and also spread them in the larger community they are part of. India is proud of the Indian Diaspora’s achievements. Where ever they are, they have earned a good name for themselves and for their mother country - India.

    Perhaps there is no other nation in the world that has such a widely dispersed Diaspora. This is a matter of pride for all Indians.

    The Diaspora is proud of India’s vibrant democracy and the resilience of Indian democratic institutions. Indians adopt the way of life of their adopted country while preserving their cultural heritage play an important role in the society. Through their hard work and dedication, the community has done remarkably well in all walks of life and has earned respect for itself in the country of adoption.

    In South Africa more than 1.2 million members of the Indian community of South Africa Celebrated 150th Anniversary of Indian arrival in South Africa…

    Today the Indian Community in South Africa have inherited the optimism and enterprise of their forefathers who docked in Durban 150 years ago with hardly a penny in their pocket but with a burning desire to ensure a better life for their families. The second and third generation South Africans is financially secure and many of them have scaled great heights in their areas of work.

    It was way back on the 10th November 1860 that the first boat load of Indians arrived in Durban, South Africa’s chief seaport. They came as indentured labour on sugarcane plantations owned by the White Community on the province of Natal.

    The British Indian Government and that of Natal signed an agreement for Indian immigrants to work in ‘industrial service’ in South Africa for five years after which they were free to contract with employers of their choice. After 10 years, they would get a free passage home or, alternately, could receive a land grant equal to the cost of passage back to India.
    Indians came from a wide area to Natal but the majority was recruited in Madras Presidency, Mysore, Bengal the Ganges Valley and Bihar. Recruitment was done in a professional manner - signing of contracts that stipulated men 35 years of age and women 30, with minimal wages, rations, accommodations plus free medical treatment prior to allocating them to many sugar plantations. Although their contribution to the sugar industry was over emphasized - their contribution to the over all economy has not received the attention it merits. Many Indians were in Tea, Coffee factories, Tobacco, Collieries in northern Natal plus Boat companies, Railways and in the Tourist industry - in all they played an important role due to their skills and experiences.

    Indians in South Africa were amongst the earliest settlers in the country. What the White in SA did not for see was that most of the Indians opted for the land. Once developed into market gardens, these plots of land gave the settlers an income and independence. They soon had the monopoly of market-gardening in the vicinity of towns, delivering their produce to the markets.

    Contribution and social influence has been considerable. The vibrant clothing and customs plus their architecture have made Durban a cosmopolitan city and Natal as a whole more interesting and less insular.

    According to historian T.G. Ramamuthi in his book “Fight Against Apartheid” writes about the presence of these ‘Free Indians’ - the ones that settled in Durban in 1885 who owned land and the ones who joined them - business people from India who went into whole sale or retail trade.

    Within two decades of their arrival, the population of South African Indians recorded spectacular growth. This disturbed the structure the structure of South African society, with its clear division between White masters and colored workers.

    Indians from early days are to be found in all walks of life. A significant role is being played in every field including the political arena. The PAC leader Zeph Mothupeng who had been in Robben Island said in a meeting in UK “there are no Indians in South Africa but only African Indians!” - Most of the audience consisting of Indians cheered and accepted this definition.

    When Thabo Mbeki made his “I am an African” speech in Parliament, he incorporated all the non Africans in the country as part of the African family….

    In the late 1870’s the White rulers of Natal enacted laws, levied taxes and instituted humiliating practices in an effort to make the Indians ‘go home’. But according to the prominent South African Indian historian Ismail Meer ‘strong will, coupled with the anchor of religious belief’ - whether Hindu, Muslim or Christian saw the community persevere.

    Gandhi who travelled to the country in the late 1890’s was drawn by their struggle. M K Gandhi floated the Natal Indian Congress and was instrumental in developing Indian responses to the discrimination faced by the community.

    Almost since arrival the Indian community has been involved in and fought for equal rights - the most famous being M K Gandhi’s internationally known and admired “Satyagraha” non violent struggles against discrimination. Outstanding leaders have been produced in their political struggles in the country - also of a national character in several political organizations.

    The minority White Government introduced Apartheid in 1948 and initiated a repatriation scheme for Indians with “all expenses paid one way trip home”, as a ruling of the Nationalist Party called it.

    Very few availed of the scheme. Instead they preferred to improve their prospects as well as their children through enhanced education. 99.9 percent literacy rate today. The community’s struggle for racial justice ran parallel to the black South Africans struggle against Apartheid. The two movement joined course in 1951 till it finally led to the end of Apartheid in 1990.

    South Africa which had been reeling under the injustice of apartheid perpetrated by the white rulers had been on the NAM (Non Align Movement) agenda right from the beginning. So when the white regime freed Nelson Mandela and the era of Apartheid came to an end in 1992 - it was a vindication of NAM’s stand and struggle.

    As the barriers of Apartheid were gradually dismantled - the leaders of the Indian community in South Africa were highlighted in various field - business, industry, politics, medicine as well as education.

    Many or most of the South African Indians have not set foot in India nor do they understand the language - but they have strong religious and cultural moorings. With the present generation - Bollywood is very much in favor. King Khan and his troupe from Bollywood were in Durban in January 2011 for the 150th anniversary. They celebrate all community festival, dress up in all finery for all occasions and cook Indian food at home and support the Indian cricket team as well!

    For all their country of origin is a special place. India is in their mind. 150th year is a celebration of the ethos of a liberation movement.
    Images of early Indian settlers in South Africa courtesy the Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Center, Natal, South Africa

    7-Oct-2012

    More by :  Rekha Bhattacharjee
     rediff.com: Another Indian fight for freedom
    www.rediff.com

    BBC News - Trinidad and Tobago profile - Timeline
    www.bbc.co.uk

    Artist's impression of a sugar plantation circa 1897 Labourers ...



    The Burdens of Cooliedom


    People always assume because I’m from India that my interest in the Caribbean must lie exclusively in the Indian components of the Caribbean. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I’ve been so little interested in matters pertaining to the Indian diaspora that it wasn’t until last month (after 25 years of being here), when I had to write a review essay of Gaiutra Bahadur’s superb Coolie Woman: An Odyssey of Indenture that I really started delving into the history of Indian indentured labour in the Caribbean.
    And having done so I’m finding it difficult to avert my gaze. Like myself not many Indians seem familiar with this classic example of subaltern history that is slowly coming to light once again with books like Bahadur’s. Scholars have studied and written on the subject for many years but it takes a book like Coolie Woman to bring the troublesome subject of indenture to the forefront of what I think of as the popular sphere.


