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The Contender
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Indian Immigration was a new form of slavery after the emancipation of the Africans in the Caribbean

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/21/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,253 times Debate No: 49644
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




Indentureship is the period of being a servant bounded by a contract for another for a specific period. In this case the Indian indentures. Slavery however is defined as the state of being bounded in servitude as the property of an enslaved holder, therefore an enslaved person is a person who is legally owned, has no freedom of action or right to property and is forced to work for another against his will. These were the Africans. Both parties were recruited for the same reason, to work on the plantations as they were suitable labour forces. Slavery came about as a solution for high demands of labour mostly to work on sugar plantations in the British West Indies after the sugar revolution during the mid 1600's. Indentureship was also a solution for labour in the British West Indies but it came about as a result of the abolition of enslavement


Slavery played a crucial role in the expansion plans of all major countries. Slavery existed before our recorded history and is still in use in some countries today. The difference in indentured servants and slaves was that the indentured service would someday come to an end. The practice began in England and was used by the English court system to establish fortunes based on supplying labour to North America as well as other countries. The sentence of indenture for 10 to 20 years became a common punishment for even the most minor of crimes. This was because like many things today there was a potentially large turnover in profits. We should look into the many abuses of our fellow man that are going on worldwide and even in our home countries today. Look for a big turnover in cash and you will always find systemic abuse.

India once controlled by the English like all things they controlled, became subject to all the evils practised by the English. England at least in my book was the epitome of corruption, sin, excess and cruelty as they reshaped the world for profit and became the greatest drug dealing empire of all time, making the Colombians look like boy scouts. They also murdered millions of people in India before they raped her to provide profits for the Queen as they did in all the countries they conquered that they themselves did not populate.
Debate Round No. 1


i would like to firstly thank my opponent for accepting this debate.
i shall be arguing that Indian Immigration was not a new form of enslavement in the Caribbean after the emancipation on the Africans.

Initially, the indentured servants were recruited as a sustainable labour force on the declining estates in the Caribbean after emancipation (1838) as the Africans left in mas exodus in the low density colonies such as Trinidad and British Guiana. This caused a major labour shortage. This solution was, in fact not a new form of enslavement as the Indians chose to migrate to the Caribbean. The Indians migrated as a result of push factors as well as pull factors.

The push factors were those instruments that forced these Indians to leave. Firstly, economic hardships hardship was common among many. The Indians emigrated for various reasons such as famine especially in the Gangetic plains where due to bad weather caused a shortage of crops which made food prices increase. However, when food was plentiful and cheap, Indian immigration was low; alternately, when adverse weather conditions caused distress as in 1860, 1868 and 1874 Indian immigration was heavier. The British Industry led to unemployment especially among the textile producers who could not compete with the cheap British textiles flooding the Indian market. Poverty was common among many. The British government took over land and some became landless as they had to pay high taxes which had to be paid in cash and up front.

Overpopulation in India put great pressure on the resources of the country. There was less available land and many left to acquire land of their own. Agricultural output could not match population growth. Added to this were the social issues of escaping the caste system which discriminated against lower members of the caste which forced many to leave. Abuse from husbands and tyrantical mothers-in-law made many women flee from India.

In addition to this were the pull factors. These were the instruments which encouraged the Indians to leave their homeland and migrate to the Caribbean. The low density colonies had a number of attractive incentives to the Indians. There was land in abundance which the Indians welcomed the opportunity to possess land of their own. The contract system stipulated wages to be paid to these labourers. These wages were higher to what they received in India. Added to this was were the attractions of free housing and medical care captured their attention. The mare fact that they could have a job was a major reason for the unemployed Indians to go to the Caribbean. They were told that they were coming to work on the sugar plantations, something they were familiar with. They were also promised a free return passage, back to India if they decided not to stay in the West Indies. Those who stayed would receive land or cash in lieu of returning upon the completion of their contracts. These promises influences many Indians to migrate to the Caribbean.

As can be seen from the above, the Indians CHOSE to migrate to the Caribbean for various reasons. They willingly chose to move to the West Indies in search of a better life.

The Africans, however did not have a choice if they wanted to go as they were forcefully taken from their homeland to toil on the sugar plantations unwillingly.
This point shows that Indian Immigration was NOT new form of enslavement after the emancipation of the Africans because they had a choice on if they wanted to go to the West Indies. They went willingly , whereas, the Africans were forcefully taken and did not have a choice on whether or not they wanted to go.

