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The Gujaratis of Fiji, 1900-1945 : a study of an indian immigrant trader community Prasad, Kamal Kant 1978-12-31

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THE GUJARATIS OF F I J I ,  1900-19^-5:  A STUDY OF AN I N D I A N IMMIGRANT TRADER COMMUNITY  KAMAL KANT PRASAD 1966  B.A., U n i v e r s i t y o f H a w a i i , M.A., U n i v e r s i t y o f W a t e r l o o ,  I969  A T H E S I S SUBMITTED I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department o f H i s t o r y )  We a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s a s c o n f o r m i n g to the required  standard  THE U N I V E R S I T Y OF B R I T I S H June  COLUMBIA  1978  (c) K a m a l K a n t P r a s a d ,  1978  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this  thesis  for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representatives.  It  is understood that copying or publication  of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of  History  The University of B r i t i s h Columbia  2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5  ABSTRACT  This study concerns the Gujaratis of F i j i who comprise an important trading community within the large Indian population but who have not received extensive attention from scholars. I t covers a time-span of fortyfive years, from the beginning of this century to the end of World War II. During this period, which characterizes the crucial formative phase of their settlement i n F i j i , Gujaratis "belonging to various castes and from diverse backgrounds came to F i j i where they gradually became a noticeable and important trader element within the predominantly agricultural Indian population.  In the process, they also acquired a negative image which i s  comparable to that of the dukawalla (shopkeeper) i n Africa. Although other Indians were already residing i n F i j i since 1879, as indentured laborers or as descendants of these laborers, Gujarat! contacts with F i j i began after 1900.  Lack of sea routes between Western India and  F i j i , and the prohibition of recruitment of laborers for F i j i i n Bombay Presidency, provided l i t t l e incentive for travel between the two areas." Moreover, Gujaratis who wished to travel to F i j i could only do so through the two sanctioned emigration ports, Calcutta and Madras.  Rather than  venture:it-ihto - an unknown area, most Gujarati immigrants went to East Africa where mercantile communities originating from Western India established.  were long  F i j i simply did not offer lucrative prospects until isolated  groups from Gujarat proved the contrary. What caused Gujarati migration to F i j i ?  First of a l l , groups which  found l i t t l e fame and fortune i n Africa began to turn to opportunities i n other countries. Secondly, deteriorating conditions i n Gujarat i n the early twentieth century caused population movements to other parts of India and abroad.  Failure of the monsoons, famines, reduction of landholdings among  families, and the subsequent drop i n agricultural productivity merely ii  iii hastened the process.  Thirdly, as opportunities i n urban centers,  especially Bombay, became limited, more and more Gujaratis l e f t India i n search of opportunity to supplement meager resources at home. Fourthly, British colonial territories which contained powerful white communities soon began to restrict the entry of Indians which initiated the push toward new frontiers such as F i j i .  By contrast, F i j i welcomed 'free' immigrants because  of the s k i l l s which they introduced;  i t maintained an open door policy  toward this category of migrants until 1930. Gujarati penetration into F i j i was part of the movement of 'free' immigrants into the colony.  The other two types of 'free' immigrants were  Punjabis and 'returnees' (ex-indentured Indians who returned to F i j i after having^, been repatriated to India). Gujaratis came mainly to ply s k i l l s which they acquired i n their homeland.  Until 1920 isolated caste groupings carved  out a particular area of operations i n which they effectively utilized traditional caste s k i l l s .  Most immigrants came for a stay of two years after  which they had hoped to return to their homeland. too short for the accumulation .of- large savings. Gujarati migration to F i j i took place after 1920.  However, this period was  The more important phase of The breakdown of F i j i ' s  isolation from the rest of the world i n the 1920s and the extension of sea routes between F i j i and India facilitated movement between Gujarat and F i j i . The survival of the sugar industry and developing needs' the agricultural sugar belt of F i j i where the majority of Indians were residing opened new avenues for Gujaratis who had the aptitude to move with ease into entrepreneurial roles.  Their tenacity i n trade and commerce became more noticeable  during the depression years when the arrival of more Gujarati immigrants made i t d i f f i c u l t for local Indians to enter that sphere of activity. Consequently, i n the 1930s> attitudes toward the unrestricted entry of Gujaratis changed i n favor of stringent immigration controls. In the f i n a l analysis, the Gujarati immigrants introduced a different  lifestyle and successfully maintained i t .  They also had the necessary  expertise, the organizational know-how, and a considerable degree of group solidarity to assume roles which other Indians were incapable of doing. Though they did not adhere rigidly to the hierarchical social structure of their homeland, these immigrants were s t i l l linked to their respective j a t i nuclei i n Gujarat through caste ideology and caste behavior.  However,  occupational specialization, based on the notion of pollution and purity, had l i t t l e relevance in F i j i . to a l l immigrants.  A wide range of opportunities was available  Gujaratis settled mainly i n urban areas because of  their commercial orientation, and where their activities had the maximum potential for success.  Their social l i f e was built around the shop rather  than around caste and religion, but the introduction of families i n the 1930s obliged them to pay closer attention to the needs of the household, especially i n the matter of religion.  In effect, Gujaratis continued to  exist as a marginal group within the Indian community;  until 19^5 they  remained beyond the mainstream of Indian cultural, social, and p o l i t i c a l life in F i j i .  v TABLE OF CONTENTS  page Abstract  i i  Table of Contents  v  List of Tables  vii  List of Maps  viii  Abbreviations  ix  Acknowledgements  :>  °-  v  Chapter I. II.  INTRODUCTION 'FREE' IMMIGRATION TO FIJI UNTIL THE END OF INDENTURE  III.  IV.  V.  1  (1900-1920)  FIJI AND INDIAN IMMIGRATION AFTER INDENTURE, 1921-19^+5 THE GUJARATI EMIGRANTS TO FIJI AND THEIR SOCIAL BACKGROUND  VII. VIII.  62  119  THE SETTLEMENT PATTERNS OF THE GUJARATI COMMUNITY  VI.  19  17^  SOCIAL LIFE IN THE NEW ENVIRONMENT  226  THE ASSERTION OF THE GUJARATI IDENTITY  270  CONCLUSION  326  vi page Notes Chapter I  16  Chapter II  55  Chapter III  Ill  Chapter IV  168  Chapter V  222  Chapter VI  267  Chapter VII  322  Bibliography  339  Appendix  353  vii  LIST OF TABLES page  Table  3.1  Main Components of Indian Population  3.2  R a c i a l Components of F i j i ' s Population,  1881-1946 3.3  84  Increase i n Punjabi and Gujarati from 1911  Immigration  to 1930  93  3.4  Indian Immigration  4.1  Passport Applications by Area and Year,  between 1930  and 1938  1918-1920 4.2  130 1916-1920  6.1  l6l  Passport Applications by Area, Caste,, and Occupation,  5.1  132  Passport Applications by Area and Year,  1928-1938 4.4  104  Passport Applications by Area, Caste," and Occupation,  4.3  31  1928^1938  1°3  Gujarati Business Registrations, 1924-1945 (Including P a r t i c u l a r s of Operation, Location, Nature of Business)  210  Indian Business Registrations, 1924-1945 (including P a r t i c u l a r s of Operation f o r Each C u l t u r a l Group)  263  viii  LIST OF MAPS page Gujarat before 19^7 Gujarat—Administrative Divisions 196l The F i j i Islands Suva City  x xi xii xiii  ABBREVIATIONS  G. I.  Census of India  C. & I.  Commerce and Industry—Emigration Proceedings  C.O.  Colonial Office  C.P.  Council Paper ( F i j i , Legislative Council)  C.S.  Colonial Secretary (Fiji)  C.S.O.  Colonial Secretary's Office ( F i j i )  C.S.R.  Colonial Sugar Refining Company  E. H,L.v(0.)  Education, Health and Land (Overseas) Emigration Proceedings  F. C.R.  F i j i , Census Report, 1911, 1921, 1936,  19^6  F, & I.  Filed and Indexed Papers (Emigration Proceedings)  F.I.R.  F i j i , Immigration  H. E.O.  Huzur English Office  Report  I. E.P.  India, Emigration Proceedings  1.0.  India Office  1.0. R.  India Office Records  J. & P.  Judicial and Public Department (India Office)  K.S.S. (KSS)  Kshatriya Seva Samaj (Fiji)  L. & 0.  Lands and Overseas as part of Education, Health and Lands  M.G.A, (MGA)  Muslim Gujarati Association (Fiji)  M.L.C. (MLC)  Member of Legislative Council (Fiji)  P.P.  Parliamentary Paper (United Kingdom)  R.A.  Revenue and Agriculture (Emigration Proceedings)  R.A.C.  Revenue, Agriculture and Commerce (Emigration Proceedings)  R.S.I.A.  Report of the Secretary for Indian Affairs, F i j i  5.1. A,  Secretary/Secretariat for Indian Affairs, F i j i  Source:  Census of India 196l: Vol. V, Gujarat, Pt. 9: Census Atlas (Delhi:Manager of Government Publications, 1966), Map 2A.  cn o o CD o CD  INTERNATIONAL  GUJARAT ADMINISTRATIVE 1961  BOUNDARY  STATE  BOUNDARY  DISTRICT  DIVISIONS,  BOUNDARY  ZONAL  BOUNDARY  TALUKA  BOUNDARY  O  •10  5fe  cn cn o  ( S a n a ska nthajSv '  . J i P o t o n V •',  .v.^«rolu..Vv: .;- .vij ,| i  :  0rw  or  -  V . ' . ..>.-• O p r . ...••HanJ . .... v,-:;-V.vBhilod Saml : . . " y C h o n o s r a * . y ^ n o o f . J ' H I M A T N A G A R . a  9  H ON H  /K~dj7.... .'. -Sr \ P^r c n^t l i V ..M0d0.9S:.. , J a i p u r V9!l°J N  r  e  •Calol / • J . 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Whitelaw, "Suva, Capital of F i j i , " South Pacific Bulletin (July 1964), p. 33.  xiv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  It i s rare for a visitor to F i j i to leave without having some form of encounter with i t s leading Indian merchants and traders—the Gujaratis. Even the local residents—Indians, Fijians, Europeans, Chinese, e t c . — rarely escape contact with the Gujarati community i n the major urban centers; simply put, i n F i j i , one does not remain oblivious to the presence of Gujaratis residing i n the midst of other Indians and other races, Though the community i s small i n number, i t i s s t i l l very noticeable because of i t s concentration inuurban areas and entrenchment i n commercial activity. The visitor's most lasting impressions of Gujaratis are formed i n the 'marketplace'' atmosphere of the numerous Gujarati-operated shops and dutyfree emporiums which offer attractive bargains. This encounter i s essentially economic i n nature and hardly differs from the type of relationship which exists between local residents and Gujaratis.  In effect, the 'marketplace'  relationship largely determines how one views the Gujarati presence i n F i j i . My own encounters with Gujaratis are by no means recent, and certainly of a varied nature.  I t was i n Lautoka ( F i j i ) , an important sugar center,  that I had my i n i t i a l contacts with that community.  For many urban-based  Indians, contact with Gujaratis on a regular basis was unavoidable, especially i n the case of those who conducted business alongside Gujaratis and who also had them for neighbors.  My father, Ramsamujh Prasad (1901-1966),  who had established his roots i n Lautoka i n the late 1910s had witnessed both i t s development and the influx of many Gujarati immigrants.  Indians with  similar economic aspirations were quickly drawn together which made i t easy for my father to cultivate a wide circle of Gujarati friends and acquaintances. Later when he moved to Suva he s t i l l displayed a liberality toward them, and established a rapport with that community, which was, perhaps, unique  XV  for a person from a North Indian background.  This relationship provided me  with the f i r s t glimpses of immigrant Gujarati l i f e and culture. Growing up in Suva was for me a totally different experience from that in Lautoka.  Suva lacked the Indian quality which was prevalent in other  towns, and the relationship between Gujaratis and other Indians was formalized and, above a l l , economic. I t was i n Suva that I acquired a new perspective toward Gujaratis, and over a period of time developed prejudices, which were as much a part of a different upbringing as they were an indication of changing attitudes among a younger generation of Indians whose sympathies and loyalties lay with F i j i .  Thus when I commenced my research  on the immigrant Gujarati community i n 1973 1 had many misgivings about my ability to complete the project, largely on account of the way I f e l t toward them. However, exposure to Gujarat, i t s rich history and culture, i t s interesting p o l i t i c a l development, the hospitality of i t s people, and the readiness with which Gujaratis accepted me (during my travels and stay there between December 1973 and February 1975) eventually led me to a better appreciation of the Gujarati presence i n F i j i .  Needless to say, this thesis  would not have been completed had i t not been for this transformation. The debts which I have incurred for a l l the assistance received while completing the thesis are more than I can acknowledge. Though my father i s not alive and cannot be thanked personally, I feel that the least I can do is to dedicate this thesis to his memory. I t was his friendship with Gujaratis in F i j i which made i t possible for me to move with relative ease within the community.  To his Gujarati f r i e n d s — i n particular P. K. Bhindi,  Devidas Fakir Morriswala, S. B. Desai, D. N. Patel, Narainji Sida—and other informants'in F i j i (listed in my bibliography on pages 34-6-48), I owe sincere gratitude for their cooperation and courtesy. The Department of History at the University of British Columbia  my  xvi provided financial help by way of two teaching assistantships during 1971-73. My research in England in November 1973 was financed through a special grant from the late Dr. Walter H. Gage.  The research i n India between  December 1973 and March 1975 (including living expenses, travel from Canada to India) and the subsequent trip from India to F i j i were funded by the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute.  The University of British Columbia awarded  me a Summer Research Scholarship i n 1976 toward the completion of the dissertation, I also wish to make special mention of my family and close friends for their hospitality, encouragement, kindness, and financial support which enabled me to complete my research in F i j i .  Without aid from any Canadian  source the research i n F i j i was conducted under the most trying circumstances. In Lautoka Phyllis and Radha Naidu shared their simple abode with me, Rosabella, and Sonya.  No less i n importance were uncles and cousins for  their generosity. My brother, Ashok, i n Suva loaned me much of the money for travel and research expenses. a l l helped i n their own way.  My sisters, in-laws, and other relatives  But for my wife, Rosabella, I would not have  made i t through the whole ordeal.  She has faithfully acted as my personal  secretary and typist throughout my graduate career.  I f she had not been  the sole bread-earner for the better part of the period between November 1975 and August 1978, at the expense of her. ownracademic interests", I could not have devoted full-time attention to this thesis.  As for our  daughter, Sonya, I can only hope that she w i l l understand, one day, why i t was sometimes necessary to turn the entire household into a study. The research i n England, India, and F i j i was facilitated by the cooperation of various archives and libraries (listed i n my explanatory note to the bibliography on pages 339-40).  Miss D. Keswani of the Indian  National Archives took particular interest i n my research, because of her  xvii own work on Overseas Indians, and also provided letters of introduction to directors of archives i n Gujarat and Maharashtra.  In India and F i j i ,  senior government o f f i c i a l s granted me permission to examine unclassified material and records which were not covered under the existing rules of accessibility. In India, many people went out of their way to be helpful.  The staff  of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute i n New Delhi was always obliging. Dr. R. K. Dharaiya, of the Department of History, University of Gujarat, acted as my "Indian supervisor" i n accordance with the terms of my fellowship.  Much advice and encouragement also came from Professor S. G.  Misra and his colleagues i n the Department of History at the M.S. University of Baroda.  Others to whom I am indebted include Dr. Sureshbhai Joshi who  struggled against time to give me a rudimentary knowledge of Gujarati, the Ramakrishnans for their constant concern for my family's health and welfare, Dr. R. D. Parikh who provided many leads to informants and much stimulating discussion on Gujarat, R. B. Desai who introduced me to the Khatris i n Navsari, and the Pandhya family i n Vallabh Vidyanagar for their assistance i n the Gharotar region.  Dhawal S. Desai kindly acted as my  interpreter and guide during my travels and fieldwork in South Gujarat and Saurashtra (Kathiawar).  Nalin A. Pandhya assisted me with interviews in  Vallabh Vidyanagar and Dharmaj. Almost a l l interviews were conducted in either English, or Hindi, or Gujarati without the use of a tape recorder. Dr. Peter Harnetty directed this thesis and had the tedious task of reading the two drafts.  His c r i t i c a l supervision, as well as the readiness  with which he allowed me to express my ideas freely, made this thesis a reality.  Among other South Asianists at the University of British Columbia,  both Dr. John Wood and Dr. Fritz Lehmann always expressed interest i n my research.  Dr. Wood was particularly responsive to my problems and needs i n  xviii his capacity as Resident Director of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute in New Delhi i n 1973-75.  Finally, I also thank Dr. Edgar Wickberg and  Dr. R. V. Kubicek for giving me a wider perspective to my training as a historian.  Dr. Wickberg's work on Chinese migration provided much insight  into the whole process of Asian immigration. The responsibility for any oversight and error i n presentation, interpretation, and judgement remains entirely mine.  Kamal K. Prasad  Vancouver, B.C, October 1978  CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION  The movement of Indians to other parts of the world antedates the establishment of any government-regulated  emigration scheme. Trade provided  the f i r s t impetus to this migration beyond India. The existence of a maritime and commercial connection between the western Indian seaboard and the southern coastal regions of East Africa from the f i r s t century A.D, reveals the extent to which Indian merchants had carried their trade  to other parts of the  world though permanent settlement was not their intention.  The East African  connection remained unabated, when f i r s t the Arabs and later the European powers, especially the Portuguese, vied for ascendancy i n the extensive network of Indian Ocean trade from the fourteenth century onward. The main stimulus to Indian emigration from Western India occurred i n the nineteenth century with a further revival of trade after the establishment of the Omani sultanate i n Zanzibar, and with the advent of the British i n East, South, and Central Africa.  Another phase of Indian emigration began with European  colonization of Ceylon, Burma and other parts of Southeast Asia. The earliest emigration, implying settlement, took place as a movement of Tamil laborers from the southern regions of the subcontinent to the Straits Settlements i n the late eighteenth century.  The heyday of Indian emigration  began with the abolition of slavery i n the British colonies i n 183^ which provided the f i r s t great impetus to the movement of laborers under the indenture system. Between the 1830s and the 1930s, that i s until the end of the worldwide depression, about thirty million Indians migrated from India to the British possessions and colonies.  1  The various means and migratory schemes consisted  of unassisted labor migration under the indenture system, intracontinental movement of plantation workers under the kangani or maistry system, assisted 1  2  immigration of 'specialists' (policemen, clerks, interpreters, priests, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and miscellaneous categories of skilled workers) under contract to various colonial governments, and unassisted intercontinent a l movement of unskilled workers,  The years between 183^- and 1908  constitute the period of unrestricted indentured emigration, followed by increasing regulation until the abolition of the indenture system i n 1920 and the enactment by the Government of India of the Indian Emigration Act of 1922 which placed s t r i c t controls on the emigration of unskilled laborers from India.  Between 1923 and 1929 emigration continued while India s t i l l enjoyed  the prosperity engendered by the wartime boom. After 1929, the dampening effect of the worldwide depression created a reverse migration of overseas Indians back to India and this continued unabated until the end of World War II.  A new wave of emigration from India began after 19^-5 with the  movement of ex-servicemen who had fought abroad with the allies.  Students,  skilled and unskilled workers, and professionals began to migrate more frequently as countries liberalized their immigration laws to permit the entry of nonwhite peoples.  P o l i t i c a l developments i n Asia and Africa i n the  1950s and 1960s produced new trends i n Indian emigration with the creation of a shifting Indian population which went to countries willing to receive them. The indenture system transported Indians mainly to the sugar producing tropical British colonies i n the West Indies and the Pacific. also drew them to Africa to construct railroads.  This scheme  Perhaps the largest movement  of Indians occurred under the kangani and maistry systems to Ceylon and Malaya.  Because of the contiguity of these areas to India, large numbers of  Indian laborers were not averse to spending short periods on the plantations i n those colonies.  With the emergence of immigrant communities beyond India,  colonial governments soon required the services of 'specialist' immigrants to facilitate their administration of these communities residing within their jurisdiction.  Pockets of Indian population which grew out of the government-  3 regulated immigration schemes soon attracted other Indians from various parts of India who travelled independently, without assistance from any government, in search of fortune.  'Unassisted' immigrants preferred areas which were  easily accessible through existing sea routes and which already harbored sizeable communities of their countrymen.  