    Between 1838 and 1917 around half a million Indians were brought to the Caribbean to serve as indentured laborers on three to five year contracts, replacing the loss of free labor after plantation slavery was abolished in the 19th century. Around 238,000 of these laborers were brought to British Guiana to perform the back-breaking work of cultivating sugarcane. For a description of the kind of people who made the journey let’s turn to Rahul Bhattacharya, the writer I mentioned in my last post, from his novel The Sly Company of People Who Care:
    MEANWHILE ship upon ship of coolies from India kept coming – and kept coming steadily for almost another eighty years, by which time they outnumbered the Africans in Guyana. It is a forgotten journey; few, even in India, are now aware of it. The history was too minor compared to slavery and the Middle Passage, its damage not so epic. The ships sailed from Calcutta, and a few from Madras. The immigrants were drawn mainly from the peasant population in the Gangetic plains of the United Provinces–modern-day Uttar Pradesh and Bihar–and a minority from the presidencies of Bengal and Madras. They were mostly young and middle-aged, mostly male (which led to the sensation of ‘wife murders’ arising from jealousy), mostly Hindu, and mostly taken from the agricultural castes, lower castes and outcastes. The largest caste groups were the chamars, the lowly leather workers, and the ahirs, the cowherds. What was common to them was the fate they were escaping: the famines and revolts, the poverty and destitution of British India. Making their way, that is, from the mess of one end of empire to another.
    Lured by local recruiting agents and their tales about the land of gold, they set out to cross the seas. Crossing the sea: kalapani: this was the great Hindu taboo. It came with a loss of caste, of one’s place in the social order – but also, for the wretched, a liberation. When victuals among the castes spilled and mixed on the stormy waters, when each person was treated by the white man with equal indignity, the curse of being judged by birth was lifted. From here on they could be anything.
    In her book Mobilizing India Tejaswini Niranjana  (citing Hugh Tinker) points out that the anti-indenture movement in the early part of the 20th century was Mahatma Gandhi’s first major political intervention in India during which he gave anti-indenture speeches all over the country. Anita Desai records how, ‘It was a shock to Gandhi to find that in South Africa he was considered a “coolie”—in India the word is reserved for a manual laborer, specifically one who carries loads on his head or back. In South Africa the majority of Indians was composed of Tamil, Telugu, and Bihari laborers who had come to Natal on an agreement to serve for five years on the railways, plantations, and coal mines. They were known collectively as “coolies,” and Gandhi was known as a “coolie barrister.”’ It was also the first such campaign fought entirely in India rather than metropolitan Britain. By 1915 it had become a central issue in Indian politics. As Bahadur notes:
    The policy made indenture a cause for the nationalists, who saw it as an insult to their dignity and self-respect, an attempt to make Indians permanent coolies in the eyes of the world..indenture offended the pride of Indians by “brand[ing] their whole race in the eyes of the British colonial empire with the stigma of helotry. But this shame over reputations as slaves paled in comparison to their anger over the sullied reputations of their women.
    In the review essay I mentioned at the top of this post I dive in-depth into the politics of the struggle over the status and conduct of indentured Indian women, about how Indian nationalists were incensed by the “harlots of empire” even more than the danger of being branded the helots of empire. I had to look up what helot meant actually–an interesting word meaning serfs or slaves–with a history dating back to Spartan times and referring to a subjugated population group from Laconia and Messenia who became state-owned serfs whose job it was to cultivate land to feed and clothe the Spartans. Their status was in-between that of freed people and slaves.

    For purposes of this post I want to stick to the other problem that worried Indian nationalists–that of being regarded as “permanent coolies” in the eyes of the world. It was one I found rearing its ugly head unexpectedly and perhaps by mistake when I first posted the link to Bahadur’s Coolie Woman on Facebook. “‘Indian woman’ not ‘Coolie woman’” a well-meaning African-Jamaican friend responded, a bald declaration that crept under my skin and niggled at it. After an inconclusive back and forth during which she firmly maintained that the word “Coolie” was too disrespectful a term to use while I rankled at her presumption in blithely determining the vocabulary a young descendant of indenture was permitted to employ, I snapped something to the effect that the word ‘coolie’ is a living word in India today and is by no means a synonym for its 2 billion strong population.

    I’m convinced my Facebook friend didn’t mean to conflate the terms ‘Indian’ and ‘coolie’–and surely if we don’t want to be branded by the word we should demolish the conditions that continue to give it currency in the 21st century, not abroad now but at home–but I realise that the C-word as Bahadur calls it in her book, has a Caribbean history reflected in the discomfort my friend showed when she tried to erase it. In places like Jamaica there were arguments in the local press about what ‘Coolie’ meant and to whom it could be applied  which you can see reflected in the letters to the editor of the Jamaica Gleaner appended above and below.


    Laxmi and Ajai Mansingh, colleagues from India who worked at the University of the West Indies, produced a book on the 150th anniversary of the arrival of indentured Indians in Jamaica in which they note:
    In Jamaica, the term ‘coolie’ was legally banned in the 1950s because it was used in a derogatory sense for an ethnic minority. This process began when the founder-President of the East India Progressive Society (EJPS), Dr. J. L. Varma, was popularly (but not abusively) referred to as ‘coolie doctor’. The EJPS then moved the government to ban the use of the term.
    Now my Facebook friend’s squeamishness at the use of the term ‘Coolie’ becomes clearer. But although laudable I wonder whether banning words or proscribing them ever achieves the desired outcome. Should we be trying to sanitize history or recording it in all its ugliness for the benefit of future generations? Can we ever liberate the word ‘Coolie’ from the unbearable weight of its history if its contemporary namesakes continue to work under the backbreaking conditions they do? These are hard questions for hard times.
    This article was first posted on my EPW blog (Economic and Political Weekly, India)



