Group Title: Democratic Labor Party of Trinidad
Title: The Democratic Labor Party of Trinidad
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Title: The Democratic Labor Party of Trinidad an attempt at the formation of a mass party in a multi-ethnic society
Physical Description: xiii, 431 . : maps. ; 28cm.
Language: English
Creator: Malik, Yogendra Kuma, 1927-
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla
Publication Date: 1966
Copyright Date: 1966
Subject: East Indians -- Trinidad and Tobago   ( lcsh )
Politics and government -- Trinidad and Tobago   ( lcsh )
Political Science thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Political Science -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: . 417-431.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00097864
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000128155
oclc - 01619210
notis - AAP4152


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December, 1966







The author is indebted to various individuals and

organizations for their cooperation and help in completing

this study. A research grant from the Caribbean Research Cen-

ter at the University of Florida, a Summer Fellowship awarded

by the College of Arts and Sciences, supplemented by a research

grant from the Asia Society in New York in 1965, enabled the

author to travel in the West Indies and to conduct extensive

field work in Trinidad. The author expresses his sincerest

thanks to all these organizations.

The author also owes a debt of gratitude to the mem-

bers of his Supervisory Committee: Dr. M. J. Dauer, Dr.

Walter Rosenbaum and especially to Dr. John W. Spanier and Dr.

Herbert J. Doherty who went through the text and gave a num-

ber of suggestions. To Dr. A. J. Heidenheimer, the chairman

of the author's Supervisory Committee, the author would like

to express his deepest gratitude not only for his most useful

comments and criticism of the draft of the thesis, but also

for providing the author with an opportunity of conducting

empirical political research. Four years of association as


a graduate student with Dr. Heidenheimer at the University of

Florida has been intellectually most stimulating and profes-

sionally rewarding. Inside and outside of the classes he has

always been a source of inspiration and encouragement for the


In conducting field work the author received help and

cooperation from numerous quarters. The author expresses his

special thanks to Dr. A. B. Singham and Mrs. Nancy Singham of

the University of West Indies, Mona, Jamaica for putting him

in touch with a number of scholars on the politics and history

of the West Indies at the University of the West Indies. In

Trinidad the author and his family received hearty cooperation

and very useful help from a number of East Indians. However,

the author would like to express his special thanks to Dr. and

Mrs. J. N. Supersad, Mr. and Mrs. S. B. Dolesingh, Mr. and

Mrs. Hari Prasad Singh, and Rev. R. G. Neehall from Port of

Spain; the Sriram brothers from Chaguana; Mr. and Mrs. S.

Baldath, Mr. and Mrs. Narian Singh, Mr. Frank Miser, Mr. H.

V. Gopal and Mr. K. Gopal from San Fernando; and Dr. J. M.

Dube from Princes' Town.

From among the present and the former leaders of the

DLP in Trinidad, we are especially grateful to Messrs. S. N.

Capildeo, L. F. Seukeran, Stephen C. Maharaj, Vernon Jamadar,

Bhadase Maraj, Peter Farquhar, and Dr. R. N. Capildeo for

providing the author with numerous opportunities for discus-

sing personally the party politics of Trinidad. The author

also wishes to thank Mr. C. L. R. James and Mr. A. C. Reinzi,

who not only gave the author highly useful interviews, but

also lent him some rare published and unpublished research


At the University of Florida the author has been

helped in various ways by a number of his friends and col-

leagues, and he would like especially to mention the names of

Mr. Peter Nixdorff, Mr. Anthony Maingot, Dr. R. M. Singh, and

Dr. William Muller in this connection.

In improving the style and the quality of the lan-

guage, the author owes a special debt of gratitude to Dr. R.

B. Henderson, Chairman of the Department of Government, South-

west Texas State College, San Marcos, who, in spite of his

busy schedule, took special pains to edit the whole text.

The author also wishes to thank his student assistant,

Miss Joe Ann Able, for typing the bibliography; Mrs. Elizabeth

Cox, Secretary of the Department for typing some sections of

the dissertation; and Mrs. Barbara Persenaire for typing the

final copy of the dissertation.

Last but not least, the author must express his deep

gratitude to his wife, Usha, who tirelessly helped him not

only in field research, processing the data, and making tables,

but also in typing and retyping a number of drafts of the dis-

sertation. But for her utmost cooperation,and tireless efforts,

the author would not have been able to finish this work in



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . .

LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . . .

INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . .



Multi-ethnic Societies and the Concept of
Cultural Pluralism . . . . . .

The Political System in the Context of a
Pluralistic Social Structure . . .

Characteristics of the Pluralistic Society
of Trinidad . . . . . . . .

The Multiplicity of Religious
Denominations . . . . . . .

The Numerous Sub-cultures . . . . .

The Absence of Inter-racial Ties . . .

Lack of National Identity and the
Formation of Political Parties. . . .


Trinidad Before the Arrival of East
Indians . . . . . . . . .







