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Labor Migration

Even though world economic growth was rapid in the 19th century, poverty also prevailed. Higher income for some and poverty for others; technological advancement in some areas and new forms of coercion in other areas was the order of the day. Poverty and oppression forced hundreds of thousands of Indians and Chinese to leave their shore in search of a livelihood. Thus the system of indentured labor or bonded labor came into existence.

A Contract Form of an Indentured laborer


Poor peasants from eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Central India and the dry districts of Tamil Nadu migrated as indentured laborers to the Caribbean islands, Mauritius, Fiji, Ceylon and Malaya. The indentured laborers found the living and working conditions to be harsh and unpleasant.

Indian Indentured Labourers in a Cocoa Plantation


From the 1900s India’s nationalist leaders opposed the system of indentured laborers and it was ultimately abolished in 1921. As many indentured laborers stayed back, you will find large communities of people of Indian descent, still settled in these countries.

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