Girmitiyas: Impactful Indentured Labor Legacy

  Dec 05, 2023

Girmitiyas: Understanding Indentured Labor

Who were the Girmitiyas?

Girmitiyas were indentured laborers from British India who were transported under an agreement to work on plantations across various British colonies, including Fiji, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa and Southeast Asia.

What is the origin of the term ‘Girmitiyas’?

The term ‘Girmitiyas’ is derived from the Indian pronunciation of the English word “agreement,” referencing the contract laborers from the Indian subcontinent signed to work abroad.

What does the term ‘Jahajis’ signify?

‘Jahajis’ translates to ‘people of the ship’ in Indic languages, indicating the mode of travel used by the indentured laborers to reach their overseas work destinations.

How were the Girmitiyas recruited?

Girmitiyas were recruited through the Indian indenture system, which involved contracts specifying the duration and conditions of their work in foreign lands.

What were the conditions like for the Girmitiyas?

Conditions for Girmitiyas were often harsh and exploitative, resembling servitude, with long working hours, minimal wages, and stringent terms of service.

In which countries did Girmitiyas primarily work?

They primarily worked in Fiji, South Africa, Eastern Africa (including Mauritius and Kenya), Malaysia, Singapore, and several Caribbean nations such as Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.

What was the historical impact of the Girmitiyas?

The movement of Girmitiyas contributed to the cultural and demographic landscape of the host countries, influencing the ethnic composition and cultural practices seen in these regions today.



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