This edition of Indyana brings forward the past and the present state of affairs regarding the migration from India to the Netherlands. Though the relationship between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and India traces back to 400 years yet the Netherlands has never been a very popular destination for the migrants from India compared to the United Kingdom and the United States of America. However if one includes the Hindustanis within the Indian diaspora the Kingdom of the Netherlands is still home to the second largest Indian diaspora in Europe. The Hindustanis are the descendants of British-Indian indentured labourers who had migrated to the Dutch colony of Surinam between 1873 and 1916 and eventually moved on to the Netherlands in particular during the 1970s and 1980s.
This is a well-repeated story… the history of the indentured labourers and many historians along the passage of time have narrated it. Sandew Hira, an economist and historian and the founder of the International Institute for Scientific Research (ISSR) however reports with a more detailed facts and figures. “June 1868 Baharoen Madoera had entered the Kingdom of the Netherlands as the first Indian indentured labourer. He had come from the Caribbean Island of Barbados to Surinam, which was a former colony of the Netherlands in South America. Five years after the abolition of slavery in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Dutch planters tried to recruit some indentured labourers in the Caribbean to replace the slaves. Because the United Kingdom was already sharing a colonial history with India, the Dutch took the British help to get some Indians from the British colonies in the Caribbean”. However, Hira states, “that the efforts to recruit large numbers of workers from the Caribbean failed. The Dutch planters turned to India where they had set up a system of recruitment that brought 34.304 labourers to Surinam in the period of 1873 -1916. As we all know the first ship Lalla Rookh had arrived on June 5th, 1873. The first person who had disembarked from this ship was Boojhawon Gija with his wife Chooramun Bhoodeea”.
Apart from this Hindustani community living already in the Netherlands, there’s a remarkable increase in the immigration of Indian knowledge workers in the recent years who are more popularly known as the knowledge migrants.
It is interesting to investigate these different categories of “old” and “new” migrants in the Netherlands. The Hindustanis and the knowledge migrants, they are two distinct categories of people, both of Indian descent yet have very little in common. However there are several attempts being made to bring these two different and distinct sections of people of Indian descent together in one platform. The Indian Diaspora in the Netherlands and several other organisations that have evolved and established themselves in the Netherlands facilitate to bring out the bilateral and multi lateral ties between the two countries. However the attempts so far has not provided successful results. Yet, it remains to be seen whether these Dutch PIOs should indeed be indisputably labelled as part of the Indian Diaspora.
In this edition we have briefly touched upon the ‘local identification processes’ amongst people in the Netherlands whose roots can be traced back to India. The Hindustanis in the Netherlands have been successful in making their own unique cultural identity and have adeptly established institutions where Indian culture and religious activities is practised at a regular basis. They have been able to showcase India to the west keeping the country’s own traditional and classical heritage intact. The Hindustanis majorly being a Hindu community they have been able to build temples, Hindu schools, Indian classical organisations, which promotes the classical heritage of India. There’s a Hindu media Organisation called OHM, which frequently broadcasts on Dutch television and radio. In addition to this Hindu media there are six reputed Hindu schools that conventionally follows a Hindu curriculum ever since the year 1988. Of the six Hindu schools, five of them belong to the Stichting Hindoe Onderwijs (Foundation for Hindu Education).
At present, Hindustanis form the largest community of Surinamese origin (345,000) in the Netherlands. The Afro-Surinamese come second, with approximately 132,000, followed by the Javanese Surinamese (22,000), the Chinese Surinamese (11,000) and the Marrons (11,000). The majority of Surinamese were born in Surinam (first generation, is 55% for all Surinamese, 57% for the Hindustanis).
The Hindustanis live primarily in the Hague, Rotterdam, Zoetermeer and Almere. The largest community of Hindustanis reside in the Hague. Of the 46,429 Surinamese in the Hague (the Hague Municipal statistics, http:// www.denhaag.buurtmonitor.nl/), 76% are first and second-generation Hindustanis.
Hindustani Surinamese !! The name that holds invaluable treasures of Indian history and heritage. And we Indians…we share the same origins and the same ancestral land (Many Hindustanis still claim India to be their motherland as well), ours is a bond that is forged through history and heritage, common culture, similar language and most importantly a common religion-Hinduism. And yet there is a difference: the tags ‘Indians’ and ‘Hindustanis’ are not interchangeable.
This edition of Indyana is an edition with a vision. We have one goal, a goal that would make us (the expats) remember what is lost from India remember our classical history, our tradition and remind the Indians — remind ourselves about our own forgotten people…
“Uttaram yat samudrasya himaadraishchaiva dakshinam varsham tadBhaaratam naama Bhaaratee yatra santatihi”
Come! Unite with the Indian uniqueness…. Unite with INDYANA