Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Forgotten Slavery

This thought entered my mind when I was chatting with a friend of mine in the USA. He is a speech pathologist working with disadvantaged American children in New York, USA. He asked me a few questions and it set things rolling inside my head.

We all have read about African slavery and how hundreds of thousands of people from Africa were enslaved, shipped away under inhuman conditions to far off Americas. But we never hear anything about the millions of another group of blackies or niggers, whatever you may call them, forcefully transplanted to these locations. I am talking about the Indians taken away to labour in the newly founded sugar plantations of west Indies, Fiji, Mauritius, Australia and numerous other British colonies. They were shipped out of India after African slavery was banned in these places. This happened just more than 150 years ago. After the civil war in America ended and while the blacks were granted freedom from slavery, blacks of another breed were sold into slavery. The same blacks who were alien to these lands fought these new set of blacks.

We don't read anything about these, not even in history books in India. Even the rabid nationalist and right wing BJP, which rewrote history books to rant about the cruelty to the RSS ‘freedom fighters’ and Veer Savarkar by the British rulers did not seem it was important to talk about this. The old books had a fleeting mention of this, but they merely said that some Indians were ‘forced to go to’ new sugar plantations.

All these are being presented in the historical film 'Guiana 1838'. So many world historians have come to document their sufferings but 160 years of Indian history has been almost wiped out.

I did get to see the Trailer of this movie courtesy of the friend who experiences the discrimination first-hand. The police always seem to think he is an Arab/Muslim/Islamic fundamentalist and constantly stop him for identification.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Manoj..Good to read about your blog on forgotton slavery..
Umm..thought provoking issue though when u see vast indian diaspora all over the world..The word 'coolies' is still in use at few parts of Guyana..Add more related topics on PIO in ur blogs..
Goodluck in your research