Know your Roots

After the abolition of slavery, around 1834, the British and other colonial powers were facing acute shortage of labour to work in agricultural farms in colonies in the Caribbean, Mauritius and Fiji etc. They induced thousands of poor and helpless villagers mainly from Bihar (Jharkhand was part of Bihar) and UP to work in these far off countries under a system of indentureship (contract labour).

Most of these labourers, (called Girmitiyas) eventually settled in these countries and lost contact with their motherland. They toiled with their blood and sweat, preserved their Indian ethos and value system. The third and fourth generation descendents of these unsung heroes are today occupying important positions in socio-political and economic spheres of their adopted countries.

These Girmitiya Descendents have a fond desire to connect with the land of their forefathers. Many of them are thinking of making investments, undertaking philanthropic projects and adopting some village etc for development of the native places of their forefathers. But they do not have any idea about how to proceed in this direction.

For the past more than 30 years ARSP has engaged itself with this vital segment of Indian Diaspora in countries like Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname etc. ARSP started the Know Your Roots Programme in 1985 to help the decendents of indentured workers locate their roots in the land of their forefathers. It has already helped several distinguished PIOs to locate and visit the ancestral villages of their forefathers.

One specific case is that of Shri Harish Boodoo, former Dy. Prime Minister of Mauritius whose village was located. He visited there in August 1987 along with Shri Baleshwar Agrawal, secretary General ARSP and other workers, subsequently a part of the road leading to his village was named after him. Later on the roots of Shri Bharat Jagdeo, President of Guyana, Shri Basdev Pandey, former Prime Mininster of Trinidad of Tobago, and Shri Mahendra Choudhary, former Prime Minister of Fiji were located with the help of State Governments.