A book written by Hemraj Ramdatt
Review by Deepti Agarwal
Mr. Hemraj ji, before reviewing the book Beyond Indentureship Indo-Trinadidian Entrepreneurs, I would like to tell you a story. On 17 December 1904 , on the ship ‘ S S Avon’ going from Calcutta to Trinidad, a child is born, whom his parents Chulhan Singh and Yashoda call ‘ Avon ‘ after the ship. After a journey of 69 days, the parents land with the young child in the unknown land of Trinidad along with other Indian indentured laborers to work in the sugarcane fields and reach the Picton sugarcane estate. There the child is considered as God’s offering and is again named Ramprasad. In India, he left Sioti village in the old city of Gaya and went to Trinidad. The reason was that Chulhan was a Bhumihar and Yashoda was from the Kayastha caste. Hence, their family did not accept their love marriage and they threw them out of the house. He started living a humiliating life in a hut outside the village and one day, fed up with the humiliation, he became an indentured servant, signed the papers and after traveling through 89 days of black water from Calcutta via Patna, reached Trinidad and the grandson of this Ramprasad, is Hemraj Ramdutt, the author of the book. After a gap of 115 years, on 17 January 2019, Ramdatt returns to Seoti village to find his roots and imagine how emotional Hemraj must have become after visiting that house and his relatives. Trinidad is his birthplace and India is his grandmother’s home . The world is so small , today business consultant , researcher , Hemraj, who worked in the FMCG sector and immigrated to Canada from Trinidad, came to Seoti village in India to trace his roots and was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet his relatives back home. There are so many workers who have spent lakhs of rupees but have not been able to find their roots. The same Hemraj ji told us through his book that how his ancestors had not only taken mangoes , blackberries and the packets of Tulsi Ramcharitmanas in the ‘jahaji bundle’, they had also taken with them religion , values , hardwork , livelihood and unwavering faith in God. The result of which was that along with the seeds of the plants, their values and values also flourished and today the Indians there not only created their own distinct ethnic identity ‘ Indo Trinidadian ‘ but also greatly improved the economy of their country. All this is not just bookish things, in my recent trip to Trinidad , Guyana , Suriname, I have seen and felt all this with my own eyes. During my trip to Trinidad, in Port of Spain , Pinal , Faizabad , Siparia , Marbella etc., I found that the fourth and fifth generations of workers who lived in slavery-like conditions that time have today made their mark in all sectors of the economic system, whereas their ancestors left India completely empty handed. They had come from India to Trinidad and were victims of all kinds of colonial exploitation. But by cutting their stomachs, how they managed to save money, they imparted values and education to their children, became owners of lands and by the time the indentured system ended in 1920, 19,384 Indians had become entrepreneurs, including 12,304 sugarcane , 843 there were 1394 proprietors and 1075 shopkeepers in the cultivation of cocoa and 3316 in the cultivation of other commodities . This book documents everything I saw and experienced in Trinidad. By writing this book, Hemraj ji has given a true tribute to all his indentured ancestors.
There are 33 case histories in the book , which are the true stories of the Indian people from ‘ ‘Coolie to Elite’ which were on the the ‘ journey from a life-filled India to a lifeless island ‘ and making that lifeless island a ‘ full of life ‘ island. And the story I have told you was not just the story of the writer , it is the true story of more or less all the indentured servants who went to indentured countries. The cover of the book is very attractive , presenting before you a picture of the development of present-day Trinidad , whose path has passed through the sugarcane fields , where the blood and sweat of Indian workers have been shed. Published by AvinsepubPublishing of Chhattisgarh , this book of 265 pages has been written by the author in simple English which is very easy to read for the common man due to which the reader remains attached to the book and the author has also kept the interest till the end with the sharpness of his writing. Have made every effort to keep it. Book Title Beyond Indentureship Indo-Trinadidian Entrepreneurs is so accurate that the reader can guess from the title itself that this book will be a picture of the development of Trinidad’s indentured laborers as a result of their struggle. The author divided all case histories into 8 parts covering inherited businesses like Battu Brothers , Rahmut Enterprises , Bhola , and RRM Plaza , M. in the field of FMCG . S Food, FEN Mohammed, Khan , Charan etc. , in Manufacturing NUTRIMIX, r.h.s., S M JALEEL etc. , Paramount , Moonan , Siriram in Transport and Construction , TOSL in Energy and Energy , R RAMBALAK etc. , in real estate and housing development are divided into KaribeanHousing , Sun Plaza etc. , in financial , medical , education , tourism services, Amaral Travel , Chancellor Hotel etc. After reading the book, I found that almost all areas of entrepreneurship in Trinidad are dominated by Indians. The most interesting thing is that the eighth volume of his book is dedicated to the labor entrepreneurs women in which he has documented the spread business empire of Madam Ram Dulari Maharaj , Helen Bhagwan Singh , Kamini Omah Maharaj , Radhika Seth , Dulari Sankar, which gives us the feeling that That Indian labor women have not only preserved their family, society , religion and culture but have also contributed fully to the economic development of Trinidad and have brought glory to Trinidad as well as India. The book is not only telling the case history of 33 entrepreneurs, but after reading the book, the reader gets inspired that no matter how difficult the situation is, if a man is determined, he can make a hole in the sky and how hard work, religion, values, work as stones to help a person to make a hole in this sky. Once again congratulations to Hemraj ji for presenting such an excellent book and best wishes for the future. And you all are requested to read the book and be proud and inspired by seeing the labor and development of indentured servants. Jai India Jai Trinidad.