The Abolition of Slavery and Search for
New Plantation Labor . . . . . 51

The Immigration of East Indians to Trinidad 54

Contribution of the East Indian to the
Trinidad Economy . . . . ... 60

Occupational and Rural-urban Distribution
of the East Indian Population . . .. 64


Cultural Diversity and the Process of
Political Socialization in Trinidad . 77

Role of the East Indian Family System and
Kinship Group in the Perpetuation of
Ethnic Loyalties. . . . . . ... 79

Religious-cultural Cleavages among the East
Indians . . . . . . . ... .85

Sub-group Rivalries and Emphasis on
Particularism among Different Religious
Groups of East Indians . . . . 94

INDIAN ELITES . . . . . . . 110

Composition of the East Indian Elites on
the Basis of Religion .. . . .. 111

Comparison of Elites on the Basis of
Their Occupation . . . . . .. 116

A Comparison of the Educational Background
of the East Indian Elites ........ 122

Attitudes of East Indian Elites towards
Various Social and Political Issues . 124

Political Perceptions and Attitudes of the
Most Frequently Mentioned East Indian
Leaders . . . . .. . . . . 162



Chapter Page

THE BIRTH OF THE DLP . . . . .. 175

The Birth of Representative Institutions
in Trinidad and Tobago. .. . . . 175

The 1956 Constitutional Reforms and
Introduction of Internal Self Government. 193

The 1956 General Elections and the Birth of
Party Politics in Trinidad. . . .. 196

The Founding of the People's National
Movement and the Democratic Labor Party 214

The 1958 Federal Elections . . . ... 237


Factional Struggle in the DLP 1959-60 . 249

Dr. Capildeo Assumes the Leadership of the
DLP . . . . . . . . . .255

The DLP Campaign Strategy in the 1961
Elections . . . ..... . . . 273

Main Features of the 1961 Election
Campaign . . . . . . . . 283

Ethnicity: The Primary Determinant of
Voting Behavior . . . . . .. 294

The DLP Defeat in the 1961 Elections as
Seen by East Indian Elites . . .. 299


Constitutional Development until 1960 and
the Role of the DLP as an Opposition
Party . . . . . . . . 309


The 1961 Constitutional Reforms and the
DLP . . . . . . . . . .

The Independence Constitution and the Role
of the DLP . . . . . . . .

The DLP's Decline as an Opposition Party
in the Post-Independence Period .. ..

The Decline of Cohesion within the DLP

An Ideology and Constitution . . . .

Failure to Develop a Poly-ethnic Following.


Decline of Cohesion within the DLP. . .

Failure of Efforts to Ally with Non-East
Indian Elements . . . . . . .

Decline of the Threat from the PNM. . .

Failure of the DLP as an Effective
Opposition . . . . . . . .

The DLP as a Party of the Minority Ethnic
Group . . . . . . . . .

Lack of a Will to Power . . . . .

Lack of Organization . . . . .

APPENDIX I . . . . . . . . . .

APPENDIX II . . . . . . . . . .

APPENDIX III . . . . . . . . . .

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . .





















Table Page

1. Religious Distribution of the Elites
Interviewed with Their Educational
Background . . . . . . . .. 7

2. Occupational Distribution of the Elite
Selected for Interviewing. . . ... 7

3. Distribution of Trinidad Population on the
Basis of Races . . . . ... . . 20

4. Religious Distribution of the Population
of Trinidad. ...... .. . . . 24

5. Attitude of the Leaders from Different Reli-
gious GroupsToward Marriage with Negroes 35

6. An Assessment of the Attitude toward
Marriages with Negroes on the Basis of
the Generations Lived in Trinidad. ... .36

7. Attitude of the Elites from Different
Religious Groups toward Marriage with
Whites . . . . . . . . . 37

8. Club Membership and the Religions of the
Elites . . . . .. . . . .. 40

9. Expansion of Trade after Indian Immigration. 60

10. Population of East Indians for the
Corresponding Period . . . . ... 61

11. Rate of Illiteracy among East Indians of
Trinidad ...... ...... . . . 66

12. East Indian Urban and Rural Distribution of
Population in 1943-46. ... . ... .66

Table Page

13. Racial Distribution of Rural and Urban
Populationsin 1964 . . . . . ... .66

14. Occupational Distribution of East Indians
in the Late 1930's . . . . . ... .69

15. A Comparison of the Position of East Indians
in Different Professions . . . ... 72

16. The Type of Family in Which the East Indian
Elites of Different Religions Were Born 82

17. An Assessment of the Influence of Family on
Their Lives by Elites from Various Groups. 83

18. Religious Distribution of East Indians . . 86

19. An Assessment of Hindu-Muslim Differences by
the Elites of Different Religious Groups . 94

20. An Assessment of the Political Affiliation of
Hindu-Muslims by the East Indian Elites. 98

21. An Assessment of the Attitude of the East
Indian Elites of Different Denominations
toward Inter-religious Marriages . . .. 104

22. An Assessment of the Attitude of Hindu and
Christian Elites of Hindu Origin toward
Their Caste Origin . . . . . .. 106

23. A Comparison of the Educational Background of
East Indian Elites on a Religious Basis. . 112

24. A Comparison of East Indian Elites of Differ-
ent Religions and the Membership of
Religious Organizations. .... .. . . 115

25. An Assessment of the Attitudes of East Indian
Elites Toward Educational Policies on the
Basis of Religion .. . . . . . 116

26. Mother Tongue of the Elites and Their Knowl-
edge of Hindi or Urdu on the Basis of Age
Groups . . . . . . . . . 129



27. A Comparative Assessment of The Attitude of
Different Elites on the Question of
Marriage with Negroes. . . . . . .131

28. An Assessment of Attitudes of the Different
Types of Elites Toward Marriage with Whites. 133

29. An Assessment of the Attitude of Different
Types of Elites on the Question of Inter-
racial Marriage on the Basis of Place of
Birth . . . . . . . . . 135

30. An Analysis of the East Indian Elites'
Perception of the PNM Government's Policies
Toward East Indians on the Basis of Religion 142

31. An Assessment of the Attitude of East Indian
Elites Toward Jagan on the Basis of their
Religion . . . .. .. . . . 153

32. Racial Distribution of the Elected Members of
the Legislative Council in 1950. . . . 192

33. The Final Composition of the Legislative
Council as Provided in the Constitutional
Set Up of 1956 . . . . . . . 195

34. Election Results of 1956 and the Number of
Seats Won by Different Political Parties
and Independents . . . . .... 224

