My project will be to examine the lives of Indian Indentured labourers between 1845 and 1917. The reason I am examining their lives is to prove that Indian Indentureship was just another form of slavery with a different name. The project will also assist me in learning about the Indian Indentureship period for my CSEC examination.
Indentured labour was something like the last resort for planters after slavery. After the abolition of slavery the planters were left with a labour shortage. In their search for other sources of labour the planters tried Chinese, Madeirans, even free African slaves but each of these options all had their disadvantages. After a trial and error period with many different labourers, it was found that the Indians were the ideal labourers. The Indentureship period was supposed to be a fair, humane and just system unlike the African slave trade and slavery on the whole but this was not the case. In many aspects of the Indentureship period, it was almost identical to slavery. In the following paragraphs it will be shown from the evidence given, that Indians were treated almost as badly as African slaves, proving that the Indentureship period was simply another form of slavery. Indentureship and slavery are basically the same thing but the major thing that differentiated them was the fact that the Indian labourers were legally owned while the African slaves were forced to work for the planters.
The Indians were cheated into signing contracts which they didn’t understand with false promises of a better life and good working conditions. The Indians were gullible and were easily tricked into signing the contracts which ran from 3-5 years. The African slaves on the other were kidnapped in most cases and forced to work for the rest of their usually short lives. Their only chance of freedom would be allowed only if they purchased it, which was very unlikely. The journey for both the Africans and the Indians began with a long journey on a boat in deplorable living conditions. For the Indians the journey lasted from 93 to 113 days which was longer than the journey of the Africans which lasted from 6 to 10 weeks. Although both journeys were bad the Middle passage was a little worse than the journey the Indians endured. They were both kept in confined spaces which was unhealthy, especially if kept for long periods of time. Because of their confinement diseases were easily spread and the mortality rate was very high. Life on the plantation was not much different because their living quarter were also confined.