Call for Abstracts for Conference on Indentured Indian Diaspora

  Call for Abstracts for Conference on Indentured Indian Diaspora
Prof. Kapil Kumar

Co-Chairs: Profs Kapil Kumar (History, IGNOU) and KK Mishra (Pol Sci BHU)

International Coordinators: Dr Vishnu Bisram and Dr Satish Rai.

 Conferences on the Indian diaspora usually focus on the more recent migrants or the newer diaspora -  those Indians who have recently settled abroad (over the last fifty years), so called NRIs. But the diaspora is some 190 years old that began with the recruitment, transportation and settlements of Indian indentured laborers (girmityas) since 1828 in Reunion Island, 1834 in Mauritius, 1838 in the Caribbean, 1879 in Fiji, and other locations. These older or the plantation diaspora of more than two million girmityas, and whose descendants comprise some 14 million today, although now making up a third of the overseas based people of Indian origin (of some 32 million), has been neglected in academic studies in India as well as by government officials. An attempt is being made to redress this neglect of the girmitya diaspora with a conference in India.

The Center for Indian Diaspora Studies of IGNOU, the Departments of History and Political Science of BHU, the Indian Diaspora International Center (IDIC), Indian Diaspora Council of Australia, Center for Indo-Caribbean Studies, and the Global Girmit Institute hosts a one-day global conference on the Indian indentured (girmit) diaspora on January 20 at BHU (9:30 AM to 5:00PM). Participants are invited to make formal presentations and or participate in or attend the proceedings and open discussions.

Breakfast and lunch will be served.

Indentured laborers (girmits) were recruited to work at plantations in the Pacific (Fiji), Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Reunion), Caribbean, East Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, etc.), and Africa (South Africa, East Africa etc.) between 1828 and 1917. Recruitment of girmit laborers ended in March 1917 and indentureship was formally abolished on January 1, 1920. The Jan 20, 1919 conference at BHU will focus on all issues, challenges and experience pertaining to the descendants of girmityas (aka indentured Indian diaspora) including those who migrated from the former girmit colonies to (countries to where they were indentured to where they now make their homes in) the metropolitan countries like England, France, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, and Canada.

The contemporary conditions of the indentured Indian diaspora and the nature of their relationship with Bharat Mata (Mother India) will be addressed. The conference will discuss some of the practical issues faced by the descendants of the girmityas in relation to India, including getting reconnected to their ancestral roots and families, obtaining Overseas Citizens of India cards and investing in India. The conference will also discuss the contributions of the indentured Indian (girmit) diaspora towards India and in promoting Indian culture abroad and how this relationship can be strengthened through a formal setting. It will examine the need for research and scholarship on people of girmit ancestry, including research on the millions of descendants of the families of the girmityas in India.


Following the conference, there will be a round table discussion on a publication of an encyclopedia on the indentured Indian diaspora and to establish a center (institute) for girmit studies.


The organizers plan to publish an anthology on the proceedings. If you are interested in participating in this event, please send an abstract of 250 words outlining your presentation. If you plan to be in Varanasi on 20 Jan 2019, we urge you to attend this conference. 

PBD is on Jan 21 to 23 in Varanasi.

Regrettably, the conference will not be able to provide transportation or accommodation.

  Participants will have to make their own arrangements.

For information please write to email below. 

Deadline for Submission of proposal: Oct 31 -  Prof. Kapil Kumar:; Prof K.K Kumar; Dr Vishnu Bisram:,