35. Ethnic Origin of the Candidates Put Up by the
DLP and PNM in the 1961 Elections. . . 285

36. A Comparative Study of Voter Participation
in Various Elections of the Trinidad
Legislative Council . . . . .. 297

37. A Racial Breakdown of Election Officials
Appointed by the PNM Government in 1961. . 303

38. An Assessment of the Success of the DLP by
Different Types of Elites. . . . . 305

39. Proposed Composition of the Senate under the
1961 Constitution. . . . . . ... 316




Need for the Study of the Democratic Labor Party. The

organization and the function of political parties have been

the focus of numerous studies of comparative politics. At

first, a number of scholars investigated the role of political

parties in the political process of Western countries. After

the Second World War, with the rise of a host of new nations,

the students of comparative politics have been attracted to

investigations of the role of political parties in the poli-

tical systems of new nations. Most of the new nations face

the problem of creating a national identity by integration of

diverse ethnic and sub-cultural groups. Political parties in

the new nations may function as instruments of both national

integration and social change. Highly successful and mili-

tant minority parties have been organized in the countries

where the sub-group loyalties are strong. Examples of such

parties are the Muslim League of pre-independence India and

the present Akali-Party of the Punjab (India).

Trinidad is a new nation and, as will be shown in

these pages, it lacks a national identity, the people being

divided on ethnic lines. Negroes and East Indians are the

two main ethnic groups. The People's National Movement and

the Democratic Labor Party--the two major parties of the

island--are the representatives of the two dominant ethnic


The social and cultural life of East Indians, who

have been highly successful in raising their economic status,

has been the object of various anthropological and sociologi-

cal studies. But their political organization remains unin-

vestigated. To what degree have the East Indians been success-

ful in their political organization; this is the question

which has been investigated in this study. Furthermore, a

description of the role and structure of the DLP will also

help us to understand the position of a minority party as an

official opposition in a multi-ethnic society.

In this study the author has tried to trace the events

leading to the formation and the development of the DLP, which

started as a party of a minority ethnic group. Not only its

leadership but its mass following also came from East Indians

of Trinidad. The author has raised and attempted to answer

the question of how far the particularistic and kinship

oriented social structure of East Indians has been responsi-

ble for the decline of cohesion within the DLP as well as its

eventual disintegration. The role of the East Indian family,

kinship groups, and such religious organizations as the

Sanatan Dharana Maha Sabha, the Arya Samaj, the Muslim League,

and the Sunnat-ul-Jamait as agencies of political socializa-

tion and recruitment has also been examined. A closely fo-

cused study of the political perception and the attitude of

the East Indian elite has also been attempted and an effort

has been made to inter-relate the failure of the DLP as an

opposition and alternate government party to the cultural and

social exclusiveness of the East Indian elite.

Furthermore, we will also see that the East Indian

leadership of the DLP, because of its failure to rise above

the narrow racial-ethnic loyalties and because of its social

origin, became a conservative and conformist force and was un-

able to change the ethnic orientation of the DLP even though

it made an effort to adopt an ideology. We have also examined

the environmental factors such as the fear of Negro violence,

the rise of a propertied East Indian middle class more inter-

ested in the maintenance of law and order than in capturing

political power, and the government party's efforts to win

over a section of East Indians as contributive to the failure

of the DLP.

A Note on Methodology. This study was conducted at

two levels. At one level field work consisted of interviewing

and collecting of material in Trinidad and Tobago. On the

other level the study of documents, government publications

and newspapers was made at the Library of the University of

West Indies, Mona, Jamaica; at the Archives of Trinidad in

Port of Spain, and at the Library of the University of Florida,


The author, together with his family, had the opportu-

nity of living, sharing food and exchanging thoughts with both

Negro and East Indian families in Trinidad. This provided him

with an opportunity to make close observations of the social

and cultural backgrounds of the two groups and of their diverse


How Were the Interviews Conducted? This study of the

DLP placed a special focus on the East Indian elite. The term

"elite" here is used strictly in the sense of Harold Lasswell,

who wrote, "The concept of the elite is classificatory and

descriptive designating the holder of high position in a given

society." Defining the elite concept, S. F. Nadel says that

elite does not mean oligarchies. "It is intended to refer to

an objective empirical fact, namely the existence in many,

perhaps most, societies, of a stratum of population which, for

whatever reason, can claim a position of superiority and hence

Harold Lasswell, et al., The Comparative Study of
Elites: An Introduction and Bibliography (Stanford, Stanford
University Press, 1952), p. 2.

a corresponding measure of influence over the fate of the


The East Indian elites were selected on the basis of

institutional leadership and reputation.

First a list of East Indian elites was compiled from

the following sources: The Year Book of Trinidad and Tobago,

The Year Book of the West Indies, the list of the East Indian

members of the Trinidad Parliament, the list of the members

of the Chamber of Commerce and the Businessmens Association,

a list of top East Indian professionals, businessmen and in-

dustrialists, former members of the Federal Parliament and

the office holders of East Indian social organizations, such

as the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, the Muslim League, the Sunnat-

ul-Jamait, the Arya Samaj, the Indian Association, the East

Indian National Congress, the West India Club and the

Himalayan Club.

This list of elites included about 130 persons. One

hundred and eighteen were contacted, out of which we could

interview eighty-nine. The rest were unable to keep the ap-

pointments or could not complete the interview schedule due

to one reason or another. East Indian civil servants, of whom

S. F. Nadel, "The Concept of Social Elite," Inter-
national Social Science Bulletin, Vol. VIII, No. 3, 1956, p.

ten were originally included in the list, were dropped,

because many of them as public officials, were reluctant to

answer the questions freely.

