Marginalisation of Indians in the CXC History Syllabus

Caribbean
Submitted by Dr Kumar Mahabir, Anthropologist

At a webinar on Zoom recently, I presented part of a research paper I had originally delivered at a conference at the University the West Indies (UWI) in 2017 entitled “The Marginalisation and Exclusion of Indians by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) in the CSEC and CAPE History and Literature Syllabi”. I was later given an opportunity to do the same presentation to the CXC Board at its headquarters in Barbados. CSEC and CAPE are equivalent to the O- and A- Level exams of long ago. In the Zoom and CXC Board presentations, I focused on the history syllabi.

I argued that Indians constitute about half of the population in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, and form the largest minority in Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent, Grenada and Belize. I emphasised that we must adopt socially-just educational practices and cited the recommendations by UNESCO, the World Forum in Dakar, and the World Conference on Education-for-All in Thailand, that minority ethnic groups should not be disadvantaged in receiving an education, or excluded from the content of the curriculum.

The CXC CSEC Caribbean History syllabus consists of ten Core Topics and nine Themes. I said that the ten (10) Core Topics outlined for the 2011 to 2017 examinations range from “The Indigenous Peoples of the Americas” to “Regional Integration up to 1985”, but that only two (2) of those ten Core Topics partially address Indo-Caribbean History (Indentureship). These are Core Topic F: “Coming of the Chinese, Europeans, Indians and Africans” and Core Topic G: “The Establishment of the Peasantry 1838 to 1900”.

Arriving in the Caribbean after Emancipation under the indentureship scheme, Indians constituted 82.4% (430,300) of all indentured immigrants, whereas the Chinese, Portuguese, German, French and liberated African indentured immigrants together amounted to just 17.6% (91,600). Despite this huge disparity in numbers, Indians are lumped together with all the other immigrant ethnic groups under one heading. Accordingly, there should be a Core Topic on the subject of Indian immigration by itself if the impact that Indian immigrants have had on shaping the region is to be fully understood.

Indian Indentureship virtually excluded

The Core Topic regarding the establishment of the peasantry deals with the period 1838-1900. However, that period cannot adequately document the establishment and development of Indo-Caribbean Peasantry because the majority of Indians acquired their own land, on which they cultivated sugar cane, cocoa, rice and vegetables and reared cattle, after the abolition of indentureship (1917), and so their history and experiences are not sufficiently represented in this Core Topic.

As for the CAPE History syllabus, the marginalisation of Indian history is even more egregious Unit 1: “The Caribbean in the Atlantic World” consists of three modules: Module 1 – “Indigenous Societies”; Module 2 – “Slave Systems: Character and Dismantlement”; and Module 3 – “Freedom in Action”. The topics of settlement and citizenship of Chinese, Indian and Portuguese immigrants constitute just one portion of Theme 1, Module 3, with (i) “their social and economic experiences during indentureship and post-indentureship”, and (ii) “resistance” forming sub-topics. Module 1 focuses on Indigenous Peoples and Module 2 concentrates on African Peoples, rebellions and revolutions. Practically no attention is given to Indian Indentureship which has been described as a new system of slavery by Hugh Tinker and other historians. This module should have at least addressed the Indian Hosay/Muharram Massacre in October 30, 1884 which has been described as the bloodiest massacre in Trinidad and Tobago under British rule.

Unit 2 focuses on the Atlantic World and its global interactions (the interconnections among Europe, Africa and the Americas). There are, again, 3 Modules: “Atlantic World: Interactions”; “Atlantic Development: Identity and Industry”; and “International Relations: Conflict and Liberation” Apart from the topic of Gandhi and the nationalist movement, the Indian/Asian world and its long-standing presence and influence on Caribbean history is completely ignored.

Let us not forget that it was European explorer Christopher Columbus’s search for a shorter trade route to India to acquire more tea, silk, cotton and spices that resulted in the discovery and occupation of the Americas which, in turn, led to the African slave trade. In its day, the spice trade was the world’s biggest industry. It established and destroyed empires, led to the discovery of new continents, and in many ways, helped lay the foundation for the modern world. Unit 2 of the CXC CAPE History syllabus should have also included a theme on the Silk Road or Silk Route which was a network of trade routes that connected China, India, Persia, Arabia, the Horn of Africa and Europe for thousands of years.