'Unassisted' immigrants also  ventured into other areas such as England and North America with which Indians had had very l i t t l e contact but which s t i l l offered numerous opportunities for study, economic gain, and settlement.  The recent exodus from Africa and  the constant movement of Indians to other hospitable parts of the world merely indicates the increasing complexity and immensity of Indian emigration. The establishment of immigrant communities outside India may be considered a significant part of the study of British imperial, history but has been receiving the widespread attention of scholars from other disciplines. The.experiences of Indian migrants i n the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has widened our understanding of Indian society and culture, and has increasingly presented new problems of research to social scientists i n their study of plural societies and minority groups. on overseas Indians has  Much of the existing literature  centered on those parts of the world where they have  already established a permanent pattern of settlement.  Areas such as Mauritius,  East and South Africa, F i j i , Guyana, Trinidad, Malaya, England, and to some extent Canada have served as a laboratory for examining overseas Indian societies.  Various scholars including C. Kondapi ( l 9 5 l ) ,  I. M. Cumpston  (1953), Hilda Kuper ( 1 9 6 0 ) ^ Usha Mahajani ( i 9 6 0 ) , Burton Benedict (1961), 3  5  Morton Klass ( l 9 6 l ) , George Delf ( 1 9 6 3 ) ,  7  10  Schwartz, ed. ( 1 9 6 7 ) ,  Adrian C. Mayer (1961), K. L. Gillion (1962), 8  Rashmi Desai ( 1 9 6 3 ) ; 13  al  K. S. Sandhu ( l 9 6 ? ) ,  1 2  9  Barton  Robert C. Gregory ( 1 9 7 1 ) , ^ and Hugh Tinker ( 1 9 7 4 )  1 f>  and (1976),  have applied varied methodological approaches i n the study of  these migrant societies emerging either under the indenture and plantation systems (Mauritius, F i j i , Trinidad, Guyana, and Malaya) or i n the  15  6  'unindentured' areas (mainly South and East Africa).  Themes which appear  in the existing studies deal with the nature and structure of Indian emigration, economic exploitation under the plantation and indenture systems, caste as an organizing principle among overseas Indians, social organization among immigrant peasant societies, racial conflict i n plural societies, minority groups and ethnic interaction on the p o l i t i c a l level, and the more recent Asian (Indian) problem around the world.  Few of the mentioned works  provide a systematic treatment of Indian traders who f e l l into the general category of nonlahor migration excluded i n the indenture and kangani systems. This deficiency "becomes apparent when examining the negligible literature on Indian traders i n migrant societies.  Rashmi Desai's work on Indian  immigrants i n Britain provides some insights into the role of Gujaratis i n establishing Indian enterprise there.  A few recent studies of Indians i n  East Africa by H. S. Morris (1968) ' and J. S. Mangat (1969) 1  7  18  also show the  significance of investigating Indian trader communities attracted to the host countries by the opportunities for trade and commercial exploitation. The purpose of this study i s to investigate the movement of 'free' (as opposed to'.indentured)_r.emigrants whose intention i n leaving India was pursuit off opportunity and trade.  More specifically the focus i s on the  Gujaratis of F i j i who comprise a trader community which has not been subjected to extensive scrutiny "by scholars. This study embraces a time span of fortyfive years, from the beginning of this century to the end of the Second World War.  I t i s this period which characterizes the crucial formative phase  of Gujarati immigration and settlement i n F i j i .  During this forty-five year  span significant numbers of Gujaratis from various castes and diverse backgrounds came to F i j i and gradually became entrenched i n their present role as a visible and important trader community within a predominantly agricultural Indian population.  In the process they acquired a distinctive  and persistent negative image comparable to the dukawalla (shopkeeper) i n  5 Africa. F i j i contains a large Indian population—in excess of f i f t y per cent of the entire population—consisting mainly of descendants of immigrants who came from diverse parts of India from 1879 either under the indenture system or as 'free' immigrants.  Yet the diversity of the regional Indian cultures  which i s s t i l l apparent i n F i j i ' s Indian community has "been largely ignored or superficially treated. The common practice of treating Indians as one administrative unit has "been carried over into research on Indians i n F i j i without much effort to systematically analyze the regional components which went-into the making of the immigrant society and culture.  Accordingly,  regional groups such as the Gujaratis and South Indians have "been superficially mentioned or simply treated as part of the all-inclusive Indian category without much focus on their separate cultural identities, distinct from other Indians i n terms of origins, social "background, language, occupational orientation, and settlement characteristics.  The standard  approach by scholars to f i t a l l Indians within the r i g i d framework of the 'indentured' area studies distorts our understanding of F i j i ' s Indian society. This approach w i l l not suffice, just as the argument that the data on other Indian groups apart from indentured immigrants are incomplete cannot be taken seriously.  The regional approach to South Asia has opened new areas of • 19  research and greatly enriched studies of India and i t s people.  Such an  approach i n the study of Indian immigrant societies i s long overdue, especially i n the case of F i j i . Indians i n F i j i f i r s t began to receive scholarly attention i n the 1940s, but s t i l l with scanty mention of the Gujaratis who had become the predominant 20  immigrants i n the 1930s.  John Wesley Coulter (19^2)  i n his pioneering  study examined the Indian immigrants i n terms of the threat which they presented to the indigenous Fijians.  In his introductory panoramic  description of the community he referred to Gujaratis as "Bombay tailors  6 busily plying their trade" (p. l ) , and later as immigrants from Bombay Presidency who were merely "attracted to the islands by rumors of high wages and favorable economic conditions generally" (p. 79). Implicitly, the Gujaratis were also included i n his disparaging remarks about "Asiatic shopkeepers" for their role i n causing Indian indebtedness (p. 99). Coulter's subsequent work i n 19&7  w a s  merely an elaboration of his earlier  study which he now supplemented with new data, more maps, and numerous 21 tables.  The background of "the economic and p o l i t i c a l rivalry between  the native Melanesians and tens of thousands of Indian colonists who are out to possess the land" was consistent with his impressive t i t l e The Drama of Fiji.  Gujaratis did not fare any better than they had done i n earlier works.  Coulter described them as "traders, shoemakers, barbers, laundrymen, and jewelers"" who "emigrated because they could earn a better living i n F i j i than i n Gujerat" (p. 84).  He also commented briefly on their standoffish-  ness, their shrewdness, their profitable businesses, and also their ability to "combine to fight non-Gujerati competition" (p. 169). Coulter, of course, did not deviate from the standard and obvious remarks that have been made about other marginal communities such as the Marwaris i n Bengal or the Jews in New York. The o f f i c i a l treatise on F i j i ' s Indian community was A. ¥. McMillan's op  pamphlet (1944)  which was intended for use by senior officers of the  Government Service, but which was subsequently withdrawn from circulation i n response to objections raised about i t s contents. Indians into three groups:  McMillan classified the  indentured laborers and their descendants;  Gujarati traders and artisans;  Punjabi farmers and dairymen.  He included  some faulty information about the Gujaratis or 'Bombaywallas* whom, he described as only originating from a very small area near Surat.  This  observation contained the common misconception that a l l Gujaratis came from Surat without taking into account those who had originated i n Kathiawar and  7 Central Gujarat.  Nevertheless, McMillan's other observations about the lack  of family immigration among the Gujaratis, the strong links which they maintained with their homeland, and their ability to move into  'untouchable'  occupations which local Indians generally avoided, provided good insights into that community. W. E. H. Stanner ( l 9 5 3 ) ^ did. not specifically concentrate on F i j i but 2  included i t as part of his study of three British dependencies i n the Southwest Pacific.  In an otherwise competent and impressive work, Stanner did not  conceal his bias against the Indians, perhaps relying too heavily on the o f f i c i a l version of the community's development.  He questioned the F i j i  Indian war effort, commented on the Indian living conditions, and was certainly more sympathetic toward rural Indian farmers with their problems with debt and the f a l l i n agricultural productivity.  His scathing remarks  on the "blatant tax evasion by Indian merchants" was perhaps directed toward the rapacious "Bombaywallas" who did not regard F i j i as a home but rather as a place i n which to make money rapidly (p. 178).  Stanner helped to reinforce  the negative image of the Gujaratis which began to emerge i n F i j i at that time generally. The most important studies of F i j i Indians appeared i n the 1960s. 24 Adrian C. Mayer (1961)  concentrated on broadening the knowledge of F i j i  Indian society by describing the rural part of i t within the framework of the usual 'indentured' area studies. Mention of the Gujaratis was made mainly in his section on the economic activities which dominated the l i f e of the settlements which he examined.  Unfortunately, Mayer did not adequately cover  the Gujarati impact on the rural scene.  Rather the rural Gujarati shopkeeper  merely provided the norm for comparing the non-Gujarati shopkeepers i n the settlements (pp. 4 6 - 4 7 ) .  His other observations f e l l within the standard  characterization of Gujaratis as a separate cultural group with a strong business orientation which maintained strong links with India, kept their  8  traditional occupations as tailors, shopkeepers, and jewelers, and readily combined to fight any non-Gujarati competitor.  I t seems that Mayer relied  heavily on material which had already appeared i n K. L. Gillion's doctoral dissertation i n 1958.  The coverage of Gujaratis was even less i n his short 26  comprehensive history of the F i j i Indians (1963).  He included brief  sketches of important personalities such as Manilal Doctor and A. D. Patel, but simply alluded to the growing influence of the India-born Gujaratis vis-^a-vis the Fiji-born Indians with only a fleeting analysis of their position i n the overall economic power structure i n F i j i . on  K. L. G i l l i o n (1962)  has produced the most comprehensive work on the  operation of the indenture system i n F i j i .  Its deficiencies were not so  much errors i n judgement and interpretation as the result of a concern to toe the o f f i c i a l line, which i s perhaps understandable i f one took into account that the circumstances and times i n colonial F i j i dictated such an approach.  The merits of his study also become somewhat obscured by  deficiencies i n his treatment of nonlabor migration to F i j i . 'free' immigrants comprises six pages (pp. 130-35)•  His chapter on  To delve into the reasons  for this oversight would be mere speculation and Gillion cannot be faulted for not doing what he had not intended to do i n the f i r s t place.  Both his  focus on the indenture system and the limited time span of his study precluded any scrutiny of emigration records which went beyond the perimeters of  'indentured' area studies. Gillion relied only on oral sources to provide  a brief sketch of early Gujarati emigration without any use of emigration records i n Bombay and Baroda for the period between I916 and 1920. Hence, there are errors i n his description of the origins of the Gujarati immigrants. Apart from a few names of the earliest immigrants and the dates of their arrival, supplemented by a brief sketch of the career of Manilal Doctor In another chapter, the Gujaratis are, once againplaced within the standard characterization as a group who maintained close ties with their homeland,  9 remitted money, were thrifty and hardworking, and possessed a strong sense of group loyalty (p. 134). The rural dimension of F i j i ' s Indian population which provided the 'indentured' area framework for Mayer's and Gillion's works was obviously 28 the most f e r t i l e f i e l d for further research.  Barton M. Schwartz (1967)  examined the endogamous patterns of marriage and caste among a minute segment of the rural Indian population as part of a larger anthropological approach to the pan-Indian dimensions of caste i n overseas communities.  Although  other cultural and linguistic categories such as Nepali, Punjabi, and Tamil are included i n his analysis, the rural Gujarati shopkeeper i s noticeably absent.  This omission tends to leave gaps i n his otherwise significant  generalizations. Two more recent studies of F i j i Indians serve as good illustrations of a broadening concern to place the Gujarati community within i t s proper perspective.  I. S. Ghauhan (1969)  i n his yet unpublished doctoral  dissertation on p o l i t i c a l processes among the Indians of Labasa (in Vanua Levu) threw new light on Gujarati "trader leadership" based on a system of important trade relationships which emerged between the trader i n Labasa and the large wholesaling Gujarati outlets i n Suva.  Ghauhan also provided  valuable insights into the operation of the Gujarati shop and i t s role i n the extension of a wide network of credit.  He had, i n effect, ventured into  a new area which holds tremendous potential for future scholars, and which i s certainly an important contribution to a f u l l e r understanding of the Gujarati community. The other study by Ahmed A l i (l977) ° i s the f i r s t of a two-part brief 3  historical sketch of Indian immigrant society between 1879 and 1939.  Although  A l i deals with material already covered i n other broader studies, he basically concentrates on the more salient features of Indian immigration and settlement—the indenture period, the changing character of immigrant society,  10 'free' immigration, and the strike of 1920.  The section on 'free'  immigration i s centered on Punjabis and Gujaratis.  The heavy reliance on  the records i n F i j i on 'free' immigration may have sufficed All's purpose to provide a cursory glance of Gujaratis and Punjabis and to lend more depth to the topic.  But the records are incomplete, which, i n effect, necessitates  a profile of the Gujarati community with a strong o f f i c i a l bent.  This bias  tends to reinforce other observations and generalizations of the author. Ali i s correct i n saying that Gujaratis added a new dimension to F i j i Indian society i n terms of their specific economic role, but, he i s off the mark when he states that they "came as entrepreneurs."-^" This generalization presupposes that Gujaratis were already engaged i n entrepreneurial roles prior to their arrival i n F i j i .  I t i s actually an imprecise categorization  because i t bypasses some of the more relevant facts about the social hackground of the Gujarati immigrants as well as that of indentured immigrants which help explain why Gujaratis were more successful i n assuming entrepreneurial roles i n F i j i .  His other statement that " i t was their aim to  monopolize this aspect of the economy" (meaning trade and commerce) i s again based on a faulty premise.  The Gujaratis were indeed noticeably entrenched  in small-scale r e t a i l trade and i n certain occupations, and i n fact did acquire a monopoly of certain trades, hut i t does not necessarily follow that this was a l l part of a calculated design from the moment they had arrived i n F i j i .  The problem i s more complex and definitely requires further  elaboration and clarification as do his other observations i n reference to Gujarati exclusiveness and clannishness, their closely-knit businesses and the tendency to undercut non-Gujarati business rivals, their frugality and thriftiness, and their leanings toward nationalist politics i n India. The image of the Gujaratis which emerges in the existing literature i s by no means complete, and above all,certainly a negative one.  There has  been no attempt to explain the sociology of Gujarati immigration.  What has  persisted i s a skeleton without much meat. I t will not suffice to compare Gujarati immigration to a chain reaction—namely, one immigrant called another;  nor w i l l i t do to describe the Gujarati community in relation to  that section of that community which traced i t s origins i n F i j i to the indenture system.  For the past forty years scholars have been consistently  implying that had i t not been for Gujaratis other Indians would have made more progress i n the economic sphere.  This interpretation i s too simplistic  and has generally obscured a proper evaluation of the role of the Gujarati within the F i j i Indian community. This study of the Gujaratis i n F i j i w i l l form a contribution to the vast subject of Indian immigration generally.  I t w i l l also help to identify  significant changes i n one segment of Indian society i n a new environment. But i t s particular intention i s to rectify gaps and glaring deficiencies i n the treatment of Gujaratis i n F i j i .  This study focuses on such themes as  the pattern and peak periods of Gujarati immigration, the origins of the migrants, their motives for leaving India, their settlement characteristics in relation to other Indians in F i j i , the social structure of the community, and their economic activities. of hypotheses:  I t will also test the validity of a number  that Gujaratis came to F i j i with certain occupational  expectations just as the failure of these expectations had precipitated their departure from India; that Gujaratis acquired an economic role i n F i j i because they had an inherent ability to organize and to be organized;  that  the cultural cohesiveness and social organization of the community enabled i t to respond effectively to the pressure of changing conditions i n the new environment;  that the Gujaratis merely existed i n the host country but  seldom displayed signs of belonging to i t because of the strong and persistent sense of cultural continuity with their homeland. The major sources of data used i n this study can be broken down into three parts:  12 1.  Archival and o f f i c i a l material available i n libraries and archives i n  England, India, and F i j i comprising o f f i c i a l correspondence, government legislation and parliamentary debates, reports, o f f i c i a l pronouncements, and policy statements,  Of particular significance are:  proceedings and records i n London and New Delhi;  (a) Indian emigration  (b) passport registers i n  the P o l i t i c a l Department records of the Government of Bombay and unclassified original passport applications (also i n Bombay); Huzur English Office i n Baroda; 2.  (c) police f i l e s of the  (d) immigration and business records i n Suva.  Interviews, f i r s t among Gujaratis with established links with F i j i , i n  Kathiawar (Saurashtra), Kheda (Kaira), Baroda, Navsari, Bilimora, Bulsar, Gandevi, Chikhli, and Bombay;  second, among Gujaratis i n Suva, Nausori,  Nadi, Lautoka, and Ba ( a l l i n F i j i ) . ^  In India the interview technique was  designed to obtain information mainly on the nature of the link with F i j i , dates and estimates of ;one''srimmediateifamilycmembers  who emigrated to F i j i ,  and reasons for emigrating to F i j i , whereas In F i j i the same technique yielded information on further estimates of a particular caste grouping, the group's perception of Its early immigration and settlement, i t s reasons for settling in a particular locality, the response to economic opportunities and occupational preferences, the problems of maintaining cultural identity, attitudes toward other Indians and races, and the response to education and politics. 3.  Published literature and other unpublished material on the general topic  of Indians overseas which provided the background and conceptual framework of this study. A brief historical background to the introduction of Indians through the indenture system i s provided i n Chapter II, so as to put the subsequent and main section on unassisted immigration, between 1900 and 1920, i n i t s proper perspective.  This chapter examines the nature of 'free* emigration from  India to F i j i while focusing on these problems?  who were the f i r s t 'free*  13  immigrants and why? What groups can be distinguished? When do Gujaratis and Punjabis f i t into the pattern of unassisted emigration from India?  I t also  attempts to determine the peak periods of unassisted immigration to F i j i i n the light of favorable economic and p o l i t i c a l conditions, the presence of an established Indian community, and emigration policy i n India and immigration policy i n F i j i .  The primary concern i s with the contention that 'free'  emigrants invariably followed not only i n the wake of indentured laborers to F i j i , but also on account of certain expectations- which motivated them to leave India. Chapter III discusses Indian immigration i n the postindenture period, between 1921 and 1945. There are three sections i n this chapter:  the f i r s t  deals with the search for an alternative system of emigration from India to replace the indenture system;  the second i s concerned with the socio-  economic conditions i n F i j i which s t i l l attracted immigrants inspite of the failure to find an acceptable alternative to indentured laborers; and lastly the actual process of 'free' Indian immigration i s examined, i n i t i a l l y between a period of unlimited controls between 1921 and 1930. and later during the implementation of immigration restrictions between 1930 and 1940. This section on 'free' immigrants constitutes the most significant part with i t s emphasis on Gujaratis, and to some extent Punjabis, who had become the predominant force i n emigration from India to F i j i .  Both Chapters II and III  provide the background through which Gujaratis are examined i n fuller detail in subsequent chapters. Chapter IV concentrates on the Gujarati immigrants and their social background.  The main problems dealt with are the areas from where they  originated i n Gujarat, the principal emigrant groups and their position i n Gujarati society, and.their motivation i n migrating.  The analysis of the  immigrants i s carried i n two parts: f i r s t during the indenture period until 1920;  second after 1921 i n the postindenture period.  Chapter V i s about Gujarati settlement i n F i j i from the time of their arrival until 1945.  From the outset the pattern of Gujarati settlement had  a strong correlation with their occupational and trading activities, but i t was also linked to their preference for  urban areas.  