The elites selected in this way were extensively in-

terviewed on the basis of a structured interview schedule

(Appendix No. I) and were also asked to name five top East

Indian political, business, religious, or social leaders.

The language of the structured interview schedule was English.

The interviews were conducted by the author in the homes of

the respondents most often after lunch or supper, over a cup

of tea or the like. The notes were taken while the interview

was proceeding. Non-scheduled information, given in the form

of personal opinions or comments, was recorded on the back of

the interview sheets. Where the respondent gave some confi-

dential information and asked the author to record it in

Hindi, the notes were taken in Hindi. Efforts were made to

take verbatim notes. Most respondents volunteered answers to

almost all of the questions, except that they were hesitant

to answer questions about their income. Therefore the ques-

tion concerning the income of the respondent was finally


The Table No. 1 shows the religious and educational

background of the eighty-nine respondents:



Religion of the


Primary or


Level of Education



University Total


East Indian


The following table gives an idea of the type and num-

ber of elites in the different occupational groups (See Table

No. 2).




Religion of Elites Interviewed

Hindu Muslim Christian No Religion Total


Party and Trade
Union Officials

Leading Businessmen 14

Leading Profes-

Religious Leaders

Social Leaders

39 10 39 1 89



The most frequently mentioned five leaders of the East

Indian community were selected mainly on the basis of the

elite interviews. These five most frequently mentioned lead-

ers were also thoroughly interviewed, all of them being avail-

able in Trinidad at the time of this study. Some of them were

interviewed three or even four times. They were interviewed

not only on the basis of the standard questionnaire sheet

used for all elites, but also on the basis of subsequently

structured questionnaires where they were asked questions on

numerous issues. All of the top five leaders, except one,

were also interviewed at their homes. The atmosphere for con-

ducting these interviews was quite informal, frank and


We also had the opportunity of meeting and discussing

various current issues with the top DLP leaders at many social

gatherings such as East Indian weddings or religious


The author also toured and visited almost the whole

of the island to interview non-elites. The non-elite interviews

also were carried on in an atmosphere of frankness. However,

due to the existence of fear and distrust of outsiders, many

times the author had to approach the non-elite through a vil-

lage leader or the local school teacher. Lacking such

intermediaries it would have been highly difficult to elicit


information from this category of respondent. However, once

introduced, the interviews took place in the absence of a

third party. Although the data gathered in these interviews

were not suitable for statistical presentation, they are sug-

gestive in many ways and have been used here in order to

supplement and support the elite data.



Multi-ethnic Societies and the Concept of
Cultural Pluralism

A multi-ethnic society is characterized by the existence

of a number of ethnic groups. The sense of common ethnicity is

the result of the awareness of a real or supposed common racial

origin. These feelings of "common racial origin" are further

strengthened by common religion, common language and common

tradition of culture. Benjamin Akzin discussing the political

problems of poly-ethnic states refers to three types of multi-

ethnic societies, such as (1) poly-racial (in the sense of color),

(2) poly-linguistic, and (3) poly-national.

According to Akzin, four trends can be observed in

poly-ethnic societies: (1) a trend toward integration on the

basis of individual equality, (2) a trend toward integration

coupled with (temporary) individual inequality, (3) pluralism

on the basis of individual or group equality, and (4) plural-
ism on the basis of individual or group inequality.

iBenjamin Akzin, "Political Problems of Poly-Ethnic
Societies," (Mimeographed) (Paris, International Political
Science Association, 1961), pp. 4-5.

Integration is possible where co-habitation exists between

the members of different ethnic groups living in close proxim-

ity, as in the case of White ethnic groups in the United


Poly-ethnic social structure has also been studied on

the basis of a different conceptual framework. While studying

the societies of Burma and the East Indies, J. S. Furnival

formulated the concept of a "plural society," which he defines

as "a society . comprising two or more elements of social

order, which live side by side, yet without mingling in one

political unit . . In a plural society there is no common

will, except possibly, in matters of supreme importance."2

He further observes that in a plural society various

elements of which it is made

. mix but do not combine. Each group holds by its
own religion, its own culture and language, its own
ideas and ways. As individuals they meet, but only in
the market place, in buying and selling. There is a
plural society, with different sections of the community
living side by side, but separately, within the same politi-
cal unit. Even in the economic sphere there is a division
of labour along racial lines.

He holds that different sections of such a society are held

together by a political structure superimposed upon it by a

colonial power. Distinct from the Western societies, the

2J. S. Furnival, Netherland Indies (London, Cambridge
University Press, 1939), p. 446.

J. S. Furnival, Colonial Policy and Practice (London,
Cambridge University Press, 1948), p. 304.


plural societies of the East Indies were not based upon common

values and they lacked consensual basis. Law in such societies,
according to Furnival, had "no sanction in common will." There-

fore the unity which exists in such societies is "not volun-

tary, but is imposed by the colonial power and by the force of

economic circumstances, and the union cannot be dissolved

without the whole society relapsing into anarchy."5

The term "plural society" as a conceptual framework

has been further developed and refined by M. G. Smith. Ac-

cepting institutions as the core of a culture, M. G. Smith

says, "Each institution involves set forms of activity, group-

ing, rules, ideas, and values. The total system of institu-

tions thus embraces three interdependent systems of action,

of idea and value, and of social relations. The interdepend-

ence of these three systems arises from the fact that their

elements together form a common system of institutions."

Defining society as a territorially distinct unit with a gov-

ernment of its own, he makes a distinction between "homogen-

eous" and "heterogeneous" societies. According to M. G.

Ibid., p. 539.

Ibid., p. 307.

6M. G. Smith, "Social and Cultural Pluralism," Annals of
theNew York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 83, Art. 5 (Jan., 1960),
p. 767.


