chapter  4
24 Pages

Country study: Indonesia

Indians started arriving in Jakarta in 1870 through the encouragement of the British colonialists. Due to the predominance of the Sindhi community among the settled Indians in Indonesia, this begs the question why they migrated in number to Indonesia. The British conquest of the Sind province in India in 1843 had been one of the main reasons for the outflow of the Sind natives. As the Sind natives were released from the hegemony of Muslim rulers, they were allowed greater opportunities for agricultural development and trade.1 Sindhi traders often traveled the routes overseas established by their forerunners. These early Sind settlers were generally on their way to Australia but many discovered Indonesia to be both friendly and lucrative.2 These early settlers were mainly shopkeepers in Java, Medan, and Bandung. Most Indians linked to the British colonialists were concentrated in Sumatra, Java, Madura, and Sulawesi. Population data from the time also suggested that Indian migrants were likely to be single males. A Mani pointed out that there was a high rate of turnover among Indian immigrants because many came as temporary laborers and did not stay beyond the duration of their contracts.3 However, in the 1930, there was a perceptible change in trends with statistics for Java, Madura, and the outer Indonesian islands showing that a large percentage of Indians were born in Indonesia. This indicated that the process of assimilation and accommodation with locals was already occurring.4 The aim of this chapter will be to examine the motivation of Indian expatriates to work in Indonesia and the linkages of the settled Indian community and the Indian expatriates in Indonesia.