Culture and History

Topic: The Deceitful Theoretical Indenture! Slavery and its twin brother, Indenture in practice, showed remarkable similarities! Guy #18

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We, the Inward Jew Nation in Christ (Guyana, South America) believe in a single (Monos) God, the Father of all and Most High God, who is a divine Spirit. [John 4:23-24] Yahweh changes not…. [Malachi 3:6] Again, “God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man that He should repent.” [Numbers 23:18-19]


Redeeming Luv; to the Inward Jew Nation in Christ, all seekers of truth and of the Kingdom; worldwide.

Beloved, this is Thursday, June 09, 2016!

Today, Redeeming Luv brings you the blue print for Slavery and Indenture, an authentic publication namely, “Indian Labour in British Guyana,” with British Flag with the label British Empire: British Guiana next to it.

Aim: (1) To encourage all Guyanese; including the misinformed and prejudiced to read more of our history, hold group discussions about it in a friendly environment to know the truth about our ethnic groups’ history and to better understand the similarities of slavery and indenture in practice, (2) To stimulate the thinking of readers, motivate young writers to think out of the box, and rewrite accurately our history on Slavery, and Indenture in Practice, etc., and, (3) To stamp out ethnic divisions: and instead, promote ethnic harmony for a New and Liberated Guyanese Society of One people, One nation, One destiny, for “a better life.”


Sub-Topic: East Indian Indentured labourers’ migration to British Guiana: their actual working and living conditions similar to Slavery.

Stand Corrected:  Mental Cleansing #1― Know that East Indian indentured labourers’ “working and living conditions were destructive of caste and culture, and often as harsh as those of the slaves they replaced!”

The Nature 'Slavery' and 'Indenture' was one and same!

According to a publication from an authentic source, ‘British Empire: British Guiana,” on “Indian Labour in British Guiana,” In the last and final year of emancipation in British West Indies (August 1, 1838) the British planters brought to British Guiana a batch of East Indian indentured labourers, (from their motherland) “whose working and living conditions were destructive of caste and culture, and often as harsh as those of the slaves they replaced.” It was on May 5, 1838, when a small batch of immigrants, i.e. 396, from Calcutta, landed in British Guiana and that event commenced the Indentured System which was to continue for 75 years with “essential features reminiscent of slavery.” Note worthily, importation of labour was a search by Guianese planters for a competitive labour force that was “docile, reliable, and friendly to discipline under harsh, tropical conditions, and still maintain control similar to that under slavery.” Amazingly, “… within a decade the fortunes of the sugar industry changed from predicted ruin to prosperity due to Indian immigration.” (

The Guianese Planters’ view of the liberty of African Guianese labourers

Accustomed to a mentality of forced labour, the planters viewed the liberty of African Guianese labourers with fear. Competing among themselves for labour they paid higher wages for it. And when the labour force became unpredictable the planters created policies to curtail the shift of labour elsewhere and to ground the work force on the plantation “through laws and regulation” which made it difficult for them to get land.  Further the planters used random measures to cut their wage bill to become less dependent on wage labour, but all efforts failed and they turned to immigration to dominate labour again.

How India became the main basin of manpower

To strengthen their supply to the West Indies Islands, southern United States, Europe, West Africa, the Portuguese Atlantic Islands, India and China, the planters attempted many schemes with success, but India, with a crumbling economy boosted by the British new land tenure system, a high rate of unemployment and a steady increasing population in overcrowded areas, became the main basin of manpower. Thus in spite of their conservative and non-migratory nature, some among the rustic Indian population in the recruiting districts were ready to go for “the promises of better times.”

Recruitment; Deception in the System

The smaller batches of Indian immigrants were recruited from the Tamil and Telugu Southern districts, while the majority was recruited from North India, but on fake promises, intimidation, force and deception, and in difficult times by kidnapping and forced detention; by trained recruiters mainly assisted by paid local agents, the Arkatis and the Maistris in the North and South respectively, until the system stopped in 1917.

As early as 1860, in north India they recruited Indians from Calcutta area and the Chota Nagpur plateau: from the latter were drawn active, robust non-Hindu workers, the Dhangars, the semi-aboriginese, until their numbers declined due to high deaths at sea, and their high demand in the tea plantations. Next the British operations advanced further to the North-Western Provinces and Modern Uttar Pradesh and Bahir and that vast region became the main colonial labour suppliers. According to statistics, in the heavily congested districts of Western Birar and Eastern Uttar the population density in 1881 varied from 450.1 in Shahjabad to 894.4 in Benares City.