The chapter focuses  on the areas i n F i j i which were preferred for settlement and also examines the factors involved i n the choice of a particular locality i n town. These factors include the Gujarati preoccupation with trade and commercial activity, the local demand for the traditional s k i l l s of certain Gujarati castes, better economic opportunities i n urban areas, and p o l i t i c a l security, chapter attempts to provide answers to the more pertinent issues:  This  Where did  each caste grouping settle eventually and what pattern of existence did they follow?  Why i s i t that some Gujaratis only settled i n those areas and towns  with a large Indian population?  Did they open up and exploit hinterland  (as they had done i n East Africa) or did they only restrict themselves to urban areas? Chapter VI i s essentially concerned with a discussion of Gujarati social l i f e i n F i j i .  I t begins with a brief comparison of Gujaratis with  other Indian groups i n an effort to show how the disruptive tendencies of the colonial environment on caste affected mainly those immigrants who came under the indenture system rather than the Gujaratis who maintained strong ties with their homeland.  Second, this chapter grapples with the problem  that, although Gujaratis were bound to a strong sense of caste ideology, they did not arrange themselves rigidly according to any hierarchical structure of their homeland.  Third, the discussion centers on the Gujarati  shop as the focal point i n social and economic relationships, f i r s t within the immediate caste grouping, then between groups with similar economic interests, and f i n a l l y with other Indians and races.  Fourth, the chapter  also shows that Gujaratis were concerned with the organization of family l i f e only after the arrival of women and children at which point i t became  necessary to maintain in-group solidarity and exclusiveness and stricter adherence to r i t u a l paraphenalia. Chapter VII deals with a number of topics relating to the Gujarati identity i n F i j i .  The f i r s t section analyzes their innovative role i n the  emergence of Indian enterprise and their negative image which arose from that capacity. The next section discusses the factors which prevented any Gujarati effort at integration into F i j i Indian society.  These factors  include their strong attachment for their homeland, their cultural chauvinism, their reluctance to bring families and to duplicate the Gujarati household, their business practices with a strong preference of business .partners from their own castes, and the lack of a sense of isolation from Gujarat.  The  third section i s about their struggles with problems in the new environment, especially those dealing with community cooperation, welfare associations, and education.  The last part describes the Gujarati response to politics.  This chapter attempts to explain how Gujaratis asserted their identity i n F i j i i n terms of the problems they confronted. Finally, Chapter VIII provides a synopsis of relevant issues and their discussion i n a l l the chapters.  I t also presents generalizations i n regard  to Gujarati immigration, settlement, l i f e i n the new environment, and their identity i n the host country.  The study w i l l conclude with some general  remarks about their progress since 1945 and their future status i n F i j i .  NOTES  Kingsley Davis, The Population of India and Pakistan (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1951), p. 98. 1  2 G. Kondapi, Indians Overseas, I838-I949 (New Delhi: Indian Council of World Affairs, 195lJ] ^I. M. Cumpston, Indians Overseas in British Territories, 1834-1854 (London: Oxford University Press, 1953). ^Hilda Kuper, Indian People i n Natal (Natal: University Press, i960). ^Usha Mahajani, The Role of Indian Minorities i n Burma and Malaya (Bombay: Indian Institute of Pacific Relations, i960). Burton Benedict, Indians i n a Plural Society: A Report on Mauritius (Colonial Research Studies No. 3^» London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1961). 7 Morton Klass, East Indians i n Trinidad: A Study of Cultural Persistence (New York: Columbia University Press, 196l). Adrian C. Mayer, Peasants i n the Pacific: A Study of F i j i Indian Rural Society (Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press, I96I), 9  K, L. Gillion, F i j i ' s Indian Migrants: A History to the End of Indenture in 1920 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1962). y  "^George Delf, Asians i n East Africa (London: 1963).  Oxford University Press,  Rashmi Desai, Indian Immigrants i n Britain (London: Press, 1963). 11  Oxford University  K. S. Sandhu, Indians i n Malaya: Some Aspects of their Immigration and Settlement, 1786-1957 (Cambridge: University Press, 1969). 12  Barton Schwartz, ed., Caste i n Overseas Indian Communities (San Francisco: Chandler Publishing Company, 1967). 13  "^Robert C. Gregory, India and East Africa: A History of Race Relations within the British Empire, 1890-1939 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971). ^Hugh Tinker,.. A New System of Slavery: The Export of Indian Labour Overseas, I83O-I92O (London: Oxford University Press, 1974). 16 1  17 Hugh Tinker, Separate and Unequal: India and the Indian i n the B r i t i s h Commonwealth (Vancouver: University of B r i t i s h Columbia Press, l6  1976T  17  H. S. Morris, Indians i n Uganda (London:  Weidenfeld and Nicolson,  1968). 18 J. S. Mangat, A History of Asians i n East A f r i c a , c. 1886 to 1945 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969).  19  A good case f o r the regional approach i s made i n D. A. Low, ed., Soundings i n Modern South Asian History (Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1968), Ch. I . See also Robert I . Crane, ed. . Regions and Regionalism i n South Asian Studies: An Exploratory Study (Durham (N,C.): Duke University Program i n Comparative Studies on Southern Asia, 1967).  20  John Wesley Coulter, F i j i : L i t t l e India of the P a c i f i c (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1942).  21  John Wesley Coulter, The Drama of F i j i : A Contemporary History (Rutland, Vermont/Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1967). A. W, McMillan, Notes on the Indians i n F i j i P r i n t e r , 1944).'  (Suva:  Government  E. H. Stanner, The South Seas i n Transition: A Study of Post-War R e h a b i l i t a t i o n and Construction i n Three B r i t i s h P a c i f i c Dependencies (Sydney: Australian Publishing Company, 1953). 24 Mayer, Peasants i n the P a c i f i c , c i t e d i n note 8 above. -%. L. G i l l i o n , A History of Indian Immigration and Settlement i n F i j i (Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Australian National University, 1958). 2  Adrian C. Mayer, Indians i n F i j i  (London:  Oxford University Press,  1963). 2  ^ G i l l i o n , F i j i ' s Indian Migrants, c i t e d i n note 9 above.  B a r t o n M. Schwartz, "Caste and Endogamy i n F i j i , " i n Schwartz, Caste i n Overseas Indian Communities, pp. 213-35• 28  ^ I . S. Chauhan. Leadership, and S o c i a l Cleavages: P o l i t i c a l Processes among the Indians i n Labasa, Fijj:Islands (.Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, A u s t r a l i a n National University, 1969). 2  Ahmed A l i , "Aspects of F i j i Indian History, 1879-1939: A Society i n T r a n s i t i o n — 1 , " Economic and P o l i t i c a l Weekly, V o l . XII, No. 42 (October 30  1977), PP. 1782-1789.  18 31The same generalization i s found i n Michael Ward, The Role of Investment i n the Development of F i j i (Cambridge: University Press, 1971), p. 43, n. 40. J  -^Lack of research funds prevented fieldwork i n Labasa, but Gujaratis with extensive l i n k s with Labasa were interviewed i n Suva.  CHAPTER II 'FREE' IMMIGRATION TO FIJI UNTIL THE END OF INDENTURE (1900-1920)  The study of the Indian community i n F i j i begins with the indenture system.  Though indentured laborers formed the overwhelming bulk of the  Indian migrants to F i j i until 19l6, they were also joined by 'unassisted' or 'free' immigrants.  These 'free' migrants f i r s t began to arrive i n small  numbers at the turn of the century but gradually became an important strain within the Indian population.  'Free' immigration was the inevitable out-  growth of indentured immigration.  This chapter, then, i s about 'free'  immigration until the abolition of the indenture system i n 1920.  I t focuses  on the groups who came, their motivation, the .conditions i n F i j i which they encountered, and their response to the opportunities i n the new land. Above a l l , i t i s about the Gujaratis who also came to F i j i from Western India and their specific place within the nascent 'free' immigrant society which emerged prior to 1920. I t i s f i r s t necessary to provide a brief introduction to F i j i , i t s geographical and physical characteristics, i t s early history, i t s indigenous population, and i t s economic and p o l i t i c a l development prior to the arrival of the Indians.  The.Fiji Islands constitute an extensive archipelago  scattered over a wide area between latitudes 15° and 20° south of the Equator with the  180th meridian  passing longitudinally through the group.''"  The islands are centrally situated i n the Northwest Pacific, to the northeast of Sydney (Australia) and to the north of Auckland (New Zealand), and surrounded by other island clusters including Tonga, New Hebrides, Samoa, and There are i n excess of 500 islands and i s l e t s i n the F i j i  New Caledonia.  archipelago of which 322 are suitable for habitation, and of which only 106  2 are inhabited.  19  20 The larger islands are volcanic i n o r i g i n and include V i t i Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni, and Kadavu (Kandavu).  V i t i Levu and Vanua Levu constitute  87 per cent of the t o t a l land area of 7,040 square miles. have s i m i l a r topographical features,  Both these islands  While the coasts are fringed with  f e r t i l e land,, . the i n t e r i o r i s very mountainous forming a system of highlands and s w i f t l y flowing r i v e r s .  The major r i v e r systems i n V i t i Levu have cut  steep winding v a l l e y s i n the i n t e r i o r , and have also b u i l t up the f e r t i l e p l a i n s and deltas which presently form the core areas of settlement and commercial agriculture.  Vanua Levu, on the other hand, contains l e s s  extensive h i l l country, and proportionally smaller areas of r o l l i n g plains and f l a t land f o r agriculture. F i j i does not enjoy climatic uniformity. c l e a r l y defined c l i m a t i c d i v i s i o n s :  The two large islands contain  that of the windward wet zone i n the  southeast and the other of the leeward dry zone i n the northwest. i s heaviest i n the windward regions averaging over 120  The  rainfall  inches annually.  Hence,  there i s a sharp contrast i n vegetation between the two climatic zones i n V i t i Levu and Vanua Levu.  Except i n those areas which are heavily cultivated,  the windward side i s covered with dense subtropical r a i n forest.  By contrast,  the dry zone contains patches of sparse f o r e s t i n open grass and reed covered areas.  Extensive mangrove swamps abound at mouths of the r i v e r systems,  o f f e r i n g a natural ecologigal habitat to numerous forms of marine l i f e as well as providing timber f o r f u e l and house-building.  The strong c o r r e l a t i o n  between climate and agriculture i s c e r t a i n l y evident i n F i j i . The o r i g i n a l inhabitants, who  alone bear the r a c i a l categorization of  F i j i a n , are e s s e n t i a l l y of Melanesian stock but also reveal a Polynesian s t r a i n i n the eastern parts of the F i j i group.  There are no precise estimates of the  F i j i a n population p r i o r to concentrated contact with the Europeans i n the nineteenth century.  The population i n the l a t t e r part of the nineteenth  century had been placed at a low figure of  100,000 to a high of 300,000. But  21 like other island populations in the Pacific, the Fijians were subjected to the ravages of European diseases, alcohol, firearms, and intermittent warfare. The measles epidemic of 1 8 7 5 reduced the population size considerably and when the f i r s t o f f i c i a l census was taken i n 1 8 8 1 , the Fijian population was placed at  114,748.  Traditional Fijian society possessed a rich cultural heritage punctuated with ceremony and tradition.  I t was founded on a complex system of land  ownership based on customary tenure and communal ownership,  The primary and  largest social unit of Fijian society was the yavusa whose members comprised direct descendants of a legendary or deified ancestor.  Patrilineal descendants  of the founder formed lineages within the yavusa called the mataqali (matangali), further subdivided into smaller local units called the i tokatoka. Though the i tokatoka formed the main criterion for land ownership, i t was the mataqali which was legitimized as the landholding unit by the British after 1 8 7 4 .  Fundamental to the Fijian system of land ownership were the  inalienable and equal rights of a l l the corporate members and future generations of ther mataq a l i , a concept which s t i l l prevails. The .'European'discovery various stages. in 1774,  of, and contacts with, F i j i progressed through  First came the explorers—Abel Tasman i n 1643,  James Cook  and William Bligh i n 1 7 8 9 and 1792—who either sighted or charted  some of the islands. After the i n i t i a l contacts, European mariners and navigators generally avoided the islands for two..main reasons:  the trea-  cherous reefs which made navigation d i f f i c u l t and the formidable reputation of F i j i ' s inhabitants. The second stage began as a trading contact at the beginning of the nineteenth century when European vessels came f i r s t i n search of sandalwood, and later for beche-de-mer and coconut o i l .  Whalers also  frequented parts of the island group. Trade linked F i j i to the important ports in the Orient, New England, and the Pacific generally. At this point the islands did not seem attractive to white settlement-, except to the  22 original '-birds of passage' who included "beachcombers (whites turned native), survivors from wrecked vessels, castaways and other derelicts, and deserters 3  from sandalwood s h i p s . A s i n the case of other areas, these types have since gained notoriety i n history on account of the havoc which they created among island populations through their licentiousness, the t r a f f i c i n firearms and alcohol, the introduction of diseases, and their disturbing role i n local warfare as mercenaries to leading chiefs.  The limited phase of European  contact culminated with the arrival of missionaries i n the 1830s who added further stresses and strains to Fijian society with their conflicting religious ideologies, although these influences were ultimately beneficial. Permanent settlement did not occur until the latter half of the nineteenth century.  In the 1850s knowledge of F i j i increased with a corresponding  growth of foreign influence through the v i s i t of naval vessels. Rumors of British annexation brought immigrants from Australia and New Zealand who came as traders, planters, and speculators i n search of easy profits.  The cotton  boom of the 1860s attracted a new breed of planters who required large tracts of land with an assured labor supply.  The intensity of land purchases from  Fijians far exceeded the influx of white settlers who numbered anywhere from 1,200  to 2,000 by 1870.  Large estates emerged on the smaller islands and then  spread to the coastal regions of V i t i Levu and Vanua Levu, but mainly i n the Rewa Delta i n V i t i Levu.  The efforts of the planters to exploit F i j i ' s  resources were supplemented by the establishment of trading houses in Levuka to provide a wide range of financial and mercantile services to the white community. While the cotton trade was essential to the economic security of the growing community of planters and merchants, i t had an adverse effect on the large-scale cultivation of other commercial crops.  The cotton trade was also  tied to the whole problem of law and order i n F i j i because of the planter hunger for more land and the alarming t r a f f i c i n Polynesian labor to augment  23  scarce Fijian labor.  Both European  settlers and Fijian chiefs desired some  form of central authority to prevent a confrontation between whites and Fijians and to permit settlers to further their economic objectives. The collaboration between an apprehensive white community and Fijian chiefs to form a stable government was undermined by one crisis after another. First, the planter community was ill-prepared, through a lack of agricultural diversification, for the collapse of the cotton trade i n 1870 and the accompanying depression.  Second, factional elements within the settler  community continually vied for ascendancy under the government of Cakobau (Thakombau), a powerful chief who styled himself 'King.'  Third, the Fijians  remained as bystanders and watched i n dismay while the faction-ridden and incompetent administrators and legislators led the government i n i t i a l l y into bankruptcy and eventually toward anarchy.  Finally, the collapse of Cakobau's  government threatened the security of Britain's 'informal empire' i n the , 4 Pacific, consequently precipitating British intervention in F i j i i n 1874. Britain's approach to the Fijian problem was an innovative exercise i n indirect rule, i n fact a forerunner of the experiment i n Africa.  From the outset,  Fijian interests remained paramount and made an integral part of colonial policy by the f i r s t substantive governor, S i r Arthur Gordon (later Lord Stanmore), especially after a measles epidemic decimated the indigenous population.  Gordon reduced the amount of. land i n European hands and restricted  further land sales, thereby consolidating lands through native institutions.  absolute Fijian control over their  Moreover, he devised a system of native  taxation and administration which reinforced the inherent link between Fijians and their traditional leaders, the chiefs. Above a l l , rather than acquiescing in the demands of settlers to tap Fijians as a labor force, Gordon's policy was aimed at protecting Fijian society from the evils of a money economy. Instead he proposed the introduction of indentured laborers from India, augmented by a scheme to expand the existing agricultural base of the economy  24 under the auspices of large-scale capitalism attracted from abroad. Indentured Indian immigrants were introduced into F i j i as a means of supplying the labor requirements of plantations and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (hereafter, the C.S.R.), a large Australian capitalist concern which had been lured to F i j i to develop the sugar industry.  The  Indenture system appeared as a logical sequence to the abolition of slavery and was designed as a convenient way to u t i l i z e cheap Indian labor to help develop the economies of British colonies. The system was introduced i n F i j i along the lines of the immigration schemes of Trinidad and British Guiana. Recruited emigrants were given a free passage to F i j i to serve a contracted period of five years, and only entitled to repatriation without cost after remaining as indentured laborers for a further five years.  A provision was  also incorporated into the scheme to permit laborers who had served their period of indenture to remain i n the colony as permanent residents.  The  f i r s t 481 indentured emigrants arrived from India i n 1879Between 1879 and 1899, 18,853 indentured Indian laborers were introduced into F i j i .  Taking into consideration 4,509 births, 4,278 deaths, and  5,991  departures (of laborers who had completed their term of indenture), and 2,275 new emigrants, the Indian population of F i j i was estimated to be 15,368 in 1 9 0 0 . ^  The overwhelming bulk of the migrants had come from the eastern  parts of United Provinces (present-day Uttar Pradesh) and Bihar. Some Punjabis had been recruited i n the early years of the 1880s, and Nepalis were also despatched i n the 1890s.  In 1902,  another emigration agency was  opened i n Madras and the f i r s t South Indian ('Madrassi') laborers arrived i n 1903.  There was virtually no recruiting i n Bombay Presidency.  cases of recruiting there took place i n Ahmedabad i n 1883-84. figure was negligible.  The only known Again the  The main reason was that the Government of Bombay  objected to recruiting for F i j i .  Basically, the composition of the popula-  tion was 'north-Indian' up until the arrival of laborers from Madras.  25 From 1900 onward, the number of Indians who had served their period of indenture but had opted to stay on plantations was becoming noticeable. Besides this group there were nonindentured emigrants who had come to F i j i on their own and not under any immigration scheme. Though the number was small, the estimates of the 'passenger' immigrants were given i n the yearly immigration reports of F i j i .  In 1900, 32 such arrivals were recorded and i n 1901  the o f f i c i a l estimate of Indians who came into F i j i direct from India or through  7 the other colonies as passengers was estimated at 100.  Most of these  immigrants were 'returnees' who had lived i n F i j i as indentured laborers previously and had been repatriated to India, but now had decided to return to the colony.  These immigrants entered F i j i without any difficulty provided  that they complied with the normal emigration and health formalities i n India as well as i n F i j i . The rise i n the number of 'passenger' immigrants i n 1901 can be attributed g to the arrival of 20 Parsi artisans.  These Parsis represented the f i r s t  batch of Gujarati artisans who came to F i j i .  They had been induced to emigrate  by Thomas Hughes, a recruiting agent of the G.S.R., who had been visiting India at the time.  Since the Parsi artisans were residents of Bombay  Presidency, where recruiting for F i j i was prohibited, and f e l l within the classification of laborers, Hughes had f i r s t to obtain permission for them to migrate.  The Government of India did not raise any objection but the  cooperation of the Government of Bengal had to be secured since a l l categories of emigrants to F i j i departed through the Port of Calcutta.  However, the  Government of Bengal saw no objection to the 20 Parsi artisans going to F i j i provided that they complied with normal health regulations at the point of 9 di sembarkati on. By the end of 1907, approximately 300 of these 'passenger' emigrants had arrived i n F i j i on emigrant steamers from Calcutta.  Yet the numerical  strength of Indian immigrants who had arrived i n F i j i under none of the  26 provisions of the Indian Immigration Ordinance of F i j i was placed at 1,000.  11  One reason for this increase was the establishment of a regular route between Calcutta and New Zealand which allowed Indians to travel on ships other than the emigrant steamers.  Traffic between India and Australia must also have  been on the increase, judging from the Indian Government's stipulation i n 1904 to Indian students, merchants, and other travellers proceeding to Australia  12 to arm themselves with passports to facilitate their entry.  