Status and Character of Overseas Emigrants
HUGH TINKER, THE BANYAN TREE: OVERSEAS EMIGRANTS FROM INDIA, PAKISTAN, AND BANGLADESH, Oxford University Press, 1977, pp 204, Rs 75.
THE nineteenth century witnessed the bulk emigration of different types of people from the Indian sub-continent. The mercantile castes from the western coast of India faced west; trade led them to permanent settlement in South and East Africa, Aden and the Persian Gulf. The Chettyars, a caste of bankers from Madras, extended their ancient ties with East—Burma, Malaya, Thailand, Indonesia, and Mauritius. Indentured labourers were recruited from different places and taken to various countries like Ceylon, Burma, South Africa, and Fiji. The Sikhs, adventurous and adaptive as they are, could venture far and wide. The Patidars, from Gujarat, though originally faimers, emigrated to Africa, especially after the 1900 famine in Kaira district and accumulated property through their thrift and industry. In more recent times, educated emigrants including professionals, have been seeking their fortunes overseas especially in the Western industrialised countries. Now there are over 3.4 million people of Indian origin settled abroad. If we include those from Pakistan and Bangladesh, the number from the whole sub-continent would be around five million. How have they fared in their countries of adoption? Wh
According to Tinker, there are two distinct impressions about the status of Indians abroad. One is that of the exploiters or spoilers-they create new Indian colonies in the lands where they settle; and the other is that of the victims of circumstances, the roles they have to perform are dictated to them by the .system. In the book, the description