Francis Evelyn Mohammed Hosein (1880-1936)
Francis Evelyn Mohammed Hosein (1880-1936), Barrister, Politician and Mayor, was born in Arouca on 25 March 1880. Island Scholar, 1901; he was the first Indo-Trinidadian to win an Island Scholarship. After attending Oxford and Lincoln’s Inn, he returned to Trinidad in 1908. He was member of the EINA and the EINC. However, when Major Wood visited the colony in 1921 Hosein broke with these two organisations and formed the Young East Indian Party which supported direct election to the Leg. Co. One of those attracted to this new party was Adrian Cola Rienzi. Mayor of Arima, 1929-1931. As Mayor he reinstated the Carib Festival of Santa Rosa and wrote a play about the Carib chief, Hyarima. Elected MLC, 1928-1931. He died on 11 March 1936. (Dictionary of Caribbean Biography by Bridget Brereton, Brinsley Samaroo and Glenroy Taitt).
The first Indian lawyer was George Fitzpatrick who also became the first Indian member of the Legislative Council. Fitzpatrick was born in Trinidad in 1875 and was a pupil of Rev. Kenneth Grant, the second Canadian Presbyterian missionary at San Fernando. Fitzpatrick took to business, and was able to finance his study of law in England where he was called to the bar in 1909. Fitzpatrick’s death in 1920 left the way clear in the Indian communities for another legal star. The brightest Indian talent in the legal field in the 1920 was F.E.M. Hosein. Hosein had won a university scholarship from QRC in 1901, the first Indian to accomplish this feat. He ranked high in the coterie of educated Indians of professional status being unsurpassed in Port- of -Spain. Hosein was strongly opposed to the dilution of the Indian cultural heritage. The Indian doctors, lawyers and teachers shared the leaders of Indian communities…
Carl C. Campbell
The Young Colonials.
A Social History of Education in Trinidad and Tobago
Some Indo-Caribbean intellectuals could be found who accepted with relish the offers of racial kinship. The outstanding example was F.E.M. Hosein, arguably the leading Caribbean Indian intellectual of his day and an important politician. He was a graduate of Canadian Mission Schools (sic), Queen’s Royal College (where he was an Island Scholarship in 1901), Oxford University, and Lincoln’s Inn. Hosein, usually portrayed by historians as liberal, and even a champion of African- Indian solidarity. In 1913 he likened his African compatriots to “an inferior race”. The occasion was a major address at an “inaugural” meeting of the East Indian National Congress which he headed (sic)… Hosein predicted the demise of the African population and the ultimate control of Trinidad by Indians. In language indistinguishable from the rhetoric of European pseudoscience…
In complex provenance of Hosein’s ideas, involving possibly contemporary Aryan supremacy notions wedded to ideas independently rooted in Indian colour and caste consciousness, had an intriguing parallel of Mahatma Ghandi…Ghandi was a contemporary of Hosein and involved in a similar struggle in another major theatre of Indian indentured immigration, namely, South Africa, where he lived from 1893 to 1914. Both men qualified as barrister-at-law at Inns of Court in London…
The position of the Indian leadership used nuanced, however. They were overwhelmingly separatists, and disagreed only on how best to secure this objective. F.E.M. Hosein felt that non -communal elections not be an obstacle “to preserve the purity and pride of race.” The entire leadership, he said, was “at one in its aim, namely, the advancement and prestige of East Indians separate and distinct from the rest of a heterogeneous community…”
Caribbean History from Pre-Colonial Origins to the Present (2012).
There emerged by January, 1920 a third, but much smaller, grouping among middle-class Indians which called itself the Young East Indian Party, led by the lawyer, Francis Evelyn Mohammed. Hosein, whose “Sociology of the Indians” had sparked off much bitter recrimination in 1913, the new grouping ironically included the president of the East Indian National Association, who had by then had apparently shifted his position- an indication of how agonizing the issue was for the Indian middle-class leadership. The Young East Indian Party supported the Legislative Reform Committee in its advocacy of a limited representative system based on direct election. The chief protagonist for this position was Hosein himself and he revealed how far he had mentally travelled since 1913.
