Indo-Vincentian

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Indo-Vincentian
Total population
5,900
Regions with significant populations
Kingstown · Calder · Richland Park · Rose Bank · Akers · Park Hill · Georgetown
Languages
English (Vincentian Creole) · Indian languages
Religion
Hinduism · Islam · Christianity
Related ethnic groups
People of Indian origin

Indo-Vincentians are an ethnic group in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines who are mainly descendants of indentured laborers from India. There are about 5,900 people of Indian origin living in the country.[1]

Migration History[edit]

Indian migration to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines began with the termination of slavery in St. Vincent on August 1, 1838.[2] There was a shortage of labour as the resident workers refused to work on the estates. The British had taken over the governance of India and the offer of contract work in St. Vincent was made to Indian laborers. Many Indians took up the offer as the economic conditions in India at that time were very bad. Famines in India in the 1870s also impacted on Indian emigration.

The first immigrants arrived on June 1, 1861. A ship with 260 Indians landed on the Western end of the Kingstown harbour, Edinboro. They had traveled for about 94 days from Madras (present day Chennai), India to St. Vincent. Seven more ships departed from Calcutta (present day Kolkata) with Indians who originated from the Northern provinces of India. The migration of Indians to St. Vincent lasted for about 20 years from 1861 to 1880.

By the 1920s when the indentured labor system was abolished in the Caribbean, the Indians had integrated into the society and had made an impact on the culture of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Settlement[edit]

The Indian migrants who came to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to work settled in estates at Argyle and at Lot 14, near to the indigenous Carib community.[2]

The hurricane of 1898 and the volcanic eruption of 1902 crippled the sugar industry and the estate system was finally broken up. A new land settlement scheme in St. Vincent allowed the Indians to move away from the estates. They settled mainly at Calder, Akers, Richland Park, Park Hill, Georgetown and Rose Bank.

Return migration[edit]

During the period 1871 to 1885 a total of 1,141 Indian indentured workers departed Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for India.[2] However, many were prevented from returning due to the plantation owners' devious manipulation of the system. Those who could not return included those who were kidnapped as children in India and brought to St. Vincent.

When the Indians went to Kingstown on August 1st, 1885 to board the last ship to India they had to walk through two long lines of armed officers or militia. This tight security was to prevent certain Indians from getting onto the ship. There were a few Indians who voluntarily forfeited their right to a return passage to India by accepting a £10.00 bounty offered.

Present day[edit]

In 1902, the Indian population in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was just under 500 but by the 1950s, Indians in the country numbered over 5,000.[2] It was also not uncommon for a married couple to have more than ten children. The Indians assimilated into the Vincentian community and worked alongside a melting pot of cultures. They were mainly involved in agriculture, manufacturing and trade. Curry, roti, rice and dhal were also embraced as a vital part of the Vincentian cuisine.

See also[edit]

References[edit]