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Last updated: 21 July, 2008 - Published 07:58 GMT
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The Indo-Caribbean story
Farmers in Uttar Pradesh

170 years ago, the first group of Indians were brought to the Caribbean.

Indentureship came after the end of slavery.

And workers, mostly from East India, were brought to the Caribbean to replace African slaves on British plantations across what was then the West Indies.

In 1838, the first ships arrived in Guyana, later ships would also being other migrants to the rest of the Caribbean.

Clem Seecheran is the Professor of Caribbean studies at London's Metropolitan University.

"An overwhelming majority...came from roughy the same culture area - from Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar...traditionaly, the very poor areas," Dr Seecheran told BBC Caribbean.

He added: "There would have been a sprinkling from other areas - the odd Afghan, the odd Punjabi, the odd Bengali."

Brinsley Samaroo is a Trinidadian historian and former politician.

He told BBC Caribbean that between 1838 to 1917 half a million Indians came and settled across the Caribbean.

According to Dr Samaroo, 259,000 to Guyana, 147,000 to Trinidad, 38,000 to Jamaica and smaller amounts distributed across the rest of the Caribbean.

There are several different Indian arrival days across the Caribbean.

Dr Samaroo explained that this is because, after the first two ships arrived in Guyana in 1838, there had been complaints that the first "export" of Indians had not been treated well.

Ships stopped

This led to a delay in the migration in 1838.

When conditions were improved by 1845, the next and larger scale of the export of Indians took place to Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.

The first Indian migrants did not arrive in Suriname until 1873.

Dr Samaroo told BBC Caribbean that this was followed by a movement around the islands of newly-arrived Indian.

"Those of them who wished to maintain their Indian Identity...came south and settled either in Trinidad and Tobago or Guyana in which there were larger concentrations of Indians and in which they could practice their Indian culture and Indian heritage," Samaroo said.

"Others who remained (in other territories) became integratred into the larger creole culture."

Indo-Caribbean special part two
18 July, 2008 | News
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