NCIC By: Aneela Bhagwat The history of indentured Indians is not fully covered by the secondary school syllabus. A history, which is not being taught in our schools, is not being thought (about). This is history that belongs not only to the descendants of indentured labourers or to Indians, but to the nation, the region and indeed, the world. The history of any of the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago is a history that belongs to all of us: it is a part of our collective history as a nation and of the wider Caribbean region. And history, we would like to note, is not only about dry and dusty dates, complicated names and things that happened to other people in other times. We are all living history day by day, and what we experience is coloured and informed by our Issue 1 collective pasts. As the saying goes, “You can’t know where you’re going, unless you know where you’ve come from.” If we don’t wish to be passively pushed into the future, but to truly shape our own destinies, we need to understand ourselves and how we have come to be. Our histories need to be taught/thought. A more apt title for this article might therefore be “Thinking Indian Indenture.” Here are some of the things that you might have thought you knew: but have to think again. After slavery ended in 1838 British colonial plantations were faced with a labour shortage for the cultivation of crops and they looked to India to meet this need. So it was that the first batch of indentured Indians arrived on the shores of Trinidad on May 30th 1845. Yet Indians had already been taken abroad as indentured labour before being brought to Trinidad: in 1829, over a decade earlier, Indians had been indentured to estates in Mauritius. Antedating even this migration, however, was the long history of Indians traveling overseas for labour. They were taken as slaves to the French territories of Reunion and Mauritius in the 18th century and to Burma by the East India Trading company May 2012 to work on the ports from 1753. Indian convicts were also sent to Mauritius, Sumatra and Singapore to perform manual labour in 1815, 1818 and 1825 respectively. Later, Indian labourers were also sent to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1827 and East Africa to work on plantations there. It was only in the 1830s, however, that the system of sending Indians as labourers overseas started to be regulated and controlled. In 1836, John Gladstone, an estate owner in Guyana wrote to the Secretary of State for the Colonies (no Independence back then) and the President of the Board of Control for India requesting permission to ship Indian labourers to Guyana to work on the sugar estates. In 1838 he was granted permission and thus began the trade of Indian labourers to the West Indies. Continued on Page 8 Inside this issue: • • • • • Celebrating 167 Years of Our Arrival Diabetes - Myths, Misconceptions and Good Advice Local Classical Singing in Trinidad and Tobago Sufism: The Yoga of Islam Upcoming Events And much more!!