Essay on indentured labour

Contact the British Library. The Asia, Pacific and Africa collections contain many records about Indian indentured labour under colonial administration. Use the library of the School of Oriental and African Studies , which is a major source for academic studies into Indian indentured labour systems.

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All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3. Skip to Main Content. Search our website Search our records. How to look for records of Indian indentured labourers How can I view the records covered in this guide? View online How many are online? None Some All. Order copies We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally. Visit us in Kew Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free.

The Impact Of Indentured Labourers On Caribbean Society History Essay

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Who were the Indian indentured labourers? How do I search for records at The National Archives? What kind of records does The National Archives hold? Key records at The National Archives 6. Parliamentary records 7. More about the history of indentured labourers 8. Further reading. Many of the records contain only the first names of the labourers, not their last names. The largest sources of records about Indian indentured labourers are: Colonial Office correspondence Foreign Office correspondence Whilst these papers may contain sample records on how the labourers were contracted, transported, and employed, they do not hold information on how local administrations managed labourers on a day-to-day basis.

Key records at The National Archives 5. The types of records you may find include: medical reports, which sometimes give details of the births and deaths of Indians on the ships population analysis, statistical returns and mortality rates lists of ships, receipts and information about expenditure policy papers and reports on criminal cases involving indentured labourers 5.

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Search our catalogue. They were meant to receive wages, a small amount of land and in some cases, promise of a return passage once their contract was over. In reality, this seldom happened, and the conditions were harsh and their wages low. The indentured workers sought to escape poverty and famines that were a frequent occurrence during the period of British colonial rule in India.

But given the high levels of illiteracy, few workers understood the terms of the contract they put their thumb imprint to in lieu of a signature, as they could not write. Many were commonly misled about where they were departing for and the wages they would receive. Through testimonies of the migrants we now know that many workers were recruited from rural India to work in cities like Calcutta, but once there were tricked or persuaded to sign the contract which took them to the emigration depot and to the plantations overseas. The journey took between 10 and 20 weeks, depending on the destination.

Conditions on the ships were similar to those on slave ships.

Indentured Labour Migration From India (Part 3) - The Making of a Global World -History - Class 10th

After they disembarked, there were further deaths in the holding depot and during the process of acclimatisation in the colonies Tinker, The conditions at work were harsh, with long working hours and low wages. Given the weak physical condition of the labourers after the long voyage, this took its toll.

Children were expected to work alongside their parents from the time they were 5 years old. If you woke up late, i. An estimated seven percent of the indentured workers who built the Kenya-Uganda Railways died during their contract, according to historian Hugh Tinker Man-eating lions also attacked the rail construction brigades on several occasions, killing around one hundred workers.

Indentured Indians in the French Antilles. Les immigrants indiens engagés aux Antilles françaises

Many workers tried to escape their harsh life but were recaptured, and imprisoned. Sometimes their initial five year contract was doubled to ten years for attempted desertion. At the end of the contract, while some workers chose to return, others decided to stay where they were, particularly women who had left home following a disagreement with their parents because they were unlikely to be accepted back into their family after several years away in a distant country.

Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of those who worked on the Kenya-Uganda railways returned to India after the end of their contract. Draw a picture to represent the working conditions on the plantations where indentured labourers worked. Migrant workers did try to oppose the abuses of the indentured labour system, but this was difficult.

Some sent petitions to the agents of the colonial government who administered the indenture system. According to historical records, indentured workers carried out acts of sabotage and revenge against the plantation owners on numerous occasions, but this just resulted in increased repression.


To the voices of the indentured workers was added the dissenting voice of the growing Indian nationalist movement. Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian freedom movement, saw first hand the plight of Asian indentured labourers in South Africa and campaigned on this issue during the first decade of the 20th century.

The system of indentured labour was officially abolished by British government in