The Cooperative Republic of Guyana celebrates ‘Indian Arrival Day’ on 5th May to acknowledge the achievements of the descendants of immigrants of Indian origin and their contribution to nation-building. This year, 2017, marks also the 100th anniversary of the abolition of Indian indentured immigration, the system which was responsible for bringing almost 240,000 Indians to our shores between 1838 and 1917.
Indians were recruited in response to the perceived and predicted shortages of labour on the sugar plantations following African emancipation. They crossed the ocean – kala pani – from Asia to the Americas to toil as indentured immigrants on the sugar plantations.
Indians, together with Portuguese indentured immigrants, who had arrived earlier, and Chinese, who arrived later, and with the free Africans, who remained on the plantations, helped to ensure the survival of the sugar industry in British Guiana.
Indians transformed Guyana’s demographic, economic, political and cultural life. Indians remain the single largest ethnic group in this country and have achieved eminence and prominence in every aspect of national life.
Indian Arrival Day reminds everyone of the role of persons of Indian origin in shaping the nation. Their resistance to the abuses of plantation conditions and their struggle for a better life are legendary. Their cultural beliefs and values and respectful relations became the bases for social cohesion. Guyana pays tribute to Indian achievement.
I extend best wishes to all on the occasion of Indian Arrival Day.
President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana