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Rowley: T&T grateful to Indians who stayed

Published: 
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Members of the Shiv Shakti Dance Company performing at the opening of the Indian Diaspora World Convention 2017, NCIC Nagar, Chaguanas, on Friday night. PHOTO: SHASTRI BOODAN

T&T remains eternally grateful to the Indians who chose to remain in T&T and make this country their home when Indentureship ended on 1917, says Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

He was delivering the feature address at the opening of the Indian Diaspora World Convention 2017, the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of legislation to end East Indian Indentureship at the NCIC Nagar, Chaguanas, on Friday night.

Rowley concentrated his address on the continued pattern of human migration throughout history. He said wars, famine and the need to conquer were the main drivers of mass human movement.

The PM recounted that it was the British who extracted people from India and “exported” them to the Caribbean as a replacement for labour at the end of slavery.

He said “I, the descendant of slaves, would ask you scholars of the Indian Diaspora to reflect on the condition worse than Indentureship which ended in 1834 and triggered Indentureship, hardly better, because it was based largely on human relationships and history will show that it was coloured and pasted by man’s inhumanity to man.”

Rowley said in the Caribbean the movement of people was still going on “We spare a thought for the people of Syria who are on the move in some of the worst human conditions, families torn apart and treated as if their lives don’t matter.

We are surprised by the movement of Africans into Europe today and wonder what’s driving that migration, and those of us in the Caribbean can acknowledge that with India’s independence, our own independence was paved by what India said to the colonialist and what Indian accomplished on our behalf.

“That is why as we set about to build our nation, which is still very young, we hold on to what India represents to T&T and the Caribbean, a big sister in a very turbulent world .”

Guyana’s President Moses Nagamotoo also spoke at the event. Nagamotoo said the government of Guyana has commissioned a monument in Guyana in tribute of indentured Indian labourers.