    Sunday January 18, 2015

    Images of Indentureship

    The NCIC wishes to thank Mr. Angelo Bissessarsingh and The Virtual Museum of Trinidad and Tobago for providing us with the photographs and research for this page.
    Below you will find some of the most captivating images of Indentureship and East Indian Ancestry in Trinidad and Tobago.
    Child Brides, Trinidad 1915
    Bal Vivaha, child marriages and betrothals originated in the pre-Mughal era of Indian history as a means of creating a tangible bond between two families. It was practiced in both high and low castes as a means of social interaction. When Indian indentured immigrants began arriving in Trinidad in 1845, this ancient and odd (to Western Eyes) marriage custom was brought wholesale to the island. Children as young as five were often engaged, but in Trinidad, the average range of ages appears to have been 11-15 with a girl of 18 being a veritable old maid. My own great-grandmother, Sookhia Mahabir was married at 14. Since there was a dearth of Indian women in Trinidad, dowries (tilak) were rare. This would be a payment in compensation to the family of the dulaha (groom) by the dulahin's (bride) family. Instead, a bride-price (dahej) was often paid by the dulaha's people in a complete role reversal. Sometimes the dahej and tilak were nominal and comprised a set of lothar and tharia (brassware) or could be quite lavish and include cattle, land, cash and even jewelry. In this monumental photo, two prospective child-brides seem to wait with trepidation, their fate as married women. In some cases, where the families of the girls were poor and needed money, the dulaha could be many years older, sometimes in his 30s, although this occurrence is rare. Normally, daughters younger than 13 stayed with their parents a year or two after marraige before moving in with their husband's family. This foto also shows a complete set of lothar and tharia which could have been part of the dowry. The dearth of extensive jewelry on the young brides seems to suggest that they are of modest means, although their clean and substantial muslin and calico saris do not imply dire poverty. FOOTNOTE: Child brides were often extant among some pretty important Euro-Trini families too. Two of those I know are: 1) Yldefonso De Lima (1864-1927) who founded the Y. De Lima chain of stores in 1888, married his 13 year old sister-in-law after his first wife's death around 1914 or so. He was nearly 50 at the time. 2) Sir Ralph Woodford (Governor of Trinidad 1813-28) was over 40 when he wooed and engaged Soledad, the 15 year old daughter of his solicitor general, Antonio Gomez. He presented her with an expensive silver cruet as a betrothal gift, and planned to marry her the following year (1829) but unfortunately, he took ill and died. I would imagine Soledad was relieved since it was widely rumored in the colony that Woodford was an avid homosexual and his predilection for the company of stalwart young men and nubile lads was well known. His marriage to Soledad was supposed to have been engineered to dispel this notion. As a matter of course, Soledad married a handsome, glib and spendthrift French aristocrat, Roget de Bellouget, who soon squandered his fortune and his wife's inheritance from her wealthy father, died insolvent, and left his poor widow to struggle in genteel poverty until her own death in 1907 at a very great age.
     Wealthy Indian Couple 1899
    Although the majority of Indentured coolies were poor, downtrodden masses trying to wrestle a living from the soil, some individuals acquired considerable wealth, either through large scale agriculture or commerce. In San Fernando especially, the Indian merchant was an economic powerhouse as early as the 1880s, when people like Albert Sammy and Janaki Maharaj were considered powerbrokers. This photo shows a typical wealthy couple of the era. The man is taking a pull at a clay hookah which most likely contains a mixture of local tobacco and ganja, which was legally sold through licensed dealers much like a liquor permit. The woman is bedecked with much heavy jewelry particularly a nakphul (nose ring) heavy silver bracelets and a gold-coin haikal, which was a necklace made by soldering gold sovereign coins together. The haikals were primarily made by Y. De Lima and Co. and were manufactured well into the 1930s. Three were known to exist, one being stolen from the National Museum.
    Water Buffalo, Central Trinidad 1924
    The Asian Water Buffalo was imported into the island in the 1870s as a beast of burden for the vast acreages of sugar cane covering the plains from Caroni to the Naparimas. The animal was also called the bison and hog cattle locally. These docile cattle were immensely strong and unusually adapted to working in swampy conditions where zebu bulls and even hardy mules would founder. Well into the 1970s and 1980s, the occasional bison cart could still be seen lining up at the scales during croptime, drawing a cart loaded with cut canes, cutting a strange and primitive figure among the tractors and trucks. Even today, bison carts still may be seen in places like Barrackpore where a few of these animals survive. The water buffalo provided the genetic stock for the buffalypso, which was a unique hybrid sub-species, engineered by pioneering veterinarian, Dr. Steve Bennett.
    Coolie Children
    In 1879, an Englishman visiting an estate in Central Trinidad (Felicity) wrote of the children of indentured immigrants resident in the barracks; "The coolie is generally a creature with little or no sense of personal hygiene, but his children are positively filthy little urchins. They reek of excrement and urine, and their oil-soaked locks are teeming with lice and ticks. Few bathe daily, and they are left uneducated although there is a coolie school in the town." While this description sounds harsh, it is not altogether biased. While cleanliness is a big issue for higher castes, many of the Indians who came to Trinidad (1845-1917) were of low, agrarian and sudra (untouchable) castes, a fact which was hidden with name changes when they registered at the immigrant depot on Nelson Island. The barrack-rooms in which they were housed lacked even the most basic sanitary facilities with the canepiece being a toilet and a barrel of water being a bathroom for male and female alike. Children in particular were neglected. Until the coming of the Canadian Mission to the Indians in 1868 under Rev. John Morton, most did not go to school. Male children were expected to begin work as early as five years old, earning 20 cents a day during the rainy season as part of 'grass gangs', assigned tasks in weeding the cane. Girls were expected to stay at home, launder, prepare meals and look after younger siblings. Left to their own devices, the children ignored cleanliness. Lice were a major problem, as most did not bathe with soap, and heads were doused in coconut oil to prevent them 'cactham sick' This photo clearly shows elder children looking after babies. At least two are wearing clothes cut down from the garments of their elders.
    Lunchtime 1920
    This iconic foto shows a scene that was played out countless times under merciless sun in the canefields of Trinidad during the period of indentureship. Here, the labourers squat on a railway line to take a meal. The looming clouds overhead obscure the light, but this break may have been mid-morning, since cane-cutting often began at 4:00 a.m and earlier to avoid the brunt of the sun. They eat from tin carriers which may have held a bit of roti and aloo, talkaree or maybe dal-bhat (dhal and rice) or khora bhat (pumpkin and rice) there is no shade in the stubbled canefield so the meal must be taken in the open sun. There is a drainage canal in front of the lunching group, and it is possible that after consuming the meal, they would have bathed their brows and hands in the muddy trench and then returned to work.
    East Indian Wrestlers circa 1915
