Geschiedenis van Hindostanen 1873-2015

India • Suriname • Nederland

History of the Hindostani 1873-2015

India • Suriname • The Netherlands

Prof. dr. Chan E.S. Choenni

Only available in Dutch

The year 2023 will be a year of celebration and commemoration in both Suriname and the Netherlands.

On 5 June 2023, it will be 150 years since the first group of Hindostani indentured labourers from India disembarked in Suriname. With the sailing ship Lalla Rookh, they arrived in Suriname on 4 June 1873 to work on the plantations for a period of 5 years after the slavery of African people was abolished on 1 July 1963. The year 2023 will thus also mark 160 years abolishment of slavery in Suriname. Reasons enough to pay special attention in that year to the shared (colonial) history of Suriname and the Netherlands with numerous activities in both countries.

To generate more attention for and knowledge of the history of the Hindostanis prior to the celebratory and commemorative activities, initiated a project to have the history written in an accessible manner. This has resulted in the book: History of the Hindostani 1873-2015, India – Suriname – The Netherlands, which will only be available in Dutch.

This book about the history of Hindostani people over a period of 140 years is published in hardcover and contains more than 250 photos and illustrations, many of which have not been published before. The Hindostani history is described in ten chapters by Prof. Dr. Chan Choenni who has many publications on this subject to his name. Sampreshan/Hindorama had already published his booklet Hindostani history in a nutshell in 2020. This new book of 368 pages successively covers in more detail and with appealing examples and quotes the emigration from India to Suriname, the integration in Suriname and the emigration to and integration in the Netherlands.

The book launch will take place at a time to be announced later and will be avaiable via e-mail:

Chan Choenni | Geschiedenis van Hindostanen 1873-2015 India – Suriname – Nederland | Zoetermeer 2021: Sampreshan | ISBN 9789080509290 | hardcover, 368 pages | price €29.50

Hindostanis are descendants of 34,304 so-called British-Indian indentured labourers who emigrated from India to the then Dutch colony of Suriname between 1873 and 1916. During this period, 3,000 Indians from the neighbouring colonies also settled in this sparsely populated and fertile country. They were able to acquire land and mixed with the Hindostani population. The indentured labourers were British subjects in a Dutch colony and therefore enjoyed special protection from the British government. Gradually they could avail of relatively good housing and free health care. After termination of their contract, over a quarter of them returned to India taking with them the money they had saved. The vast majority settled in Suriname, acquired land and became small farmers. With their work ethic, diligence and perseverance, these immigrants and their descendants managed over time to become relatively prosperous citizens of Suriname. Moreover, they retained their ethnic identity and Indian cultural heritage and transformed it into a Surinamese-Hindostani culture. Also, the Hindostani population grew rapidly and in 1971 Hindostanis became the largest population group. Prior to Suriname’s independence in 1975, a large group emigrated to the Netherlands. In 2013, there were 175,000 Hindostanis in the Netherlands compared to 150,000 in Suriname. The author, Chan Choenni, vividly describes this extraordinary history based on extensive historical research on the migration and integration of Hindostanis in Suriname and in the Netherlands. This  history is part of Dutch (colonial) history and also provides insight into the developments after the abolition of slavery in Suriname.

History of the Hindostani 1873-2015 India – Suriname – The Netherlands, table of contents: Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. Recruitment and selection in India; 3. Preparation for sea voyage and stay in Calcutta; 4. Crossing from India to Suriname; 5. Indentured labour in Suriname 1873-1920; 6. Return to India and cessation of Hindostani immigration; 7. Differences between Hindostani indentured labour and slavery in Suriname; 8. Integration and strong identity 1921-2015; 9. Emigration to and integration in the Netherlands;  10. Roots and diaspora communities. Notes; Literature used; Appendix I. Key dates in Hindostani history; Annex II. Convention between Great Britain and the Netherlands, relative to the Emigration of Labourers from India to the Dutch Colony of Surinam; Appendix III. The Hindostani Labour Contract; Appendix IV. Justification

Prof. dr. Chandersen E.S. Choenni (1953) was born in Paramaribo, Suriname. He studied political science and the philosophy of science at the University of Amsterdam. He obtained his PhD in Social Sciences in 1995. He also qualifies as a social researcher and historian. In 2010, he was appointed extraordinary professor of Hindostani migration (Lalla Rookh Chair) at the Free University of Amsterdam. Chan Choenni published four books and many articles on the history of Hindostanis. He is currently Emeritus Professor and his book on the history of the Afro-Surinamese 1863-1963 will be published soon. He was also policy officer for Dutch integration policy and published on ethnic relations, racism, integration policy and citizenship.