Thus, the only  plausible explanation for the discrepancy between the accountable 300 'passenger' immigrants and the estimated total number of immigrants not covered by the immigration ordinance i n F i j i would be that Indians who went to other areas i n the Pacific, such as New Zealand and Australia, were proceeding to F i j i i n nonemigrant ships. Furthermore, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to say who they were. Information obtained orally as well as the existing research on that period has provided some insight into the origins of this category of immigrants.  The Census Report of F i j i for the year 1911 has  thrown some light on this problem also. 'Unassisted' immigration had already gained some momentum prior to 1905. Three types of 'free' immigrants had arrived at that stage.  The largest  single group comprised former indentured laborers who reemigrated to F i j i . They had welcomed repatriation i n anticipation of establishing old ties and joining families. absence.  But conditions at home had changed during their  Some longed for the lax social milieu of F i j i inspite of their  traumatic experiences under indenture;  others were under pressure to share  their meager savings with numerous relatives;  many were simply rejected  because of the shame which they brought upon their families. Punjabis constituted another group. In 1904,,70 Punjabis came to F i j i 13 after spending some time i n New Caledonia f i r s t .  J  They were Jat Sikhs from  Jullundur district who had gone to New Caledonia to seek their fortune. Faced with unfavorable conditions they decided to go to F i j i where they  27  did not make much headway either.  The majority were finally repatriated  to India via New Caledonia, but those who chose to remain for some time included Hazara Singh, Jaimal Tara Singh, and Thakur Singh.  Many of the later  Punjabi immigrants f i r s t heard about F i j i from other Punjabis who had travelled extensively in the Pacific.  Punjabis who returned from their  travels were instrumental i n providing much publicity about the areas which they visited, including F i j i .  The Punjabi immigrants were not very educated  and came mainly from the agricultural sections of the population. The third type was the Gujarati. 1901 would be included i n this group.  Of course, the Parsis who arrived i n There were no other cases of Gujarati  emigration to F i j i until 1904.when two Sonis, Chunilal Ganji and V i r j i Narshi, 14 arrived from Calcutta.  Apparently, they had heard about F i j i i n Natal  and made arrangements through a number of influential Indians i n F i j i to go there.  Both Chunilal and V i r j i were from Porbandar i n Kathiawar and were  goldsmiths by trade.  They proceeded to F i j i under the assumption that there  was much money to be made among the Indians.  In 1905, another Soni from  Jamnagar, by the name of Lakhu Premji heard about F i j i and the large Indian population there.  I t i s difficult  to ascertain how he obtained this informa-  tion but the source seemed to have been Chunilal or V i r j i . 1905 and lived i n the town of Navua for two years.  He arrived i n  But during this time he  found the conditions i n F i j i quite harsh and subsequently returned to his homeland. -' These Gujarati immigrants, as i n the case of the Punjabis, were 1  not educated.  They had been attracted to F i j i by the desire to ply their  s k i l l s i n making jewelry and to improve their economic status generally. Punjabis and Gujaratis continued to arrive i n F i j i between 1905 and 1910. Among the Gujaratis was another group of Sonis who came from Porbandar i n 1908. There were no o f f i c i a l estimates. Between 1908 and 1909 another Gujarati caste grouping made some penetration into F i j i . In 1908, Narotam 17 Karsandas arrived and he was followed by Motiram Narsey a year later. Both  28 were from Navsari i n Baroda State and "belonged to the Khatri caste. Though they were weavers by caste, they made their living i n F i j i as tailors.  After  1910 both Narotam and Motiram established "business concerns which enabled other members of their caste to come to F i j i .  Only one other Gujarati caste  category arrived before the decade was over.  The only known case was Dullabh  Kalyan, a Mochi (shoemaker) from Mahuva Taluka i n Navsari, who arrived i n 18 1910 and returned to India after a stay of over 2 years. The inward flow of 'free' migrants was affected by two important developments—one i n India and the other i n F i j i . In 190? the Government of India made i t mandatory for a l l Indians who wished to travel abroad "to 19 provide themselves with passports."  This was intended to he a protective  measure to induce Indians to procure the necessary travel documents before proceeding to such countries as Canada, South Africa, Rhodesia, Australia, and New Caledonia which had introduced stringent immigration rules governing the entry of Indians,  Perhaps i n anticipation of the influx of people who  had formerly gone to those areas, the Government of F i j i brought the Indian Immigration Ordinance No. XVII of 1909 into effect,  The Ordinance was  specifically designed to stop the influx of undesirable persons who were destitute and would become "a charge on the colony" i f they were not indentured, ^ 2  In.:spite of these measures, the number of 'free' emigrants who came after 1907,  and before the f i r s t census was taken, had increased to a figure of  21 approximately 1,600.  This was an increase of 600 for a three-year period,  at an average annual rate of arrival of 200 immigrants of this type.  Together  with the immigrants who had completed their period of indenture, as well as those who were born i n F i j i , they presented a very interesting profile i n  1911. Within this ten-year period the whole structure of the Indian community "began to change. When the f i r s t census was taken i n 1911,  1  the population had  29 increased from l 6 , l l 6 i n 1900 to 40,286, of which 25,975 were listed as  22 nonindenttired.  Though Madras was opened as another emigration recruiting  depot, Calcutta s t i l l remained the principal center from which most categories of emigrants came. In fact, Madras supplied no emigrants i n 1904 and  1908.  Moreover, 1907 and 1909 were lean years i n which the recruitment of indentured emigrants had fallen well below a thousand for both ports. The India-born immigrants, indentured and 'free,' originated mainly from United Provinces, Madras, Bengal, Central Provinces, Central India, 23 Punjab, Rajputana, Bombay, and Nepal.  I t must be assumed that the Gujaratis  were included i n the figures for Bombay Presidency because no separate category for them was provided. community—in the vicinity of 153 24 population of 25,975.  Numerically, they comprised a minute o r  less out of a total nonindentured  Furthermore, only 39 Gujaratis can be accounted for  i f occupational categories are taken into consideration. These would include 21 goldsmiths and silversmiths, 12 tailors, and 6 bootmakers and saddlers. Goldsmiths were i n great demand judging from the large amounts of gold jewelry which was being taken to India by repatriated Indians.  Perhaps the  others could be found i n the commercial categories as hawkers and shopkeepers. The Census revealed that farming s t i l l remained the main type of occupational activity for Indians.  Out of a nonindentured population of  25,975 (l6,000 males and 9,975 females), 10,357 were engaged In some form of agricultural activity.  From 1905 to 1909,  the Native Lands Ordinance  permitted settlers to acquire leases up to a period of ninety-nine years subject to approval of the Governor's council.  Freehold land also became  available, and while the Ordinance was i n effect about 20,184 acres of land were purchased hy settlers (Indians and Europeans).  This brought the area  under freehold t i t l e up to 434,799 acres out of a total area of 4,581,000 acres. Agricultural activity was centered around the cultivation of rice, sugarcane, bananas, tobacco, maize, and beans.  This was done according to  30 the climatic conditions had settled.  of the districts where the nonindentured population  Most of the Indian settlements emerged around the river basins  and i n the sugarcane growing areas, but basically on V i t i Levu, the main island of the F i j i group.  The major area of settlement i n the other i s l a n d —  Vanua Levu—was Macuata (Mathuata).  The location of sugar mills at Navua,  Rewa, Labasa, Lautoka, Penang, and Ba was instrumental i n attracting large pockets of Indian settlement.  The largest mill was constructed i n Lautoka  in 1903 i n response to the G.S.R.'s expanding operation i n F i j i . The commercial and industrial sectors of the population were drawn to the town areas adjacent to the mills.  Six per  cent of the adult male  nonindentured population was engaged i n some form of commercial venture. Others who did not have enough capital outlay for a store went into hawking, and there were as many hawkers as shopkeepers. very few large-scale business concerns.  At this stage Indians owned  Only 21 commercial concerns 27  incorporating wholesale and r e t a i l business activity were i n operation. The largest number of shopkeepers emerged i n Lautoka and Nadi where the 'free' population was quite prosperous. In Suva, the capital of F i j i , there was a 'free' Indian population of 28  3,000 who were gradually replacing Polynesians as laborers.  English-  speaking Indians were also congregated here and sought employment as shop assistants, municipal workers, and clerks i n European firms.  The town was  controlled by Europeans financially and politically, but i t offered numerous possibilities to Indian settlers. contact with F i j i here.  A l l 'unassisted' immigrants had their f i r s t  Merchants came here because of the port f a c i l i t i e s ;  English-speaking Indians came because Suva was the seat of power and they formed the nucleus around which p o l i t i c a l activity was initiated;  skilled  and casual workers came to f u l f i l the various labor requirements of a growing community. The sugar/industry i n the colony was experiencing a remarkable pace of  31 economic expansion.  The operation of the G.S.R, had almost reached monopoly  proportions, and the output of i t s mills i n F i j i had reached 40 per cent 29 of the company's combined operations i n the South Pacific.  In an effort to  minimize i t s capital outlay and maximize i t s profit-making capabilities, i t initiated a program of decentralization of i t s monolithic estates into smaller holdings which were leased to private white planters. They, i n turn, worked and managed the plantations with.a smaller and less burdensome labor force. Land was made available on a smaller scale to a growing class of Indian tenant-farmers within the proximity of mills,  Invariably, this would not only  dictate the pattern of Indian settlement but would also guarantee a labor force to meet the requirements of the crushing season. The economic expansion produced a corresponding rise i n indentured immigration.  Between 1910 and 1914, over 10,000 immigrants were introduced 30 to work the estates. A scheme of introducing 'free' emigrants had been contemplated but was abandoned because of uneasiness about the competitive 31 capabilities of the 'free' immigrant.  Most planters were of the opinion  that 'free* immigrants made bad laborers, but were basically apprehensive of the competition which Indians provided,  This fear was well founded because  by 1912 the Indian shopkeeper had completely undermined the European shop32 keeper i n the countryside. 'Free' laborers would have been more acceptable but the Government of India was averse to any systematic emigration to F i j i for labor purposes other  33 than the indenture system.  Apparently, some laborers from Surat had gone  to Calcutta sometime i n 1911 to volunteer for F i j i , raising the possibility of recruitment In Surat to provide some solution to F i j i ' s labor problems. The Indian Government made enquiries with the Government of Bombay which remained adamant about supplying excess labor to other countries when i t did  34 not consider Surat to be "a congested d i s t r i c t . " ^  The Bombay Government  could not agree to the proposal on the ground that labor emigration was  32 "not conducive to the economic i n t e r e s t of the l o c a l i t y . " 1912  Early i n January  a l l p a r t i e s concerned—the I n d i a Office, the Colonial Office, and the  Government of F i j i — w e r e informed of the u n d e s i r a h i l i t y of permitting labor 35 recruitment i n Surat d i s t r i c t . Though the F i j i Government directed most of i t s attention to the colony's labor requirements, of  i t d i d make some e f f o r t to oversee the increasing flow  'unassisted' emigrants.  I t d i d t h i s i n part to dictate the pattern of  Indian settlement but also because of i t s concern over the native question. However, the government seemed to r e a l i z e that there was a need f o r a s p e c i a l class of Indians who  could a s s i s t the a u t h o r i t i e s i n t a c k l i n g the  t r a t i v e r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of governing the nonindentured introduced clerks and i n t e r p r e t e r s and, i n 1912,  adminis-  population.  It  recruited a contingent of 37  Punjabi policemen from Hong Kong f o r the l o c a l force. The Indian community i n F i j i generally lacked trained p r i e s t s to attend to t h e i r r e l i g i o u s needs.  The majority of the population were Hindus  belonging to a number of sects, but many Indians c l a s s i f i e d themselves as either Sanatani (that i s , adherents of Sanatan Dharma, the more orthodox Hindu sect of F i j i ) or Samaji (followers of Dayanand Saraswati, the  founder  38  of the Arya Samaj s e c t ) .  Muslims constituted just over a tenth of the  population, belonging either to the Sunni or Shia sects.  Among the Hindus,  the Samajis were better organized and displayed a great degree of s e l f reliance i n s o c i a l matters. education i n F i j i . of r e l i g i o n ;  They were pioneers i n the f i e l d of Indian  The Sanatanis, by contrast, were concerned with the tenets  but t h e i r leader Totaram Sanadhya became the most f o r c e f u l 39  c r i t i c of the indenture system i n F i j i "before the a r r i v a l of Manilal Doctor. Few Indians were attracted to C h r i s t i a n i t y , and the conversion rate by the three dominant groups—Catholic, Anglican, and Methodist—was marginal.  In  40  1911,  there were only 314 Indian Christians i n F i j i . The a u t h o r i t i e s were aware of the r e l i g i o u s needs of the Indians.  In  33 April 1912,  the F i j i Government wrote to the Government of India "to seek  advice and assistance" i n procuring "a few well educated Brahmin and Muhammadan 41 priests to minister to the religious wants of the people,"  I t was not  prepared to incur any l i a b i l i t y "for the support of these priests," but added that their "co-religionists" i n F i j i would support them. This request seemed confusing to the authorities i n India who had very l i t t l e information available on the ethnological composition of the Indians i n F i j i .  Accordingly, a few  months later the Government of India wrote to the F i j i Government inquiring 42 about the "caste of the Hindus and the sect of the Hindu priests required." Few officials i n F i j i had any such understanding of the Indian community and they were unable to take any definite action on the request from India. There was a great need for religious teachers and the F i j i Government's interest i n this f i e l d helped to publicize i t .  In 1913, 43  teacher, Swami Manoharanand Saraswati, arrived.  the f i r s t Arya Samaji  He had lived i n Burma for  some time and was aware of the need for trained Hindu priests i n F i j i .  Within  four years of his arrival, the Arya Samaj movement made tremendous headway i n the f i e l d of education.  Under his guidance the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha was  founded, and i n 1917 the organization launched a Gurukul primary school on the western side of V i t i Levu, quite close to the town of Lautoka. P o l i t i c a l activity among Indians coincided with the growing awareness of their religious needs. p o l i t i c a l activity.  Until 1910 there was a marked absence of organized  Leadership was provided by a few nonindentured Indians  who acquired popularity through their expertise i n English or their association with either of two main Hindu sects.  This group included such  personages as Peter Grant (a Christian), Totaram Sanadhya (a Sanatani Pandit), \ 44 Babu Ram Singh and J. P. Maharaj (both Arya Samajis).  These influential  Indians were based i n Suva and were well versed i n matters affecting Indians in the Colony. They moved into action i n 1910 when an apprehensive European community attempted to introduce a literacy test for ratepayers who voted i n  3^ the Suva Municipal Council elections.  Moreover, important events i n India  were also followed closely and influenced the actions of Indian leaders i n Fiji,  Indian newspapers which came to F i j i provided much coverage on the  debate on the indenture system, especially after Gokhale introduced a motion in the Indian Legislature in 1912 which called for the abolishment of the system. This group gradually became the unofficial spokesmen of Indians i n F i j i . But they lacked p o l i t i c a l or legal experience and the majority could not speak English—the language of the government.  Consequently, they established  contact with Gandhi and related their problems to him,  Gandhi, who was i n  South Africa at this time, agreed to send a 'Hindustani' lawyer who could assist the Indians i n F i j i .  The d i f f i c u l t i e s of the Indians there also came to  the notice of Manilal Doctor who had come to Gandhi to seek assistance and 46  counsel about the possibility of setting up a practice i n South Africa. Manilal, a subject of Baroda State, was an articulate English-educated lawyer who had had considerable exposure to colonial politics and the problems of Indian laborers i n the colonies.  He had resided i n Mauritius from 1907 to  1910 where he quickly became a leading advocate of Indian rights. Actually, Manilal harbored intentions of proceeding to F i j i where he wished to further 47  his career in law and politics. He became more resolute about F i j i when he read about Gokhale's and Malaviya's speeches against indentured labor i n the Indian Opinion (of South Africa).  48  Manilal Doctor arrived i n Suva i n September 1912 amid much fanfare. Within a short time he had made a lasting impact on the authorities.  The  retaliation was drastic and certainly motivated by fear that the Indian community would be influenced by events i n India.  The authorities introduced  "a proposal to restrict the emigration of Indians introduced into F i j i otherwise than by indenture."^  In late November 1912, the India Office  wrote to the Colonial Office voicing i t s concern on this issue. The pending  35 v i s i t of a deputation from India to inquire into the condition of laborers i n F i j i prompted the I n d i a Office to stress the u n d e s i r a b i l i t y of making " "any d r a s t i c change i n the F i j i l e g i s l a t i o n a f f e c t i n g Indians. "-5° the Colonial Office agreed  Fortunately,  and, a few weeks l a t e r , cautioned the F i j i  Government not "to proceed with the proposed ordinance."^  Further action  1  was not taken, but the h y s t e r i a behind i t s genesis revealed the F i j i Government's apprehension over any outside influence on immigrant a f f a i r s i n the colony. By  1914  51,605 of  the Indian population of F i j i had reached  which 3 5 , 6 4 4  52 were nonindentured. increase—about much lower i f  1,600  The indentured population had not shown any i n a two-year period—and  6,595 indentured  considerable  the f i g u r e would have been  laborers had not been introduced.  More  Indians were gaining freedom from indenture and further recruitment to boost the diminishing number of indentured Indians was running into serious problems. -Criticism of the system had reached a peak i n India.  I n F i j i missionaries,  and nonindentured Indians under the leadership of Manilal, became outspoken as well.  At the end of 1913  "two commissioners from India, James McNeil,  I.C.S,, and L a l a Chiman L a i , a r r i v e d to examine the conditions of the laborers. Though t h e i r report pointed to the advantages of the system, they advocated changes which were long overdue—namely, better working and s o c i a l conditions  53 supplemented by increased medical and educational f a c i l i t i e s . the commencement of the war i n 1914  Furthermore,  forced the Government of I n d i a to suspend  indentured emigration temporarily i n order to concentrate on the war Between 1911  and 1914  effort.  nonindentured emigration increased steadily.  The pattern had been established gradually.  The economic expansion i n F i j i  and the growing needs of the Indian population generated attracted more 'unassisted' emigrants into the colony. have been mentioned previously continued to a r r i v e .  conditions which The three types which  Punjabis came under the  impression that work would be r e a d i l y available. Those who  were not  content  36 returned to India or made some attempt to go elsewhere. to have travelled as far as South America.  Punjabis were known  One such country was Argentina  where some emigration from Punjab had taken place directly.  In 1912 a  group of 45 Punjabis approached a well-placed European lawyer in Suva to make arrangements to get them to Argentina, but allegedly lost a large sum of money in the process through fraud.  This incident did not deter another  group of about 20 Punjabis from coming to F i j i i n 1914. By this stage an extensive network of contacts had been established through the v i s i t of Punjabis to many parts of the world.  Those who came to F i j i were f i r s t  attracted to the possibilities there through information transmitted to them through fellow villagers who had gone to Australia and New Zealand. The Gujaratis had also established a network of contacts i n the countries of the South Pacific.  Travel to Australia and New Zealand was on the increase  and news about the opportunities i n F i j i filtered back to the villages from which the f i r s t Gujarati emigrants came. Sonis s t i l l constituted the largest single group to come into the colony.  Between 1911 and 1914 the number of  goldsmiths and silversmiths increased from 21 to 51 (which included Sonars who came from other parts of India as well).  The Khatris also found ample  scope for their trade, and in 1911 Narotam Karsandas Khatri established the f i r s t Gujarati tailoring shop in Suva under the business name of Narotam. He was followed by Motiram Narsey who started his own business concern under the -  name of M. Narsey.  Within a short time, other members of their caste began  to arrive, including Gopal Anandji and Jagjiwan Bhukendas. Moreover, relatives and family members arrived to help i n the management of the two businesses. Motiram was. joined by his eldest son Jamnadas, and Narotam invited his cousin Tribhovan Ratanji to join him.  