It focuses on the crucial period when Indian indentured labourers became a permanent part of Guyanese society. It explores both the inner processes of Indian settlement and the beginnings of that community's political involvement with the wider society and relationships with the Afro-Guyanese.
It charts how, in the process, Indian peasants were transformed into industrialised wage labourers on the sugar estates, rice farmers and urban professionals. In exploring how a distinctive Indo-Guyanese culture emerged, Dale Bisnauth counters the tendency amongst some sectors of the Indo-Guyanese community to deny the humble, low-caste origins of those who were its makers. His is a history that gives full weight to the efforts of the nameless and forgotten to shape their lives.
The book also looks frankly at the ethnic considerations which shaped relationships between the Indo-Guyanese and the wider Guyanese society. In looking critically at the divide and rule policies of successive colonial governments, and situating both Africans and Indians in a common history of exploitation, Dale Bisnauth's study offers a clear and insightful basis for contemporary understanding of the role of ethnicity in a plural society and a cogent discussion of the processes of settlement and cultural change.
"Dale Bisnauth, Guyana’s current Minister of Education, has provided an exhaustive study of the Indian community during the period in which it became the most significant element in Guyanese society. This vital document on the region’s largest Indian settlement and culture traces the history of ethnic hostility against a background of colonial exploitation and divide-and-rule strategy, and makes an important contribution to understanding not only the South Asian diaspora but also the complexities of Caribbean society."
Simon Lee, Caribbean Beat
Dr Bisnauth was secretary of the Caribbean Council of Churches and is currently Minister of Education in the Government of Guyana.