    Most WWF, WWE, NWA, and WCW fans would know that Indian wrestlers have made significant contributions, namely Tiger Jeet Singh, Tiger Ali Singh, and most recently, The Great Khali. Well in Trinidad, wrestling was a popular entertainment, and was specially marked by the number of Indians who competed. A popular arena was in St. James (then known as Coolie Town) behind a rumshop on the corner of the Western Main Road and Patna St. The matches were often quite intense and sometimes appeared in reports in the POS Gazette. This rare photo shows some rather sorry-looking specimens of gladiators and spectators about to enter into a match. It is interesting to note that two Indian wrestlers later became famous men. The first was Chandericker 'Chanka' Maharaj, who moved in the 1930s from being a well-known grappler to a seat on the City Council of POS. The other luminary was none other than the formidable Bhadase Sagan Maharaj, who sucessfuly pinned the then American Champion, John Gooch in the 1940s. Bhadase's height and good physique put him at an advantage over the 5'9" Gooch.
    Cooking the evening meal 1940
    This Indian couple is preparing a simple meal. It is a bit of an un-traditional photo since tey are using rather un-traditional utensils, particularly the cast-iron coalpots in place of earthen chulhas. The woman is preparing the ubiquitous sada roti while the man is frying something...perhaps baigan , aloo or plantain. Shortly after the influx of Indian Indentured Coolies as a source of cheap, reliable labour, Trinidad’s Colonial Government under Lord Harris (1846-53) realized that the new arrivals had by necessity, to be fed on foods that they were accustomed to in India otherwise they would suffer malnourishment . Thus, large quantities of Indian food began arriving in the colony. Paddy rice ( Trinidad was already familiar with creole hill rice or red rice thanks to the industry of the ex-American black soldiers of the 1816 Company Villages) , split peas (dhall) , ghee, curry spices, all originally imported exclusively for the Indians, began to find their way into shops and soon formed a foundational part of the national cuisine. For newly arrived indentureds, the estate commissariat was supposed to supply them with food rations and clothing for the first year of their five-year contract. This edict was often ignored, and some unscrupulous planters even deducted the cost of the rations from the pittance paid to the Indians. Strictly speaking, the ration allowance was as followed: For every male over 18 years of age per month: 45lbs. of rice, 9lbs. dhall, ¼ gallon ghee or coconut oil, 1 ½ lbs. salt, 6 lbs saltfish, 2lbs onions and chillies. Annual endowments: 1 small iron cooking pot, 2 cotton shirts, 2 dock trousers, 1 woolen cap, 1 felt hat, 1 woolen cloth jacket, 2 woolen blankets. Women and children received half the rations of men. A woman’s clothing allowance was also allotted, comprising cotton slips, woolen skirts, handkerchiefs, and blankets. Most estates allowed the Indians provision grounds to supplement the rations, but the mighty Woodford Lodge did not as they squeezed every stalk of cane from its lands. At the depot for incoming Indians (up to 1917) at Nelson Island, provisions for the transients ( who were detained several days for medical inspection before assignment to estates) consisted of rice, pumpkin, live mutton and chapattis.
    Croptime 1899
    In this photo from 1899, in an unnamed Trinidad canefield, a timeless scene is depicted.....the white overseer astride his horse, while the servile indentured Indian labourers stand sheepishly off to one side…cut canes are being loaded on carts for transit to the usine where they will be processed into sugar. In the canefields of 19th century Trinidad, especially in the Naparimas, the vast majority of overseers were Scottish with a smaller number of Irishmen. They were largely young men of little or no formal education who would normally have few prospects in the UK, and so were sent out to the colonies to act as the intermediary between the labourers and the owners of these estates who were largely absentee British landlords. The overseers, particularly the Scots, were Protestant to a man. Many died soon after arrival, the combination of tropical diseases and cheap booze being too much for them. The English administrative elite and the native French Creoles looked down on these hardy Highlanders as boorish and crude. Indeed, the Indians felt the brunt of their tempers, for even though corporal punishment of a labourer was punishable by law, many overseers took delight in a few well placed bootings and clandestine horsewhippings to keep the coolies in line.Many Scots overseers kept mistresses, particulalry among the Indian women under their supervision. In fact, an entire sub-ethnicity of fair-skinned, grey eyed Indians was created from these unions which were the norm rather than the exception. These bastard offspring stood out in the short, dark throngs of their mothers' countrymen. One way for a cuckolded Indian husband to explain how his wife had given birth to a white child was to say that one had ancestry in Kashmir where the Indians are tall and light skinned, and that the colour was just passing down having skipped several generations. Indeed, Rev. Harvey Morton, son of pioneering CMI missionary John Morton, was well known to have fathered many children with the Indian women of his congregations. Some of these children are still alive today, with one family in particular having three of the seven children being fathered by Morton, who rewarded the tolerant Indian 'father' with a high postion . St. Clement's Anglican Church Cemetery and Paradise Cemetery in San Fernando are an invalauble record of the Scottish presence in the island as there are many graves for those who expired early. Indeed, there were many kind and charitable overseers whose goodness was remembered long after their demise. One in particluar was so fondly remembered by the Indians, that his grave near Debe was (and still is) a site of pilgrimage, being known as Dumfries Baba tomb. People go there to do obeah and to ask the spirit of Dumfries Baba for help. Sometimes, overseers ran afoul of their Indians if they dared be to brutal, as was the case of 1881 on Cedar Hill Estate near Princes Town where the Indians rioted, burned canes, and nearly killed the overseer.
    Cremation at Mosquito Creek circa 1958
    Even though Hinduism requires the cremation of the dead, there was no such thing for Indo-Trinidadians until cremations were legalized in 1953. Hitherto, each estate provided a patch of wasteland where the bodies were hastily interred. On older estates such as Canaan near San Fernando, these Indian cemeteries were those used by slaves pre 1834. In 1892 there is the record of a clandestine cremation being undertaken on the banks of the Caroni by some indentured labourers for a colleague who died, an act of devotion for which they were duly arrested and jailed. Mosquito Creek, at the mouth of the Godineau River, along the South Trunk Road in La Romaine, was one of the first cremation sites to be legalized. Intially, the site was not up on the hill where it is now located. When this foto was taken (for those familiar with the area) it was on the eastern bank of the river. A small promontory jutted out into the sea. Today all that remains of it is a pile of rocks which are only visible at low tide, the rest having been eroded. Aside from erosion, one of the reasons the site was moved across the river and up to the hill in the 1960s, was that sometimes, during a cremation, the tide would come in, and mourners would have to beat a hasty retreat. Sometimes the body would not have been entirely consumed. Several persons who remember the area tell me of times when charred flesh and fat would be seen floating on the water. One chap even told me about the time he saw a skeleton among glowing embers, which had been left to the tide. Today, the cremations are regulated by a public health officer who ensures all remains are reduced to ash before being thrown into the sea. Nevertheless, I was once fishing near the cliff (which is white with human ash, and I saw a jawbone lying on the shore....I now fish elsewhere. The cremation in this foto is a bit different from those of today, where the corpse is placed inside a framework of wood, instead of on top the pyre. One of the morbid incidents that would have occured in a cremation of this sort, would be that if the tendons were not cut while the body was being prepared for the funeral (a distinct possibility since even in this era, most Hindus preferred to bathe and dress their dead at home rather than have them sent to a funeral home) , the drying out of bodily fluids would cause the tendons to contract, causing the body to sit up suddenly in the fire without warning....which naturally would have scared the hell outta everybody.....if you stand close enough to a pyre, you can hear a loud POP which is when the cranium explodes.