By introducing relatives into their businesses,  i t was possible for them to leave--these concerns i n safe hands while making periodic visits to India. Other groups followed in the wake of conditions created i n i t i a l l y by  37 the Sonis, and later by the Khatris. Gujaratis of the occupational castes and cultivators from South Gujarat began to show interest i n F i j i .  In  1911  Nana Lakhman (sic) who was a Koli by caste, came to F i j i but returned to 57 India i n 1915.  This could have been an isolated incident because Kolis at  this time, generally preferred going to New Zealand where they had started a small settlement i n Auckland. vegetable business.  Most of them were engaged i n the f r u i t and  F i j i was i n close proximity to New Zealand, about a  thousand miles northeast of the latter, and a direct shipping service, which linked the two, permitted movement of Gujaratis to either of these places. A year later the f i r s t Nav (barber) named Nathubhai arrived, and i n 1914 Dahya Hansji, a Mochi (shoemaker) joined other Gujaratis living i n Suva. A l l three groups mentioned were from South Gujarat—Nana Lakhman and Dahya came rQ  from the Navsari Division of Baroda State. Large-scale trading activity i n Suva was s t i l l controlled by Europeans, although petty Indian shopkeepers had made substantial gains i n other areas. The success of these shopkeepers could be attributed to their ability to manipulate conditions i n the country areas to their advantage to a greater degree than their European counterparts.  Those Indians who had dealt with  European shopkeepers for a long time shifted their patronage to Indian shopkeepers quite readily.  Many Indians s t i l l suffered from the stigma of their  indentured or 'coolie' status—a position which they were reminded of i n their dealings*, with Europeans generally. The 'overseer and coolie' relationship permeated many facets of the relationship between Europeans and Indians. Farmers who dealt with European shopkeepers complained of the treatment they received.  The latter were often quite insensitive to the feelings of their  customers, frequently using offensive terms to refer to their indentured status.  These shopkeepers also bought the produce of Indian farmers quite 59  cheaply and sold them to other Indians at exorbitant prices.  When Indian  shopkeepers offered competition, they found l i t t l e difficulty i n attracting  38 a clientele.  Many o f t h e s e p e t t y s h o p k e e p e r s h a d r i s e n f r o m t h e r a n k s o f t h e  i n d e n t u r e d l a b o r e r s t h e m s e l v e s a n d w e r e n o t o n l y known t o t h e p e o p l e t h e y dealings with hut also offered b e t t e r c r e d i t f a c i l i t i e s . s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p which developed i n t h i s in  c a s e was  which I n d i a n s had d e a l i n g s w i t h Europeans.  b e t t e r arrangements  Moreover,  had  the  l e s s s t r a i n e d than  that  I n d i a n s h o p k e e p e r s a l s o made  f o r o r g a n i z i n g t h e s a l e o f e s s e n t i a l g r a i n s and  lentils  which formed the s t a p l e d i e t of I n d i a n s . The  l a r g e r I n d i a n c o m m e r c i a l c o n c e r n s — a b o u t 19  b e g i n n i n g o f 1914  c o m p r i s i n g b o t h w h o l e s a l e and r e t a i l b u s i n e s s — ^ were  s m a l l e r v e r s i o n s o f the European absence  i n number a t t h e  f i r m s based i n Suva.  o f a n I n d i a n t r a d i n g c l a s s who  T h e r e was  a marked  possessed the c a p i t a l as w e l l as the  e x p e r t i s e t o o f f e r a n y c o m p e t i t i o n t o t h e s e f i r m s on a l a r g e s c a l e . the  e x i s t i n g group  o f I n d i a n merchants  w e r e J . P.  Maharaj  b a s i c a l l y , were p r o d u c t s o f t h e i n d e n t u r e system.  a n d Ram  Again, these  Within  Roop  merchants  s i m p l y f i l l e d t h e vacuum w h i c h e x i s t e d between I n d i a n s and E u r o p e a n s . l a t t e r group  encountered l i t t l e  t h r e a t f r o m them, because  they or  I t was  T h e r e was  c e r t a i n l y a t r a d e r e l a t i o n which Europeans  d e f i n i t e l y a need f o r a c l a s s o f merchants  who  The  their  h e a d q u a r t e r s i n A u s t r a l i a s u p p l i e d t h e m e r c h a n d i s e w h i c h i n t u r n was Indians.  who,  sold to  controlled. could  a d e q u a t e l y p e r f o r m an i m p o r t a n t f u n c t i o n w i t h t h e e x p a n d i n g community w h i c h was  i n c r e a s i n g l y throwing o f f the shackles of indenture.  merchant  had t h e p o t e n t i a l as w e l l as t h e e n t r e p r e n e u r i a l s k i l l s  this role. as an  T h i s was  V e e r a p p a M o o t h a i y a P i l l a y who  ' u n a s s i s t e d ' e m i g r a n t p r i o r t o t h e war.  Madras,  O n l y one  came t o F i j i  Pillay's  to  such acquire  from Madras  commercial l i n k  with  t o g e t h e r w i t h h i s a b i l i t y t o move i n t o t h e w e s t e r n a r e a o f V i t i  Levu  w h e r e t h e m a j o r i t y o f t h e S o u t h I n d i a n p o p u l a t i o n was i m p o r t a n t f a c t o r on t h e economic  scene.  He  l o c a t e d , made h i m  an  s e t h i m s e l f up a s a g e n e r a l  merchant  and r e c r u i t e d s k i l l e d a s s i s t a n t s f r o m a c o m m e r c i a l background,  Madras.  V. M. P i l l a y was  t h e f i r s t I n d i a n merchant  who  from  i m p o r t e d g o o d s on  a  39 large scale from India.  His exclusive concern for the needs of the Indian  population served as an example for other Indian businessmen including Gujaratis.  Both Appabhai Patel and M. N. Naidu, who came i n 1914 and  emerged as formidable merchants later, followed the pattern which Pillay had established, Manilal's presence i n F i j i received some publicity i n Baroda where there was common knowledge of the large settlement of Indians i n F i j i .  Prior to  Manilal only one other person from that region had attempted to come to Fiji.  In 1908, Dahyabhai Shankerbhai Patel, from the village of Dharmaj i n  Petlad District, had applied for a passport to proceed to F i j i v i a Australia. Dahyabhai was a general merchant and commission agent i n his village who was interested i n opening an import and export agency i n F i j i ,  Though Dahyabhai  received his passport to travel to F i j i he emigrated to East Africa instead,^ After Dahyabhai, noibody from the area, north of Baroda City, showed any interest i n F i j i until Manilal went there.  Late i n 1913, Appabhai Lalubhai  Patel, a primary school teacher from the village of Dharmaj, made plans to travel to Australia to seek his fortune.  While i n Baroda City he met Manilal's  relatives who furnished him with a letter of introduction, i n case he proceeded to F i j i .  Appabhai reached Australia i n early 1914 during midwinter  and found the cold conditions unbearable.  Coming from a s t r i c t vegetarian  background, he was also taken aback by the sight of red meat displayed i n a butchershop situated directly i n front of the lodging house where he lived while in- Sydney. He befriended some Punjabis who suggested that he should go to New Zealand where he could have the company of other Gujaratis. Appahhai proceeded to New Zealand but confronted similar conditions to those in Australia. Fiji.  His Gujarati friends then told him about the possibilities i n  After spending a month i n New Zealand, he boarded a steamer which was  bound for F i j i .  Upon his arrival i n Suva he contacted Manilal who offered  him employment as his clerk.  Appabhai refused "because he had designs of  40 opening his own business.  He remained i n Suva but economic necessity soon  forced him to seek employment as a clerk in a bakery owned by Alfred Herick (commonly known to Indians i n Suva as 'Alu Saheb ). 1  Working as a clerk i n  Herick's bakery not only provided him an excellent opportunity to develop his business acumen  but also brought him into contact with leading members of  the Indian community.  The Gujarati Sonis of Suva befriended him and  affectionately nicknamed him 'Bapa.'' J. P. Maharaj, whose business was close to Herick's bakery, became his close friend, a relationship which materialized into a major business partnership a few years later.  Appabhai  remained i n Herick's employment for six months only after which he decided to open his own trading store, stocked with goods imported mainly from Calcutta.  As his business grew, he turned to his homeland to recruit his  relatives and friends—people whom he could t r u s t — t o help him turn his small business into a network of trading stores located i n a l l the 'sugar towns' of V i t i Levu.^ The nonindentured Indian population of F i j i increased rapidly between 1914 and 1917.  At the end of 1914 i t was 37,754 (71 per cent) out of a total  Indian population of 53,356 and by the end of 1917 i t had reached a figure of 52,091 (85 per cent) out of the total of 6l,153.^  3  The number of indentured  laborers was rapidly declining, especially at a time when indentured migration suffered a series of setbacks.  First, the Indian Government halted emigration  temporarily i n November 1914 but allowed i t s resumption early i n 1915.  During  1915 F i j i received the last large shipment of indentured laborers from both Calcutta and Madras.  Then i n March 1916 a motion was introduced i n the  Imperial Legislative Council of India which advocated the abolition of indentured emigration.  A year later the Indian Government enacted a special  measure under the Defense of India Act to prohibit indentured emigration to the British Colonies so as to enable i t s e l f to attend to the labor requirements of the military campaign i n Mesopotamia.  Recruitment was suspended for  41 the duration of the war and for a two-year period thereafter.  F i j i received  i t s f i n a l batch of indentured emigrants i n 1916. None of these measures contained any provisions for the control of 'unassisted' emigration i n which individuals l e f t India under rules and regulations governing the issuance of passports.  While the Government of  India reviewed the whole question of emigration, i t s chief concern was with the control of the emigration of unskilled workers.  But at the outbreak of  the war i t also took up the question of emigration under the passport system. The system of passports was introduced i n 1900 to enable Indian students 64 i n England to v i s i t foreign countries.  Passports eventually replaced  certificates of identity as valid proof that a person was a British subject or a British protected person of a Native State.  Basically, they were intended  to provide adequate identification and protection at a time when a number of countries introduced stringent immigration rules and regulations governing the entry of Asians.  Between 1901 and 1904 the Governments of Gape Colony,  South Rhodesia, and the Commonwealth of Australia had enacted measures to curtail unrestricted entry of various categories of Indians.  The adverse  conditions faced by Punjabi immigrants i n New Caledonia and the decision of the Government of Canada i n 1907 to restrict Asian immigration, soon obliged the Indian Government to formulate a uniform set of rules and regulations governing emigration through the passport system.  The Indian Government  f i r s t made i t mandatory for a l l British Indian subjects or subjects of Native . States who wished to travel to foreign countries to procure valid passports -  before their departure from India. Then i n 1909 i t imposed a time limit of five years on validity of a l l passports.  Later, i n 19l6, the government  also empowered i t s Local Governments and Agents to issue passports "without de-  reference to the Government of India." I t had taken this step to facilitate the issuing of passports, thus enabling i t s e l f to concentrate on the problems D  of indentured emigration.  By 1917 the passport system became a permanent  42 fixture of 'unassisted' emigration under the Defense of India (Passport) v i Rules.  6  6  Increased 'free' emigration coincided with the Indian Government's moves to suspend indentured emigration.  The formulation of clear-cut passport  guidelines generally complied with the concern to provide adequate protection to Indians travelling abroad but also enabled the government to maintain vigilance over their movement. As a rule the authorities were hesitant to hamper the movement of Indians to other areas because they had no intention of interfering directly with the liberty of Indians wishing to leave without assistance from anybody.  In the f i r s t place, 'unassisted' emigration was  not plagued by the innumerable difficulties which indentured emigration presented.  The experience of the Government of Bombay on 'unassisted'  emigration spoke for i t s e l f . From Bombay there was considerable emigration to East Africa and Zanzibar which was confined to clerks and skilled artisans who moved to and fro quite freely, sometimes with their families, without any degree of supervision from the local government.  Secondly, there was  general satisfaction with the record of the Crown Colonies on the question of 'free' immigration.  The authorities acknowledged that colonies which  imported Indian laborers under indenture had "never opposed the entrance of free Indian immigrants of the mercantile or other class," though the main 68 preference was for cultivators and artisans.  Accordingly, a consistent  ' policy was maintained toward 'free' emigration which s t i l l remained unchanged even when a new Emigration B i l l to control emigration was introduced i n the Indian Legislative Council i n 1922. After the abolition of the indenture system i n 1920 the c r i t i c s of emigration wanted controls on the movement of unskilled labor to prevent any revival of indentured emigration.  By contrast, advocates of 'free' emigration  thought that this rigid categorization covered a large number of persons such as clerks, who went around as assistants of merchants, and who would be  ^3 greatly inconvenienced i f additions were made to the passport provisions. The government was not keen on placing restrictions on 'free' emigration because i t would he "unjustifiable interference with the liberty of the subject," a point which was firmly reiterated during the debate on emigration  69 in 1922.  Its stance was based on the simple premise that 'free' emigration  presupposed a certain amount of "intelligence, money, and enterprise" which enabled the individual to decide for himself. Thus, the authorities consistently granted passports to a l l individuals who went through a process of i n i t i a l scrutiny and satisfied certain conditions.  They did not take into  consideration the immigration policy of the countries for which they issued passports or advise the intending emigrants about the conditions prevailing i n the colonies.  The authorities only warned them of the risk they would incur  of being refused admission i f emigrants failed to f u l f i l the conditions i n the 70 immigration policy of the country i n question. During World War I and after, F i j i s t i l l maintained an open-door policy "for the entry of a l l British subjects who desired either to travel or to 71 settle down."  In this, F i j i was unique and stood i n direct contrast to  other British territories and possessions i n the Pacific.  Australia had  already enacted measures restricting Asian immigration, and i n 1914 New Zealand imposed a dictation test on persons desiring to enter the country. The authorities there brought the education test into effect to prevent any influx of "ex-indentured Indians and their descendants" from F i j i into New Zealand.  In 1919 a written test was introduced which required an emigrant  "to write out and sign i n a European language an application submitted to 72 him by the Collector of Customs at the port of arrival i n the Dominion." F i j i ' s attitude toward unassisted emigration reflected a modification of i t s earlier position i n 1912 when i t attempted to restrict any other type of emigration except that of indentured laborers.  The Government, being the  o f f i c i a l spokesman of the sugar interests, tried to impress upon the Indian  44  Government that the colony's prosperity was tied to the labor supply from India, and desired the resumption of emigration after the war.  Indian  attitudes, as a result of the agitation against indentured labor and inspite of the favorable criticisms of the McNeil-Chiman Lai Report, had hardened toward any form of emigration "based on fraudulent recruitment," which 73  involved the "slavery of men,"  and "resulted i n the prostitution of women."  J  Alternatives were sought, and the interested parties—the sugar concerns, the British Government, the Indian Government, and the F i j i Government— became embroiled i n a series of maneuvers to devise some scheme that would satisfy a l l parties, including Indian public opinion.  The focus was on the  permanent settlement of Indians and the possibility of encouraging agricul74  tural settlers with families.  The key i n F i j i ' s bid for resumption of  assisted emigration was to show how the condition of Indians  was considerably  better i n F i j i than i n India. The main concern was to convince Indian authorities that immigrants were being accorded "exactly the same legal, p o l i t i c a l and religious rights, privileges, and duties as are afforded to other inhabitants of whatever race."  75  The increasing prosperity of Indians i n F i j i was a crucial factor In the argument for the resumption of emigration.  This was intricately related  to 'unassisted' emigration because 'free' immigrants entered F i j i without any costs to the colony and made positive contributions to i t s economic . development.  The F i j i Government pointed to Indian business concerns which  i t claimed were thriving, and to the increased earning and purchasing power of 'free' Indians.which was now prompting "Indians of the mercantile class"  76 to come to the colony.  I t was simply i n no position to place any  restrictions on the entry of 'unassisted' immigrants in: spite of previous efforts to that effect i n 1912.  Such a move could have brought serious repercussions  and would have proved adverse to the government's intention to attract more Indian settlers.  The Indian c r i t i c s of the indenture system would have  45 certainly used the issue to justify their arguments against colonies which discriminated against Indians.  The Indian Government, which had already  developed a hardened attitude toward the resumption of indentured emigration, would have been very d i f f i c u l t to deal with during the deliberations on the scheme for permanent settlement of Indians i n F i j i .  Moreover, F i j i already  had adequate measures to prevent the entry of undesirable immigrants;  it  would have jeopardized i t s chances of receiving more 'assisted' immigrants, i f tighter measures, similar to those i n Australia or New Zealand, were enacted to control the entry of other Indians. A number of factors provided the impetus to 'free' emigration to F i j i after 1915.  These include the reopening of the shipping routes between the  Pacific and India;  prohibitive measures i n other British possessions and  territories which restricted the entry of Indians and the absence of such laws in F i j i ;  dissatisfaction with conditions i n India which forced an increasing  number of repatriated ex-indentured emigrants to return to F i j i ;  revision of  rules and procedures for issuing passports which placed the passport system under the jurisdiction of Local Governments i n India and enabled intending travellers to obtain passports more readily;  the hesitation on the part of  the Indian Government to restrict emigration under the system of passports on the ground that this would be direct interference with the liberty of Indians wishing to leave without any assistance from anybody.  Above a l l ,  the Government of F i j i , i n i t s attempt to secure the resumption of assisted emigration from India, helped to publicize F i j i as an Ideal place for settlement, and went to the extent of asking the Indian Government "to second men from the Indian public services" to work as clerks and interpreters i n Fiji.  7 7  The measures, and the subsequent ban, against indentured emigration had the effect of attracting Gujaratis, i n particular, to F i j i . these immigrants became more pronounced from 1916,  The arrival of  although a few had arrived  46 prior to that. The push toward F i j i from Gujarat was s t i l l a preserve of the Sonis and, to a lesser extent, the Khatris, "but other Gujarati caste groupings began to make their presence f e l t as well.  From the Baroda  Division of Baroda State the movement toward F i j i was s t i l l insignificant, Only one other Gujarati of the same caste as Appabhai came to F i j i between 1914 and 1916,  This was Chimanbhai Patel from Bhadran, an important village  of the Charotar area (present-day Kheda District), situated east of Baroda City.  The majority of the Gujaratis were from the southern parts of British  and Princely Gujarat.  A few Kolis arrived i n 1915 and joined the ranks of  the Indian hawkers i n Suva.  The following year, no less than 124 Gujaratis 78  made applications for passports i n India to proceed to F i j i .  A few applica-  tions came from individuals who were intending to return to F i j i after a short v i s i t to India. One such person was Gopal Anandji who had induced Ranchhod Bhagwan, another Khatri, to join him.  Accompanying them were Motiram  Narsey and his younger son Jivan. The largest contingent consisted of various agriculturalists who wished to work as cloth merchants, hawkers, and f r u i t and vegetable vendors i n F i j i .  Kolis, who f e l l into the general category  of agricultural laborers, comprised a significant portion of this group. Seventeen Sonis from Porbandar, Junagadh, Navanagar, and Bhavnagar also applied for passports to travel to F i j i .  There were only a few applications  from persons belonging to the artisan castes—Dhobi (washerman), Mochi (shoemaker), and Darji (tailor). Agriculturalists again constituted the largest single group of applicants in the following year—80 out of a total of 145 passport applications for Fiji.^  The overwhelming majority were from South Gujarat—from Surat  District i n British Gujarat and from the Navsari Division of Baroda State. In 1917, the number of Sonis who wished to travel to F i j i doubled as w e l l — the push being from Porbandar, Junagadh, and Jamnagar. There were 12 Khatri applicants but few applications from persons belonging to other artisan castes.  47 The only Mochi i n the latter category was Dullabh Kalyan who had lived i n F i j i from 1910 to 1913» "but there were no Dhobis and Navs. For the f i r s t time, Muslim Gujaratis began to show interest i n the area but the number was minute—2 out of the entire total. For some Gujaratis, F i j i offered the means to circumvent immigration restrictions elsewhere.  This was the tendency among the Kolis who generally  had relatives i n New Zealand but could not go there because of the literacy test.  These immigrants came to F i j i with the hope of acquiring some knowledge  of English before proceeding to New Zealand.  