In a letter written in January, 1921 to an Indian Committee formed to reconcile the differences between the representative Indian groups, Hosein attempted a critique of the positions adopted by both those who favoured the retention of the crown colony system and those who pressed for communal or proportional representation. Hosein’s critique was a virtual rebuttal of the sociological premises he then advanced in 1913, when he had emphasised the pluralistic nature of the society and the virtual absence of cultural assimilation between Indians and Africans. Now he advanced the view that Indians were experiencing the process of cultural and racial assimilation, that economically their interests were not essentially different from those of other ethnic groups in the society, and that the principle of direct election would therefore not adversely affect them…
The government was obviously unhappy about the return of Roodal and Hosein, and probably even of Teelucksingh, to the Council. Writing to the Colonial Office, Governor Byatt had spoken in the most derogatory terms of both Roodal and Hosein…By the time he had written this dispatch, Hosein had been returned unopposed, which Byatt regarded as an even ” worse disaster.” He described Hosein as a young impudent, unscrupulous and usually drunk after 12 noon.” He alleged that Hosein had been suspected of German espionage and had been closely watched by John Chancellor during the latter’s governorship, but that no conclusive evidence could be brought against him…
Race and Class.
Struggles in a Colonial State, Trinidad
… a select group of East Indian leaders who tirelessly for the achievement of that dream.
Francis Evelyn Mohammed Hosein (1880-1936) was one of their outstanding leaders. He returned to Trinidad from his study in England in 1908 and could have concentrated on building up his law career at a time when there were very few East Indian lawyers…he was an ardent political activist who went into the hustling to wage political war.
…Whilst engaged in the practice of law, this tireless advocate was equally in public activity. He loved Arima dearly and fought tirelessly for the improvement of his in infracture…he contested elections there and elected Mayor from 1928 to 1931…he contested the legislative council elections and represented St George from 1928 to 1933.
The plight of the sugar workers throughout the colony was an issue which he looked up with great vigour…he was equally concerned about the East Indian community and the manner of his adjustment to the larger society. He allied himself with the two major East Indian organizations which represented the interest group…In 1921 he formed the Young East Indian Party to advocate in recent immigrants.
In a speech delivered to the East Indian Literary and Debating Association in October, 1928, he advised East Indian to read more and to read about their ancestral civilization. His own Islamic parentage taught him to regard all people as equal and pay importance to learning… his tireless advocacy of the cause of the oppressed…
Dr. Brensley Samaroo
F.E.M. Hosein and the Forging of an Indo-Caribbean Identity
30th May, 2005.
…but in the Caribbean the only political movement was that of the Creole Blacks. In Trinidad, the Working Men’s Association claimed a membership of a thousand; they were opposed to further Indian immigration and a threat to wages and living standards. Similarly, British Guiana had its People’s Association, a black organisation which protected against taxation lived to promote immigration.
It was against this background of colonial resistance to indentured labour that the Sanderson Committee commenced its work…the Sanderson Committee was exclusively drawn from the United Kingdom and all its sittings were held in London…The committee started hearing evidence in March, 1909.
There were both quite unusual: they were Trinidad born, barristers, educated in London: Mr. Francis Evelyn Mohammed Hosein, and Mr. George Fitzpatrick. Of the eighty-three witnesses. Thirty-one were officials or retired officials…
A New System of Slavery.
The Export of Indian Labour Overseas 1830-1920
Other parents were afraid that the schools would be used to convert their children, an understandable on their part, and certainly an intention on the part of the missionaries…F.E.M. Hosein recounted his educational experiences during the last decades of the 19th century before the Sanderson Committee in 1909 and concluded by saying he considered his experiences as “an anomaly” to the used life-experience of Indian children… In 1909, F.E.M. Hosein, a Trinidadian-born Indian who had qualified as a barrister in England, stated his outlook mainly to the Sanderson Committee: “Certainly, I do look upon Trinidad as my home.”…
Trinidad During the 19th Century: The Indian Experience (2012)
East Indians in Trinidad: A Sociological Study
F.E.M. Hosein B.A. (Oxford)
5th May, 1913
Your Excellency, your Honour, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen.
A synopsis of the paper I am about to read to you was given to both daily papers. You are therefore, aware of the manner in which I intend to deal with my, and the points which in so vast a study I propose to draw your attention. It would be impossible for me within the limits of this paper, not to say anything of the limited time within which this paper is to be read, to deal with the subject as fully as I would wish. But I sincerely hope that in spite of the limitations of time and space and in spite of my own limitations, I may nevertheless succeed in presenting to you a rough but faithful sketch of the picture of East Indian development in this colony and leave you the pleasant task of filling in the details as time permits and fancy prompts.