    Indian Vagrant in POS circa 1903
    People erroneously assume that upon expiration of their 5 year indentureship contracts, coolie labour from India (1845-1917) was automatically handed five acres of land in lieu of a return passage to India as an incentive to stay in the colony. This is not true. The incentive only existed from 1860 and applied only to those who served a full term of the contract. The Indian who saved from his pittance and bought out his contract received nothing. He and those before 1860, were left to survive on what little they had saved from their wages ($2.50/month for an adult male, $1.75/month for a female, $0.75 for children up to 12). . Neither did the incentive consist of land. It was simply five pounds in cash with which the majority purchased crown lands, which after 1870 were available for one pound per acre. Naturally, there were those who for reasons of profligacy or ill-luck ended up as vagrants on the streets of POS. In 1904, it was estimated that as many 140 Indian vagrants slept in POS, most near Columbus Square. From 1849, an official known as the Protector of the Immigrants was appointed to oversee the general welfare of the immigrants, ensuring that they were treated fairly. Often enough, these bureaucrats were corrupt slackers, who took massive bribes from estate owners to not 'rock the boat'. The only one who seems to have been a man of energy and conscience, was Major P.W.D Comins (1895-1910) , an honest soldier and owner of Glenside Estate in Tunapuna. Major Comins travelled extensively across the estates, inspecting barracks, and the dreadful living conditions of the Indians on the plantations. His scathing report published in 1902, and revised in 1908 is an indictment on a labour system that was little better than slavery. He was particularly aggrieved over what he saw at Woodford Lodge Estate where Indians were worked longer than stipulated hours, kept on the estate by armed guards, left untreated at a filthy estate hospital. and fed on scanty provisions . The last Protector of the Immigrants was Arnauld De Boissiere in 1927...a playboy and dandy who only held the office for the 400 pounds a year it paid. POS Indian vagrants were a lost people....they could not return to India, and even if they could, they would not have been better off. In Trinidad, they were alien, many spoke little or no English, and were considered less than human, both by the middle and upper class of society, the barrackyard dwellers, and the colonial authorities. Most Indian vagrants survived as porters at sixpence a load. The main employers were marchandes (female vendors of edibles), and laundresses who would engage porters to carry the bundles of soiled clothing collected from the better homes in Woodbrook and St. Clair , returning the freshly ironed and starched pieces , neatly folded on a wooden tray, carried by an itinerant porter. Some fortunate displaced Indians found accomodation at the Ariapita Asylum (known as the Poor House) until that facility was closed in the 1940s. Largely, most begged charity on the streets until death claimed them, their bodies being consigned to the earth of the Pauper's cemetery in St. James, opened in 1900.
    Indian Porter in POS circa 1903
    People erroneously assume that upon expiration of their 5 year indentureship contracts, coolie labour from India (1845-1917) was automatically handed five acres of land in lieu of a return passage to India as an incentive to stay in the colony. This is not true. The incentive only existed from 1860 and applied only to those who served a full term of the contract. The Indian who saved from his pittance and bought out his contract received nothing. He and those before 1860, were left to survive on what little they had saved from their wages ($2.50/month for an adult male, $1.75/month for a female, $0.75 for children up to 12). . Neither did the incentive consist of land. It was simply five pounds in cash with which the majority purchased crown lands, which after 1870 were available for one pound per acre. Naturally, there were those who for reasons of profligacy or ill-luck ended up as vagrants on the streets of POS. In 1904, it was estimated that as many 140 Indian vagrants slept in POS, most near Columbus Square. From 1849, an official known as the Protector of the Immigrants was appointed to oversee the general welfare of the immigrants, ensuring that they were treated fairly. Often enough, these bureaucrats were corrupt slackers , who took massive bribes from estate owners to not 'rock the boat'. The only one who seems to have been a man of energy and conscience, was Major P.W.D Comins (1895-1910), an honest soldier and owner of Glenside Estate in Tunapuna. Major Comins travelled extensively across the estates, inspecting barracks, and the dreadful living conditions of the Indians on the plantations. His scathing report published in 1902, and revised in 1908 is an indictment on a labour system that was little better than slavery. He was particularly aggrieved over what he saw at Woodford Lodge Estate where Indians were worked longer than stipulated hours, kept on the estate by armed guards, left untreated at a filthy estate hospital and fed on scanty provisions. The last Protector of the Immigrants was Arnauld De Boissiere in 1927...a playboy and dandy who only held the office for the 400 pounds a year it paid. POS Indian vagrants were a lost people...they could not return to India, and even if they could, they would not have been better off. In Trinidad, they were alien; many spoke little or no English, and were considered less than human, both by the middle and upper class of society, the barrackyard dwellers, and the colonial authorities. Most Indian vagrants survived as porters at sixpence a load. The main employers were marchandes (female vendors of edibles), and laundresses who would engage porters to carry the bundles of soiled clothing collected from the better homes in Woodbrook and St. Clair , returning the freshly ironed and starched pieces , neatly folded on a wooden tray, carried by an itinerant porter. Some fortunate displaced Indians found accomodation at the Ariapita Asylum (known as the Poor House) until that facility was closed in the 1940s. Largely, most begged charity on the streets until death claimed them, their bodies being consigned to the earth of the Pauper's cemetery in St. James, opened in 1900.
    Anise Pillai nee Matrizan (1885-1968) (photo dated circa 1900)
    Of the hundreds of period photos of Indian girls, this is the only one to which an identity has been ascribed. Anise was born in Martinique in 1885. A large number of Tamils from Madras came to work on the sugar estates of the Island. In typical Madrassi fashion, they integrated speedily into the French society, adopting the language, customs and dress. Anise's mother, Valiama, married into a French Creole family named Matrizan. This was not an acceptable social condition and the family made arrangements with the rich and influential De Boissiere family in Trinidad to take in Valiama, Anise, Alice (Valiama's sister) and Peroumal (Valiama's mother) in 1888. The family settled in what is now Boissiere Village No. 1 as tenants of Madame Poleska De Boissiere, the awesome grande dame who took over the running of the Champs Elysees estate (the Trinidad Country Club is the old estate house) in 1870 after the death of her benign husband, Dr. John Valleton De Boissiere. Valiama made a decent living by keeping milch cows (grazed in the Queen's Park Savannah), catering for parties (she had skill in French culinary arts), and as a masseuse, being versed in therapeutic treatment. Anise, while inheriting her mother's skill for French cooking, did not become a masseuse, but made money on the side as a model for photographers. From the late 19th century up to WWII, more than 3,000 images of Indo-Trinidadians were produced, since they were considered mysterious and exotic. Anise was unlike the other Madrassis in Maraval, since she had delicate features and light skin because of her mixed heritage. This shot was taken when she was about 18 years old, showing her bedecked as a rich Indian wife , with the heavy silver yoke, gold nakphul (nose ring) and silver bracelets. Another tenant of Madame De Boissiere was Shiva Subromaniam Pillai, a sort of drainage expert who was retained of Champs Elysees at the fantastic rate of $1 per day to dig drains for the cocoa trees. He had come to Trinidad in 1873, and his son, Tamby wished to make Anise his wife. Negotiations were settled and a barber sent out to deliver invitations. Some elders may remember how this was done. The barber would carry a brass tray on which there was a piece of camphor, saffron rice and flowers. Upon being received, he would speak a poetic invitation, light the camphor, and give the guest a flower and some rice, for which the guest had then to pay sixpence. Anise and Tamby had eight children and lived in Boissiere No. 1. Tamby drank himself into an early grave around 1921, but Anise and her mother managed to raise all the children. Sylvan, a son, became a successful businessman and later built a holding company worth many millions. Anise died in 1968, her mother in 1954. It is ironic that the crown jewel of the Pillai empire, Royal Palm Plaza , sits atop the site of the magnificent Bagshot House which Madame De Boissiere's son had built in the 1880s. It is meet that the De Boissiere's are now a memory while their former tenants flourish.