Some Kolis and agriculturalists  undertook the journey to F i j i only when their relatives or friends there  80 agreed to provide financial assistance.  This group, as a whole, either  became hawkers or performed some type of agricultural labor i n F i j i . Emigration among the Sonis and Khatris became more organized after 1916 and did not occur i n the same manner as the haphazard movement of agricultural laborers.  Between 1915 and 1917, the f i r s t Gujarati emigrants, who had come  to F i j i before the war, had returned to their homeland and had given considerable publicity to the opportunities i n F i j i . families.  Others returned to rejoin their  The immensity of the distance which the Sonis had to travel  between F i j i and Gujarat convinced them that i t would be financially less burdensome to take their families with them to F i j i .  The presence of  Chunilal Ganji i n Porbandar i n 1916 generated considerable interest i n F i j i . Toward the end of 1916, he made plans to return with his wife and four-month old daughter.  Jadavji Bhimji and his wife, and five other Sonis from  Porbandar, accompanied him.  In 1917, 32 of 40 Sonis who applied for passports 81 were from Porbandar, including 3 families. Manilal's wife, Jayakumari, and 82 their infant son, were among the five or six families who went i n 1917. The Khatris also encouraged friends and relatives to go to F i j i where there was a good scope for tailors.  Motiram Narsey, Gopal Anandji, and Narotam  Karsandas were i n Navsari i n 1916 as well;  they provided the impetus for  48  increasing Khatri emigration to F i j i .  Narsey and Anandji returned to F i j i  that year with 2 more Khatris, and i n 1917 Narotam Karsandas returned accompanied by 11 other Khatris—friends and relatives—who intended to work for either the Narsey or Narotam business concerns.  Ghimanbhai Patel had  also asked his brother Manibhai i n Bhadran to join him. The authorities i n F i j i interpreted the influx of Gujaratis as an indication of the growing prosperity of Indians.  They had noticed the movement of  shopkeepers and hawkers to the western districts of V i t i Levu.  In the  Immigration Report for 1917, the authorities drew particular attention to the more expensive manner i n which the average Indian dressed himself and his  family, and-also to the increasing number of Indians who owned horses  and vehicles.  They were quite impressed with the inititative Indians had  taken i n developing the town of Namoli i n Lautoka.  Indians owned most of the  trading stores there, and toward those areas of the town where the indigenous population resided they had acquired additional land on which they had built more business premises— jewelers, bootmakers and tailors being represented as well.  Some were also investing their savings i n "vehicles (both horse-  drawn and motor) which were running for hire and being patronized." Further, evidence of this prosperity, as witnessed by the authorities, was the great demand for goldsmiths and silversmiths.  They certainly noticed the "increase  in the number of the jeweller class" who were "visiting the Colony and carrying on their calling."  But the authorities failed to realize that the  demand for Sonars could have been prompted by lack of banking f a c i l i t i e s i n the western areas or that many Indians were merely looking for alternative 84  forms of investment from savings which they would otherwise bury.  Much to •  their surprise the o f f i c i a l mind i n India was less exuberant about the rosy picture of the Indians i n F i j i . The few years preceding the abolishment of indenture were c r i t i c a l for the future of 'free' emigration to F i j i .  During this time Gujarati immigrants  4-9  continued to arrive steadily reaching  a peak i n 1918.  The thrust was s t i l l  from the agricultural districts of Navsari Division i n Baroda State.  The  high number of prospective emigrants ( 2 1 8 i n 1918) seeking passports for F i j i raised the bogey of indentured labor in Baroda State.  The authorities there  conducted a high-level inquiry into the entire process of emigration.  They  examined the factors which caused emigration and could not find any evidence of indentured emigration among the residents of Baroda State who went abroad. Their chief concern was to establish a "Bureau of Emigration" with some DC  authority to regulate emigration from the State.  Though they had limited  success i n this matter, they, nevertheless, displayed a sentiment toward the question of indentured emigration which had become uniform throughout India,  This sentiment was an inauspicious sign for F i j i .  The pattern of Gujarati emigration i n 1919 was indicative of the impending crisis i n F i j i .  There was a considerable drop i n passport applications from 86  Gujaratis that year (almost by half from the previous year).  The agricul-  tural class of Gujaratis seemed somewhat hesitant to leave India.  The issue  of passports had been halted temporarily i n Baroda to enable the authorities there to establish the machinery for keeping a closer watch on the movement of Gujaratis from the laboring class whom the authorities believed were being recruited as indentured laborers i n F i j i . certainly acted as a deterrent.  Careful o f f i c i a l scrutiny  In addition, the Government of New  Zealand  introduced a more stringent literacy test which caused prospective emigrants to reconsider the wisdom of proceeding to F i j i where they had hoped to acquire some knowledge of English before going on to New Zealand. F i j i generally recognized a demand for their s k i l l s .  Those who went to  Perhaps this accounted  for the rise i n the number of applications from Gujaratis of the artisan and serving castes—washermen, bootmakers, barbers, carpenters, masons,' and tailors.  Khatris, for the f i r s t time, forged ahead of the Sonis who showed  the biggest drop of a l l groups.  They followed in the wake of the conditions  which their caste-fellows had created.  Gopal Anandji, the Narsey family,  and other Khatris who were operating tailoring shops encouraged friends and relatives to come as their businesses expanded. Family emigration was restricted to the more established and successful Gujaratis.  Appabhai had  now expanded his business and entered into a partnership with J. P. Maharaj and Chimanbhai Patel.  He had returned to India i n 1918,  and i n the following  year made plans to take his wife, and several relatives, including two brothers-in-law from Nondhna In Broach, with him to F i j i , The p o l i t i c a l stalemate between the Governments of India and F i j i over the indenture system became an important factor determining the flow of immigrants to F i j i .  The Governments of India and F i j i reached an impasse  over the type of Indian emigration scheme which would be agreeable to both sides.  The scheme of 'aided' colonization as espoused by the Inter-  Departmental Conference i n London was rejected by both c r i t i c s i n India and the two major sugar companies i n F i j i — t h e Colonial Sugar Refining Company  87 and the Vancouver-Fiji Sugar Company,  Moreover, the o f f i c i a l mind i n India  challenged the F i j i Government's characterization of Indian immigrants as being prosperous.  Though o f f i c i a l s agreed with the contention that Indians  were doing exceedingly well i n the colonies, they did not consider i t "necessary for an Indian to go through the process of indenture i n order to 88 arrive at this favourable position. " G. F. Andrews, who had become one of the most outspoken c r i t i c s of indentured emigration, visited F i j i i n 1917.  He discovered that a large  section of the agricultural population had remained unaffected by prosperity and was facing d i f f i c u l t times under the strain of rising prices.  In a  scathing report, which his c r i t i c s accused of being highly biased and inaccurate, he showed how Indians had remained untouched by social and p o l i t i c a l progress i n the colony.  In 1919, Andrews reiterated his stand  that "the F i j i Government cannot be expected to do f u l l justice i n larger  51 matters of Indian interest, because i t s financial prosperity i s closely 89 bound up with the interest of such a monopoly as the C.S.R."  7  Unfortunately  for the F i j i Government's position, Andrew's assessment of the situation was accepted by the Colonial Office, the India Office, and the Indian Government. Later that year the Government of India recommended the discontinuance of 'assisted' emigration and concentrated on freeing "every Indian i n F i j i from indenture." The Government of F i j i , as well as the C.S.R,, the major sugar concern, responded to this challenge in a number of ways. The Governor of the Colony tried to discredit Andrews, pointing to the biased nature of his report which "cast an unjust and unmerited slur not only upon the employers of labor 90 and the Government but upon the European community of this Colony." the Colonial Office, he wrote:  To  "The prosperity enjoyed by Indians who are  not under indenture indicates that steady habits of industry and some knowledge of agriculture were acquired during the period of indenture.  A  system that can produce such results does not appear to merit undeserved 91 condemnation."  But the overall response from England was not favorable.  The Colonial Office, recognizing the need for change, sent a new Governor to F i j i who initiated the move toward the cancellation of a l l outstanding indentures.  Toward the end of 1918 the Planter's Convention (in F i j i )  passed a resolution supporting a system of immigration "which provides for 92 absolute freedom on the part of the labourer ahd employer."  In August 1919  the Legislative Council of F i j i adopted a motion to cancel a l l indentures effective August 1, 1920. The new Governor laid the groundwork for an unofficial mission to v i s i t India to argue, before the Indian public, F i j i ' s case for more Indian settlers.  Fearing a boisterous challenge i n the forth-  coming session of the Indian Legislature, the Indian authorities expressed their misgivings about the unofficial mission which they believed would face a monumental task unless a l l outstanding indentures were cancelled on  52 December 31, 1919 (the date suggested by Andrews) and a system of 'free* emigration to F i j i under wholesome conditions established.^ The Viceroy reiterated this position i n his speech at the opening of the Imperial Legislative Council at Simla on September 3, 1919. The unofficial mission from F i j i embarked for India i n late 1919.  The  general mood i n India was not one of accommodation but reflected opposition to any proposal from the mission unless the F i j i Government cancelled a l l indentures.  At this time, Thomas Hughes, a high ranking o f f i c i a l of the  C.S.R,, was i n England on a separate mission to the Colonial Office to present his  suggestions "for a new system of aiding Indians to settle elsewhere i n  the British Empire as colonists" and "promoting free colonization within the  94 Empire."  The Colonial Office was definitely impressed by Hughes' construc-  tive proposals which i t f e l t could strengthen the F i j i mission's position i n India provided that the Government of F i j i took the initiative i n convincing a l l skeptics of i t s sincerity i n improving the conditions of Indians i n F i j i . On January 3, 1920, the Indian Government issued a press communique'' containing the contents of a telegram from the Governor of F i j i to the Colonial Office. I t ran as follows: January 2, 1920. On unanimous advice of the Executive Council and with the concurrence of Council of Planters and majority of elected members I have issued orders cancelling a l l indentures of East Indian labourers from this day.95 A week later another telegram arrived outlining the F i j i Government's plans to remove some of the p o l i t i c a l disabilities of the Indians there through the introduction of communal representation on an elective basis. The F i j i Government recognized the p o l i t i c a l expediency of deliberating with the Indian Government i n an atmosphere of goodwill and reconciliation.  However,  i t was denied this initiative when on January 15, 1920, discontentment  over  rising prices, and the demand for high wages, resulted i n a strike followed  53  "by extensive rioting, embroiling next two years,  the Colony i n labor disturbances for the  The f i r s t strike lasted a month and i t received extensive  coverage i n India, especially after the expulsion of the alleged ringleaders, including Manilal Doctor and his wife, from F i j i .  The Indian indignation was  best expressed by Gandhi who considered i t "inadvisable to stimulate even  96 'free' emigration to F i j i . "  Within a short time, the Indian press became  7  very c r i t i c a l of the F i j i Government's handling of the situation, once again forcing the Government of India into reexamining i t s position on encouraging any form of emigration to F i j i . F i j i was no longer assured of a labor supply unless an alternative scheme of emigration could be devised to replace the indenture system.  But  the abolition of the indenture system i n 1920 had l i t t l e effect on 'free* emigration from India,  In fact, by this stage, 'free' Indians who came to  F i j i without assistance from any government had become an important part of the immigrant community i n F i j i , operation since 1879, after 1900.  Though the indenture system had been i n  'passenger' or 'free' immigration f i r s t gained momentum  The inward flow was influenced by immigration restrictions i n  countries which had previously accepted Indians readily and by the lack of similar controls i n F i j i .  The main types of 'free' immigrants were ex-  indentured laborers, who had been repatriated to India and who reemigrated to F i j i ;  Punjabis who came after encountering unfavorable conditions i n other  areas such as New Caledonia;  and Gujaratis from a few caste groupings who  came i n search of opportunity or to ply their traditional s k i l l s . The growth of the sugar industry i n F i j i and the subsequent development of towns also acted as an incentive to 'free' immigration.  Other inducements  came from the changing structure of Indian immigrant society and from the need for a commercial class of Indians to perform an important function within the expanding community.  Between 1910 and 1914,  the economic expansion i n F i j i  and the growing needs of the Indian population continued to attract 'free'  54  immigrants, especially Gujaratis and Punjabis.  Moreover, the administrative  responsibilities of the government resulted i n the introduction of another category of 'free' Indians to perform clerical duties. Furthermore, the lack of trained priests among the community led to the arrival of religious dignitaries with their conflicting ideologies.  Indian leaders i n F i j i  lacked p o l i t i c a l and legal expertise which soon brought a Gujarati lawyer and other aspiring reformers who merely added to the strains and stresses within the community.  The main incentives after 1917 came from F i j i ' s open-  door policy toward 'free' immigration, the reopening of shipping routes between the Pacific and India, and the revision of passport rules i n India which facilitated emigration under the passport system contrary to the general assumption that the Indian Government had no interest i n unofficial emigration. As for Gujarati emigration, i t became more pronounced after  1916.  Agricultural castes showed the most interest i n F i j i but encountered considerable o f f i c i a l surveillance i n such areas as Baroda-State.  Only a  few Gujarati caste groupings, such as Sonis and Khatris, had become established by 1920,  but these groups were instrumental i n laying the  necessary groundwork through which other Gujaratis came to F i j i after  1920.  NOTES  •"This introductory section on F i j i from p. 19 to p. 24 i s based on the following sources: S i r Alan Burns,, F i j i (London:-- Her Majesty's Stationery Office, I963); Colony of F i j i : A Handbook (Suva: Government Press, 1 9 5 7 ) ; R. A, Derrick, A History of F i j i , Volume I (Suva: Government Stationery Department, 1946~7; R. A. Derrick, The F i j i Islands: A Geographical Handbook (Revised edition, Suva: Government Press, 1 9 5 7 ) ; P e t e r France, The Charter of the Land: Custom and Colonization i n F i j i (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1969); J . D. Legge, B r i t a i n i n F i j i , 1858-1880 (London: MacMillan & Co., 1 9 5 8 ) ; Norma McArthur, Island Populations of the P a c i f i c (Canberra: Australian National University Press, I 9 6 I ) ; R. Gerard Ward, Land Use and Population i n F i j i , Overseas Research Publication No. 9 ( L o n d o n : H e r Majesty's Stationery O f f i c e , I 9 6 5 ) . 2 There i s no consensus on the exact number of islands i n the F i j i group. The figures c i t e d here are derived from Burns, F i j i , p. 16, and Derrick, F i j i Islands: Geographical Handbook, p. 3; but most sources have opted f o r the more conservative estimate of 300.  3 ^The term "birds of passage" has been used here rather l i b e r a l l y , but i t was o r i g i n a l l y drawn into the o f f i c i a l lexicon i n the early part of t h i s century to describe Australian o f f i c i a l s of the C.S.R. who had no permanent stake i n the colony. Later, c r i t i c s of the Colonial C i v i l Service extended the term to expatriated white o f f i c e r s who enjoyed generous benefits i n contrast to l o c a l o f f i c e r s . See Ahmed A l i , " F i j i : The A r r i v a l of Communal Franchise," Journal of P a c i f i c Studies, Vol. I ( 1 9 7 5 ) , PP. 2 6 - 2 7 . 4 B r i t a i n ' s intervention i n F i j i was neither a part of some grandiose imperial design nor a watershed i n B r i t i s h expansion i n the mid-Victorian period. I t c e r t a i n l y was an act of p o l i t i c a l expediency, and meets the c r i t e r i a of the 'Robinson-Gallagher t h e s i s ' of the 'informal empire' extending into the 'formal empire.' A l l the necessary conditions were present i n F i j i : the labor t r a f f i c which posed the whole problem of law and order i n the P a c i f i c ; the unchecked a c t i v i t i e s of whites which upset B r i t a i n ' s r e l a t i o n s h i p with indigenous r u l e r s ; and the unstable conditions which jeopardized the Interests of B r i t i s h commerce (here to mean trade between F i j i and other B r i t i s h areas of influence i n the P a c i f i c such as A u s t r a l i a and New Zealand). See J . Gallagher and R. Robinson, "The Imperialism of Free Trade," The Economic History Review, 2nd Series, Volume VI, No. 1 (August 1 9 5 3 ) , PP. 1-15; and Legge, B r i t a i n i n F i j i , p. 133; see also J . W. Davidson and D. Scarr, eds., P a c i f i c Island P o r t r a i t s (Canberra: Australian National University, 1970) f o r a study of the r i v a l r y between Cakobau and Ma'afu; E t h e l Drus, "The Colonial Office and the Annexation of F i j i , " Transactions of the Royal H i s t o r i c a l Society, Vol. 12 ( 1 9 5 0 ) , pp. 87-110; W. David Mclntyre, The Imperial F r o n t i e r i n the Tropics, 1865-1875 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1 9 6 ? ) . - f r i j i Immigration Report ( 1 9 0 0 ) , F i j i L e g i s l a t i v e Council Paper No. 28 of 1901, p. 13; hereafter.referred to as F.I.R., C.P. by year and number. K. L. G i l l i o n , F i j i ' s Indian Migrants, p. 49. 55  56 F,I.R, (1901). C.P. 20/02, p. 14.  7  ^Indla, Emigration Proceedings (hereafter I.E,P.), Revenue, Agriculture and Commerce (hereafter R.A.C.), March 1901, A. No. 12-15, Pile No. 24. "A" Proceedings (Printed Papers) are also available i n the India Office Records, London.  9 Under-Secretary, Government of Bengal, to Secretary, Government of India, No. 1365, Calcutta, March 14, 1901, I.E.P., R.A.C., March 1901, A. No. 13. ^°This figure was calculated from the F i j i Immigration Reports, 1900 to 1907. These reports contain figures for 'passenger' immigrants from Calcutta only. 1:L  F.I.R. (1907), C.P. 21/08, p. 28.  12 Government of India Resolution No. 12-80-5, October 18, 1904, i n Procedure Regarding Passports, Huzur English Office, Baroda, 145/70A; hereafter referred to as H.E.0. 13 This information was obtained orally from Bakshi Singh Mai of Suva, F i j i ; also, see Gillion, op_. cit. , p. 131. 14 Gillion, p. 133, places 1906 as the year of their arrival. The general consensus of the Soni community of Suva i s that the f i r s t two immigrants arrived i n 1904. Interview with P. K. Bhindi, prominent Soni businessman and politician (April 25, 1975). ^-'interview with Narainji Sida, grandson of Lakhu Premji Soni (August 8,  1975)• l6 Gillion, op_. cit. , p. 133. "^Interview with Jayantibhai Badshah, Navsari, Gujarat (July 28, 1974). Jayantibhai was born i n F i j i i n 1929. His family returned to Navsari i n 1947 where he i s now a prominent businessman. Dewan to Resident, Baroda, December 27, 1917, No. 1272, H.E.O. l45/l6.  l8  ^Notification No. 1011, January 1, 1907, H.E.O., Baroda, 145/70A. 20  F.I.R. (1909), C.P. 28/10, p. 26.  21  Calculated from the F i j i Immigration Reports for 1908, 1909 and 1910.  F i j i , Census Report (l91l), C.P. 44/11, p. 32; as F.C.R. 2 2  hereafter referred to  57 ^F.C.R, (1911), p. 32. 24 Ibid., p. 32. Other figures i n t h i s paragraph, and also i n the next paragraph, are from the same source.  25 S. A. Waiz, ed., Indians Abroad Directory, 1934 (2nd edition, Bombay: The Imperial Indian Citizenship Association, 1934), p. 206. 26  F.I.R. (1911). C.P. 48/12, pp. 22-23. F.I.R. (1911), pp. 22-23.  27  28  F.I.R. (1912). C.P. 29/13, P. 19.  29 A. G. Lowndes, ed., South P a c i f i c Enterprise: The Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1956), Appendix 11, y  PP. 435-37. 30  Derived from the F i j i Immigration Reports between 1910 and 1914 i n c l u s i v e . C.P. 22/11, C.P. 48/12, C.P. 29/13, C.P. 57/l4, C.P. 20/15. 31 Report on the Committee on Emigration from India to the Crown Colonies and Protectorates, Cd. 5194 (1910), Appendices, p. 60; hereafter referred to as Sanderson Committee Report. ^ F i j i Times, A p r i l 18, 1912; 2  also, cited i n G i l l i o n , p.  157.  -^Telegram to Secretary of State f o r India, No. 280, October 11, 1911, I.E.P., Commerce and Industry (hereafter C. & I . ) November 1911, A. No. 4-5. f  1911,  •^Government of Bombay to Government of India, No. 6480, November 4, I.E.P., C. & I . , December 1911, A. No. 409.  - P r o p o s a l f o r labor recruitment i n the Surat D i s t r i c t , January 5, I.E.P., C. & I . , January 1912. B. No. 22/23, No. 15. ^ J . McNeill Lai, i n the Four Colonies: Trinidad, F i j i , and i n the Dutch Colony of Government Central Press, 1914), 3  Same source as n. 13.  38. 39, Agra: Fiji").  1912,  Report on the Condition of Indian Immigrants B r i t i s h Guiana or Demerara, Jamaica and Surinam or Dutch Guiana. Part I I (Simla: p. 262 (also known as the Red Report).  58 ^F.CR. (1911). G.P. 44/11.  4l Colonial Secretary's Office (hereafter C.S.O.) to Secretary, Government of India, Suva, April 18, 1912, 9004/1911, I.E.P., C. & I., August 1913, B. No. 37/38, File No. 75.  42 Under .Secretary, Government of India, to Colonial Secretary, F i j i dated Simla, June 22, 1912, No. 4794-75, I.E.P., C. & I., August 1913, B, No. 37/38, F i l e No. 75. 