New York Launch of Centennial Commemoration of Indian Indentureship

March 5, 2017 (EST-USA)

Press Statement


New York Launch of Centennial Commemoration of Indian Indentureship


TheIndian Diaspora Council (IDC), in collaboration with its global affiliates and partners, held a prominently successful New York launch of the 100th anniversary commemoration of the abolition of Indian indentureship at the Consulate of India in New York on March 3, 2017. The theme of the event: "Centennial of Abolition of Indian Indenturedship: Challenges, Progress, Achievements and Charting New Frontiers". It was an over-capacity participatory event with speakers and invited guests focusing on: Commemoration of the centennial of abolition of Indian Indenturedship; History of Indian Indenturedship; Perspectives on the end of an era; Challenges, Progress and Achievement; Descendants of Indian Indenturedship and the PIOs experience.

March 20, 2017 marks the centennial of official abolition of Indian Indentureship, an era spanning the years 1834-1917, starting immediately after the formal Emancipation of Slaves in 1834. Indian Indentureship was an intense and harrowing period of Indian migration from several Indian states to far way lands of then British colonies around the world. The history and consequences of Indian Indentureship are deeply embedded with tremendous significance, meaningful history and reflections to millions of descendants living in many countries which were the recipients of Indian Indentured labourers seeking better livelihoods. These countries included: Mauritius, Fiji, Malaysia, South Africa, East Africa, Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, Jamaica, Belize, Grenada, St Lucia and other countries of the Caribbean, as well as former French colonies of Reunion Island, Seychelles, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana.

The March 3 event is the New York, USA commemoration of the centennial of abolition of Indian Indenturedship in collaboration with various communities of people of Indian origin (PIOs) and non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the New York/New Jersey/ Connecticut/ Pennsylvania/Massachusetts region where a significant population of PIOs and NRIs reside, descendants of Indian Indentured laborers (1834-1917) originally from Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, Jamaica, South Africa and other countries.

Similar commemoration events are being held by Indian Diaspora Council (IDC) and its affiliates in several countries impacted by Indian indentureship during the month of March 2017, including a 2-day conference in New Delhi on April 22-23.

This New York event precedes the Indian Diaspora World Convention 2017, the grand global commemoration onMarch 17-20, 2017 to be held in Trinidad & Tobago: Grand opening ceremonies, conferences, panel sessions, workshops, resolutions, action items team, future projects, cultural presentations and receptions. Several Indian officials as well as officials, civic and community leaders from neighbouring Caribbean countries would be engaged in discussions on engagements and collaboration.

The March 3 program was moderated by Suzanne Mahadeo, editor for Global Fund for Women’s, who requested Rev Seopaul Singh, Pandit Goor Jaganath and Imam Abdool Hakim to conduct invocation prayers (Imam Hakim was delayed). Event chairperson Mr. Jhairam Persaud welcomed the attendees, officials and guests, citing the focus on the centennial theme and its significance. Introductory remarks were made by IDC president Mr. Ashook Ramsaran who spoke on the fitting tribute of the centennial at the Indian Consulate and elsewhere, and requested observance of “a moment of silence for all those who made the harsh and treacherous journeys ahead of us, paving the way for our progress over many generations, and to those who protect our freedoms today and in the future”. The Youth Corps headed by Resha Ali assisted with ushers and program supports; Patsy Leopold coordinated the site registration.

Mr. Harbachan Singh introduced Consul L. T. Nghaite, Consul (PIC) & Head of Chancery at the Indian Consulate as chief guest representing Consul General Amb. Riva Ganguly Das who was away from New York. Consul Nghaite spoke of this special commemoration and the significance to so many millions of persons of Indian origin who are descendants of those left India as indentured laborers during 1834-1920. Introduced by Mr. Darrel Sukdeo, Guyana’s Consul General Barbara Atherly spoke of the many contributions of Indians to Guyana in all segments of society: social, cultural, political and economic, including foods, music and dance. Mauritius minister representative to the United Nations, Mr. Vishal Lutchoomun, introduced by Ms. Sharla Khargi, traced the history of Indians to Mauritius beginning in 1834 and the inherent bonds with India. Mr. Lutchoomun also recited Bhojpuri at the request of Guyanese legendary icon Pandit Ram Lall who was elated at the rendition.

Mr. Martin Lalsingh introduced feature speaker Prof. Marina Budhos, a renowned historian and an award winning writer on the Indian Diaspora, fiction and non-fiction. Prof. Budhos spoke of the history of Indian indentureship and the story of sugar which was the mainstay of the plantations for which the Indian indentured laborers were recruited. The “event was also blessed” as it was the birthday of Prof. Budhos. Ms. Gene Ram introduced Dr. Tyran Ramnarine, Fullbright scholar, historian and academician, who spoke on the need for cheap labor and easy recruitment in India in those states experiencing famine during that era. Consul Nghaite presented mementos to Budhos and Ramnarine on behalf of the Indian Consulate, and IDC officials Deo Gosine (IDC coordinator, Trinidad & Tobago) and Mr. Santram Dukhbhanjan (IDC treasurer) presented IDC mementos of appreciation as well. In addition, Consul Nghaite and IDC made a special presentation to Guyana freedom fighter and icon Pandit Ram Lall.


New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s representative Hersh Parikh presented a citation to IDC and the centennial commemoration on the observance of this historic occasion. New York State Assembly Member Nily Rozic was represented by Ms. Bindu Belani who presented citation as well; Mr. Harpreet Singh Toor presented a citation on the occasion from New York State Assembly Member David Weprin. Parikh Worldwide Media chairman Dr Sudhir Parikh noted that it is a solemn commemoration and commended those who made the journey; Dr. Ramesh Pandey, an expert in Ayurveda, congratulated IDC and conveyed his best wishes for all the centennial observances in 2017.

Clinical scientist Sharla Khargi gave a masterful rendition of the poem from Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore “Where the Mind Is Without Fear”. Mr. Dennis Ramdahin announced the upcoming Indian Diaspora World Convention 2017 on March 17-20, 2017 in Trinidad & Tobago and encouraged attendance; he also spoke on the Vihar Foundation’s efforts in India; and the proposed resolutions at the Indian Diaspora World Convention 2017. Planned Indian Diaspora Economic Forum in Oct 2017: “Connecting and Engaging the Indian Diaspora on Economic Issues”

Ms. Denyse Baboolal of Jaya Devi Arts in Florida introduced the band from Suriname which sang nostalgic songs reminiscent of the music among the descendants of indenture laborers. Dr. Tara Singh expresses thanks and appreciation to all who attended, participated and co-sponsored, as well as the event’s media partners. Dinner of Caribbean foods followed.

Co-sponsors include: Indo-Caribbean Council (ICC); Indian American Global Chamber of Commerce (IAGCC); Interfaith Community Council; Amer. Bangali Hindu Foundation; Richmond Hill Econ. Development (RHDEC);Kali Travel Ltd., Pure Audio Systems; Kris Agency & Home Care; Labidco Port Services Ltd; Abegales Catering. Media partners included: The West Indian; Indo-Caribbean World; Caribbean New Yorker (Nala Singham); Parikh Worldwide Media (Dr. Sudhir Parikh); The Indian Panorama (Prof. Inderjit Saluja); India Abroad (Mr. Rajeev Bhambri); Indian Television (ITV); Caribbean Network Enterprise (Seopaul Singh); TV Asia.


For more information, please contact Ashook Ramsaran @  

Indian Diaspora Council (IDC) is an international non-profit organization of shared heritage, aspirations and interests. 

Indian Diaspora Council  and IDC  are Trademarks of Indian Diaspora Council.

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