Some factors that hindered large scale Indian emigration

Some factors that hindered large scale Indian emigration were: “the Hindu nature to conserve and their prejudices (particularly the upper castes), caste defilement by crossing the convict settlement in the Indian ocean, and becoming an outcaste; the fear of being forced to eat beef or pork and of being converted to Christianity; the fear, widely circulated in Bihar of mimiai ka tel or the extraction of oil from the immigrant’s head suspended downwards; the fear of confiscation of the holy thread of the Brahmins (priests) and the beads of the Hindus; the reluctance of desiring emigrants to permit their spouses to be medically examined at the medical center for venereal diseases, and dissatisfaction towards their long detention before boarding the ship; their suspicion of the entire emigration scheme due to the scarcity of news from the colonies that received the emigrants, who did not return in great numbers, and their strong ties to ancestral land.” (

 Note: In spite of the above mentioned rigid obstacles, large batches embarked on the vessels, “mainly due to the impact of British rule in India which resulted in a steady deterioration of the social and economic conditions of the people in the principal recruiting areas.”

Some other important factors

 The thousands who lost their original livelihood opted for agriculture, a seasonal employment provider, subject to fluctuation due to floods and droughts. The effects of pressure on agriculture “led to land fragmentation and uneconomic holdings.” Further, both “unemployment and underemployment,” and the reducing capacity of the land to support the rural population, the failure of an extra job to increase their income during the ‘off-season’ caused them to be helpless and penniless. Thus with such psychological play at its best, the Indian worker, especially the woman, became vulnerable. Interestingly, when the Indian worker fell prey to recruiters’ promises and immediate monetary help, they took him to “the emigration depot where he was housed, clothed and fed.

The best recruiting agent in India during the 1860s and 70s

However, the best recruiting agent in India during the 1860s and 70s was made up of these factors: the state of poverty and indebtedness of the people, and the frequent famine or scarcity. The famines broke the villagers’ self-confidence and they slump into a disorganized state. Landless and unemployed labourers were made destitute. Peasants were pressured to get rid of their cattle, sell or mortage their lands; “caste prejudices or religious sanctions were ignored or forgotten as villagers flocked to the emigration depots to avoid starvation.”

Other explanations for the enlistment of Indian labour

In addition to the economic pressure created through British psychology at work “in the principal recruiting areas,” other possible explanations for the enlistment of Indian labour for sugar colonies were: “the martial and adventurous race of Bhojpuri-speaking districts of Shahabad in Bihar were and always prepared to carve their fortunes abroad, they were accustomed to travel considerable distances to seek employment in industrial centres. Many had migrated to Mauritius and returned with small fortunes. There were others who emigrated on account of domestic quarrels or were fleeing from justice or from their creditors.” Many perhaps embarked because they had lost caste or found the caste system unbearable. (

Stand corrected: Mental Cleansing #2 ― “Brahmins among the high castes did comprise a sizeable proportion!”

Interestingly, a fallacy prevalent in Guyana today is that Indian immigrants were drawn exclusively from the lowest and least desirable classes of Indian society. “It is argued that caste prejudices were so strong among Brahmins and others that they would not risk losing caste by crossing the sea. Hence Brahmins in the society were often described as ‘pseudo-Brahmins’ or ‘ship Brahmins’, the implication being that they assumed such high caste status during the voyage. While it is true that some emigrants changed their identity on embarkation or on arrival, the available evidence refutes this assertion. The reports of the Protector of Emigrants and other Indian officials showed that emigrants comprised a variety of caste groups at different levels of the Indian caste hierarchy and that the high castes comprised a sizeable proportion.” (

The process at embarkation, the voyage

The successful indentured labourers were taken to the depot for immediate process of ‘seasoning’ for the long, boring voyage to the West Indies. At embarkation certain precautions were taken to ensure health and safety en route. Social intercourse between crew and emigrant women and the carrying of firearms or inflammable material were strictly prohibited. On the vessel besides the officers and crew, were compounders dispensed medicine and often acted as interpreters; the topazes or sweepers ensured that the deck and water closets were kept clean.