The Demographic Factor
Growth of the East Indian Population
You are all aware of the circumstances under which East Indians came to this colony. I need not allude to those circumstances. It is sufficient for me that they are here, that they are here in large numbers and that they begin to arrive here very nearly 70 years ago. Now, according to the census taken in 1911, there were in this colony 108,606 East Indians. According to the census of 1851, there were 3,993. The increase, therefore, in the 50 years was 104,613. Curiously enough the number of importation into the colony during the same period amount to something to over 100,000 or pretty nearly the exact amount of increase. But the latest census returns show that only 50,000 are returned as being born in India, a fact which at once suggests that very nearly one half of those who left India have found a grave in this colony and that the number of deaths has been balanced by the number of births. For the numbers who avail themselves of the opportunity to go back to India are very few compared with those who are imported here; since of the 100,000 imported in 60 years only one-tenth of that number has returned during the same period. It appears, therefore, that the majority of those who are brought here annually have shown up now a decided inclination to remain in the colony. The East Indian therefore, must be regarded as a permanent addition to the population of the colony.
In 1851 out of the total population of about 64,000 the East Indian numbered about 4,000. The figure for each censal period from 1851 are as follows:
The increase therefore among Indian between the censor periods was as follows: 51-61, 9,500; 61-71, 14,500; 71-81, 21,000; 81-91, 21,000; 91-01, 16,000; 01-11, 22,000. In 1851 it formed 1/16 of the population. In 1861 it was nearly 1-6. In 1871 it was over 1-4. In 1881 it was nearly 1-3. In 1891 it was over 1-3. And it has continued to be so since then. It shows itself therefore capable of increasing commensurately with the increase of the total population.
Of course, they may be objected that the Indian population is yearly increased by the arrivals from India and so long as they are imported so long will they maintain the present rate of their increase and their ratio as regards to the total population. This cannot be denied. But it must not be forgotten that the general population of this colony, exclusive of the Indians, is swollen every year by arrivals from other British West Indian Islands and the number of those equal the number of Indians from India. For instance, the census of 1901 returned 47,669 as natives from the other British West Indian Islands.
The native people of Trinidad therefore, are subject to invasions from two quarters, from India and from the other islands. And neither invasion seems to slacken in its vigour. Which is the more serious one it is perhaps just yet not possible to say. The figures as regards the increase from the British West Indian islands are interesting. They are as follows: 1851, 10,800; 1861, 11,716; 1871, 13,707; 1881, 24,047; 1891, 33,180; 1901, 46,748.
But whether this is regarded as an invasion is perhaps of not much moment. The population thus introduced very readily assimilate with the population, exclusive of the Indians, it meets here. The invaders and the invaded are of race, of the same habits and style of living and thinking. There may be differences, but these are negligible. The race is the chief factor. That brings about quick and rapid assimilation. But the invasion from India is not so assimilable if it is assimilable at all. It is the fact which makes the froths of the East Indians in the filing so very interesting, and it ought to be a matter of grave concern to those who might be considered the indigenous inhabitants of this colony to see that what has taken place in Mauritius might not take place here. The people of Natal are alive to the danger and they have made provision for the total repatriation of the Indian population. The danger here is perhaps no so imminent, and all gloomy anticipations of the result I have hinted at is swallowed at present in the scarcity of labour. But the Indian population has come to stay and circumstances now compel it to outstay it’s welcome and to extend its visit. The latest returns show that those born of Indian parents in this colony exceed in miner those who are from India. 50,585 are returned as natives of India and 50021 are returned as born from Indian parents in this colony. The figures from 1871 are these: 1871 4,545; 1881 12,800; 1891 24,041; 1901 38,714; 1911 58,021. You will not that the increase is progressive, viz., 8,000, 12,000, 14,000, 21,000.
There was then, taking the figures of 1891, a natural increase in a population of 70,000 by 14,000 and taking the figures of 1901 a natural increase in a population of 87,000 by 21,000. Therefore, an increase in population shows a corresponding and proportionate increase in births. Now the increase in among the natives of Trinidad has been as follows from 1851: The census 1861 showed a natural increase of 7,000 since 1851; 8171 showed a natural increase of 10,000 since 1861; 1881 show a natural increase of 7,000 since 1871. For the corresponding period, the African population was 50,000; 57,000; 70,000.