Sources :

Dhookhan, Isaac. A Post-Emancipation History of the West Indies. Jamaica: Carlong Publishers Ltd. 2001
Dhookhan, Isaac. A Pre-Emancipation History of the West Indies. Jamaica: Carlong Publishers Ltd. 2008


Indentured servitude came about in three ways: first, one could consent to a term of indentured servitude to pay a debt; second, a judge could sentence a petty criminal to "transportation" in lieu of a prison term, or third, a judge could impose "transportation" on a debtor. Indentured servants actually had to be paid upon the completion of their term, although most never completed their terms. Indentured servants usually received a small amount of cash, some tools and a certificate that entitled them to a land claim, but most sold those claims and returned to Britain. Less than 50% decided to stay in the new world. During the, slavery and indentured servants existed side by side, and because planters had a greater financial investment in their slaves rather than their indentured servants, slaves tended to be treated better.

Although indentured servants were replaced in favour of slaves, indentured servitude did continue in the US until it was outlawed by the Constitution. Slavery, as we understand it, developed throughout the through a series of legal cases that decided that slavery was lifelong and inherited.

Obviously, the most important distinction is that while indentured servants led some rebellions, it was slavery that sparked one of the most defining moments of our history, the Civil War.

The Indian indenture system was an ongoing system of indenture, a form of debt bondage, by which perhaps two million Indians were transported to various colonies of European powers to provide labour for the (mainly sugar) plantations. It started from the end of slavery in 1833 and continued until 1920.

As soon as the new system of emigration of labour became known, a campaign, similar to the anti-slavery campaign sprang up in Britain and India. On 1 August 1838, a committee was appointed to inquire into the export of Indian labour. It heard reports of abuses of the new system. On 29 May 1839, overseas manual labour was prohibited and any person effecting such emigration was liable to a 200 Rupee fine or three months in jail.

Following the emancipation of slaves in 1833 in the United Kingdom, many liberated Africans left their former masters. This created an economic chaos for British owners of sugar-cane plantations in the Caribbean region, and elsewhere. The hard work in hot, humid farms required a regular, docile and low-waged labour force. The British looked for cheap labour. Since slavery had been abolished, the British crafted a new legal system of forced labour, which in many ways resembled enslavement. Instead of calling them slaves, they were called indentured labourers. Indians, primarily began to replace Africans previously brought as slaves, under this indentured labour scheme to serve on sugarcane plantations across the British empire.

The first ships carrying indentured labourers for sugar-cane plantations left India in 1838 for the Caribbean region. In fact, the first two shiploads of Indians arrived in British Guiana (now Guyana) on May 5, 1838 on board the Whitby and Hesperus. These ships had sailed from Calcutta. In the early decades of the sugar-cane-driven migrations, indentured Indians were treated as inhumanely as the enslaved Africans had been. They were confined to their estates and paid a pitiful salary. Any breach of contract brought automatic criminal penalties and imprisonment. Many of these were brought away from their homelands deceptively. Many from inland regions over a thousand kilometres from seaports were promised jobs, were not told the work they were being hired for, or that they would leave their homeland and communities. They were hustled aboard the waiting ships, unprepared for the long and arduous four-month sea journey. Charles Anderson, a special magistrate investigating these sugar-cane plantations, wrote to the British Colonial Secretary declaring that with few exceptions, the indentured labourers are treated with great and unjust severity; plantation owners enforced work in sugar-cane farms so harshly, that the decaying remains of immigrants were frequently discovered in sugar-cane fields. If labourers protested and refused to work, they were not paid or fed: they simply starved.

The sugar-cane plantation-driven migrations led to ethnically significant presence of Indians in Caribbean. In some islands and countries, these Indo-Caribbean migrants now constitute a significant proportion of the population. Sugar-cane plantations and citizens of Indian origin continue to thrive in countries such as Guyana, formerly, British Guiana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Martinique, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, St. Croix, Suriname and Nevis. By some estimates, over 2.5 million people in the Caribbean are of Indian origin. Many have ethnically blended with migrants from other parts of the world, creating a unique syncretic culture.