43 Sanadhya, op_. cit. , p. 35.  44 Ibid., pp. 24-25;  also, see Gillion, F i j i ' s Indian Migrants, p.  158.  ^Proceedings of the Council of the Governor-General of India, Vol. 50, pp. 363-71, 392-96; also, see R. P. Patwardhanand and D. V, Ambekar, eds., Speeches and Writings of Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Vol. I: Economic (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962), p. 349.  46 Hiralal Gupta, Mauritius Aur F i j i Pravasi Bhartiyo ka Agranela Dr. M. Manilal (Bombay: Esquire Press Ltd., 1954), pp. 36-37. In Hindi. ("Dr. Manilal, Leader of Indian Migrants to Mauritius and F i j i " ) . See also Hugh Tinker, "Odd Man Out: The Loneliness of the Indian Colonial P o l i t i c i a n — The Career of Manilal Doctor," The Journal of Imperial and Common-wealth History, Vol. II, No. 2 (January 1974), p. 235. 47 'Tinker, "The Career of Manilal Doctor," p. 237. 48 Gupta, op_. cit. , pp. 38-40. ^ I.E.P., C. & I., January 1913, 9  A. No. 1, File No. 5.  •5°India Office (hereafter 1.0.) to Colonial Office (hereafter C.O.) dated London, November 22, 1912, I.E.P. , C. &I., January 1913, A. No. 1, F i l e No. 5. ^C.O. to Governor of F i j i , dated London, December 10, 1912, I.E.P., C. &I., January 1913, A. No. 1, File No. 5. 52  F.I.R. (1914), CP.  -^Red Report, Part I I .  20/15, p. 13. _.  54 Sanadhya, op_. cit. , pp. 20-21. i n t e r v i e w with B. S. Mai and other Sikhs in Suva, F i j i . F.I.R. (1913), G.P. 57/14, p. 15. 56  F i j i No.  320,  59 -^Passports, No. 489 of 1918, H.E.O., Baroda, 145/22. 58  Passports, No. 1020 of 1918, H.E.O., Baroda, 145/23.  59  '  Sanadhya, op_. cit. , p. 28.  °F.I.R.(1913), p. 15.  6  i n t e r v i e w with Ghunilal M. Patel, Dharmaj (September 8, 1974). ^Interview with Ratilal A. Patel, youngest son of Appabhai, Ba, F i j i (June 16, 1975). 63  F.I.R. (1914) and (1917). CP. 20/l5, C.P. 75/18.  64 Information regarding Passports, etc., required for students, merchants and others going to foreign countries, H.E.O., Baroda, 145/5. ^Foreign and P o l i t i c a l Department Telegram to Local Governments, Administrations and P o l i t i c a l Orders, No. 792-G, dated May 10, 1916, I.E.P., G. &!., December 1916, B. No. 67. ^See Foreign and P o l i t i c a l Department Papers relating to the Passport Rules issued under the Indian Passport Act (XXXIV of 1920), I.E.P., Revenue and Agriculture (hereafter R. & A.), March 1923, B. No. 12, F i l e No. 35/12. ^General Department, Government of Bombay to Government of India, Bombay Castle, January 1917, Confidential No. 12, I.E.P., G. & I., March 1917, B. No. 5-  68 Secretary of State (India Office—hereafter referred to as 1.0.) to Governor General of India. August 10, 1917, Public No. 93, India Office Records (hereafter I.O.R.), London, Judicial and Public Department (hereafter J. &.P.) 2396/1917. 69 Extract from Legislative Council Debates, March 21, 1921, Vol. I, No. 13 in I.O.R., London, J. & P. 2396/1921, No. 53. °First Assistant Resident to Minister of Baroda State, February 21, 1920, No. 2139, H.E.O., Baroda, 145/757  Secretary of State (1.0.) to Governor-General of India, August 10, 1917, Public No. 93, I.O.R,, London, J. & P. 2396/1917. 71  Passports—Rules and Regulations, Precedents and Procedures, No. 9760, H.E.O. , Baroda, 145/71. 72  60 -^Secretary of State (1.0.) to Governor-General of India, September 21, 1917, Public No. 117, I.O.R., London, J. & P. 3292/1917. 74 "Note by J ames McNeill on Assisted Emigration," May 21, 1917, i n Report on the Inter-Departmental Conference on Assisted Emigration from India, I.O.R., London, J. & P. 3120 A/1917. C.O. to 1.0., July 26, 1917, No. 35794, Enclosure, Public No. 117, I.O.R., London, J. & P. 3292/1917. 75  76  F.I.R. (1917), G.P. 75/18, p. 13.  77 Extracts from Home Department, Establishment A Proceedings, June 1918, No. 195-199, I.E.P., C. & I . , November 1918, No. 5, F i l e d and Indexed. Passport Registers, P o l i t i c a l Department, Bombay, No. 6 of 1912-1916, No. 7 of 1916, No. 8 of 1916-17. 78  79  Passport Registers, P o l i t i c a l Department, Bombay, No. 8 of 1916-17, No, 9 of 1917-18; and Passports, H.E.O., Baroda, 145/8, 145/17. 80  Only those who could raise their passage money, often incurring some amount of debt, were able to make the journey. This involved travel by t r a i n to Calcutta or Bombay. The route from Calcutta was direct, but ships from Bombay went only as f a r as New Zealand where immigrants faced additional expenses u n t i l they could f i n d a ship to take them on to F i j i . 8l  Passport Registers, P o l i t i c a l Department, Bombay, No. 8 of 1916-17,  No. 9 of 1917-18. 82^ 83  bid.  F.I.R. (1917), G.P. 75/18, p. 13.  84  Position of Indians i n the West Indies and F i j i , I.E.P., C & I . , July 1917, B. No. 1. Dewan, Huzur Office, to Resident, June 10, 1917, No. 2817, H.E.O., Baroda, 145/75. 85  ^Passports, H.E.O., Baroda, 145/25A, 145/25B; and Passport Registers, P o l i t i c a l Department, Bombay, No. 10 of 1918-1919, No. 11 of 1919, No. 12 of 1919-20. A c t i n g Governor of F i j i to C.O., September 30, 1918, F i j i No. 352, i n I.O.R., London, J. & P. 4522/191587  88  I,E.P., C &!., July 1917, B. No. 1.  61 8Q  C. F. Andrews, F i j i I n d e n t u r e d Labour: ( C a l c u t t a : Modern Review, 1919), p;. 11.  A Supplementary Statement  90  F i j i Times, November 14, 1918; a l s o , see E n c l o s u r e No. 11, I.E.P., C. 41,, J a n u a r y 1920, A. No. 7. ^ G o v e r n o r o f F i j i t o C.O., F e b r u a r y 27, 1918, Annex 1, I.E.P., C. & I . , J a n u a r y 1920, A. No. 7. ^ G o v e r n o r o f F i j i t o C.O., September 30, I.E.P., C. & I . , J a n u a r y 1920, A. No. 7. 9 % o t e s , I.E.P., C. & I . , J a n u a r y 1920, ^Thomas Hughes t o CO., May 1920, A. No. 5-  1918,  A. No.  London, December 27,  No. 56,  Annex 2,  E n c l o s u r e No.  No. 352,  6,  8,  E n c l o s u r e No.  13. 1919,  i n I.E.P., C  & I.,  95p C  r e s s Communique, D e l h i , J a n u a r y 3, & I . , A. No. 32. ^ E x t r a c t f r o m Young I n d i a , March 3,  No.  8.  1920, 1920,  No. 1,  I.E.P., J a n u a r y  I.E.P. , C  & I . , November  1920, 1920,  CHAPTER III FIJI AND INDIAN IMMIGRATION AFTER INDENTURE, 1921-1945  The abolition of the indenture system i n 1920 was indicative of an increasing sensitivity on the part of the Government of India and the leading nationalists about the issue of emigration during a period of considerable p o l i t i c a l change.  This sensitivity reflected a new awareness of the place  and importance of India and Indians within the British Empire, certainly influenced by the Indian contribution to the war effort, Montagu's declaration i n 1917 concerning reforms and a promise of dominion status, and the inclusion of an Indian representative i n the Imperial War Cabinet.  I t made  Indians feel that unless the stigma of 'coolieism' was removed permanently, India would always occupy an inferior status in i t s dealings with other parts of the British Empire, which would be inconsistent with i t s p o l i t i c a l objectives."*" The indenture system l e f t a very bitter legacy because of the inhumane treatment of laborers. I t created a general animosity toward colonial governments which had condoned many of the abuses i n the system.  Furthermore,  i t made Indians acutely aware of the unequal treatment of their countrymen i n many;parts of the British Empire i n matters concerning the franchise, the administration of immigration laws, the right to own land and to trade under  2 the same conditions as other settlers, and the claim to British citizenship. Above a l l , i t led to the decision to bring emigration under strict government control and to convince the rest of the British Empire that India was no longer prepared to condone emigration of Indians for labor purposes even as a temporary measure. The attempt to attract Indian settlers to F i j i under an o f f i c i a l l y sanctioned system of emigration i s discussed i n the f i r s t section of this chapter.  Subsequent sections of the chapter deal f i r s t with the  62  socio-economic  63  conditions i n F i j i which continued to attract Indian immigrants, and then with the kinds of migrants who came i n the 1920s and 1930s.  This chapter  w i l l show that i t was not only the hitter legacy of the indenture system and the sensitivity of Indians on the emigration question, but also the Indian Government's perception of the situation i n F i j i which thwarted any attempt to devise an alternative scheme of emigration to the indenture system. Though Indians no longer came to F i j i under an o f f i c i a l l y sanctioned system, 'unassisted' or 'free' immigrants continued to migrate to the colony. Factors such as the survival of the sugar industry, F i j i ' s lax immigration laws, increasing opportunities for economic advancement, and the breakdown of F i j i ' s isolation from the rest of the world are also examined in terms of their effect on Indian migration to F i j i after 1920.  Another important  concern of the chapter i s the impact of Punjabi and Gujarati immigrants, especially the latter, on Indian society i n F i j i .  I t w i l l be shown that the  exuberance which allowed this category of immigrants to enter F i j i at random in the 1920s was shortlived.  Because these recent immigrants began to surpass  local Indians i n the economic sphere, immigration controls were quickly introduced to curtail their entry. The labor troubles i n F i j i and the impending racial crisis i n Kenya i n 1920 did l i t t l e to change Indian attitudes toward emigration. The unofficial mission from F i j i , which came to conduct deliberations for renewed emigration to F i j i , - soon discovered that the sentiments of both the Government of India and the leading nationalists on the emigration issue were identical.  The  Indian press was also hostile but the most scathing attacks came from Gandhi 3  who was very vocal on the emigration issue throughout 1920.  The labor  disturbances had evidently raised serious doubts about the future of Indians in F i j i . The situation i n F i j i appeared to be c r i t i c a l , as seen by the F i j i Government's response to the strike.  The slump i n the sugar industry and a  6k substantial rise i n the cost of living caused considerable dissatisfaction among the predominantly agricultural Indian population, but also had put tremendous strains on wage earners who resided in the urban centers.  In  anticipation of large wage increases, employees of the Public Works Department and the Municipal Council went on strike in Suva.  Later the strike spread to  Nausori and Levuka and soon engulfed the sugar-growing areas i n Rewa and Navua. Fortunately, the northwestern regions remained calm, perhaps due to the offer of the C.S.R. to pay an additional bonus for every ton of cane harvested.  The strike lasted a month and presented the F i j i Government with k  i t s f i r s t major labor dispute.  Rather than treat i t as such, the government  was quick to associate i t with Indian nationalist agitation and embarked on a 'pacification' program which included a show of force by naval vessels from New Zealand and Australia.  The most alarming development was the polariza-  tion of races with animosities becoming quite apparent between Indians and Europeans.  Native Fijians were recruited to augment the police force and the  government also received considerable assistance from "loyal Indian British Subjects," under the leadership of Bhadri Maharaj and Peter Grant, to contain the dispute. Reaction i n India was particularly hostile.  The Indian press was  incensed over the riots and the treatment of the strike leaders, as were the leading nationalists. Jayakumari  Gandhi was appalled by the treatment of Manilal and  whom he regarded as an 'adopted daughter,' and certainly a  p o l i t i c a l protege (after a l l , she had actively participated in his nascent satyagraha movement i n Natal i n 1913)-  Even more disconcerting, especially  to the Indian Government, was the F i j i Government's disparaging attitude toward strikers i n a despatch to the Colonial Office in which i t had depicted them as "an inferior class," (women, of course, were of the "lowest classes") in  comparison with Indians "belonging to the north-western districts" who  had not participated i n the strike.  6  5  Though suspicion and caution characterized the Indian Government's attitude toward the mission from F i j i , i t was eventually l e f t to the British Guiana and F i j i Emigration Committee of the Indian Legislative Council to 7 consider and report on the emigration proposals for F i j i .  There were  actually two emigration proposals before the Indian Government—that which had been presented by the F i j i mission and another by Thomas Hughes, a highranking o f f i c i a l of the C.S.R. who came to India to offer his  assistance to  the mission. The scheme of the F i j i deputation entailed a system of both free and assisted emigration which included the encouragement of Indian settlement, no restrictions on emigrants desiring to work under any particular employer, and no financial charge to the Indian treasury i h operating the scheme. Above a l l , the colonial government agreed to bear half the cost of repatriation of an Indian desiring to return after a stay of three years and the entire cost after seven years. However, this scheme was not as comprehensive as that advocated by Hughes. In contrast, Hughes wished to restrict the recruitment of 'colonists' to Madras because religious objections to emigration were less there than i n Northern India. He also f e l t that the labor requirements of the Assam tea estates could produce strong economic objections to emigration Q  in Northern India.  In a conscious effort to align o f f i c i a l policy with the prevailing nationalist sentiment on emigration (Surendra Nath Banerjea was, after a l l , chairman of the Emigration Committee), the Indian Government adopted a tough stance against the deputation from F i j i .  The Emigration Committee's report,  released i n March 1920, had urged the government to press for "political and economic equality" for Indians i n F i j i and to send a deputation to F i j i "to 9  test the scheme and especially to the question of the adequacy of wages." Therefore, the Indian Government was not willing to settle for any assurance other than that "by ordinance with the approval of the Colonial Office that  66  the position of Indians i n F i j i would he equal to that of any class of His Majesty's subjects." ^ Moreover, i t was only prepared to sanction emigration 1  i f the report of the proposed deputation to F i j i proved to be satisfactory. After consultation with the authorities at home, the mission from F i j i readily provided these guarantees which were as much the logical response to nationalist hostility i n India as they were part of a calculated effort to convince Indian authorities of changes which were i n store for the Indians in F i j i .  Essentially the F i j i Government agreed to refrain from tampering  with Indian rights or altering them to the detriment of that community;  the  Indians i n F i j i would be entitled to the same trading and commercial privileges as the Europeans;  there would be no modifications of the existing municipal  rights; and the proposed p o l i t i c a l concessions, allowing two elected Indian representatives i n the Legislative Council, would not be withdrawn. Later, in July 1920,  i t reiterated this pledge to the Colonial Office "to give  the guarantee asked for (including the general guarantees by Ordinance)." "'" 1  Though the o f f i c i a l mood i n F i j i should have paved the way for the early resumption of emigration, the Government of India did very l i t t l e to hasten the process.  There was a certain degree of ambivalence i n the manner i n which  the Indian authorities tackled the problem.  While they welcomed the proposals  for the new emigration schemes, they were far more perceptive to the demands of Indians who advocated a policy of caution. Hence, the o f f i c i a l policy reflected the general Indian sentiment which contained a great distrust of colonial governments under the control of planters whose only concern was to secure an adequate supply of Indian laborers without attending to their material and psychological needs. There was actually no immediate solution to the emigration question. Public opinion i n India was s t i l l embittered by the F i j i Government's actions during the labor disturbances.  Speculation about an exodus of Indians from  F i j i to their homeland was also being widely publicized i n India. At a time  67  when Indians i n F i j i were feeling very apprehensive over their predicament, the Indian press and the Indian public concentrated on rights and privileges on the assumption that the eradication of disabilities would invariably lead to the betterment of the community there.  The Indian Government also showed  more concern for i t s public image rather than acting on the F i j i question at an opportune moment. Public indignation i n India and the decision to wait for the report on the cost of living from F i j i were largely responsible for the delay i n sending a deputation to F i j i . In the meanwhile, the situation i n F i j i continued to deteriorate after the disturbances. Faced with unemployment and poverty, many ex-indentured Indians began to consider repatriation to India as the only alternative to their predicament i n the colony.  There were actually 11,000 Indians who  12 registered with the government for repatriation to India.  Disillusionment  over the government's callous attitude during the disturbances merely intensified the desire for repatriation.  The d r i f t toward India began  gradually i n 1920 but by the end of the year 4 , 7 4 l ex-indentured Indians 13  had returned.  J  Adding to a l l the confusion was growing speculation about  a mass exodus from F i j i which the Indian Government was now anxious to prevent. Scrutiny of the report on the cost of living i n F i j i quickly convinced Indian authorities of the serious economic grounds for dissatisfaction among the Indians there.  The colonization scheme soon gave way to a more pressing 14  need "to enquire into conditions and ascertain the causes of discontent." The Indian Government could no longer evade any responsibility i n this issue because F i j i actually had no alternatives to Indian immigration—proposals to employ Chinese laborers and to import surplus Tamil labor from Ceylon were rejected by the Colonial Office.  Above a l l , i t was also anxious to clear up  an embarrassing situation which the nationalists at home were effectively using to their advantage. Bad publicity surrounding the predicament  of destitute repatriated  68 Indians i n Calcutta provided additional incentive to prevent the threatened exodus from F i j i .  In 1920, 6,544 immigrants returned to India from the  colonies and i n 1921 the figure doubled, ^ 1  this two-year period were from F i j i .  Over half the repatriates within  Many returnees were experiencing  numerous d i f f i c u l t i e s i n readjusting to their old environment.  Large numbers  of repatriated immigrants were unable to find employment because of unfavorable economic conditions i n India. After years of absence i n the colonies some were also unable to"revert to a traditional pattern of existence which they now found intolerable.  Others who had returned to resume  their old kinship ties i n their villages were hard pressed to share their savings with their kinfolk.  Those who returned as paupers or had l i t t l e to  offer were invariably ostracized.  Uncomfortable and bitter i n the old  surroundings, many discontented repatriates drifted toward Calcutta with high expectations of returning to the colonies. In Calcutta, the authorities conducted a careful scrutiny of the repatriates who wished to leave India again.  Those, who had adequate funds and possessed the proper travel documents  departed as 'passengers' to their destinations.  The destitutes and the less  fortunate were permitted to leave only after the governments of British Guiana l6 and F i j i intervened on their behalf. A l l hopes of sending a deputation at an early date were shattered when the situation i n F i j i erupted again.  In February 1921, laborers i n the sugar  industry went on strike against the G.S.R.  The strike started at Ba, soon  engulfed a l l the sugar districts i n northwestern V i t i Levu, and subsequently spread to Labasa i n Vanua Levu. affected.  Sugar mills i n Navua and Nausori were not  I t lasted six months until the end of August.  Essentially, 17'  workers struck for higher wages and better living conditions.  The response  from both the sugar company and the government was predictable.  While the  C.S.R. rebuffed claims for higher wages, though promising to provide "chief articles of food and clothing at the lowest possible cost," the F i j i  69 Government maintained i t s usual firm stance and deported strike-leaders, notably Sadhu Bashist Muni, a controversial social reformer, whom i t accused 18 of being "in collusion with non-cooperationists i n India." If there was indeed no immediate solution to the emigration question, then this impasse stemmed from the fact that both governments were at loggerheads.  The F i j i Government simply did not want Indian authorities to  interfere i n the domestic affairs of the colony, nor was i t prepared to 19 entertain any deputation associated with the nationalist movement i n India. On their part, the Indian authorities regarded this attitude as nothing short of a calculated effort by the F i j i Government to whitewash their conduct in suppressing the riots.  While they were generally willing to comply with  the wishes of the colonial government, they were also very sensitive to public opinion, especially at a time when the new emigration b i l l was being debated i n the Indian Legislative Council. Nevertheless, the Government of India agreed to restrict i t s e l f to an inquiry "into the suitability of the Colony for settlement by Indians and the question of land grants for deserving Indian officers and  20  men."  The deputation to F i j i f i n a l l y selected i n December 1921,  consisted of  G. L. Corbett (former Deputy Secretary i n the Department of Commerce and Industry), Venkatapathi Raju (a member of the Indian Legislative Council), Govind Sharma (a member of the Legislative Council of the United Provinces), and Lieutenant Hissam-ud-din Khan who was to ascertain whether conditions i n F i j i were suitable for the settlement of Indian soldiers.  I t arrived i n  early February 1922 and remained i n the colony for about two months, visiting the principal cane-growing regions and other areas which had the potential for Indian settlement.  From the outset the v i s i t was marred by controversy  which became more Intense when the deputation released i t s interim recommendations.  Sympathizing overtly with the Indian workers, the  deputation expressed a deep sense of outrage at the C.S.R.'s reduction of  70 21 the dally wage of cane workers "by 40 per cent.  First, i t recommended the  repatriation of every Indian who was "legally entitled to free passage to India" (in spite of the plight of repatriated immigrants i n Calcutta).  