|148,443 (2012, census)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Paramaribo, Nickerie, Wanica, Commewijne, Netherlands, United States, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, United Kingdom|
|Sarnami Hindi, other Indian languages, Dutch, Sranan Tongo, English|
|Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Indian people, Indian diaspora, Indo-Caribbeans, Indians in the Netherlands, Indo-Caribbean Americans, British Indo-Caribbean people|
Indo-Surinamese or Indian-Surinamese, are nationals of Suriname with ancestry from South Asia. They are mostly descendants of the indentured workers brought by the Dutch and the British during the 19th-century. Per the 2012 Census of Suriname, 148,443 citizens of Suriname are of Indo-Surinamese origin, constituting 27.4% of the total population, making them the largest ethnic group in Suriname.
Indo-Surinamese are also known locally by the Dutch term Hindoestanen (Dutch pronunciation: [ˌɦɪnduˈstaːnə(n)]), derived from the word Hindustani, lit., "someone from Hindustan". Hence, when Indians migrated to Suriname they were referred to as Hindustanis, people of Indian origin. They were also known as Girmiyas[where?], a term referring to the Agreements that the labourers had to sign regarding the work and the period of stay, and meaning "Someone with an Agreement."
During the British Raj, many Indians were sent to other British colonies for work. After the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colony of Suriname, the Dutch government signed a treaty with the United Kingdom on the recruitment of contract workers. Indians began migrating to Suriname in 1873 from what was then British India as indentured labourers, mostly from the modern-day Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and the surrounding regions.
The first ship transporting Indian indentured labourers, the Lalla Rookh, arrived in the Paramaribo. Newly freed slaves in Suriname who witnessed Indian workers disembarking at the harbour, reportedly stated, "Jobo tanbasi", meaning "The white man is still the boss", suggesting that they viewed the development as a continuation of the slave trade. Initially, the transport and living conditions of Indian labourers in Suriname was worse than it had been prior to the abolition of the Dutch slave trade. The British Viceroy of India described it as "a new system of slavery". In 1870s, conditions were improved greatly following the passage of new legislation to protect the Indian workers. The Government of the United Kingdom and the colonial British Government in India feared comparisons to slavery would hurt their reputation, and enacted several legislations to make transportation of Indian workers safer and improve working conditions in plantations. The Dutch government, which had signed the agreement to recruit workers with the British after long and difficult negotiations, also feared jeopardizing the arrangement and meticulously followed the regulations imposed by the British. The Dutch were also concerned that they would be accused of reviving the slave trade.
In order to reduce the mortality rate among workers being transported from India, the colonial British government required the presence of at least one doctor on every ship. As regulations required the doctor to be of European-origin, the regulations also required that one Indian indentured labourer be appointed as a translator and that he would be paid for his services at the end of the journey. Other regulations mandated that every ship have distilling apparatus with a capacity to produce at least 500 litres of drinking water from seawater daily, and also required ships to have a sickbay, male and female nursing staff, adequate food and medicine, and artificial ventilation in the passengers' quarters. Another regulation prohibited any ship transporting Indian indentured labourers from setting sail between the end of March and the beginning of August. Any shipping company that violated the regulations would be prohibited from transporting contact workers in the future. While the mortality rate among slaves working on plantations between 1680 and 1807 averaged 50.9 per thousand people, following the passage of the regulations post-1873, it dropped to 7.1 per thousand among Indian workers.
Indo-Surinamese made up 37.6% of the population in the 1972 Census. Just before and following the independence of Suriname on 25 November 1975, many Indo-Surinamese emigrated to the Netherlands, resulting in a decline in the population of the Indian community in Suriname.
The majority religion among the Indo-Surinamese is Hinduism, practiced by 78% of the people, followed by Islam (13%), Christianity (7%), and Jainism. Among the Hindus about 63% follow orthodox, traditional Hinduism that they call Sanātanī to differentiate themselves from the 15% who belong to the reform movement Arya Samaj, started by Dayananda Saraswati. Among the Indo-Surinamese Muslims, 60% follow Sunni Islam while 40% identify as Ahmadiyya, of either the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam or the Ahmadiyya community.
Notable Indo-Surinamese people
- Anil Ramdas, reporter sports
- Aron Winter, football player
- Ashwin Adhin, Surinamese Vice President
- Chan Santokhi, ex-chief of police, Progressive Reform Party politician
- Errol Alibux, politician, former prime minister of Suriname, suspect in the December murders trial
- Fareisa Joemmanbaks, model and actress
- Fred Ramdat Misier, politician
- Jagernath Lachmon, politician, ex-Speaker of the National Assembly of Suriname
- Kiran Bechan, football player
- Luciano Narsingh, Dutch footballer
- Paul Bhagwandas Military officer, Football Coach, Suspect of December Murder 1982
- Prem Radhakishun, reporter
- Pretaap Radhakishun, former Prime Minister of Suriname
- Ram Sardjoe, politician, ex-Speaker of the National Assembly of Suriname
- Ramsewak Shankar, politician
- Ricardo Kishna, football player
- Robert Ameerali, politician
- Sandeep Oemraw, TV presentator and media personnel
- Tanja Jadnanansing, Labour Party politician
- Arya Samaj in Suriname
- Baithak Gana
- Surinamese Immigrants' Association
- Indians in the Netherlands
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