Migration, Resettlement and Displacement
Stories of and Essays on the Indian Diaspora
UK, USA, Canada and Australia
in collaboration with the
In its simplest form, migration may be defined as “movement from one country, place or locality to another.” Ever since the ancient humans originating on the African continent migrated to Eurasia and elsewhere, humans have been on the move. Presently, 3 percent of the world’s total population, i.e. around at least 258 million people, live outside of their country of origin. Migration has long been caused and complicated by war, enslavement, and persecution. Jews fled their ancestral lands after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., creating a widespread diaspora. Twelve million Africans were enslaved and forced to relocate to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade (1500-1860s). The World War II forced thousands of Holocaust survivors and other civilians to emigrate to Europe, the present state of Israel, and the United States. At the end of the Vietnam War, over a lakh people migrated to the United States in the face of a humanitarian crisis. Migration continues in the 21st century, driven by natural disasters, human rights abuse, political persecution, and even for better job prospects.
Migration is nothing new to Indians. India not only has the largest diaspora in the world (around 18 million living in other countries), but can also boast of having one of the world's most diverse and complex migration histories. Since the 19th century, ethnic Indians have established communities on every continent as well as on islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific and Indian oceans. Again the composition of these migrants has evolved over time from mainly bonded labour in far-flung colonies to post-war labour for British industries to the high-skilled professionals in North America and low-skilled workers in the Middle East. In addition, ethnic Indians in countries like Kenya and Suriname have migrated to other countries, a movement called secondary migration.
Following the abolition of slavery by the British in 1833, the colonies urgently needed manpower, particularly on sugar and rubber plantations. To meet this demand, the British established an organized system of temporary labour migration from the Indian subcontinent. This system remained in place for 80 years before it was criticised and abolished in 1916, for the poor living conditions and almost unlimited employer control, leading to historian Hugh Tinker to label it as a "new form of slavery." By that time, more than 1.5 million Indians had been shipped to colonies in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Oceania, according to estimates by the historian Brij V. Lal. During roughly the same period, another form of labour migration was taking place for the tea, coffee, and rubber plantations in Sri Lanka, Malaya (part of present-day Malaysia), and Burma. The managers were recruiting entire families from South India and shipping them off to these plantations. This system was commonly referred to as the kangani system for Sri Lanka and Malaya, and the maistry system for Burma. Sociologist Chandrashekhar Bhat estimates that about 6 million people had left Indian shores by the time the system was abolished in 1938. In addition, members of India's trading communities migrated and settled in many countries like the Gujarati merchants in East Africa, and traders from Kerala and Tamil Nadu in Burma, Ceylon, and Malaya.
Emigration to the United Kingdom and Northern America started during colonial rule in India. However, the number of emigrants was insignificant at the beginning, largely comprising of educated Parsees and Bengalis. We know on the authority of Rozina Visram that this was so because India had restricted the issuance of passports (from 1930 onwards), to limit the migration of less-educated Indians to Britain, in an attempt to stop them from becoming destitutes there. After the decision by the Indian Supreme Court in 1966, making "right to travel" a fundamental right under the Indian constitution, unskilled, skilled, and professional workers migrated from India to the United Kingdom. This was facilitated by the United Kingdom's commonwealth immigration policy, which allowed any citizen of a Commonwealth country to live, work, vote, and hold public office in the United Kingdom. Between 1995 and 2005, half of the Europe-bound Indian emigrants headed to the United Kingdom and the ethnic Indian community stood at 1.3 million in the first decade of the 21st c.
Substantial Indian migration to Northern America started only in the late 1960s. Both in the United States and Canada, major changes in immigration policy affected immigration flows generally, and Indian immigration specifically. In the United States, the 1965 Immigration Act, which came fully into force in 1968, abolished national-origins quotas and made it possible for high-skilled immigrants, including Indians, to gain permanent residence and bring their family members. It is no wonder that Indian citizens are by far the top recipients of H-1B visas each year, leaving immigrants from Canada a distant second. Even Indians emigrating to Canada increased quite noticeably and in the first half of the 21st c, Canada was home to half a million Indians, which accounted for 7.2 percent of all immigrants in Canada. Australia and New Zealand became important destinations for Indian emigrants since the 1990s. Australia with 147,101 foreign born people from India in the 1st decade of the 21st c accounted for 3.3 percent of all immigrants and is the third-largest group from Asia, after the foreign born people from China and Vietnam.