Therefore, when at any given period it has taken 70,000 Indians to produce 14,000 and 87,000 to produce 21,000, it has taken 50,000 Africans to produce 7,000 and 57,000 to produce 10,000, and again 70,000 to produce 7,000. Comment is unnecessary. It is easily apparent from this which is the more prolific race and which is certain to outlive the other. I mean no profanity when I say this from these figures. I am strongly reminded of the commandment which says “Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in this land, which the lord thy God giveth thee.” The figures I have quoted clearly show that the days of Indians in Trinidad will be very long. Only 4000 in number in 1851 out of a total population of 64,000, today, they are 108,000 out of a population of 313,000. They total population has increased five-fold with their natural productiveness in impeded and paramount.
From the consideration of the growth and extent of the East Indian population, I now pass on to consider the nature and quality of the growth. All objects, animate and inanimate, are the product of environment. Given the desire to live, to exist, all forms of life adapt themselves to the circumstances under which they can best exist. And of all these forms of life, man is the only one who can readily adapt himself to suit his comfort under any circumstance. You will forgive these platitudes since they so clearly suggest how this portion of my paper will be treated and at the same time, they help to make the transition from what I have just treated to what I am about to treat more easily.
Indian Arrival Day
We know that the East Indians came here in the year 1845. He arrived here on Friday, the 30th May. But although he has been there so long as he preserved his typically Indian character and habits. There seems to be no change in these respects. I do not know India but I can well imagine what an Indian village is like when I come across a colony of Indians in the island. I would not all be surprised if told it is a fragment of the great Indian continent. And where the growth of the Indian population here to continue at the rate at which it is growing, when the whole island would have been thickly over-run by Indians it would not all be surprising if some poet or legendary writer did rise among us who would say that people inhibiting one of the loveliest spots in India angered the gods, who angry but not wishing utterly to destroy a lovely creation severed this beautiful fragment and sent it floating over a wide expanse of ocean until it found a resting place here.
This may be poetry, it certainly fiction. But what is the fact? Why has the Indian not changes his habits, manners and customs? In 1851 he formed only 1/6 of the population. Surely, under those circumstances the 60,000 who were here ought to have influenced him greatly. And yet he seems to have come out uninfluenced. The reason, I suppose is this. Even as early as 1845 the Indians were bought here in colonies. They arrive in sufficient numbers to have society, converse between themselves. They were recruited, it is true, from various parts of India, and when they put aboard ship, not one knew the other perhaps. Then they began their long monotonous journey of three or four months across the wide trackless ocean. Unlimited space and the dull monotony of a lengthy voyage could cause each to remember with pleasurable regret the home with all the discomforts perhaps and the companions he has left behind. He had left behind him a familiar misery; and now the wind and the tide were taking him he knew not wither miseries ten-fold. Under such circumstances it is not unusual that the band of immigrants bound by common bonds of race and language would foregather, would form friendships which the convenient fiction of adopting cement into bounded-relatives. They knew each other henceforth as jahaazi (shipmate). The link thus forged is not forgotten. The children of one such brother becomes the nephews and nieces of the other brother. And the children are pleased to call the father’s bond-brother chacha. (uncle). And so on and on. Consequently, when these immigrants land in Trinidad, they land not as individual adventurer, but they land as family, as people who have migrated from their home to found a new home. They do not throw in their lot with the people in whose midst they have arrived. And the five years of forced detention on the estate on which they are indentured makes any such possibility still more remote. They are, from the first, sufficient unto themselves. All the society they need is furnished within the limits of the estate on which they are indentured, and on occasional visit by or to a jahaazi is a distraction sufficient to relieve the weary tedium of restraint. Then, again, his habits, manners and customs are not interfered with. He finds that he can live here exactly as lived in India. The climate is perhaps the same. The flora and fauna are the same. He sees nothing new in the animal and vegetable world. He has ample opportunity of preserving his speech since his jahaazi, his only, speak the common language of the motherland. And so he does not seek society outside of these limits. But even if he wished to do so he would soon find that that is impossible. The rest of the population does not speak the language. They are not bound to understand him if they want society. And so the two peoples continue to grow side by side, each complete and sufficient to himself.