Though production was centred in the Caribbean, sugar-cane production played a significant role in pre-World War II global politics and population movements. France, for example, negotiated with Britain leading to Act XLVI of 1860, whereby large numbers of Indian indentured labourers were brought for harsh sugar-cane plantation work in French colonies in the Caribbean region. The Caribbean colonies of the Netherlands too benefited from the indentured labourers from India.

Due to the consistent and overwhelming degree of abuse of the indenture system many Indians were brought to North American and the Caribbean against their will, either by court order, deception or by force.
Debate Round No. 2


Rebuttals :

"They were confined to their estates and paid a pitiful salary" - It was in their contract that they signed that they would be bounded to the plantations. In addition to this, even though their salaries were mediocre , it was still higher than the amount they worked for in India.

"unprepared for the long and arduous four-month sea journey." - After they were taken to the ports , they were medically examined to make sure that they could survive the the journey to the West Indies which would take three months. Musical instruments were allowed as a form of recreation as singing and dancing was encouraged. They weren't shackled and were allowed on the upper deck. There were also doctors to take care of them

'many Indians were brought to North American and the Caribbean against their will" - Most of the Indians came to the Caribbean willingly to escape the caste system which was the social order of society in India. Mostly the lower class came and those who were forced were of the higher caste which were in fewer numbers than the lower. Therefore, many weren't brought against their will, these were in the minority.


Indian Immigration was not a new form of enslavement because they recruitment processes were vastly different.

Indian recruitment started with advertisements being placed in news papers. The planters who needed labourers applied at the Immigration Office in their colony. The application would then be processed and the numbers tallied and sent to the Colonial Secretary in London. The Colonial Secretary would then send the total requests from all the British colonies to the Crown Agent who is also in London who sends this information to the Emigration Office either in Calcutta or Madras located in India. The Emigration Office would then hire agents to recruit Indians. They may hire sub-agents.

These agents would go to the villages to get recruits . They informed the locals on where they would be going and the conditions of emigration. When recruited, they took a train from a depo and went to either Calcutta and Madras. These were the two main points where they collected immigrants. In these places the recruits were medically examined to ensure that they could survive the journey to the West Indies. They were also ensured of what they were going to do ( agriculture ). They were also vaccinated to the tropical diseases and questioned about their willingness to go to the West Indies. They then signed their contracts and were given a certificate of Emigration.

The ship sailed down the Indian Ocean, around the Cape Of Good Hope in Africa and up into the Atlantic Ocean into the West Indies. The journey took three months by sail ship and 1-2 by steam ships. In the ships , married couples were separated from single people and single males from females. Musical instruments were allowed and dancing and singing were encouraged. Women were given combs to comb their hair as well as they were given rum with lime. These were forms of entertainment. There was a greater effort to keep them happy than the Africans. There were also doctors to take care of them on the ship.

The recruitment of the Africans were different. As the Europeans couldn't go into the interior of Africa, some were captured on the coast, but most was captured in the interior. The African middlemen went into the interior, got captives then brought them back to the coast and sold them to the Europeans.
They captured the Africans by:

.Raids - The middlemen and crew went to a village and set huts on fire. When the Africans ran out of their huts, the middlemen would be waiting to capture them. This was usually done at night.

. Tribalwars - This was the war between African tribes. The side that won may decide to sell their captives to the middlemen. tribes rose in power as a result of this. Europeans encouraged this by selling the Africans guns

.Punishment - If a crime was committed in the tribe, the chief could decide to sell the criminal to the middlemen as punishment.

.Repayment - If an African was in debt to another, he can be sold to the middleman as repayment.

. Kidnapping - Some of the Africans were just kidnapped and taken to the middlemen.

After recruited, they were marched to the coast, chained together, hands and feet or be yoked (joined by necks). They were shackled and usually in a line, cuffle and marched to the coast. This journey sometimes took 6-7 months. The cuffle comprised of all kinds of Africans. Those who cold not keep up were cut loose and left to fend for themselves. This was usually the children and the elderly.
At the coast, they would be examined and stored in baracoons (holding cells). When the ship arrived, they were prepared for sale. They would be bathed, oiled , have cosmetics rubbed into their skin to hide scars and bruises and heads were shaved if their was grey hair. This was to make them look healthy to be sold at a higher price. The ship captains would negotiate and exchange cheap manufactured goods for the Africans. They were then loaded onto canoes and put them onto the ship.

