The Future of Indians Diaspora
Though Indians lived under conditions of appalling poverty in many places of the world where they were first taken as indentured labor, a number of remarkable transformations were effected over two or three generations. Through sheer perseverance, labor, and thrift, and most significantly by a calculated withdrawal into their culture, in which they found forces of sustenance, these Indians successfully labored to give their children and grand-children better economic futures, and they in time came to capture the trade and commerce of their new homelands. This was just as true in South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda, as it was in Trinidad, Mauritius, and Burma. In Trinidad, though the minuscule population of whites continues today to control the banks and financial services, the Indians dominate in industry and entrepreneurial enterprises. If in Trinidad Indians appear to have done well for themselves within the economic domain, their affluence in such countries as the United States is even more pronounced, as is their presence within the professions. In the southern states, motels are synonymous with Patels, and one is tempted to see in the synchronization of the two words something more than mere coincidence. Taking the country as a whole, though their share of the population in the United States is less than 0.5%, Indians account for well over 5% of the scientists, engineers, and software specialists; and no group, not excepting whites, the Japanese, and Jewish people, has a higher per capita income than Indians. All, however, is not well with Indians in the diaspora. In many countries, the resident Indian population has acquired something of a reputation for un-national activities, or just as frequently for exploiting the indigenous people, for having cornered the trade and business, and for being possessed of a greedy disposition. The calypsonian Lord Superior voiced these sentiments in Trinidad, when he urged Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams, on the eve of independence in 1958, to "tax them" Indians "mad": It have some old Indian people
Playing they like to beg
This time they got one million dollars
Tie between their leg
I am telling the Doctor
I am talking the facts
Is to chop loose the capra [cloth]
And haul out your income tax.
Similarly, wherever in Africa Indians were able to establish themselves, they became indispensable as the principal arteries of trade, shopkeepers to the nation, and so opened themselves to the charge that they had done so by illicit activities, by marginalizing the local population, and with no other thought than of enhancing their own interests and prosperity. These charges were, more often than not, preposterous and in any case could scarcely have justified the cruel and brutal treatment meted out to Indians in such places as Uganda, from where Idi Amin effected their wholesale and immediate removal, or Kenya, from where their eviction was only slightly less callous. In Uganda, where Indians had first been brought by the British to labor on railway lines, the charge that Indians were taking away from the black man his livelihood and not contributing to the national coffers either, was writ large on the political agenda of black nationalists. Indians were sacrificed, in both countries, to black nationalist politics, to black elites, and to the internecine warfare between black political structures and parties. In South Africa, Indians were assumed to be akin to Jews, and were thus invested with those purported Jewish properties, such as being crafty, mendacious, and money-minded. Indians, like all other non-whites, were subject to the machinery of apartheid, but the dominant white regime sought to drive a wedge between Indians, coloreds, and blacks, and etch within the minds of Indians a notion of ineradicable 'difference' between themselves and the other unfortunate victims of apartheid. That this strategy was not without success was attested to by...
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