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The history and evolution of Indian migrants in Suriname

Marking the Indian Arrival in Suriname

Suriname, May 3 (UITV)- Suriname is a small country, originally called Dutch Guiana, is located on the Atlantic side of South America. Suriname today comprises of 37 per cent of East Indian origin population mostly from states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, who travelled as indentured workers to South America in the 19th century.

On June 5, 1873, the first ship named ‘Lalla Rookh’ arrived in Paramaribo, capital of Suriname carrying 452 Indians and a history of Indian migration emerged in the small Dutch colony. The workers were basically contract laborers who had to work for 5 years and then they were suppose to sent back as per the contract.

About one third of the workers chose to return to India after they were done with their contract whereas around 23,000 Indians stayed back when the government offered them settlement rights on state plantations and a bonus of hundred guilders. After some time, the workers realized that the agriculture-based jobs were not worth continuing and they started switching over to other profitable areas, such as in the transportation and trade industry.

They began considering the importance of western education as a crucial tool to social upliftment and started sending their children to school, thus making the next generation eligible to take up jobs in civil services.

Overall, the Indian immigrants have managed to integrate themselves in the Surinamese society. The people follow an ethnic lifestyle and have made visible contribution to the country’s trade, commerce, transport and other sectors. Today a statue ‘Baba and Mai’ stands at the place where the ship arrived to commemorate the Indian Arrival day on 5th June every year.   

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