Smith, "a population that shares a single set of institutions

will be culturally and socially homogeneous. Provided that it

is also politically distinct, it will also form a homogeneous

society." A homogeneous society, he further points out, will

have a uniform social structure, common values and action


On the other hand, ". . a society the members of

which share a common system of basic or 'compulsory' institu-

tions but practice different 'alternative' and 'exclusive

institutions' is neither fully homogeneous nor fully plural.

Such units are socially and culturally heterogeneous."

Defining a plural society, M. G. Smith says:

By cultural plurality I understand a condition in which
two or more different cultural traditions characterize
the population of a given society. To discover whether
or not this heterogeneity obtains, we must make a detailed
study of the institutions of the population in which we
are interested to discover their form, variety and dis-
tribution. In a culturally homogeneous society, such
institutions as marriage, family, religion, property, and
the like, are common to the total population where cul-
tural plurality obtains, different sections of the total
population practice different forms of these common in-
stitutions; and, because institutions involve patterned
activities, social relations, and idea system in a condi-
tion of cultural plurality, the culturally differentiated
sections will differ in their internal social order,

7 Ibid.



organization, their institutional activity and their
system of beliefs and values. Where this condition of
cultural plurality is found, the societies are plural

Smith, furthermore, makes it clear that "culture" and "eth-

nicity" are not always coterminous. The people of different

racial origins may have a common culture.1 However, in the

study of cultural-institutional structure of such multi-racial

societies as British Guiana and Trinidad, he does not seem to

ignore race or national origin.2 Hoetink, a Dutch sociolo-

gist, uses the term "segmented" instead of "plural society."

But his definition of "segmented" society is not different

from Smith's concept of plural society. According to Hoetink:

By a segmented society we understand a society, which may
or may not be within the territorial limits of one state,
composed of at least two population groups of divergent
race and different culture, each thus, having its own so-
cial institutions and a structure of its own. These popu-
lation groups, which we term segments, have their own
place in the structure of the society as a whole, the
society is governed by one of the segments.

M. G. Smith, The Plural Society in the British West
Indies (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1965), p. 14.

1Ibid., p. 15.

Ibid., p. 16.

3Quoted in J. D. Speckman, "The Indian Group in the
Segmented Society of Surinam," Caribbean Studies, Vol. 3,
No. 1 (April, 1963), p. 5.

Thus Hoetink, first of all does not link plural society with

the state and secondly, he gives more importance to race in

the creation of a plural social structure than does Smith.

Lloyd Braithwaite, following a line different from

Smith's, observes:

S. a plural society is one composed of such varying
groups, each with its own sub-culture, that only a few
cultural symbols are shared by all. Under these circum-
stances there are consequently tendencies toward disin-
tegration. In those societies usually referred to as
plural we see societies in which the dominant ties of
particularism ascription, especially those of the large
kinship group, are largely replaced by those of univer-
salism and achievement.14

Braithwaite, thus, in the Parsonian tradition, seems to be

emphasizing the presence of certain common values as the pre-

condition of the existence of any social system.6 Smith,

disagreeing with Braithwaite, asserts that plural societies

1Lloyd Braithwaite, "Social Stratification and Cul-
tural Pluralism, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,
Vol. 83, Art. 5 (Jan., 1960), pp. 818-819.

1Talcott Parsons considers the existence of certain
"common values" as crucial to the existence of a society.
The Social System (Glenco, Illinois, The Free Press, 1951),
p. 228. Parsons and Edward Shils further observe, "one of
the most important functional imperatives of the maintenance
of a social system is that the value orientations of the
different actors in the same social system must be integrated
in some measure in a common system . ." Toward a General
Theory of Action (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1951),
p. 24.

1Braithwaite, "Social Stratification and Cultural
Pluralism," p. 819.


are characterized by lack of consensus and are held together

by force.17

This concept of "plural society" is valuable in the

study of the political process of a multi-ethnic society be-

cause it goes beyond discussing only the race relations, and

it helps us to understand the key cultural institutions of

different groups which play the most significant role in the

political socialization and recruitment of leadership at all

levels of society.

In a plural society, thus, there would always exist

wide variations with respect to such basic institutions as

family, marriage, kinship, religion, upbringing and sociali-

zation process, inheritance of property and expressive ways

of life. In such societies each group possesses its own sub-

culture, with distinctive attributes. Hence, for understand-

ing the total cultural patterns of such societies and the

working of their political process, a comprehension of their

ethnic or group sub-cultures is imperative.

M. M. Gordon, referring to the Negro culture in the

United States, observes, "A sub-culture is a social division

of a national culture made up by a combination of ethnic

groups (used here as a generic term concerning race, religion,

1Smith, The Plural Society in the British West Indies,
p. 111.

or national origin) . It is within these groups that

the socialization process is performed and face to face rela-

tions are formed. In his opinion ethnic sub-cultural groups

are more significant than rural and urban groups. These

groups, furthermore, provide the basis of "sub-national" iden-

tifications. In multi-racial societies it is this group with

which an individual feels not only historical identification

but also participational identification. He feels not only

that his ultimate fate is bound up with these people but also

he feels at home only among his own people.19

Gordon describes four types of cultural pluralism:

1. The tolerance level.
2. The good group relations level.
3. The community integration level.
4. A mixed type The pluralistic integrational

The tolerance level is the lowest level of cultural coexistence.

The "good group relations" envisages a society where ethnic

groups maintain their social sub-systems, but where the degree

of contact across ethnic lines is substantially greater than

1. M. Gordon, "Social Structure and Goals in Group
Relations," in M. Berger (ed.), Freedom and Social Control
in Modern Society (New York, D. Van Nostrand and Co., 1959),
p. 143.

