Arrival of Indentured Laborers is observed on November 2 every year in Mauritius. This day is a federal holiday observed across the country to commemorate and honor the indentured laborers who were brought to Mauritius to work as a replacement for slaves. These laborers were brought to Mauritius from India to work on the sugar plantations and shaped the development of the country and its dynamics. They were integral to the development of the country. The day is set aside to honor their contributions and acknowledge the difficulties the laborers experienced as they were deprived of many basic rights when they arrived.
History of Arrival of Indentured Labourers
Arrival of Indentured Laborers is a national holiday in Mauritius. This day is an important holiday in the country as it honors the contributions of the indentured laborers who were brought into Mauritius to work in the sugar case fields. The laborers filled in the gaps in a situation where there was a severe labor shortage, brought on when slavery was banned on the islands. However, they often faced several fits of abuse and hardships — the indentured immigrants frequently found themselves deprived of their basic rights. The Arrival of Indentured Laborers day is set aside to acknowledge these concerns and honor the shared history of India and Mauritius as part of the British colonies that experienced the complexities of indentured servitude.
The banning of slavery on the Mauritius islands was the impetus that led to a growing demand for reliable, cheap labor that could work in the sugar cane plantations. The planters on the islands demanded and brought over several indentured laborers from India. The laborers were integral as they would work for lower wages than the newly freed enslaved people, which undermined the effort of the previously enslaved people.
The system in place required the laborers to be produced in front of a magistrate and swear that they would be working out of their own free will. Then, a contract would be drafted detailing wages and the length of the work, capped at five years. The planters found that the indentured laborers were invaluable and pleaded for longer contracts. The government began to offer incentives for people to stay longer, and women immigrants were brought over to the islands as well to entice laborers to stay. Over time, these laborer immigrants became important to the country’s growth.
Arrival of Indentured Labourers timeline
With slavery abolished, the sugar cane plants start to feel the requirements for cheap, reliable labor.
The British Empire lay down regulations and terms to facilitate the introduction of indentured laborers to Mauritius.
Accounting for the growing concerns about the abuses of the indentured labor system, overseas manual labor is prohibited in India.
Plantation owners work hard to overturn the ban on overseas labor, and the British government permits emigration from specific locations in India.
Arrival of Indentured Labourers FAQs
When did indentured laborers arrive in Mauritius?
The first batch of indentured laborers arrived in Mauritius in 1834.
How many Indians were indentured?
About 3.5 million Indians were indentured across the British Empire.
What did indentured laborers receive on arrival?
Indentured laborers were supposed to receive wages, a small amount of land, and the daily necessities when they arrived.
How to Observe Arrival of Indentured Labourers
Share information about laborers
A great way to honor the laborers is to share information about their contributions. Share your knowledge about the work of the laborers on social media and appreciate their part in building Mauritius.
Visit Aapravasi Ghat
Indentured laborers entered Mauritius through a place called Aapravasi Ghat at the port of St. Louis. Visit the place and experience what the laborers saw when they first arrived at the island.
Organize conferences and discussions
Organize or participate in discussions about indentured labor and its impact on people. Facilitate the discussions around labor and how it shaped the country.
5 Facts About Indentured Labor That You Probably Didn’t Know
The system expanded to many empires
Indentured labor began in the British Empire, but was soon adopted by the French and Dutch Empires as well.
It lasted over 70 years
The system of indentured labor began in the 1830s and continued well into the early 1900s.
It ended because of pressure
The British Empire was easily swayed by the planters, and it was only incredible pressure from Indian nationalists and the expenses of indentured labor that led to the end of the system.
The repatriation was a big problem
Indians who had completed their five years would often find it difficult to return home, with a high rate of death on their passage back home.
Government tried to stop people from leaving
Apart from incentives, the Government of Mauritius also prevented laborers from leaving by devising laws that forced them to give up their free passage home if they didn’t meet specific conditions.
Why Arrival of Indentured Labourers is Important
We think it’s important historically
The work of the laborers played an important role in the development of the country. We want to place the laborer immigrants in the history of Mauritius.
We want to honor the immigrants
We want more people to know about the sacrifices and difficulties that people experienced as indentured laborers. We want to honor the descendants of these laborer immigrants.
We want to study the impact
We think that indentured labor transformed the landscape of the country. We want to start conversations about the impact of indentured labor across the colonial empires.
Arrival of Indentured Labourers dates