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In the land of ‘Sri Ram’: Why Indian indentured labourers in Suriname refused to come back

Adrija Roychowdhury ("The Indian Express")
In the land of ‘Sri Ram’: Why Indian indentured labourers in Suriname refused to come back

The fact that two-third of the more than 34,000 Indian immigrants settled down in Suriname and gave up their free passage back to India is to some extent proof of the fact that life in Suriname was perhaps better than in British India.

In his autobiography, Munshi Rahman Khan wrote about the sudden meeting with two strangers on the platform of a railway station in Kanpur that would mark the beginning of the journey of a lifetime, taking him to the South American country of Suriname. “They asked me why sahib do you want to do a job. I asked, whose job? They said, a government job. Then enquire me whether I had schooling or not. I said yes I am middle school passed. Then they gladly responded that I would be made a sardar and I shall be paid twelve annas,” he writes as reproduced in historian Ashutosh Kumar’s book, Coolies of the empire: Indentured labourers in the sugar colonies.’

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