Second,  the deputation called for a living wage for workers on the lines suggested by the Inter-Departmental Conference i n London i n 1917;  priority to be  given to unemployed Indians to work on the projected trunk road across V i t i 22 Levu;  and better land provisions for Indians wishing to settle permanently. Unfortunately, the F i j i Government could do very l i t t l e to allay the  deputation's misgivings. There was l i t t l e difficulty i n agreeing to discharge a l l l i a b i l i t i e s toward repatriation, but i t balked at establishing a statutory minimum wage for workers i n an effort to remain impartial i n the dispute. Perhaps there was no precedence for such legislation i n other British colonies. As for the C.S.R., i t even rejected  the deputation's advice to operate  "without profit or even at a loss," which was a realistic suggestion considering the company's 'charitable' gesture toward New Zealand earlier; the company also accused the Indian members of being biased and "entirely unfit to conduct the enquiry," and protested vehemently to the Viceroy for 23 fear of an adverse f i n a l report.  But the more serious development was the  position adopted by the European community which was angered by the utterances of the Indian members of the deputation and by their visible display of sympathy toward the Indian workers.  Many planters had experienced the  crippling effects of the economic slump and could not maintain their estates without an adequate supply of agricultural laborers.  Some planters had turned  to the native Fijians who demanded high wages and sometimes proved to be erratic workers.  Without adequate upkeep, .choice farm lands were soon covered  with dense vegetation. As the c r i s i s intensified, numerous planters reacted by selling their livestock and, i n extreme cases, sold a considerable portion of their landholdirigs to cover losses. The sugar outlook continued to remain gloomy indeed, and the company's  71 lockout of i t s workers produced much anxiety over the possibility of the industry collapsing entirely.  There was increasing bitterness toward the  deputation and the entire Indian community.  Both Europeans and native  Fijians questioned the motives of Indians during a period of economic distress which affected a l l segments of the population.  The local press was also very  c r i t i c a l of the deputation, i n effect articulating the growing opposition "to  any renewal of immigration of Indians to F i j i with a view to extensive  land settlement and to equality of p o l i t i c a l status of Indians and 24 Europeans."  Obviously, this change, of attitude seriously undermined the  F i j i Government's proposals for renewed immigration. I t was the the general feeling of despondency among the Indian community which influenced the judgement of the deputation more than any other factor. The deputation completed i t s inquiry by the middle of March, but also delved into the causes of the discontent contrary to assurances given by the Indian Government. Its members discovered no signs of p o l i t i c a l agitation, concluding that Indians i n F i j i had three major grievances: a decent standard of living;  inadequate wages to maintain  an unsatisfactory land policy with l i t t l e  provisions for permanent Indian settlement as agriculturalists;  dispropor-  tionate or lack of p o l i t i c a l representation aggravated by the government's lethargy i n providing even the promised communal seats i n the Legislative 25 Council.  Furthermore, the deputation did not favor the immigration of  Indians as laborers and, above a l l , saw limited possibilities for Indian colonization.  Realizing that repatriation would not be economical, i t simply  advised the F i j i Government "to provide for the  settlement of the Indians"  already i n F i j i who had "gained experience of the local conditions." ^ Thus, 2  the report to the Indian Government f e l l heavily against any resumption of sponsored emigration unless remedial measures were taken to eradicate the major disabilities of Indians i n the colony.  However, i t was favorably  inclined toward the settlement of Indian soldiers but regarded this a risky  undertaking because of the hostile European sentiment.  Surprisingly, the  deputation's comprehension of the economic issues i n F i j i was very superficial; rather, i t concentrated on the disabilities of Indians i n F i j i to justify i t s opposition to renewed sponsored emigration from India. In settling the F i j i question the Government of India adhered rigidly to the contention that the deputation had gone there "to examine the possib i l i t i e s for Indian colonization" and "not to guarantee a labor supply. In December 1922,  1,27  i t informed the authorities i n F i j i of the decision not to  reopen emigration unless the problems of wages, p o l i t i c a l status, and land settlement were resolved. This position was strongly reiterated i n March 1923,  but i n return for concessions to the Indian community the F i j i  Government demanded 10,000 new immigrants, excluding women and children,  28 within a two-year period,  Rejection of the counter-proposal from F i j i was  inevitable, i n effect dashing a l l hopes for renewed sponsored emigration. The fate of the entire emigration question was f i n a l l y settled by the passage of the Indian Emigration Act of 1922 which placed stringent controls on the emigration of unskilled workers from India. Essentially, the Act reflected a dual concern to prevent the erratic movement of cheap Indian labor abroad and to force colonies which required Indian labor to liberalize legal rights for their Indian residents.  I t empowered the Indian Government to  permit organized emigration, but only under terms and conditions to be reviewed by a standing emigration committee which was especially constituted  29 from both houses of the Indian Legislature.  Thus the Act had a direct  bearing on emigration to Mauritius, British Guiana, and F i j i .  Fiji's  attempt to attract Indian settlers under an o f f i c i a l l y sanctioned system of 'free' emigration was not successful;.  Emigration to Mauritius was resumed  briefly i n 1921 and terminated i n the following year.  By 1926 British  Guiana remained the only colony to receive immigrants, but hardly any significant movement from India occurred.  As for nonlabor emigration, the  73  government continued to maintain a policy of noninterference.  The Act did  not place restrictions on skilled artisans or 'free' emigration under the passport system. The legislative controls placed upon labor emigration meant that F i j i could no longer rely on the two main areas—United Provinces and Madras—for fresh supplies of Indian..migrants.  These two areas had served as the major  recruiting grounds during the indenture period but after 1920 there was a drastic shift i n the pattern of migration.  Throughout the 1920s the United 30  Provinces witnessed a dramatic decline i n migration overseas.  With the  termination of Indentured labor there was hardly any incentive or inducement to leave.  By contrast, Madras and other areas of South India became the  chief recruitment pool for seasonal labor, under the kangani system, for the neighboring countries of Ceylon, Burma, and Malaya.  Moreover, Indian laborers  adapted quite readily to the climatic and physical conditions i n these regions and encountered less hostility and ill-treatment there than they had experienced i n F i j i or other British colonies which had received indentured labor. Judging from the uncertainty of the immediate postiridenture years i n F i j i , i t i s also d i f f i c u l t to understand the F i j i Government's relentless efforts to obtain fresh supplies of laborers from India.  The economic  situation i n F i j i after 1920 was not conducive to any renewed large-scale Indian settlement.  Gone was the optimism which grew out of the wartime  boom based on. the  phenomenal growth of the sugar industry and on the inflated  price of sugar.  The abolition of indentured emigration from India i n 1920  ensured the demise of the plantation system i n F i j i and, i n effect, shattered the dreams of the planter community.  Uncertainty i n the world sugar market  led to a drop i n sugar prices which offset the high profit levels, though not the importance of sugar, of the preceding war years for most growers i n Fiji.  The colony also witnessed an economic slump, accompanied by an acute  74 labor shortage, a decline i n sugar production, a scarcity i n essential commodities, and an alarming rise i n the cost of living.  The two major labor  disturbances created much distrust between Indians and the other races which eventually led to growing opposition to any extensive Indian settlement i n Fiji.  Fortunately for the local Indian community, very l i t t l e emigration  from India took place which could have aggravated the situation.  The Indian  community was also entering a transitory phase, confronting numerous hurdles in the adopted homeland. Some of the main challenges were intricately related to the quest for p o l i t i c a l and social equality with other races, diversification into other types of occupation i n addition to farming, and a growing desire for more land. The Census of 1921 revealed new trends in the growth of the Indian population.  The structure of the community was changing rapidly (see  Table 3.1 below).  Taking into consideration natural increase, deaths, new  arrivals and departures between 1911 and 1916, while the indenture system was s t i l l i n operation, departures through additional repatriation after and 'free' immigration,  1916,  the Indian population was estimated at 60,634.  TABLE  3.1  MAIN COMPONENTS OF THE INDIAN POPULATION  1911  1921  India-born  29,063  72. Wo  33,156  54.66$  Locally-born  11,069  27.46$  26,810  44.22^  Others TOTAL  Source:  154  0.387^  60,634  40,286  F i j i Census Reports, 1911 and  668  1921.  1.10#  75  The small increase i n the India-horn group between 1911 and 1921 can be attributed to repatriation (10,017 out of 16,613 immigrants who came between 1911 and 1916 returned to India) and to the minor contribution through 'free' 31 immigration. There was also an uneven sex ratio in this group which indicated that i t would be outnumbered eventually by the local component with i t s younger age factor and a more balanced sex ratio. The India-born component continued to face depletion throughout the 1920s, primarily through repatriation.  Up until 1925, nearly 52,000 were 32  entitled to return to India at the expense of the F i j i Government. The immediate postindenture figures for repatriation were quite high (about 4,000 per year) but began to level off to an annual rate of 1,000 1929.  until  By 1923, 24,665 of a l l Indians with repatriation rights had claimed  3 3  their free passage to India, and by the end of 1929 the total figure rose to 34  39,806. India.  There was definitely a steady movement of the India-born toward Had i t not been for a burst of immigration into F i j i prior to the  depression, the numerical strength of this group would have shown further decline. The community was s t i l l North Indian i n character, judging from the birth places of the India-born.  Over half traced their origins to the United  Provinces and only a quarter to Madras Presidency. the Bengalis, Punjabis, Rajputs, and Gujaratis.  Other groupings included  There was a large group  of Indians with no designated birthplace i n India. Also noticeable was the decline i n numbers of Bengalis, Punjabis, and Rajputs who may have l e f t because of the prevailing unstable conditions, but the numerical strength of Gujaratis or persons with origins i n Bombay Presidency had doubled, from 153 in 1911  to 324 i n 1 9 2 1 .  3 5  North and South Indians were divided along linguistic lines as well as on a sectarian basis..  This was a by-product of the indenture period when  there was very l i t t l e interaction between the two groups.  The only possible  76 semblance of unity was the common feeling of having originated i n India. Religion could have acted as a unifying force (over 85 per cent of a l l Indians were Hindus), but there was growing polarization among the sectarian groups.  The Sanatani and Arya Samaji comprised the dominant sects, the former  paying more attention to a conservative r i t u a l i s t i c tradition.  In contrast,  the Southerners comprised a separate group with a distinct linguistic and r i t u a l i s t i c tradition.  While the Northerners' main festivals were Ramlila,  Holi, and Divali, the Southerners concentrated<on the Mariamma festival. Most minor groupings such as the Bengalis and Gujaratis f e l l into the general category of Hindus.  Other significant religious groupings were the Christians,  Sikhs, and Muslims. The Indian community retained i t s dominant agricultural base i n the postindenture period.  The end of the estate system ensured the rise of the  independent Indian farmer, as Europeans withdrew from the cultivation of sugarcane while turning to pastoral farming and coconut growing.  Experiments  in cocoa, tea, and rubber cultivation resulted i n failure because of hurricanes, the acute shortage of labor, and an unprofitable return on investments.  Planters who had leased estates from the C.S.R. relinquished  their rights and moved out of the sugarcane districts. Furthermore, a major portion of a l l freehold land under European control became idle.  Europeans  s t i l l retained control of over 55 P ^ cent of a l l freehold land i n the colony e  37 but started leasing land to Indians.  Very l i t t l e land of this type passed  into the hands of Indians as direct ownership. The absence of the indigenous population from any large-scale commercial farming, especially i n the sugar industry, also assured the Indian's position as the dominant agriculturalist.  The Fijian was the supreme landowner in-  F i j i , possessing recognized customary tenure over more than 80 per cent of all land.  38  Since the government was committed to a policy of preserving  native land tenure, i t virtually assured the permanence  of Fijian  77  ownership of a l l land that was not freehold or under government control. The Fijian was tied to his village with complex communal obligations.  His  chief agricultural pursuit was the cultivation of foodcrops—coconut,  yam,  taro, banana,- sweet potatoes, breadfruit, tapioca, pineapple, kava root (yaqona), e t c . — f o r home consumption.  The growth of bananas for export 39  constituted the Fijian's only substantial commercial enterprise. the F i j i a n was quickly becoming aware of the changes around him;  However, he  was  extremely perceptive of the material benefits derived from the commercial economy of the towns.  The d r i f t to urban centers began gradually as villagers  l e f t at varying intervals to become wage earners i n towns, on large farms, and i n the sugar mills.  Here they worked as casual and agricultural laborers-,  clerks, sailors, carpenters, boat builders, and domestic servants. The withdrawal of European planters from the sugarcane districts l e f t the G.S.R. as the largest single landowner associated with the sugar industry. The C.S.R. survived both the labor troubles and the f a l l i n sugar prices. Moreover, i t s financial position remained intact despite the d i f f i c u l t i e s during the economic slump as exemplified by profits which rose steadily from £300,000 i n 1919  to £400,000 i n 1921.  By i t s own admission, the company  in F i j i "enjoyed the most spectacular monetary success i n i t s history between 1914  and 1924," providing 50 per cent of the total profits for the C.S.R.'s 41  entire operations i n the South Pacific.  I t i s interesting to note that when  the C.S.R. i n F i j i terminated i t s operations i n 1923  as a subsidiary of the  company i n Australia, i t "repaid the ordinary capital to the parent company," returned i t s fixed assets at almost a third of i t s original value of £3,500,000, and paid i n excess of j£l,000,000 to miscellaneous shareholders 42 as premium and other cash benefits. through the transfer of surplus assets.  Additional benefits were realized The sugar company was certainly i n  a position to pay i t s Indian workers more without any substantial loss to the shareholders, but consistently maintained a policy of low wages which  78 some sources cited as a major cause of the rise of rural Indian indebtedness.^ The Company's prime objective i n the postindenture period was to stop the erosion i n sugar output and to retain a high monetary return for i t s investment.  Thus, i t introduced the scheme of tenancy farming which  virtually assured the survival of the sugar industry. Two factors contributed to the consolidation of the company's position. One was the closure of i t s two competitors' mills in Penang and in Navua i n 1922.  The Penang operation passed into the hands of the C.S.R., and the  Vancouver-Fiji Sugar Company's mill at Navua was dismantled.  Moveable assets  from the latter were transferred to the parent company in Vancouver and the LL  land was sold to the F i j i Pastoral Company.  The failure of the Navua mill  clearly indicated that the windward (wet) side of the main island was climatically unsuitable for sugarcane cultivation.  The closure of the mill  resulted in the movement of many residents to other areas. turned to rice cultivation.  Those who remained  The other important factor was the C.S.R.'s decision to create a new class of tenant farmers on i t s estates. 1923  and 1924.  This innovation took place between  The company realized that 'independent' tenant farmers,  under constant supervision to curtail erratic cultivation and land wastage, could provide enough sugarcane to sustain the industry.  Large estates were  divided into economically viable and manageable farms of about 11 acres (some farms were smaller) and leased to individual family units, based on the conviction that an individual (single) family farm of eight acres or more would provide an adequate means of livelihood.  J  There was l i t t l e scope for  agricultural diversification because of the company's policy of encouraging 46 sugarcane cultivation only. another cane supplier.  The company also recruited the services of  This type of farmer was the 'contractor' who  was  generally a leaseholder of non-C.S.R. lands (freehold, Crown, and native) but entered into a similar economic relationship with the company as the  3  79 tenant farmer.  47  Both contractors and tenant farmers emerged as the principal  cane growers as the company withdrew from active farming. The C.S.R. played an important role i n shaping the pattern of Indian settlement i n the postindenture period. The emphasis on single-unit farms led the rapid expansion of settlements on company lands contiguous to the 'sugar towns' hut within the limits of the cane regions.  Settlements were  unlike the village units of India, consisting of scattered homesteads on farms with undefined "boundaries.  Houses were constructed on the least  arable patches of land, i n accordance with the company's instructions, to ensure maximum utilization of land for cane cultivation. lacked cohesiveness based on caste groupings.  These settlements  Authority stemmed mainly from  the company which regulated the tenant's finances, provided technical 48 assistance, and even advised on domestic and family matters.  The sense  of isolation was overcome by cooperative cane harvesting and through contact with the towns linked by the company's tramlines. While sugarcane cultivation provided the principal source of livelihood, rice growing provided an important avenue for diversification, especially in the wetter regions where cane growing was unsuccessful. During the indenture period rice growing had been initiated by 'free' Indians near plantations i n the cane regions. provided incentives to rice growing.  (ex-indentured)  The government had also  After 1920 the focus of rice growing  shifted to the delta plains and flat-lands surrounding the towns of Navua 49 and Nausori.  Here, i t eventually became the main form of agricultural  activity among Indian farmers, predominantly i n Navua where the closure of the sugar mill necessitated this change-over.  Rice proved to be a profitable  crop because of the high consumption by Indians.  Demand exceeded supply  producing a heavy relaince on imported rice as well.  To meet the high  demand and consumption of the local crop, many farmers i n the wetter regions turned exclusively to rice cultivation.  80 Mixed-crop farming was also "becoming an important aspect of agricultural activity, including the cultivation of vegetables, root crops, maize, pulses, and tobacco.  Some of these items were marketable commodities.  Indians faced  competition from Chinese farmers whose concentration on green vegetables  50 enabled the latter to dominate the market i n vegetables.  Cotton and  pineapple growing offered attractive commercial possibilities but the area devoted to their cultivation was small. The British Cotton Growing Association had reported favorably on the quality of F i j i cotton, inducing Indian cotton growers to export small .quantities of ginned and baled cotton to the United Kingdom under the guidance of the F i j i Government.^"'" Commercial pineapple growing by Indian farmers for export to New Zealand was restricted to small farms near Suva.  There was some interest from Canada i n launching canning  operations but this was only at an experimental stage i n the 1920s.  Cattle  grazing and dairy farming constituted other forms of limited activity associated with the utilization of land.  The possibilities for commercial  ventures were limited since the-better pastoral lands were i n the hands of Europeans.  Though Indians owned twenty of the twenty-two dairies which  supplied milk to the Suva locality, these were small concerns operating on poor pastures i n comparison to those receiving direct government assistance. The government was more keen on developing this as a European sphere of activity.  Incentives were given to European ex-servicemen i n the form of  land grants and the establishment of a butter factory to develop this industry i n the Tailevu area.  J  Livestock farming also attracted the  attention of Indians but was dominated by Europeans at this stage.  Indian  farmers preferred grazing leases on sloping lands which were close to cane regions and often indulged i n grazing cattle on unfenced European lands. Apart from the dispersed pattern of Indian settlement i n the cane  regions, there was a high concentration of settlers in the vicinity of the 'sugar towns' and districts on the leeward side of "both islands.  The towns  of Navua and Nausori, and Suva the c a p i t a l — a l l located on the windward side of V i t i Levu—also attracted large pockets of Indian settlement.  Ba i n  V i t i Levu, andMacuata in Vanua Levu, emerged as the principal areas of Indian settlement of the cane regions.  Suva, the capital of F i j i , had the  largest concentration of urban dwellers.  While the overwhelming bulk of  Indians were rural dwellers on farms, only the commercial and industrial sections of the community resided i n towns. „ I t was in the towns that occupational diversity could best be observed. According to the 1921  Census there were 854 persons involved in commercial  activity including traders, merchants, shopkeepers, shop assistants, a