Added to this difficulty of the means to converse is another strong, if not stronger. The Indian is full of his racial prejudice. The time was not when he was not civilized. He has heard to the great races of the earth. He has heard of and sometimes felt their mighty doings. But among the great ones of the earth the sons of Africa are not mentioned and when mentioned, mentioned in a humble capacity. From him therefore, the son of India has nothing to learn, he only sees in him perhaps as something to ridicule. The possibility of a rapprochement which simply appeared remote form the want of a common language is now impossible in the face of this racial prejudice. Further, the Indian has not come in contact with a civilization which is superior to his own, nor with a people of superior race. And so the faithful slave of a custom pursues the even tenor of his way, unmindful of the doings of the world outside of his own. If, as I venture to think, there must have been the considerations which induced the arrivals of the Fattal Rosack in the 1845 to keep apart and to live as a separate community, what greater considerations can now bring about a fusion and influence the Indian to change his manners, habits and customs? I am very much afraid that no such considerations can now arise. On the 30th of May, 1845, he was only 219 strong, but by 30th May, 1848, 5,162 Indians were landed in the colony. The opportunities for converse so early were great: today with a population of twenty times that amount, those opportunities are greater and fusion and assimilation becomes no longer possible. Influence by example is a powerful force in fashioning the life of a people. The Indian could not be influenced by the example he saw around him and about him. They arrived here as grown up men and women with their prejudices, likes and dislikes, already strongly formed. They were ignorant of the language of the people among whom they came: further, the majority of them were altogether illiterate. Such influence, therefore, which the printed page can exert they were immune to. They knew nothing of what happened, of what was happening in the world of the intellectual activity. There was none to tell them of what had happened or of what was happening. Illiterate and anxious only about their daily toll, they could spend no time thinking outside of that limit. They accepted things as they saw them. And when they had performed perhaps their simple religious rites, rites which they had practiced in their native villages, they were willing to accept whatever lot fate apportioned them. They, therefore, remained immune to all moral, social and intellectual influences around them. The intellectual influences, owing to their illiteracy, could not reach them. The social influence could make no impression, since the difficulty of converse with the rest of the population, forebode it. And so far as moral influence was concerned, fragments of the moral teachings of the great ones were a sufficient sustenance for them, outside the fact, whether slavery was so lately abolished the victims of that pernicious system could have attained to such moral heights as would excited the spirit of emulation in the breast of the poor Indian.
But if the natives of India were not then to any appreciable extent influenced, his descendants certainly were and are influenced. Childhood and youth are the most impressionable age that little or no impression can be made on him. But it is not so with his children. These gather their impressions fresh and are not particular in showing a nicety off choice. These gather their impressions fresh and are not particular in showing a nicety of choice. They are innocent, ingenious and to them anything that gives a momentary pleasure is good.
Let me take a typical case to illustrate and show the influence which mould the character of the Indian child. From the very nature of the circumstances his parents are labourers. They are either indentured and must be in the field all day, or they may be free, and being agricultural labourers, they must be out and working. Their little ones is left at home to take care of himself the best way he can. He naturally seeks companions of his own age who are in a similar plight. The majority of such companions of his will be the children of the Negro agricultural labourer. With these he must play. He must learn their language in order that he might take a keen and intelligent interest in their doings. They are more robust, more devil-may-care than himself and the little Indian has to suit himself accordingly. Whatever these companions of his learn at home they teach him to play. These habits and thought are moulded on the European and English pattern and the little Indian adopts as much of them as he can. At least he can adopt them all during the day. For in the afternoon his parents return from the field. Everything from then till the next morning when he is free again to play with this companions, is Indian. His parents speak to him in Hindustani: he replies in the same language. If they are not too tired from work and he too sleepy from play, they will tell him of Indian, the wonderful country, they tell him stories of Indian, stories of the gods and goddesses of the Indian Pantheon and generally, consciously or unconsciously, they preserve the Indian character of their child. Soon, he becomes of an age to assist his parents. He is taken away by them to the field. And the opportunities of his Indian character deteriorating are lessened. Then his parents’ get him married, and the system of life in the village community of India is evenly pursued. This is the life of a large class of Indian children even today, and it must have been the life of such children before the establishment of coolie schools.
