Tersungkur di Pintu Syurga (Larger than Life)


According to researchers, conditions in India which encouraged emigration from India include, the British suppressed Indian industry by encouraging exports of commodities and discouraging exports of manufactured goods, thus reducing opportunities for employment and wealth-creation in India. Peasant-owned land passed into the ownership of a small number of elite citizens, who turned the peasants into serfs – whose lives were hard and helpless.
Population growth was not matched by economic growth, resulting in Indian poverty being nearly unmatched in the rest of the world. Since work was seasonal and weather-dependent, there were periods of severe starvation.

They came because they were actively recruited for labourers jobs in Malaya: in India of the time, labour was overwhelmingly the preserve of “the lower castes.” Often the recruiters were persons who had worked in Malaya and were sent on missions by their Malayan employers – armed with cash – to recruit in India and return with labourers. They came mainly from South India, because the British desired to 
(a) recruit labourers who were from a climate not vastly different from Malaya, and (b) the British wished to retain Northern Indians for roles in India in the armed and police forces.They came because the British changed their Policy in order to make Malaya more attractive.

The British improved conditions of service. This included better conditions on board ships, better wages (higher than in Burma and Ceylon and about three times higher than in India), better living quarters and abolition of indentured labour.
Contributed steamship subsidies. This contribution by the Malayan government reduced the cost of the India-Malaya journey by about fifty percent.
Legalized commission payments to recruiters of non-indentured labour.
Donated large sums for famine-relief in India, together with advice that the best relief would be to encourage Indians to emigrate to Malaya – restrictions were lifted in 1897.
Established an Indian Immigration Committee, composed of public and private sector representatives, to promote and protect the import of Indian labourers. This included establishment of recruiting depots in India and of quarantine stations in Malaya – and providing free passage, board and agent's commissions for genuine labour immigrants. There were even provisions to assure the labourers landed free of debt from advances!
Advertised 'the land of opportunity and plenty,' and propagated knowledge of benefits such as subsidies, wages, etc. This was done through advertising in vernacular newspapers, printing glamorous brochures, and encouraging labourers already in Malaya to send letters home to encourage others to emigrate.

“why did they come?”

“It was thus primarily the spectre of stark want, or actual starvation and suffering at home, coupled with the persuasions, promises and the provision of cash and other means of emigration by the Malayan government and private employers or their agents, . . . that brought Indian labourers in large numbers to the shores of Malaya.” [Kernial Singh Sandhu, Indians in Malaya: Immigration & Settlement, 1786-1957,(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 65.]


 
 


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