    Weighing Cane 1912
    This is a timeless scene which played itself out countless times in the canefields of Central and South Trinidad well into the 1950s. When contracted Indians were sent to estates, they were paid according to task work. In croptime, the driver (usually an Indian bully or Sirdar who could force work from his peers) would come out to the fields and assign a portion of canes to be harvested for the day , for which a fixed rate would be paid (in 1910, it was about 20 cents per task) . The Driver was beneath the white overseer and was the tangible link between the owner/manager and the labour. In the rainy season, the Driver would carry a long bamboo rod with which he measured out swathes of cane which had to be weeded or manured. Sometimes, like in this photo, tasks were paid for according to the weight of canes cut. It was not a popular system with the coolies, since the Drivers were usually thugs and thieves, appointed by the managers since they had the ability to form mafias on the estates to keep the labourers in line. Drivers would rape women, and receive bribes of eggs, fowls, rum and money. During croptime on those estates which paid for task work according to weight (Eg. Forres Park, Bronte, Woodford Lodge) a portable scale would be placed in the field to be harvested (as seen here) and labourers would bring canes to place on it by turns (also shown). The weight would be graded by the ton and noted next to the labourer's name. The cut canes would be loaded onto mule carts and taken to the estate railhead (most of the larger conglomerate-owned estates had railways like Usine Ste. Madeline, Woodford Lodge, Forres Park, Orange Grove and Reform) . At the railhead, the canes would be loaded onto rail carts for transport to the refinery. The Drivers were most often corrupt, and would steal from labourers, in that they would assign the tons cut by one to another whom they favoured (most often because they were sleeping with the lucky man's wife). On Saturday, when labourers lined up at the pay office for their wages, some persons would be in shock and some jubliant when they learned about what their sweat during the week had earned. In times when the price of sugar was high on the world market, bonuses were awarded for high productivity. This system of weighing in the field ended in the 1940s and 1950s when diesel powered Jones cranes, outfitted with built-in scales were imported by the major factories so that the canes could be weighed AND loaded at the railheads, thus eliminating the corrupt drivers.
    Cutting the grass in the Queen's Park Savannah 1904
    The POS of yesteryear was a town where one could stroll northwards for a few minutes and leave behind the traffic of horse and buggy and encounter a very rural existence. Many people in suburbs like Belmont and Woodbrook kept cattle to ensure a domestic milk supply. In Maraval, Tamil Madrassi Indians who had settled in what is now Boissiere Village, kept large herds and supplied fresh bottled milk to the urban residents of POS. Even the colonial administration was in on the act, maintaining a large stock farm on St. Clair lands from the late 1870s. When St. Clair began to be broken into lots as prime residential property around 1915, the stock farm was removed to Mt. Hope where it is now known as the UWI Field Station, an experimental farm. The Queen's Park Savannah, that great playground purchased in 1817 by Sir Ralph Woodford, never needed grooming since dozens of cattle from the government stock farm and the Indians of Boissiere Village were grazed on the turf. In an 1850s painting done by the great artist Michel Jean Cazabon (1813-88) cattle are seen placidly grazing in the savannah. Opposite Whitehall in Queen's Park West, there used to be a well and drinking trough for the livestock. Indian herders and milk sellers from Coolie Town (St. James) also grazed their livestock here. From the 1890s, the government charged a fee of $1 per person per month for grazing rights in the savannah. Cattle were a problem for the Savannah Tram (1895-1950) as they sometimes wandered onto the track in front of the speeding tramcar.....the conductor frantically clanging his bell. During WWII supplies of imported staples (rice, flour, salt meat etc.) dwindled because the ships bringing them were often torpedoed by German U-boats. In order to counteract a serious food security crisis, the government embarked on a "Grow More Food" campaign and offered free lots in the savannah for all those who would undertake to establish 'war gardens'. It is not known if anyone took up the offer. One of the more disconcerting experiences of the QPS of yesteryear was being chased by a maddened bull. This was the sad lot of many a courting couple who had to cut their amours short and scamper in the wake of a charging 1,200 lb. bull. By the 1950s, cattle on the savannah were a thing of the past NB: THIS SAME LAWNMOWER IS STILL IN EXISTENCE AND IS RUSTING UNDER A TREE AT THE UWI FIELD STATION IN MOUNT HOPE WHICH WAS FORMERLY THE GOVERNMENT STOCK FARM IN VALSAYN.
    Baba and Jhata 1910
    This photo shows a Hindu pundit grinding rice into a coarse flour. The mill is an ancient piece of the heritage of the Indian Diaspora since its design has remained unchanged for over 5,000 years. The jhata is made of two round pieces of rough granite. They are pierced with a piece of wood which acts as a pivot. The upper wheel is also equipped with a wooden crank handle which turns independently. Grain (mostly rice, but corn was also ground) is placed between the two stones and the upper portion is turned, grinding the grain into meal. This is one of the most primitive forms of milling and dates back to very early eras of human history. The jhata was one of the many implements brought to Trinidad by East Indian indentured immigrants who were imported as cheap labour for the sugar industry between 1845 and 1917. Jhatas were fairly difficult to make and were passed down like heirlooms from generation to generation. Some of the few which still exist in Trinidad are well over 200 years old, being relics of family lines in India. This particular one still exists. I saw it in a family home in Scotts Road in Penal about 4 years ago. I recognized it instantly from the chip in the lower portion, although the current owners are not the original family who would have brought it to Trinidad.
    Mechanical Cane Harvesting 1965
