Dr Bisnauth launches book on indentureship

Stabroek News
December 23, 1999

Education Minister, Dr Dale Bisnauth, on Tuesday launched his third book-- Indians in Guyana 1891-1930 --which focuses on the period when Indian indentured labourers became a permanent part of Guyanese society.

The book explores both the inner process of Indian settlement and the beginnings of that community's political involvement with the wider society and relationships with Afro-Guyanese.

It charts how, in the process, Indian peasants were transformed into industrialised wage labourers on the sugar estates, rice farmers and urban professionals and a distinctive Indo-Guyanese culture emerged. It looks at the ethnic consideration which shaped relationships between the two groups.

Dr Bisnauth, also a theologian and historian, in his book looks critically at the divide and rule policies of successive colonial governments.

The book launching was attended by President Bharrat Jagdeo, former president Janet Jagan, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, members of the Cabinet, members of the diplomatic corps and a number of writers.

In a review of the book, senior lecturer at the University of Guyana in the Faculty of History, Tota Mangar, said it was a welcome departure from previous ones in that it focuses on indentured labour during a specific period.

Stating that much could be learnt from the book, Mangar said it was being launched at a crucial stage in Guyana's history when changes were taking place.

Congratulating his minister on his latest work, President Jagdeo noted that in the past the promotion of such works was not a priority but his administration was following the standard set by Mrs Jagan in creating a better climate for the arts to flourish.

The President said there was a correlation between the economic well-being of a country and the development of the arts. He asserted that his government has adopted prudent policies that will allow for the advancement of the arts.

Dr Bisnauth disclosed that he has two other publications in the making. One will focus on the churches in Guyana during the period 1950-1985. The other is titled Aunt Cissy.

The writer said he was inspired to write his latest publication by his early experiences of listening to stories by his grandmother about India. The minister said he always had the urge to tell about the impact society had on the indentured immigrants and their impact on society.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples