The Indian Indentured Labourers came into Trinidad during the year 1845-1917 and according to Suresh Pillai approximately 143,939 labourers came into Trinidad. These labourers were fortunate enough to get paid an in addition they were also given food. In Suresh Pillai’s essay he noted that the immigrants received 13 lbs of rice, 1 ½ lbs dried fish, ¾ lbs of onions, 2 oz of dhal, 1 oz salt and 1 oz tamarind per week and an annual allowance of 2 blankets, 1 jacket, 2 dhotis, 1 cup, 1 wooden bowl and 1 brass cup to be used by 4 people. Life on the estates was hard and miserable as the Indians lived in the old slave barracks in little rooms with no privacy. These barracks were 14 feet wide and 15 feet high and the roof was covered with ironsheets and there was a mud floor. The Indians had to use the bush for latrines and water supplies were often polluted, and the planters did not maintain these barracks which were quite unsanitary and not fit for human occupation.
In India, a woman’s role in society is to be the ideal Hindu wife and the few women who did come into Trinidad exemplified this act of being the ideal wife to their husbands and children outside the plantations. In India, women are seen as inferior and men are the ones who get educated and become breed winners of their family and this was seen on the plantations. Education was present on the plantation, however many women were not children were not sent to school as this is a custom in India. However, with 85.3% of Indians being Hindus according to Dr Nantambu, many families also did not send children to school due whites wanted to indoctrinate Christianity onto the immigrants. However, the immigrants had no choice but to make do with what they had in order to survive indentureship.
Although the indentured people were considered inferior to the whites, amongst these Indians some were more inferior to the other. In India, this was known as the caste system and this system was prevalent among the East Indian on the plantations. The Brahmins were considered the elite in the Indian community and this consisted of Hindu Priest or Pundits. Kshatriyas were the men of war, Vaisyas were the business men, Sudras were the unskilled workers and lastly the Pariah or the untouchables, as they were commonly known as, were known as the poor outcasts in society.
Copyright © 2014 Reshma Ganness