By Stephen Kangal
June 14, 2022
Indians were recruited by ” arkatias” and transported to work on the cane-fields of Caroni in Trinidad because after a period of keen observation and analysis by the occupying British and based on their experience in sugar cultivation in India (UP and Bihar) and taking into account the extreme famine of the 1850’s it was decided that perhaps with the advice of the established East India Company, Indians were going to be the most effective and economic type of unskilled labour to increase sugar production and achieve increasing efficiencies.
This was a business decision taken by the planters.
History has proven the planters were right in their manpower assessment that once freed the Africans were not really the agricultural type. That they would gravitate to the urban areas in search of skills development and higher-paying less back breaking sugar jobs thereby producing a serious labour shortage in the Caribbean sugar industry.
The Indians from 1838 to 1917 filled the resulting labour shortage. They kept the sugar industry revitalised and expanding in sugar production especially when Tate and Lyle took over the industry in Jamaica, Trinidad and Belize in 1939.In Trinidad total sugar production at Tate and Lyle’s Caroni Ltd and Trinidad Sugar Estates’ Orange Grove reached 200,000 tonnes in the 1960’s.
The most effective and best economic, management and human resource decision that was ever made by the Caribbean sugar plantocracy to negotiate the challenges of a failing/declining sugar industry was to import Indian indentured workers beginning post emancipation around 1838 in Guyana and in 1845 in Trinidad.
The personality, beliefs and character of the Indian workers made them most suitable for increasing sugar cultivation as they were quite docile and accepted the status quo in the prevailing terms and conditions of work. They also had a vision that they will amass enough capital to return as “nabobs” to India or buy land in Trinidad and plant their own cane as cane farmers as extended families with much family labour.
Once “apprenticeship” ended the planters foresaw in the late 1830’s that the “apprentices” would gravitate to the urban centres for skills development, educational access and jobs in the services sector as well as in high paying cocoa production.
Those “apprentices” who stayed in the sugar industry worked in the sugar factories, they dominated the private security forces (Estate Police), private sugar company light railways, driving vehicles, blacksmiths and assumed clerical jobs at the Estate/factory offices because of their superior educational status. The Indentures were not working there.
This is the un-varnished de-politicised truth that must be faced and we must debunk from our minds that the “apprentices” were going to continue work in sugar cultivation and harvesting where the indentures were almost wholly concentrated in employment.
4 thoughts on “The Indentures Did Not Affect the Wages of the “Apprentices””
This Post stem Straight out of the British West Indian Reader of your time Sir. I Recommend “Capitalism & Slavery by the Man you all Love to Hate, the Great Dr Eric Williams. Why not make it the last Book you read before seeking Reincarnation? it might just save you from your Ignorance. A young person, not knowing, i will forgive. As an elder about to cross on the other side of life, I say No. you are engulf in the Darkness of the past, ” Saccha Hai Yahan KANGAL, To Beimaan Hai Malamai” ( Here the HONEST is POOR, the Corrupt People are Rich.) History tells Us the SCABS were in Numbers, Created to Undermine the Afrikans/Aprentices . Today, it is reality woven in everyday life. The wrongs of 5 generations have never been righted. Mr Kangal. I wonder if you willing to stand in Solidarity with the Afrikans/Aprentices on their FIGHT for Reparations? look within your CHAKRAS, not the lower ones that encompassed you for the Answers. You are not to be blamed for the CRIMES against HUMANITY committed on the Afrikans/Aprentices, on the other hand you have benefitted directly without having any remorse or even researching the History of the past. True British Subject you ARE. Today it has come full circle, the same that was done to the Afrikcan/Apretices, our Indentured Cousins are imposing on their OWN People, Working conditions the Afrikans refuse to accept then. Over work, and under pay, no overtime ,vacation, medical and certainly no UNIONISATION. Only SCABS accept these working conditions. Mr KANGAL.
So who continued the work on the sugar plantations in Barbados into the 20th Century if “Africans were not really the agricultural type?”
Why were The Guyanese sugar workers brought in and treated as second class Caricom nationals in Bridgetown?
I see. The relationship with Caricom explains why African cotton and tobacco workers in the US Southern States were suitable and successful Agricultural workers but not in Trinidad. Illogical.
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