Ibid., p. 147

20Ibid., pp. 153-155

that existing at the "tolerance level and where secondary

contacts are considerable in number and primary contacts take

place in limited frequency."21

The community integrational level, the third level of

cultural pluralism, in the structural realm, according to

Gordon, "envisages multiple primary contacts across ethnic

lines to the point of complete lack of emphasis on ethnic back-

ground as a factor in social relationship . .

The pluralistic-integrational level, the final level of

cultural pluralism, allows for the maintenance and the develop-

ment of sub-national or group social heritage within their own

respective social structure. It is at this level that the in-

dividual can move freely from one group to another.23

The Political System in the Context of a
Pluralistic Social Structure

Here, however, the focus of our study is Trinidad so-

ciety as a "political system." A political system, in the

words of David Easton, "can be designated as those interac-

tions through which values are authoritatively allocated for

Ibid., p. 154.

Ibid., p. 155.
Ibid., p. 155.

a society . .24 But he further observes that the working

of the political system itself can be understood in relation

to its environment, which can be divided into the intra-

societal and the extra-societal. The extra-societal environ-

ment refers to the external relations of the political system,

and in the context of this study it is not relevant. It is

David Easton's concept of "intra-societal" environment which

is relevant to our present study. The intra-societal environ-

ment includes the economy, culture, social structure, and per-

sonalities, in short, the total cultural patterns of a society.

Thus the term pluralistic social structure refers to the so-

cietal environment in which the political system works. In

the study of the political system, thus, are to be considered

all those segments of society--movements, institutions, organi-

zations, parties, religious organizations--which consciously

attempt to encourage the formation, transformation, or dis-

continuance of the system itself.

Accepting M. M. Gordon's four levels of cultural and

social pluralism we now can turn to the description of the

pluralistic social structure of Trinidad society and make an

attempt to see what level of cultural pluralism Trinidad

2David Easton, A System Analysis of Political Life
(New York, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1965), p. 21.

2Ibid., pp. 22-23.


society has achieved. Furthermore, we can also examine the

question of how this influences the political system of the


Characteristics of the Pluralistic Society
of Trinidad

Table No. 3 shows the racial distribution of the

population in Trinidad.



Ethnic Group


East Indians




Lebanese, Syrians,







Percentage in the
Total Population







Source: Trinidad and Tobago Annual Statistical Digest (No. 13)
1963 (Port of Spain, Central Statistical Office, 1963,
pp. 14-15.

Trinidad has been termed one of the most heterogeneous

islands of the West Indies insofar as the nature of its

population is concerned. As is obvious from Table I,

Negroes and East Indians in Trinidad form the two major

ethnic groups.

The history of Trinidad Negroes is bound very closely

to that of the sugar industry which was founded in Trinidad

by the French in 1780. Negroes, who are called "Creoles,"27

were brought to Trinidad and other islands in the Caribbean

as slave labor for the newly developing sugar industry. These

Negro slaves were brought from various parts of West Africa.

Slavery was abolished in 1833, and the Negro slaves were eman-

cipated in 1838. The Negro in Trinidad is the descendant of

this emancipated slave.

The White population is of diverse national origins.

One of the local White groups is of French extraction. The

French were a rich landowning class but now the Trinidadian

French Community consists of both the rich cocoa planters and

bank clerks. The French population of Trinidad swelled when

many French fled from the French West Indies as a result of

Vera Rubin, "Discussion on Smith's Social and Cultur-
al Pluralism, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,
Vol. 83, Art. 5 (Jan., 1960), p. 783.

27According to M. G. Smith, the Creoles are the "native
West Indians of European, African, or mixed descent . ..
Expressed in terms of color, Creoles form a trinity of black,
white and brown." Plural Society in the British West Indies,
p. 307.


outbreaks of violence in those islands and sought shelter in

Trinidad, which was at that time a Spanish possession. The

White population also includes the descendants of the Scottish

and the Irish immigrants and Flemish immigrants from Barbados,

Grenada, Bahama, and the Danish and Swedish possessions in the
Caribbean. There is also a small percentage of Portuguese

population, some of whom were brought as indentured laborers

to Trinidad. Most of the Portuguese arrived in Trinidad

around 1834. The Chinese were brought in to serve on the

sugar plantations. The first group of Chinese immigrants were

brought around 1800 but the major portion of Chinese popula-

tion arrived in Trinidad in the period from 1852 to 1862.29

But the Chinese, like the Portuguese immigrants, were found

to be unsuited for the hard farm work on the plantations, and

their organized immigration was dropped.

The lack of adaptability of the Chinese and Portuguese

immigrants and the Negro's reluctance to return to sugar plan-

tations brought about in 1845 the introduction to Trinidad of

East Indian indentured labor. This immigration continued

until 1917. Even after the abolition of immigration of the

28Phil Vieira, "The Human Mosaic: That is Trinidad.
Life and Times of Early Immigrants," Independence Supplement
of Sunday Guardian (Aug. 23, 1962), p. 8.

29bid 8.
Ibid., p. 8.

East Indian indentured labor, the population of East Indians

has increased steadily because of their higher rate of natural

reproduction. Until 1917, due to poor medical care, the East

Indian population did not show any excess of births over
deaths. After 1931 it began to show an increased birth

rate. The 1946 census noted the increase in East Indian popu-

nation at the rate of 2.97 percent per year. However, the

East Indian population increased between 1946 and 1960 at the

rate of 4 percent per year, one of the highest growth rates

in the world.

The Arabs came mostly as merchants. The aboriginal

Amerindian population called "Carib" is now almost extinct.

Mixed population has not increased much in Trinidad.

In the 1946 census report it was 14.12 percent; in 1960 it

was about 17 percent. Intermarriage between Indian and Negro

is strongly disapproved, and the offspring of such mixed marriages

is referred to as "Dogala" (bastard) among East Indians.