The epithet coolie applied to these schools fully suggests the estimation in which they were, To the designation coolie were added the following circumstances which were inclined to be looked upon as creation humiliating differences between them and the Government schools. These coolie schools were free, intended only for coolie children, while the Government schools were not free. And as if to carry the distinction further, these schools assembled as 8 o’clock in the morning while the Government schools assembled at 9 with a difference of an hour throughout the day. Then there were some differences in the length of the holidays, the coolie schools getting less than the Government schools. And so it was considered an act of the greatest condescension when a creole child went to a coolie school.
After the establishment of these schools in the early 80’s, there would seem to have been no excuse why the little Indian boy and the little Indian girl should be running about the barracks and mill yard of the estate on which his parents were indentured or on the road and alleys of the village nearby. He had now an opportunity of meeting companions of his own age and race in large number and to be brought up in the strict discipline of a school. But alas for him! Nothing Indian was taught in these schools. The education was wholly English. It is true that Hindi was taught. But as a matter of fact, nothing beyond the Hindi character was known. On simply read Hindi translations of European stories and European ideas. It is further that the illustrations in these reading books were Indian. And that is all the glimpse one had of India. There was then in these schools every tendency to denationalize the Indian child; and now they are no longer, coolie schools but “Indian” schools with a change of status justifying a change in name the process of denationalization continues more rapidly apace. From this fate it might be said that either the perversity or the cupidity of certain Indian parents saved their child. The Indian parent it seems not to have taken very kindly to these schools. Whether it was because they were afraid of the denationalising tendency of the teaching imparted in these schools, or whether it was they were afraid of the quality of the religious atmosphere that pervaded these schools, or whether it was because of their own insatiable desire to amass wealth by getting their children to assist them in the process of money making are moot points. In some cases it was one, in other cases it was the other. Those who objected on the ground that the religious belief of the child would be undermined usually made provision to give their children an education at home consonant with the faith they professed. Those who acted on the basis of wealth naturally made no such provision. They may or may not have succeeded in making money, but they certainly checked the too rapid process of denationalization which was afoot. Those, however, whose children continued at school may have been induced to so continue them from a consideration that an English education was of material assistance in obtaining a position in life at once lucrative and respectable; very few from the consideration that education was good in itself and as such was desirable. Now this process of denationalization was greatly assisted by the religious teaching which went side by side with the study of English in these schools. Christianity was taught in these schools. And it is only the stubborn, only the self-satisfied who could resist its powerful appeal. Those, therefore, upon whom alone it could make its indelible mark were those who attended school regularly and who naturally made most progress in their English studies. And the more progress they seem to have made in these the more out of sympathy and the more alienated did they become from those who still preserved the habits and fragments of Indian thought. They found more sympathy, more pleasure, in the society on the non-Indian and Christian community with the result that in some instances they have suffered the completed denationalisation.
It would be apparent from all that I have said that the Indian born in Trinidad has been subject to all the influences at home and abroad, to all the influences, moral, social and intellectual, in varying degrees. It might be interesting to follow these out in more particular detail, but the exigencies of time will not permit me to do so on this occasion. Broadly, it might be stated thus, those from India have not to any appreciable extent been influenced. These, according to the latest census numbered 50,585. They are in any case a sufficiently large body to perpetuate the tradition, habits, manners and customs of India. From the fact that they are in no way affected by the intellectual life about them, except such intellectual life which they participate in when a Pundit is reading and expounding to the story of the Ramayana and Mahabharatta, you can see that they are thoroughly immune. And as 49,000 out of 50,000 are illiterate, they are wholly dependent upon the Pundit for the whole of their religious teaching and practice. And thus they are assisted in preserving intact their Indian character. They are also assisted by those born here who have not caught the infection of Western training and by the majority of their woman kind who perhaps are more conservative than the men. It will thus be seen that it is upon a mere fragment of this vast community of 108,000 souls that the completest influence of Western teaching has reached. The size of this fragment can be estimated from the fact that the total number of non-Christians in the colony is 101,310. The number of Christianised Indians therefore, is 7,000. Of these 1,700 are natives of India thus leaving 5,300 Christianised Indians as having been born there. Out of this number, it is possible to tell how many there be who are in no way influenced and who still preserve their Indian habits and even some of their religious rites. The one fact stands out clearly. The Indian population is still Indian. And there are not sufficient indications yet to suggest that it will be otherwise. On the contrary, all the evidence point to the fact that it will not alter its character. Nor is there any necessity that it should. Taking into consideration the class from which the immigrant is recruited, taking into consideration the vast illiteracy of the great majority of them, I consider that their morals compare favourably with the morals of the rest of the community.