In keeping with the mission of our digital quarterly, called TMYS Review, to make a conscious attempt to engage scholars with the stories of the contemporary era, we intend to compile stories of migration and resettlement by the Indian diaspora in the UK, the US, Canada and Australia.
This work is important because we believe that personal stories, about a place or time, are also important contributors through which history can be recorded and even understood. Philip Neilsen talks about such records as “history that does not pretend to be empirically verifiable”. It is our endeavour to create a better understanding of the Indian diaspora and add to the existing repository of the official and state sponsored documents (on the condition of the Indian diaspora in these countries) with the lived experiences of such people, and find out if they corroborate or undercut the official versions. We will try to find out their experiences as individuals and as a member of a community living away from their country of origin. For this purpose we have got the kind consent of renowned professors/authors from each of the above mentioned countries to share their experiences with us. Under the scope of this project, selected scholars wiIl get to interact with these diasporic professors/authors (the delegates are mentioned below) treating them as case studies.
Call for Short Stories:
TMYS Review invites short stories from scholars on either of the four countries – the USA, UK, Australia, Canada. The stories should be centered around the life and problems faced by Indian emigrants (one or many) to that country (either real or fictional) and their attachment/detachment with India, depicting a deep understanding of the culture of that country and great story telling skills.
Who can submit: emerging, established or independent scholars
Content guidelines for stories:
- Should deal with the life and problems faced by Indian emigrants (one or many) to that country
- Should depict a deep understanding of the culture of that country and great story telling skills
- Should show the characters’ attachment/detachment with India under the scope of the story
- Could be fiction or nonfiction
- Word limit: 1200-2500 words
Last date of receiving the stories: 15 March 2021
The Structure and Rewards of the project:
1. We are inviting short stories from scholars on either of the four above mentioned countries.
2. The best stories will be published in the June 2021 issue of TMYS Review.
3. The best story writers (one or two for each country) will get the honour of conversing with the renowned professors/authors from each of the mentioned countries through live interviews which will be streamed on TMYS Facebook page. They will receive necessary grooming for the work.
4. Four selected scholars will get the opportunity of compiling analytical essays regarding the aspirations and experiences shared by the diasporic professors/authors in the interviews, which would be published in the June 2021 issue of TMYS Review.
5. The compilation of June 2021 issue will reach all the authors/professors engaged in the project and will also reach the digital libraries of their colleges.
6. The net profit (80% of sales) from TMYS Review - June 2021 issue will be distributed equally among all winning contributors.
7. The selected contributors will be notified accordingly via email.
8. Excerpts from the selected stories and essays will be highlighted on social media, all through May-June2021Other than sending email intimations, all winners will be announced in March 2021 on the social media handles of TMYS: Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram.
9. The time distribution :
- Last date for story submission: 15 March 2021
- The grooming of selected scholars and subsequent interviews: 16 March to 15 April 2021
- Essay compilation: 16 April to 10 May 2021
10. Four winning essayists will receive a Certificate of Excellence from the University of Birmingham.
1. Please adhere to the theme. All submissions to TMYS Review that do not follow the theme or the content guidelines will be rejected.
2. All submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
3. While making a submission, mention in the subject line : the title of the essay, <name of the country the story is based on> and June 2021.
4. The submissions should be attached as word files with the email.
5. All submissions should use Calibri/Times New Roman, font size 12; font size 16 for headings and font size 14 for sub headings if any. Line spacing : 1.5
6. Only original and previously unpublished work will be considered.
5. A participation fee of INR 200/- (USD 2.72) will be charged per contribution. This is a non-refundable fee, but we will do our best to cooperate in case you have made an error that can be corrected to help you resubmit. In each such case, our decision will be final.
You may make a NEFT payment to our bank, you will receive complete tax waiver.
Tell Me Your Story OPC Pvt. Ltd.
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6. Post making the payment, please send a mail at email@example.com to register yourself.
***Registration doesn't guarantee publication***
7. Simultaneous/multiple submission is accepted, with the same fee for each submission.
8. Decision of the Project Lead and the Editors will be final.
9. Deadlines are to be adhered with.
10. Contact for Queries : write QUERIES in subject line and send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org; we apologise in advance for not responding to obvious or irrelevant queries.
Associate Professor Project Assistant Project Assistant Project Assistant
Project Lead (UK & Australia) (USA & Canada) (Research & Design)
STORIES OF THE INDIAN DIASPORA: a Talk Series
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All photographs are sourced from the delegates and used with permission.
Navonil Hazra for Sahana Bajpaie
Adam Smith for Christopher Raja