    Mechanization of the propagation and harvesting phases of the suagr manufacturing process in Trinidad was slow to develop technologically. Even so, as early as 1888, Spring estate in Couva was employing a steam traction engine in tilling the fields. Aside from requiring a great deal of specialized maintainance, labour costs on the plantations were exceedingly low (approx. 5 cents/man hour) so that for the price of a steam traction engine, one could employ the equivalent of 120 indentured coolies for a period of 5-10 years. Thus, it was not until the 1950s, that tractors began to replace mules and cattle as motive power for sugar haulage, and mechanical harvesting was experimented with by Woodford Lodge and Caroni Ltd. In the early 1960s, Caroni imported some mechanical harvesters. These (like the one shown here) were large stand-alone machines which clipped off the sugarcane stalk, stripped the leaves and dumped it into a hopper drawn by another tractor. Since the harvesters did not have a transmission or driver controls, they had to be hitched to a wheel or crawler tractor, like the 1950s Massey Ferguson TE20 on the left of the foto. The mechanical harvesters were a flop since they soon became troublesome from a lack or routine servicing. They were also allegedly sabotaged by employees who viewed mechanization as a threat to their security. Although they worked well in the large, flat canefields, the harvesters were basically scrap metal by the end of the 1960s. This foto shows one working near Woodford Lodge. The tractor on the right is a 1946 Internationall Farmall. Canes are being dumped into the hopper by the feeder chute from the harvester. The International is sporting a tandem axle layout with four rear tires to give it more traction for drawing the loaded hopper in muddy fields. In 1995 Caroni again invested in three new state-of-the-art Massey Ferguson combine harvesters which foundered for similar reasons as their predecessors.
    Ma Mayute's Mansion, Siparia , 1890- WATERCOLOUR ON PAPER 24x18" BY RUDOLPH BISSESSARSINGH (2004) Mary Bartlett (Ma Mayute) was born circa 1850.
    She was a woman of Afro-Venezuelan descent who had emigrated to Siparia in her teens, marrying a local chap of mulatto blood. She became the de-facto manager of the Catholic church in the village, which was built on the site of the old Capuchin mission founded in 1758. Since at least 1808, the chapel (a rude structure of mud and thatch) had been home to a small wooden statue known far and wide as La Divina Pastora, the Divine Shepherdess. In those early days, the annual feast of La Divina was attended by local Catholics, and Waro (Guarahoon) Indians from the Orinoco Delta. After around 1870, East Indian indentured immigrants began to make up the largest percentage of devotees. They saw in the dark wooden image, a kindred deity which they called Siparee Mai. Before the feast day, thousands of devotees would flock to the little village of less than 150 persons, and pitch camp on the savannah where the present public cemetery is sited. Naturally, the worshippers made offerings of gold jewelry and money which Ma Mayute managed for the church. The offerings were enough for an elaborate, twin-spired presbytery to be erected opposite the church in 1872 and even the chapel itself was neatly rebuilt of wood in 1890. Ma Mayute also prospered. In 1885 she built the largest, most elegant residence in Siparia, to the south of the church. It was two stories high, with a spacious dwelling space on the upper floor. The lower story was divided into four apartments which were let during the week of Siparia Fete, to visitors. For a number of years, the most regular tenants of Ma Mayute were itinerant Chinese traders who gambled and smoked opium in the apartments. Many tenants, including one named Kong stayed in Siparia and opened shops, Kong being the most successful. Ma Mayute had no children. Her life was indelibly linked to the church. She was predeceased by her husband in 1920. She herself lived to a great age, dying in 1965 at 115 years of age. After her death, the mansion fell into dereliction, and finally was demolished in 2001. A Jehovah's Witnesses church now stands on the site. Of interest in this saga, is an ancient burial vault which was only seen for the first time in decades when the house was demolished. It apparently predated the construction of the house in 1885, and was composed of large blocks of limestone, with a small entrance door. The house had been built over it. When the site was cleared, the tomb's door was sealed to prevent trespassing. It has been preserved in the yard of the Jehovah's Witness church and may be seen today. This painting depicts Ma Mayute astride a horse (she was an excellent rider) in front of her place as it would have appeared in its heyday.
    Caroni Estate Saturday Market 1950s
    In a time-honoured tradition which played itself out for well over a century, the Saturday pay-yard market was a facet of life on sugar estates across the country . Labour was paid by the task. The majority were East Indian indentured immigrants, with a minority of Afro-Trinidadians. These labourers were cutters, grass gangs (children) and carters. Tasks for the week would be measured out by the overseer with his long bamboo rod and noted. The tasks were for cutting or weeding the cane according to the season, and ranged from 10 cents to 25 cents from 1865-1928. On Saturday, labourers formed a line in the pay-yard to collect their wages. This was a sort of ritual which is vividly described by Sir V.S Naipaul in “A House For Mr. Biswas”: Every Saturday he lined up with the other labourers to collect his pay. The overseer sat at a little table on which his khaki cork hat rested, wasteful of space, but a symbol of wealth. On his left sat the Indian clerk, stern, precise, with small neat hands that wrote small neat figures in black ink and red ink in the tall ledger. As the clerk entered figures and called out names and amounts in his high, precise voice, the overseer selected coins from the columns of silver and the heaps of copper in front of him and with greater deliberation, extracted notes from the blue one dollar stacks, the smaller red two dollar stacks, and the very shallow green five dollar stack. Few labourers earned five dollars a week. The notes were there to pay those who were collecting their wives’ or husbands’ wages as well as their own. Around the overseer’s hat, and seeming to guard it, there were stiff blue paper bags, neatly serrated at the top printed with large figures and standing upright from the weight of coin inside them. “ After being paid, the labourers had money to supply their needs for the next two weeks. Naturally, there was a rumshop near the estate which would consume part of the cash, and also a further claim for debts for staple goods, taken on credit since the last payday. Near the pay-yard, a market would spring up which would be the social equinox for estate life on a weekend. Vendors would erect rude stalls or sometimes be allocated a shed as in this photo from Caroni. A priceless description of the Saturday market is given in the period novel, Tikasingh’s Wedding by Wilfred D. Best. “Tika found the arrangement of the stalls (crudely built trays on legs for easy movement) very orderly. There were sections for ground provisions such as yams, dasheen, eddoes and Irish potatoes; another for vegetables such as bhaji, patchoi, baigan and dasheen bush. There was a section for soft drinks, mostly red kola and cream soda in heavy bottles sealed with a marble which was kept in place by the force of the gas. To open the bottles there was a wooden opener with a rounded portion which fitted into the space between the top of the bottle and the marble. The bottle was opened by a tap on the wooden opener strong enough to dislodge the marble which fell on a ledge on the bottle about 3 inches from the top. If the contents of a soft drink bottle were agitated by shaking, the liquid would squirt into the air through the pressure of the gas, and many were the occasions when a bottle burst , sending bits of razor-like glass in all directions. Sometimes the person opening the bottle and those standing nearby would receive nasty cuts from the missiles, and the only ones who welcomed these breakages were the little boys darting in search of the marble to add to their collection for the next game of marbles. …they paused near a stall where the vendor was selling ready-made khaki trousers and shirts…..the group moved to another stall where two ladies , both Indians, were selling metai and pastries. On one table was kurmah while on the other were sponge cakes topped with pink, yellow and white icing, coconut and jam tarts and heavy loaves. “ Also present in the market would be the itinerant Syrian peddler with his box of piece goods (dress and pants lengths, ribbons, bows and other haberdashery) either conducting cash sales or collecting installments of a few shillings on cloth taken on terms by the labourers, who could not at once afford this luxury. This foto from the 1950s shows the Caroni market, with the chimneys of the Usine in the background, and two small brick buildings which would have been quarters for the overseers.