Using content analysis as my main methodology, I concluded that the CXC History syllabus was Afrocentric and that standards at the institution were beneath UNESCO’s requirements. Not one of the topics, whether core or theme, does justice to the subject of Indo-Caribbean history and Indian immigration to the region.

9 comments

  • It is not fair to make reference by the author to ‘liberated Africans’. There was the Apprenticeship period which records a harsh existence for Africans after being officially emancipated .

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  • Whatever!

    Like

  • Author makes a point most do not wish to hear.

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  • Vincent Codrington

    I agree. But someone has to write the story of that indentured servants both Indian and European.. Why not their descendants?.

    Like

  • (Quote):
    Let us not forget that it was European explorer Christopher Columbus’s search for a shorter trade route to India to acquire more tea, silk, cotton and spices that resulted in the discovery and occupation of the Americas which, in turn, led to the African slave trade. In its day, the spice trade was the world’s biggest industry. It established and destroyed empires, led to the discovery of new continents, and in many ways, helped lay the foundation for the modern world. Unit 2 of the CXC CAPE History syllabus should have also included a theme on the Silk Road or Silk Route which was a network of trade routes that connected China, India, Persia, Arabia, the Horn of Africa and Europe for thousands of years.
    (UnQuote).
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Aren’t you too.Doc Kumar, falling for the same brainwashing narrative about “the discovery and occupation of the Americas”?

    Africans were in the Americas long before any Columbus or European.

    How about teaching the same History students not only about the East Indians’ ‘voluntary’ venture to the West Indies but also about the African migration to the sub-continent of India itself and their cultural impact and legacy?

    What you should be pushing for, also, is the teaching about and exposure to the various Indian religions and branches of spirituality to counter and bring balance to the ‘only’ one-sided European propaganda to which stupid blacks in the ‘West Indies’ have been exposed by portraying God and his only begotten son (No daughter) as the King of the Universe.

    Now that would be a true History lesson in Enlightenment!

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  • what are you waiting for. if you know the history and can verify the content why dontyou write it.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Chakara chahin ar baran jaat ar paat nahin jeh.
    Roop rang ar rekh bekh ko-uu keh naa sakat keh.
    Achal moorat anabav prakaash amatoj kahejay

    Listen to Chakara Chahin: Mangala Charan Of Jaap Sahib For Intuitive Projection

    Kot indra indraan saa-heh saahaan ganajai
    Trabhavan maheep sur nar asur nayt nayt ban trin kahet
    Tav sarab naam kathai kavan karam naam barmat sumat

    No one can give any explanation of His form, dress, outline and complexion.
    God′s form is stable, He is self-illuminated, with immeasurable power.
    God is the king of millions of kings, and the King of kings of gods.
    God is the Lord of three worlds (land, air, water) not only gods, men and demons, but the whole vegetable world announces that none is equal and alike God.
    None can utter all of Your names. Wise men who realise Your virtues, call You in the same way.

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  • The Myth of Race and the Evolution of Skin Color
    This ground breaking documentary combines anthropology, paleontology and human genetics to show how that all humans, no matter what race, nationality or ethnicity you claim to be, share a common ancestor with a small population that lived in Africa between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago. It also explains in detail the biological process, known as mutations that happens every generation that causes humans to look different. And last, it challenges a long standing theory that the evolution of skin color is a result of humans proximity to the equator. The research conducted in this film shows that the evolution of skin color is the direct result of a skin pigment mutation known as albinism, in particular, oculocutaneous type 1 and 2 albinism.

    The Americas were first peopled by Blacks from what appears to be many different locations around the world, circa 100,000 B.C. Then by Mongols who came across the Bering Straits, circa 12,000 B.C.

    The author needs to wake up & smell the coffee; the western world was built with the blood sweat & tear of of enslaved Africans.

    The author should write on Ghandi’s contribution to the black liberation struggle.
    Indians were never in the frontline of the liberation struggle for Caribbean people .

    Like

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