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Girmitiya or Jahajis were indentured Indian labourers whom the British Empire sent to Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, and the Caribbean (mostly Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, and Jamaica) to work on sugarcane plantations for the benefit of European settlers.


The word girmit represented an Indian pronunciation of the English-language word "agreement" - from the indenture "agreement" of the British Government with Indian labourers.[1] The agreements specified the workers' length of stay in foreign parts and the conditions attached to their return to the British Raj.[2] The word Jahaj refers to ship in Indic languages, with Jahajhi implying 'people of ship' or 'people coming via ship'.[3]

In Fiji, Governor Arthur Hamilton-Gordon discouraged Melanesian Fijians from working on the plantations in an attempt to preserve their culture.[1]

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  1. ^ a b "Girmit History". Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  2. ^ "Article 2". Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  3. ^ Lal, Brij V. "Chalo Jahaji – on a journey through indenture in Fiji". New Retrieved 2021-01-15.

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