 In the the late 1850s, mortality on Calcutta ships was heavy, sometimes excessive due to “cursory depot medical examination, polluted drinking water, unhygienic habits of emigrants, particularly the Dhangars, and indiscriminate recruitment of surgeons, many of whom displayed gross professional incompetence. But with the introduction of new innovations mortality was progressively reduced.

The voyage, greatly affected the Indian emigrant morally and physically, especially if it was his first sea voyage. “By crossing the ‘kala pani’ he had not only broken caste, but had relegated himself to the status of a Pariah (outcast). Depression set in as he witnessed the gradual destruction or modification of traditional customs. Physically it was difficult to adjust to the unfamiliar life on board so that he preferred to remain below deck. There was, nevertheless, one redeeming feature of the voyage. There developed a strong bond of friendship or ‘jehazi’ among emigrants which was cemented on the sugar plantations.”

Stand Corrected: Mental Cleansing #3― “On arrival in British Guiana: the basic feature of plantation society remained similar to that of slavery!”

“On arrival in British Guiana the indentured worker quickly came under the regularity and discipline of the plantation system. The plantation was an economic unit producing agricultural commodities for export. It employed a relatively large body of unskilled labour and had a rigidly stratified social structure based on occupational status and divided along race and colour lines. Decision- making was centralized, orders emanating from the master were issued to the slaves through the driver (headman).”

“With emancipation the social structure was somewhat adjusted but the basic feature of plantation society remained similar to that of slavery … well into the twentieth century. The white planter class continued to monopolize the means of production and consequently to maintain their dominant position. It was into this system that Indian immigrants, like Chinese, Portuguese and others, were introduced.”

Indentured immigrants on arrival were allotted to the various sugar estates by the Governor, often with- out enough time to acclimatize. They comprised principally Indians and, to a small extent, Portuguese and Chinese.


Laws, hours of work and fixed standard of performance

From the 1860s to the abolition of indenture in 1917 Indians comprised the hulk of the immigrant work force. “They were indentured for five years but were required to serve for ten before being entitled to a free return passage to India. Indenture as it evolved and developed in British Guiana was basically a system of social and industrial control. The colony’s labour and vagrancy laws were designed towards these ends. The labour law required the indentured worker to complete five tasks (scale of work set by an estate subordinate) each week for which he was paid five shillings, a level of pay which remained static for nearly a century. To complete a stipulated task the labourer was expected to work for seven hours a day in the field or ten in the factory. But the task was judged by what stalwart, Negro labourers could perform in the given time. This high output level of the task placed the indentured workers at a grave disadvantage, for failure to complete it meant breach of contract. An official report in 1871 disclosed that over one-half of the indentured work force could not complete five tasks a week. This meant that the employer could obtain a conviction against an indentured labourer ‘every or any week in the year’. Whether the labourer would be sent to prison depended largely on his behaviour or on his relationship with the driver, but certainly his wages would be stopped.”

Unfair Laws and other abuses

For such offences fines were inordinately high. “Frequently employers would institute formal charges against indentured workers and then withdraw them on a promise of good behaviour and on payment of the cost of the summons. Further, the employer could prosecute an immigrant for refusing to commence work or leaving unfinished work, absenting from work without leave, for disorderly behaviour, threatening, abusive or insulting words or gestures and for desertion. The aim was to foster a feeling of helplessness and dependence peculiar to slavery.”

The requirements of the idleness law were also forced on the Indians, for they aimed at restricting labour: and randomly the workers’ personal liberty. Thus if found two miles away from his plantation without a ‘pass’ signed by his employer (and this was illegal no law supported it) a police officer or constable could arrest an indentured labourer. The real reasons for the illegal “pass” were: (a) “to serve as a effective control device,” (b) “to ensure docility in the immigrant camp as ‘passes’ were only issued to those who ‘behaved well,’” and (c) to force indentured workers on their estates to be ‘at work, or in hospital or in gaol’ during working hours, or face prosecution, including pregnant and nursing mothers and convalescents discharged from hospital who may be physically unable to resume work, and (d) “to prevent immigrants from knowing the variation of wages on other estates and to deny them legitimate access to the Immigration Agent-General, the officer appointed to uphold their interests.”

The employers had powers to prosecute but the immigrants were defenseless, especially in the magistrate courts, since they were ignorant of the law, and of the English language. He was seen as a criminal in civil matters, prohibited from giving evidence in his own defense, and efforts to involve his co-workers as his witnesses were discouraged by the different instruments of prosecution arranged by the manager.