The journey to the West Indies took 6-8 weeks with favorable weather conditions. The ships were over crowded as the captain packed extra Africans on board to compensate for the deaths during the middle passage. They were chained and the men were separated from the women. They were only allowed on the deck for exercise. There were no washroom facilities, therefore, they had to do natural bodily functions where they were. It was unsanitary, filthy and unhygienic. Because of this, diseases were easily spread. There was poor ventilation , so there was no fresh air circulating. It was hot. If someone dies, they would be left there for a few days and due to the heat, the body would start to decay. There was one doctor on board but he could not tend to everyone as after they would return to the same conditions below deck. they suffered from small pox, yaws, dysentery, and sorts of blindness as below deck was dark.
If food rations were running low or a disease broke out, the captain may get rid of the Africans by throwing them overboard . If they lost their cargo (the enslaved) they would be compensated from insurance, therefore, they had no problem pushing them over board.

Due to the vast differences in the recruitment process and treatment between the enslaves Africans and the Indian Immigrants , it is fair to say that Indian Immigration was NOT a new form of enslavement.


MysticMansion forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Since my opponent forfeited the last round, i have no rebuttals...

Indian immigration was not a new form of enslavement because they WERE PAID FOR THEIR LABOUR AND THEY WERE FREE.

The Africans were exploited for their labour. They worked tediously on the plantations facing the merciless elements with no payments from their master. The Indians however were paid for their labour on the plantations in the Caribbean. This was clearly stated in their contracts which they signed. Although their payment was "pitiful" as my opponent states, it was still more than they got in India. This shows a vast difference as the Indians were rewarded for their labour whereas the Africans worked for no income.

When the Africans were taken to work on the plantations, they were enslaved for life with the added bonus of enslaving their children. However, the Indians only had to work for a specified time and were paid for their labour. When that time was up they were free from plantation labour and could have returned home. Their children were not required to work on the plantations. The Indians were therefore free, unlike the enslaved Africans.

As can be seen from the above, due to the Indians' payment and freedom, Indian Immigration was in fact not a new form of enslavement in the Caribbean.


MysticMansion forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


My opponent has forfeited once again. This is the conclusion

Many historians such as Hugh Tinker, Frank Birbalsingh, Brinsley Samaroo and Dr Kumar Mahabir believe that Indian Indentureship was in fact a new form of slavery. Hugh Tinker says, "Indentureship incorporated many of the repressive features of the slave system and induced in Indians, many of the responses of the African brothers in bondage." Frank Birbalsingh says, "Conditions under which Indentured Indian immigrants existed suggested that they were slaves in every other respect other than name. Indentured labourers on arrival in the colonies were housed in the same living space vacated by the freed slaves and performed their exact tasks," Historian Brinsley Samaroo stated "The British attitude to Indians was they were seen only as bodies" as labouring bodies. Hard hands and corny palms were the qualifications" just like it was with the Africans before them." . Dr Kumar Mahabir clearly states "indentureship was a new system of slavery and slavery without chains."
In retrospect, although there many similarities between the enslavement of the Africans and Indian Indentureship I do not agree with these historians. I do not agree that Indian Immigration was a new form of slavery. I believe that they are not the same for the following reasons. According to Bridget Brereton, Emerita Professor of History at the UWI it was "Two harsh systems but not the same." The Indians had a choice in whether they wanted to come or not, they were paid for their labour and most importantly, they were free. The Africans did not have these choices or privileges which is why I believe that Indian Indentureship was not a new form of slavery

This is all the sources that was used:

Claypole, William and John Robottom. Caribbean Story Book 1. Jamaica: Carlong Publishers Ltd. 2007

Dhookhan, Isaac. A Post-Emancipation History of the West Indies. Jamaica: Carlong Publishers Ltd. 2001

Dhookhan, Isaac. A Pre-Emancipation History of the West Indies. Jamaica: Carlong Publishers Ltd. 2008

Beckles, McD. Hilary and Verene A. Shepherd. Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, 2000


MysticMansion forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by DauntlessWarrior 2 years ago
round 1 would be introductions
round 2 - 4 would be the arguments and rebuttals
round 5- conclusion and closing comments

thank you
Posted by CloudKylion 2 years ago
Okay. This is nice, but what topic will you like to debate?
Posted by ESocialBookworm 2 years ago
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Aravengeance 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited