are mostly descendants of indentured labourers from India
who are citizens or nationals of Guyana
. They are often referred to as Indians or East Indians. Indo-Guyanese are the largest ethnic group identified by the official census, making up 43.45% of the population in 2002.
On May 5th 1838, the year of the final slave emancipation
in the British West Indies
and the beginning of the indentured labor system, 396 Indian immigrants popularly known as the 'Gladstone Coolies' landed in British Guiana
(now Guyana) from Calcutta (now Kolkata
). This was the beginning of the indenture system which was to continue for over three-quarters of a century and whose essential features were very reminiscent of slavery. Within a decade Indian immigration was largely responsible for changing the fortunes of the sugar industry, the mainstay of the economy, from the predicted 'ruin' to prosperity.
Up to the early 1860s recruits in North India were drawn from in and around Calcutta and from the Chota Nagpur
plateau, a sub-division of the Bengal Presidency
about two to three hundred miles from Calcutta. Those from Chota Nagpur were the 'Hill Coolies' or Dhangars. The Dhangars were in great demand by tea garden planters to clear the jungle for the expansion of tea cultivation. Consequently, recruiting operations were pushed further north-westwards and the North-Western Provinces and Oudh (Modern Uttar......