George Cumper, Social Structure of the British
Caribbean (Excluding Jamaica), Part III (Mona, Extra-Mural
Dept., University College of the West Indies, 1949), p. 30.

L. G. Hopkins, West Indian Census 1946, General
Report on the Census Population, 9th April, 1946 (Kingston,
Jamaica Govt. Printing Office, pp. 14-15.

3Ibid., p. 15.

The Multiplicity of Religious Denominations

The Trinidadian society is characterized not only by

the multiplicity of ethnic groups but also by religious di-

versity. (See Table No. 4.)



Roman Catholics 38%

Hindus 23%

Muslims 6%

Anglicans 21%

Various Other Protestant
Denominations 12%

Source: Trinidad and Tobago Yearbook (1964-65) (Port of
Spain, Yuille's Printerie, 1964), p. 221.

Trinidad is predominantly a Roman Catholic and Chris-

tian country, the Roman Catholic and the Anglican Churches en-

joying the highest social prestige. In the lower socio-

economic sectors of the Creole sub-structure of Trinidad

society, some African faiths like Yoruba, Shango, and Dahomea

(Rada) still survive, but the major portion of the African

population has embraced Christianity.

3Morton Klass, "East and West Indians: Cultural
Complexity in Trinidad," Annals of the New York Academy of
Sciences, Vol. 83, Art. 5, p. 851.


Hinduism and Islam are the main religious of the East

Indian population of Trinidad. This religious diversity fur-

ther adds to the heterogeneous character of the Trinidadian

society. Daniel J. Crowley notes that almost every religion

in Trinidad has been influenced by the other, but followers

of Hinduism and Islam hold on to their faiths more tenaciously

than ever. The pride which the followers of these religions

now take in their faiths was never stronger in Trinidad.

Does religious diversity stand in the way of the devel-

opment of a homogeneous society, and does it help to strengthen

the ethnic loyalties? Do the Hindu-Muslim sub-group loyalties

based upon religious differences still play an important role

in the life of East Indian Community, or in the face of a com-

mon threat from external elements to their existence, have they

been presenting a strong united front against Negroes on the

basis of common ethnic origin? These are some of the impor-

tant questions which we will answer in the next few chapters.

The Numerous Sub-cultures

When Negro slaves left the plantations and moved into

urban areas, they tended to imitate their European masters.

Though there was no complete departure from their African

D. J. Crowley, "Plural and Differential Accultura-
tion in Trinidad," American Anthropologist, Vol. 59, No. 5
(1957), pp. 820-822.

cultural heritage,3 nevertheless they accepted English as

their mother tongue and became Westernized in their tastes

and cultural values. The cultural ethos of the modern Negro

community is provided by the West. In the words of C. L. R.

James, "West Indian uniqueness consists in this, that of all

of these hundreds of millions of formerly colonial colored

peoples, West Indians are the only ones who are completely

westernized, they have no native language, no native religion,

no native way of life . .36

The Negro culture is known as the Creole culture and

the Creole culture is considered to be a "variant of European
culture."37 In the Colonial days of the Trinidadian society

the local culture was subordinated to the English culture--

the culture of the colonial ruling class. However, with the

rise of independent African countries there has also been a

3Herskovits, who studied the elements of African cul-
ture among Trinidad Negroes in 1946, observed that the ques-
tion of African affiliation was not very strong in Trinidad
"in contrast to Jamaica, Haiti, Dutch Guiana, or Brazil where
there is pride in African ancestry and in retention of Afri-
can custom." Yet he found retention of numerous African
cultural traces and religious beliefs among Trinidad Negroes.
M. Herskovits and Frances S. Herskovits, Trinidad Village
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947), pp. 22-23 and 331.
C. L. R. James, Federation: "We Failed Miserably"
How and Why (Published by the author, Tunapuna, Trinidad,
1 Ward St., 1960), p. 2.

Morton Klass, "East and West Indians: Cultural Com-
plexity in Trinidad," p. 857.

revival of pride in native African culture and efforts have

been made to re-interpret and to rewrite the history so as

to assert the cultural maturity of the African (Negro) culture
over other cultures.

According to Braithwaite previously (before the rise

of independent African states):

. the idea of most people was to disassociate them-
selves as much as possible from anything that sounded
'African.' 'African' was associated with the primitive,
the barbarous and the uncivilized, and in fact the idea
of Africa and its inhabitants corresponded in no small
measure to the stereotype so often found in the United

But, he adds:

. now respectable people started advocating a revival
of Africanism. A prominent lawyer, at one time active in
the Parent Teachers Association (now defunct) advocated
the teaching of Yoruba and other African languages in
the schools . . There began a diligent search for
folk tunes and attendance at Shingo dances became a per-
missible activity, although actual participation was
tabooed. Among certain circles the fact that something
was of African origin made it more acceptable than it
would otherwise have been.40

Organizations like the Negro Welfare and Cultural Association

and the Pan African League (West Indies) have been working in

3Eric Williams, History of the People of Trinidad and
Tobago (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1962), pp. 30-39.

3Lloyd Braithwaite, "The Problem of Cultural Inte-
gration in Trinidad," Social and Economic Studies, Vol. 3,
No. 1 (June, 1954), p. 90.

40Ibid., p. 90.

the cause of African culture. In spite of the revival of

interest in the African culture, basically the Negro in Trini-

dad is Western oriented in his way of life and thought proc-

ess. However, the African revival provided cultural symbols

for the modern Negro nationalism led by the middle class

intellectuals and professionals in Trinidad.