For instance, in the 1860s, Joseph Beaumont, the colony’s Chief Justice cited a case of a worker vs his employer where the worker’s witness, another immigrant, was summoned, but before he could gave his testimony he was arrested for vacating the estate “without a ‘pass.’”

“Under these disabilities the immigrant was induced to overact his case in court and supplement his ignorance with falsehood.”


Partial dispensing of justice

The duty of upholding the law and dispensing justice impartially was delegated to the Stipendiary Magistrate. But immigrants “lost confidence in the administration of justice in magistrates’ courts” because the magistrate, even the one with a conscience in that colonial society inclined to spend his free time with those on the side of management, “whom he occasionally had to report for abuses of the law.” And when no inns or hotels existed he frequently accepted the offer to overnight at manager’s home prior to his court proceedings the next day.

Immigrants other disabilities were: Even though immigrants were compelled by law to complete their agreement with “heavy penalty,” yet they were not protected by law to get back monies withheld by employers: and the employers were not compelled to give reasons for stopping their money. “Wages were often stopped for unsatisfactory or incomplete work, absence from work, insubordination and for damaged or lost tools.”

Stand Corrected: Mental Cleansing #4, “From the early 1860s indenture seemed to replicate the actual conditions of slavery!  ― Comments by William Russell, the Colonial Secretary; “The Times “and Beaumont, on the Indentured System

 “From the early 1860s indenture seemed to replicate the actual conditions of slavery. When in 1840 William Russell, the Colonial Secretary, coined the phrase ‘a new system of slavery’ he was perhaps predicting the outcome of the system. Commenting on the Devonshire Castle riots, The Times emphasised: ‘… if it be not slavery, [it] is certainly very tar (far) from freedom’. Beaumont described the system at its peak ‘… a monstrous, rotten system, rooted upon slavery, grown in its stale soil, emulating its worst abuses….’

Other Important Views linked to Slavery and Indenture ―by Professional Historians as Hugh Tinker, Anthony Trallope, Charles Beaumont, and our own Guyanese sons of the soil, the late Dr. Walter Rodney, and Dr. Basdeo Mangru

 “In the main, the system of Indentureship could be characterized as one of “struggle, sacrifice and resistance” where the Indian immigrants are concerned. The system itself was closely linked to slavery. British historian, Hugh Tinker, who did extensive work on East Indian Labour Overseas, describes it as a “New System of Slavery”.

Anthony Trallope, who visited the Caribbean in the 1850s, viewed it as “A depotism
tempered with sugar”. Chief Justice in the second half of the Nineteenth Century, Charles Beaumont, aptly describes it as “a rotten, monstrous system rooted in slavery.”

The late distinguished Guyanese historian, Dr. Walter Rodney highlighted the harshness of the Indentureship system and its “neo-slave nature”.

Another Guyanese historian, Dr. Basdeo Mangru argues that slavery and indenture showed remarkable similarities in terms of control, exploitation and degradation. In any event it is reasonable to conclude that the very nature of the Indentureship system that prevailed, lent itself to struggle, sacrifice and resistance on the part of the indentured labourers.

Some Similarities of ‘Slavery’ and ‘Indenture in Practice’

“Indeed, slavery and indenture showed remarkable similarities. Both the slave and the indentured worker were subjected to laws over which they had no control and no part in their formulation. The power of control was exercised by minority white elite, principally comprised of planters and merchants, who dominated the political institutions in the colony. Both systems were designed to restrict the mobility of labour, to anchor the work force on the estate so that labour would be readily available. It was on the employer’s property that he lived, cultivated his provision grounds (small plots of land for the growing of root crops), raised feathered stock or sought medical attention when sick. The right to collective bargaining or even to strike was non- existent under slavery and indenture.”

The two basic differences that were overshadowed by their similarities

“There were, nevertheless, two basic differences but these were over- shadowed by their similarities. The slave was private property and slavery implied permanence. The indentured worker, in contrast, was an instrument of production, one whose freedom” was temporarily frozen by his contractua1 obligations. But these differences were nullified by the provisions in the law which made rein- denture possible. Cases were found of immigrants re-indenturing so often that they remained under contract for more than thirty years. Indenture implied paid labour, slavery non-paid labour. But the price of labour was not subject to negotiation; it was fixed arbitrarily by the planter or by an estate subordinate. In such circumstances the sanctity of the contract was liable to be breached.”