They are prone no doubt to crimes of violence. But are not such crimes prevalent among a similar class in every community? I do not wish to palliate the evil. On the contrary, I strongly deprecate it. But these crimes – crimes of a sudden access of rage or passion – must not be regarded in the same light as crime which suggests, or which are, the outcome of a criminal or wicked mind. And if these crimes are frequent then that frequency must be attributed to the fact that we have here in greater percentage those who would be criminals everywhere. They would be guilty of the same crimes in India. And I have not been told, I am not aware, since I have not studied the Indian criminal returns and compared them with the like returns of other countries that the presence of these very men in India would make India the most criminal country in the world. But crimes suggestive if the criminal mind is certainly perpetrated here by Indians. But I am also of the opinion that the majority of such crimes are in the majority of cases committed by those Indians who have been born here. And I have already pointed out to you that those who are swayed by the highest moral teaching of the country are those who remain longer at school. Those who are swayed least or not at all are those who either have not been to school or have left school early. They can hold sufficient converse with the rest of the community, but from the nature of things it cannot be the best. The result is that Trinidad born Indian is in great fear of absorbing all the vices of his African associate, who himself is deficient in the practice of virtue. On the whole, therefore, we might congratulate ourselves that matters are not worse. Nor do opportunities of converse lead to assimilation between the races. This might have been expected. But the natural prejudice of the Indian to assimilate with the African is stronger than any such desire. Such instances of fusion, therefore, that we might see considered abnormal. I can only liken it, if it is not a similar prejudice, to the prejudice which exists among numbers of the Teutonic race to intermarry with a race considered inferior.
The census of 1911 return 975 as born of Indian fathers and 539 as born of Indian mothers making a total of 1,514 half-bred or Indo-Africans in 60 years out of a total of 58,000 of pure blood. To sum up, the moral, social and intellectual influences have not affected the natives of India. They have affected the Trinidad born Indian, whether for good or ill time alone will tell.
Now as regards the position of the East Indian in the natural development if the colony. The resources of this colony are entirely agricultural. The wealth of the country consists in the cultivation of the soil. It would appear that after the abolition of slavery which event virtually synchronized with the repeal of the Corn Laws i.e. the abolition of protection in England, the price of West Indian sugar fell considerably. The wages therefore which could have been paid on the estates before the repeal of the Corn Laws could no longer be paid under the altered circumstances. Labour was not permanent. What was there to be had demanded an extravagant price. To save the island from utter ruin and consistently with the demand for regular continuous labour for fair wages the East Indian was introduced. How he saved the colony might be woven into an epic. If Trinidad today can support anyone in luxury that person must remember that luxury is the product of the industry of the humble Indian. India was the only available source whence this labour could be supplied. There was no source available. All available sources had been tapped. I shudder at thinking what would have been the fate of the colony had India not then come to the rescue. The Indian came here to till the soil. And no better cultivation of the soil could have been got than those from among a people who worship the earth as mother, as nurse, because out of her bounty she supports and sustains all her children. The Indian has not come here to work and exist on the sense of gratitude which the rest of the population may be pleased to feel toward him. He has come here primarily to better his position. He, therefore, at the beginning works as an agricultural labourer under his indenture.
When that is over he may have got together some money and the chances are he would at once engage in some lucrative form of trade. But whether he is engaged in trade or not, he still feels a hankering after land. So that whatever his pursuit, and he is not slow in finding some paying concern which his natural ability can cope with, he ultimately, sooner or later, acquires lands. In this way large areas of Crown Land have been sold to Indians and the wealth of the colony increased by the development of cocoa estates. His less fortunate brothers continue as agricultural labourers and by their industry maintain the wealth already formed or are in the process of formation. Whatsoever by means of their industry or purely mother wit they can make money there the Indian is sure to be. And so long as it is honest toil there is nothing humiliating or degrading in it for him. All the humble occupants which form the basis of the prosperity and with it the comfort of the colony are occupied by Indians. All activity will come to a standstill of this patient, plodding people were suddenly spirited away. The sugar estates are entirely dependant upon them; and some of the larger cocoa estates are similarly dependent. They form the larger class of cane farmers and they make the very best contractors. They are also the principal rice growers in the colony and should rice growing develop as one of the staple industries of the colony that fact would be entirely due to the Indians. Then they are not addicted to praedial larceny and the greatest amount of vegetables grown for local consumption is grown by them. The town San Fernando would certainly suffer from a famine in vegetables if the Indian ceased his activity. Again, they are the principal vendors of fresh milk in the colony. And it appears that Port-of-Spain would not be swept if the Indian did not sweep it, nor the food be cooked there is the Indian charcoal vendor did not visit it. To a very great extend also there may be.
