The Indian indentured labourers were individuals who came into the Caribbean after slavery was abolished in 1838 as there were labour shortages on the plantations. In the mid 1800’s, sugar planters continuously complained of labour shortages especially in the British – colonized Caribbean. In 1842, the British House of Commons passed a resolution that said the only way to compensate employers for their loss of control over the labour force was to help them import bonded labourers. They imported many different groups to provide them with labour; however, Indian Immigration was the most successful. These planters most definitely needed these immigrants due to the large scale sugarcane cultivation in the West Indies. The indentured labourers came into the Caribbean colonies in 1838 – 1874 and they settled in fourteen main islands which consisted of different colonies which were British, Dutch, Danish and French colonies. With these colonies being located on different islands, the Indian immigrants settled in British Guiana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Martinique, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Grenada, Belize, St Lucia, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, St Croix, Suriname and Nevis and according to Aditya Prashad 543,861 labourers came into the Caribbean.
Prior to coming into the Caribbean the immigrants went through a recruitment process where advertisements were placed in the newspapers for immigrants and when the applications came in a number of agents and officials had to confirm the applications. When the recruits were chosen, agents were paid for each recruited. They were paid fifty-five rupees for females and forty-five rupees for males. They were paid more for females rather than males because they were harder to recruit. The immigrants wanted to come to the West Indies and some of these push factors as to why they wanted to leave India was to escape debts, unemployment, the caste system, abusive husbands and political persecution. There were also pull factors which attracted the Indians to the West Indies and these included higher wages, free return passage, land and housing and health care.
Copyright © 2014 Reshma Ganness