Diaspora’s inspiring journey from struggle to success

IMG 8591 web1SAN FRANCISCO, CA: On the occasion of the hundredth year of abolishment of indentured laborship of Indian Diaspora in Caribbean, Fiji, and Mauritius, the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) arranged a commemoration event in the Silicon Valley.

This program was a unique gathering of two different sets of Indian migrants -the Indo-Americans who came directly from India and Fijian Indians who migrated from Fiji in the last many decades.

The General Secretary of Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad (ARSP), a Diaspora platform based in New Delhi, Shyam Parande commended the Diaspora for their success and acknowledged their struggles.

He mentioned that this migration started when British needed workers after the end of slavery around 1840s. British recruiters tricked vulnerable Indians into this system, promising gold in the land of Sri Rama (Surinam) but in reality exploited them as bonded labor (workers). Mahatma Gandhi’s political guru Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya and many other freedom fighters relentlessly fought against the indentured system to get it successfully abolished in 1917.

The Diaspora not only established themselves successfully but many of them engaged the political system and became leaders in many of these countries. Shyam Parande recalled India’s ex-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statement on the first Pravasi Bharatiya Day that every Indian who goes outside Bharat carries a small Bharat within him.

This Indian Diaspora who are also called Girimity, carried Bharat’s culture in the form of Tulsi Ramanaya, Hindi language, food and practices.

Parande emphasized Gandhi’s appeal to be politically active in the countries Indians decide to stay.

India’s Consul General in San Francisco, Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok said that the history and status of this Diaspora is very close to him as he was present in the grand commemoration of 150th year of Indian arrival celebration event. During his keynote speech he touched upon the hardship the indentured labor survived in the inhuman journey of months by sea. Food and living conditions were not much better than slavery; however the community showed remarkable resilience and became successful. He informed that government of India is actively engaged with the Diaspora.

IMG 8595 webConsul General of Fiji Dr Narayan Raju mentioned that the Fijian Indian community is proud of their heritage and India. The Diaspora carries the same Indian genes and culture, making them successful not just in Fiji but wherever they go. However, he emphasized that the government and people from India should do more to better connect with the Diaspora countries and people.

The mayor of Cupertino Mrs. Savita Vaidyanathan thanked the FIIDS for holding such informative session and informed that such inspiring history should be shared with the coming generations.

IMG 8597 webOn this occasion, a few second-generation Indo American children, Svasti Kandpal, Shivani Kand, Arya Shukla, Ruchita Varshneya, Lavi Dhir and Lakshin Dhir, made a small but informative poster exhibition of the indentured Indian Diaspora. Dr. Jasubhai Patel, a director of FIIDS, thanked the guests, audience, children who made the posters and this program’s volunteers Sunil Erraballi, Gaurav Partardhan, Pravin Dhir, Girish Thobbi, Vibhu Pratap, Khanderao Kand and Yogi Chugh.

The Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS-USA) is an Indo American think tank focused on contemporary issues and policies related to India and Indian Diaspora.

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