September 2021 \ Diaspora News \ COVER STORY—DIPLOMATIC COLUMN
Indian Diaspora in the Caribbean–Past and Present

Arrival of Indian indentured workers to the Caribbean ...

By Dr (Amb.) Gauri Shankar Gupta

Economically, West Indians have overtaken their African compatriots. Most small and medium business enterprises are owned and run by the West Indians. Some of them have their business operations in more than one country though their operations are still small in the global context. In recent years they have also excelled in several professions such as medicine, law, accounting, banking, teaching, writing, sports and so on. Today West Indians are the top lawyers, bankers, doctors, professors and writers in most of these nations. Many of them have migrated to the US, Canada and Europe and have done very well in these countries. Nobel Prize for Sir V. S. Naipaul is an example of such excellence. In cricket Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Alvin Kallicharan, RamnareshSarwan and DeneshRamdin rose to become captains of the West Indies cricket team. West Indians have also done well at the international arena. Sir ShridathRamphal rose to become the secretary General of the Commonwealth and Albert Ramdin served as the Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States. BetrandRamcharan was UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Given the small size of less than 2 million people, their performance in all areas of human enterprise is indeed praiseworthy, far exceeding the normal per capita norms. Their geographic location next to the US and ethnic mix with Africans, Europeans and other races has provided them good opportunities to learn and improve and develop a global perspective. Their life has undergone complete transformation during the last two generations. Today members of Indian Diaspora in the Caribbean offer many opportunities for fruitful interaction and collaboration with India in cultural, economic, scientific, sport and literary fields.

—The author is a former High Commissioner of India to Trinidad and Tobago

A Tribute

Uttering lies and false promises,
Driven by sheer greed,
Colonial powers transported,
Millions across the seas.

Like cattle they were battered,
During the long voyage,
They were completely shattered,
Some died, some survived.

Far away from their homes,
Driven by lies and deception,
In a state of helplessness,
They landed in the Caribbean.

Exhausted, drained and lost,
They met with hostile reception,
Torn between destiny and hope,
They reconciled to total humiliation.

Although tormented,
They took it in their stride,
Considered it a rebirth,
Beginning a new life.

With fortitude and determination,
Following baptism by fire,
Slowly they emerged,
From the debris of disaster.

Over time,
They started shining bright,
Like millions of stars,
In a pitch-dark night.

Forming part of a composite culture,
Today, their proud and confident progeny,
Constitute a core component,
Of the Caribbean society and economy.

It is time to pay tribute,
To those tormented souls,
Who suffered,
Yet lived with fortitude.

Far away from their homes,
They constructed a new home,
Changed the course of history,
Defeated trickery and
immortalized victory.

—Dr (Amb.) Gauri Shankar Gupta