Now as regards their position in the political development of the colony.
As a matter of fact, there are very few, if any, indications of any political development in the colony. Whatever indications of any political development there may be are furnished in the existence of the East Indian National Association of Princes Town and the East Indian National Congress of Couva. They may or may not hereafter take an active part in the government of the colony, but so long as their interest be not affected and their interest is the interest of the entire colony, so long as I am persuaded, they will be passive and their present development will not go beyond the holding of annual and general meetings and the organising of the pleasant functions upon suitable and opportune occasions.
Now as regards the present, there is no denying the fact that the Indian occupies a position in the present economy of the island which commands the respect of all. The humble serf, as he is apt to be described at times, has risen to the position of master. He came bound to the soil now owns a large portion of that soil. He who at first could only send his child to an elementary coolie school can now send his child to an elementary “Indian” school and even to a “secondary” school. The Indian arrived here in 1845 with nothing but the blanket and the pots and pans they furnish him with upon his landing, and it speaks volumes for his industry and thrift when we find that almost one third of the lands alienated since 1885 is owned by him.
I have not been able to get the entire figures; but there is no year from 1885 to 1912, when on average 3,000 acres of Crown Lands were not sold to them. At the present moment, therefore, at least 100,000 acres are held by them. Of the natives of India, the census show 2,881 as peasant proprietors, 2 as cocoa planters, 114 as cocoa proprietors, and 30 as landed proprietors. And we may be assured that their descendants number just as many peasant proprietors, landed proprietors and cocoa proprietors. The Indian therefore has large landed interest in the colony. Those of them who have not been so fortunate to secure for themselves such interests and I must confess they form the largest class nevertheless do yeoman service as agricultural labourers. For the 50,000 natives of India, 35,000 are returned as agricultural labourers. And when the Indian describes himself as an agricultural labourer he means it. I have already stated as cane farmers they are in the majority although when the cane farming industry begun they were in the minority. It will thus been seen that their development is proceeding upon the soundest possible line. The wealth of this colony being chiefly agricultural they are acquiring substantial and vast interests in that direction. They can no longer be considered as mere hewers of wood and drawers of water.
Besides the great development in this direction they are now making efforts to develop intellectually to attain a high social status. That they are making good progress in this direction is evidenced by the fact that an increasing number of Indian youths attend the various schools of secondary education in the colony, and that they are even seeking entrance into the learned professions. That they have risen in status is apparent from the appointment of my friend Mr. George Fitzpatrick to a seat in the Legislative Council.
At present, therefore, they are the chief producers of wealth in the colony. Without them the colony would be irretrievably ruined and its development ceased. And now to indulge in some vaticinations. To play the prophet is an easy role. You merely have to state things within reason to cause everyone to believe you. I have taken upon myself the task of projecting the future of the East Indians. But I shall be short. If the East Indians show that progressive increase in numbers which they have up to now have shown, taking into consideration the high rate of productiveness, it is no mere hyperbolic statement that they will people the entire colony and drive out the rest of the inhabitants. You have already been told that the African is not as productive as the Indian and if circumstances do such a thing has taken place in Mauritius and it will take place here. If this thing is possible then all things are possible. The entire island will be owned by Indians and be maintained by Indians, in the field, in the office, in the shop.
He is thrifty; on the whole sober and frugal. And the fact that today one half the savings in the Government Savings Bank are the savings of Indians bears out that statement. He has the capacity to do what I have projected. But whether he will preserve his Indian characteristic intact in the development he is undergoing is more than what I can say. This, however, I can say that if he does not do so, then what I have projected will never entirely be. What he will do when he has made himself master of the whole of the island I will leave to the consideration of those who will be here to advise him when that even takes place. At present we can express the greatest satisfaction at what has taken place and humbly pray that the progress we have just made may be continued and that the instinct that guide the present development may not be lost.