    Perseverance Estate Pay Yard, Cedros, circa 1912
    East Indian immigrants are in the majority, having been settled in Cedros as early as 1850 on the sugar estates of the district. Here is a timeless scene of indentureship, with the manager (J.O Urich) sitting on the right in his topee (cork hat) and with what looks like a watch chain looped across his shirt. On the left sits a person who appears to be a constable from his pith helmet. On the table is a bag, possibly containing the meagre wages of the labourers which were doled out according to tasks. Perseverance estate was founded as a sugar estate circa 1800 by Charles Rousseau, a Martiniquan immigrant in conjunction with other French cedulants including Gardie, DeMontbrun, Lequin and Bonasse. It originally extended over 800 or so acres, and unlike other estates in the area, included a minimum of swampland and extensive rolling hills as can be seen from this photo. Coconuts, introduced by Francois Agostini of Constance Estate in 1860 gradually replaced sugar, although as late as 1890, Perseverance was still a sugar producer. The factory, seen here, was erected in 1885 and produced crystal sugar, and rum. The estate also boasted a fine jetty with iron piles for the loading of sugar ships. At this juncture, the estate was owned by an Englishman, John Kemp Welch. By 1917 the equipment for the sugar refinery was being sold off as the estate had gone over completely to coconuts. The manager of many years, J.R Urich, incidentally died the following year. Most of the machinery would have cost a fortune when they were installed around 1875-80. The sugar works were converted for the processing of coconut oil and copra. The factory and chimney can still be seen today. The estate is now partially owned by the Bhola family and was unsuccessfully diversified into peanuts and other crops. Lots have now been developed for sale to homeowners. In a time-honoured tradition which played itself out for well over a century, the Saturday pay-yard market was a facet of life on sugar estates across the country. Labour was paid by the task. The majority were East Indian indentured immigrants, with a minority of Afro-Trinidadians. These labourers were cutters, grass gangs (children) and carters. Tasks for the week would be measured out by the overseer with his long bamboo rod and noted. The tasks were for cutting or weeding the cane according to the season, and ranged from 10 cents to 25 cents from 1865-1928. On Saturday, labourers formed a line in the pay-yard to collect their wages. This was a sort of ritual which is vividly described by Sir V.S Naipaul in “A House For Mr. Biswas”: Every Saturday he lined up with the other labourers to collect his pay. The overseer sat at a little table on which his khaki cork hat rested, wasteful of space, but a symbol of wealth. On his left sat the Indian clerk, stern, precise, with small neat hands that wrote small neat figures in black ink and red ink in the tall ledger. As the clerk entered figures and called out names and amounts in his high, precise voice, the overseer selected coins from the columns of silver and the heaps of copper in front of him and with greater deliberation, extracted notes from the blue one dollar stacks, the smaller red two dollar stacks, and the very shallow green five dollar stack. Few labourers earned five dollars a week. The notes were there to pay those who were collecting their wives’ or husbands’ wages as well as their own. Around the overseer’s hat, and seeming to guard it, there were stiff blue paper bags, neatly serrated at the top printed with large figures and standing upright from the weight of coin inside them.
    Indian Mud Hut circa 1920
    Coolies who were indentured in Trinidad post 1860 were offered five pounds in lieu of a return passage to India as an incentive to settle. The myth that they were given five acres was simply that...a myth. Many Indians purchased five or more crown acres at a pound per diem, often in swampy or forested areas. This mud hut with a thatched roof is typical of the domiciles constructed on these homesteads. These buildings had tapia walls , plastered by the process of leepay (cow dung and clay) and were roofed with the leaves of timite palms (carat) they were eco friendly, cheap to construct, cool and renewable. Some examples may still be seen in St. Helena village, Piarco, albeit with galvanized roofs.
    Musicians 1893
    This photo shows a chowtal group of olden days in Trinidad. Music was one of the many social adhesives which bound the immigrants together. Its evolution, chutney, is truly a tribute to integration and hybridization of an exotic culture.
    Roadside Vendors 1934
    Trinidad is well and able to feed itself save for the sad fact that we have shunned the land and now depend on imports for sustenance whereas out forefathers made do with what their own sweat could coax from the soil. This foto shows an impromptu roadside market along the EMR in San Juan. Vendors, mostly Indo and Afro Trinidadian women, would erect rude stalls or simply spread their produce on the ground and wait for trade. This pic shows the rich variety of food that they produced.
    Cattle grazing in the Queen's Park Savannah near the Peschier Cemetery 1925
    The POS of yesteryear was a town where one could stroll northwards for a few minutes and leave behind the traffic of horse and buggy and encounter a very rural existence. Many people in suburbs like Belmont and Woodbrook kept cattle to ensure a domestic milk supply. In Maraval, Tamil Madrassi Indians who had settled in what is now Boissiere Village, kept large herds and supplied fresh bottled milk to the urban residents of POS. Even the colonial administration was in on the act, maintaining a large stock farm on St. Clair lands from the late 1870s. When St. Clair began to be broken into lots as prime residential property, the stock farm was removed to Mt. Hope where it is now known as the UWI Field Station, an experimental farm. The Queen's Park Savannah, that great playground purchased in 1817 by Sir Ralph Woodford, never needed grooming since dozens of cattle from the government stock farm and the Indians of Boissiere Village were grazed on the turf. In a 1850s painting done by the great artist Michel Jean Cazabon (1813-88) cattle are seen placidly grazing in the savannah. Opposite Whitehall in Queen's Park West, there used to be a well and drinking trough for the livestock. Indian herders and milk sellers from Coolie Town (St. James) also grazed their livestock here. From the 1890s, the government charged a fee of $1 per person per month for grazing rights in the savannah. Cattle were a problem for the Savannah Tram (1895-1950) as they sometimes wandered onto the track in front of the speeding tramcar.....the conductor frantically clanging his bell. During WWII supplies of imported staples (rice, flour, salt meat etc.) dwindled because the ships bringing them were often torpedoed by German U-boats. In order to counteract a serious food security crisis, the government embarked on a "Grow More Food" campaign and offered free lots in the savannah for all those who would undertake to establish 'war gardens'. It is not known if anyone took up the offer. One of the more disconcerting experiences of the QPS of yesteryear was being chased by a maddened bull. This was the sad lot of many a courting couple who had to cut their amours short and scamper in the wake of a charging 1,200 lb. bull. By the 1950s, cattle on the savannah were a thing of the past. NOTE: The QPS was originally part of St. Ann's sugar estate owned by the Peschier family. When the estate was acquired in 1817 by Governor Sir Ralph Woodford, the Peschiers retained the ancestral burial ground in the center of the land. The oldest graves therein date back to the 1780s, but the oldest legible plaque is dedicated to the memory of Celeste Rose Peschier, daughter of the Marquise de Beltegens who died in 1817.
    Bath Time 1930
    This is a timeless scene in which two children are being given a bath in an old wooden washtub. The children are light-skinned and fair-haired while the woman appears to be Indo Trinidadian. This is possibly a nanny who has been engaged by a wealthy family to take care of their offspring.
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