It is estimated that in the late 1980s there were 8.7 million persons of south Asian ethnicity living overseas (Clarke, Peach et al. 1990: 2). By 2001 a Report by the High Level Committee on the Indian Diaspora to the Indian Government estimated that the total population in the diaspora was nearly 17 million (High Level Committee 2001). Since the High Level Committee appears to have omitted fi gures for several countries, most notably Martinique, this total appears slightly understated. The south Asian diaspora was created in three principal phases: from the 1830s, Indian indentured labour was drawn to plantations across the British Empire; from the 1840s there was a second stream of voluntary migration from Gujarat to east Africa; fi nally since 1947 there has been a major stream of migration from the sub-continent to the UK, the US and Canada (Brennan 1998: 1). The emergence in European colonies of commercial plantations growing – above all – sugar, but also tea and coffee, rice, tobacco, cotton, rubber and a host of other tropical commodities produced a strong international demand for labour in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and to a certain extent, the twentieth. The banning of the landing of slaves in British colonies in 1808 was a signifi cant step in the eventual abolition of slavery in 1834 (Tinker 1974: 1-2). The prohibition of the trade in slaves created a strong demand for alternative sources of labour which during the nineteenth century came to be fi lled by indentured labourers, many of whom were recruited in India (for an account which focuses on the experiences of the indentured themselves, see Lal 1998). Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh in the north and present-day Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in the south furnished many of those recruited for plantation labour overseas (Brennan 1998: 3). Tinker estimates that between 1830 and 1870 one to two million Indians embarked for periods of virtual capitalist slavery in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), the West Indies, South and East Africa, Burma, Malaya, Mauritius and Fiji (Tinker 1974: 115). The abusive system of indentures was eventually ended in 1917, to be replaced by a scheme of ‘assisted passage’ – the need for imported labour, after all, did not end until the Great Depression. Of those who boarded ship and survived their period of indenture, perhaps only one-quarter returned to India (Tinker 1974: 232). Those who remained behind became traders or smallholder agriculturalists and pursued a host of other professions and trades. By 1921 there were signifi cant Indian communities in a number of colonies and former colonies. As can be seen

4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3

The third wave of migration has brought hundreds of thousands of south Asians – many but by no means all from what is independent India – to fi rst world countries, most notably the UK (for a study of the culture of the post-war migrants, see Shukla 2003). The estimated numbers of persons of south Asian origin are given in Table 14.2. Clarke, Peach et al., drawing on Speckmann’s (1965) periodisation of the experience of Indian migrants in Suriname, identify fi ve critical episodes in the experiences of migrant communities:

(1) immigration (causing social disarray and anomie); (2) acculturation (a reorientation of traditional institutions and the adoption of new ones); (3) establishment (growth in numbers, residential footing and economic security; (4) incorporation (increased urban social patterns and the rise of a middle class); and (5) accelerated development (including greater occupational mobility, educational attainment, and political representation).