“To the Victorians slavery was immoral as it was incompatible with personal liberty. Indenture was expedient because it prevented freedom from degenerating into vagrancy and idleness. Theoretically, indenture was a compromise designed to provide the planter with the labour he desired and the Indian immigrant with certain rights. In practice, such rights hardly ever existed. Behind the facade of care and protection an indentured worker was exploited and degraded between the levers of arbitrary wage stoppages and summary imprisonment.”

My thoughts and the comments of others

If “slavery” and “Indenture” in practice, showed remarkable similarities, then an indentured labourer’s working and living conditions under the Indentured System would have been “destructive of caste and culture, and often as harsh as those of the slaves they replaced.” He or she would have faced the blunt of the Indentureship system at its zenith, even “from the early 1860s when indenture seemed to replicate the actual conditions of slavery,” just as William Russell, the Colonial Secretary, predicted two decades before i.e., in 1840 when he coined the phrase ‘a new system of slavery.’ The East Indian indentured labourer would have felt it, would have known it, and if still alive today, he/she would have told their children exactly what “Indenture” was like, and would have endorsed the bold and candidly description of it, by Chief Justice Beaumont of British Guiana, who in 1871 put in his book, The New Slavery, ‘was a monstrous, rotten system, rooted upon slavery, grown in its stale soil, emulating its worst abuses….’

That ‘monstrous’ Indenture Thing, initially influenced by deception, in that, it was actually slavery in a new form, is still alive not in the sugar cane plantations but in the very nature of some today, who transmit this deceptive culture to the younger generations. According to my understanding ‘Indenture’ is twofold in nature: the “theory” was a deception, and the “practice” was the real Macaw. So the outcome of the sugar coated theory was in practice, for example, lashes plenty on the indentured workers’ backs with a cat o’ nine tails, followed by salt brine rubbed in on their backs etceteras. “Suh wah dem ah talk bout a de deceptive ‘Theoritical Indenture.’ Let us be truthful and accept the fact that Slavery is slavery under whatever name/s used. And ‘Slavery’ and its twin brother,’Slavery- Indenture,’ were similar in nature, and that their similarities overshadowed their only two differences: (1) ‘the slave was private property and slavery implied permanence,’ and (2) ‘the indentured worker, in contrast, was an instrument of production, one whose freedom was temporarily frozen by his contractual obligations.’

Deceptive Indenture initially gave Indentured labourers and even their generations today the feeling that it was not actual Slavery. It is one root cause of the racial divides mainly between the two major groups in Guyana today, because some still under Indenture’s aged influence are blinded to the truth, and in their minds classify “Indenture” above “Slavery.” Another root cause is that Deceptive “Indenture” as I describe it, is multi-faceted, wears a political jacket here and is used as a political tool for political and other reasons….

It is in my nature to be part of a genuinely liberated Guyanese Society of all ethnic groups united as one people, one nation, and one destiny. But there can be no such Society if there is no likeness for it. In truth and in fact without like-mindedness society cannot be birthed. It is possible; however, that likeness of some sort may be evident outside of a society, for instance, one such as a National Society―the Guyanese Society in which no man is bigger than the law.  

Sadly, a likeness for corruption seems to have been an emerging culture here, but it is rooted out in the spiritual realm already, in Jesus’ name. The strategy of the modern day Al Capones is to put up challenges, impress, and talk their way out of their dilemma. In spite of this, corruption must be rooted out now in physical realm here in Guyana, elsewhere too, and will be provided that, in this short time that is left, the system goes beyond the Corruption Parade in the media, and ‘tek back by right all dat dem tek from de State, eh, eh;’ followed by a condign punishment via the Court of law ‘fo justice and fair play,’ to help change the mind-set of those caught, including the big wings whoever they might be, and that of others contemplating to follow in the way of corruption.

However the good news is: It is time to pray  more intensly. It is time for action. It is time to change the course that corruption has taken in the Republic of Guyana.  It is time to punish and change the mind-set of those caught. It is time to close the door to corruption of the mind, open the door to purity, integrity and rise to the state of mind, create and establish a Guyanese Society of One people, One nation, One destiny, and enjoy “a better life,” with the help of God, in Jesus’ name. Shalom

May Yahweh richly bless you and your household, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Serving in newness of spirit,

Redeeming Luv.