INDIA’S CONTRIBUTION TO GUYANA’S CULTURE
Our ancestors, the indentured Indian immigrants and settlers who came to British Guiana between 1838 and 1928, makes up the largest group in our current population. Today, they play essential roles in the economic, political and cultural life of the country. The Indian contribution began with the arrival of indentured immigrants in British Guiana on May 5, 1838 primarily to work on the sugar plantations. There had always been a labour deficiency in the sugar industry and plantation owners anticipated that the emancipation of enslaved Africans would precipitate a move that could aggravate that situation. That did not quite happen according to our History.
After immigration, maybe about half-century later, the occupations of ‘free’ Indians displayed the diversity of their natural and acquired talents. They excelled in the areas of rice cultivation; cattle farming; manufacturers of coconut oil; bakers; chemists; shopkeepers, merchants; mechanics; clerks; barbers; boatmen; tailors; goldsmiths; doctors; lawyers; sportsmen; politicians; accountants; ambassadors; religious leaders; among many other prestigious portfolios. The Indian presence has immeasurably enriched the Guyanese nation. Descendants of indentured labourers continue to contribute to the cultural, economic and political life of the country.
Today, India is still closely connected with Guyana in many ways and still contribute in various areas of development. There is a permanent High Commission to India in Guyana and many bi-lateral agreements. India continues to empower Guyanese and provide services in the area of Information Technology, Engineering, Agricullture (Rice and Sugar), Research and Development, Medicine, among others. There is a Know India Program (KIP) and an Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program which is a fully-funded program operated by the Government of India with the goal of encouraging cooperation & partnership among developing countries, for mutual benefits. In Guyana today, there are many Indo-Guyanese youths who returned from India with Master and Doctorate Degrees and are serving our country in various fields.
At present, there are thousands of Indo-Guyanese who have received higher education and they are scattered all over the world — many of them are world renowned in the field of medicine, technology, business and other important areas.