East Indians constitute the second largest ethnic

group in Trinidad. Though alteration has taken place, and

East Indians have accepted a number of socio-economic elements

from other communities,41 nevertheless they have successfully

"rebuilt in exact and revealing terms the key institutions of

their native land, its ancestral but over-reaching social

order."42 Morris Freilich, who made a comparative study of

the cultural diversity of Negro and East Indian peasants in

Trinidad, failed to discover significant cultural similari-

ties between the two ethnic groups. Because of their large

numbers and their complex institutional and structural rela-

tionships, East Indians have been able to reproduce and main-

tain the basic elements of their native culture.

4Crowley, op. cit., p. 820.
4Morton Klass, East Indians in Trinidad: A Study of
Cultural Persistence (New York, Columbia University Press,
1961), p. 18.
4Morris Freilich, Cultural Diversity Among Trinidad-
ian Peasants (Ann Arbor, University Microfilm,Inc., 1961), p.
143 .


East Indians, in their value orientation, life goals,

beliefs, and institutional structure differ from other ethnic

groups. With respect to marriage, family, kinship, life

cycle, religious ceremonies, celebration of festivals, dance,

and music, they have distinctive traditions and customs.

"Primary group contacts between the Indians and other ethnic

groups were limited. This situation arose not only because

of mutual prejudices, but also because of certain special

aspects of the culture of the East Indian group." It is

held that it was only after the rise of independent India that

a cultural revival started among East Indians of Trinidad.

However, a look at the old Indian magazines and papers shows

that the people of Indian origin in Trinidad have been taking

increasing interest in India since the rise of Indian nation-

alism under the leadership of Gandhi.4 The names of Gandhi,

Tagore, and Nehru thrilled many of the East Indians and became

objects of national pride. A large number of Hindu and Muslim

schools were opened, new and impressive mosques and temples

were built, teaching arrangements for Hindi and Urdu were

made, strong efforts were made to revive cultural pride among

4Lloyd Braithwaite, "Social Stratification and Cul-
tural Pluralism," p. 828.

4Refer to such magazines as The East Indian Weekly
and The Observer.


Hindu and Muslim youths through the organization of the Youth

Clubs and study groups. Many wealthy Indian families main-

tained links with India either by visiting India or by getting

religious and cultural literature from India. Indian movies

and Indian music draw large audiences of East Indians in

Trinidad. Indian movies are mostly in Hindi and only a small

percentage of Indian population can follow Hindi dialogue;

still East Indians flock to watch them. They think that Indian

movies are closer to their lives and they conform to their

basic value orientation. Negroes, on the other hand, find

Indian movies strange and uninteresting. Recently, Indian

cultural troupes have started paying visits to Trinidad. Au-

ditoriums and cinema houses where the Indian artists give

their performances are very well patronized and a large number

of Indian ladies come dressed in saris--the traditional Indian

dress. East Indians from every section of the society come to

watch these performances, but Negroes rarely attend. In

Indian majority areas of Debe and Penal, music from Indian

films is played over loud-speakers throughout the day--

especially at weddings and festivals. Recently local Indian

dancing troupes and orchestras have been organized with the

encouragement of the government of Trinidad.

Well-to-do urban East Indian families are becoming

more and more Westernized. But Westernization, they assert,


does not mean in any way the acceptance of the Creole values.

Thus they make an effort to emphasize that they are not adopt-

ing the Negro way of life; they explain that though they are

becoming Westernized, they are different from Negroes. On

the other hand, as Morton Klass points out, "Among rural

Hindu East Indians the creolized individual is rare to the

point of non-existence, traits and values deriving from India

take precedence over those deriving from the non-Indian envir-

onment. It is necessary to note, however, that these people
are, for the most part, East Indians of the West Indies,"46

Even Westernization, in many ways, encourages ethnocentricity

and sub-group nationalism.

Small ethnic groups such as the Chinese and the Whites

also maintain their own sub-cultural identities. Local Whites

represent the culture of the ruling elite of the colonial

days. Until recent days they looked toward England for cul-

tural inspiration, but now they seem to be increasingly turn-

ing to the U. S. for education and for the satisfaction of

their cultural aspirations.

The Trinidadian society is characterized by an absence

of universally acceptable cultural values. However, there

4Morton Klass, "East and West Indians: Cultural
Complexity in Trinidad," p. 858.


are certain ascriptive norms, which are considered desirable

by all, which have been inherited from the colonial past, and

are based upon "social origin and skin colour."47 Further-

more, there is a general acceptance both among East Indians

and Negroes, of the "social ascendency and high status of the

White groups.48 With the advent of independence, achieve-

ment values and democratic principles are also taking roots

in the society. Nonetheless, both among East Indians and

Negroes, light skin is highly prized. In rural Trinidad peo-

ple still look upon a White man as an embodiment of authority,

justice, and fairness.

Within the East Indian Community itself, social strati-

fication is based upon caste, color, and creed. Among the

Hindus, the Brahmin--especially in rural areas--occupies a

higher status than Chamar, the low caste Hindu. Light-skinned

East Indian immigrants from North West India may look down

upon the Madrasis (Indian indentured labor coming from South

India), who are very dark. On the basis of religion an Indian

Christian considers himself more cultured and Westernized and

thus looks upon a Hindu as an inferior.

4Braithwaite, "Social Stratification and Cultural
Pluralism," p. 825.

4Ibid., p. 825.

Thus status of an individual in Trinidad is still

largely determined on the basis of race, caste, and color.

The Absence of Inter-racial Ties

There is little racial admixture to cement the vari-

ous ethnic groups--African, European, Chinese, Syrian and

Indian--into a new Trinidadian whole. Racial lines between

the East Indians and Negroes, the two main ethnic groups, are

sharply marked, and inter-racial marriages among East Indians

and Negroes are strongly disapproved. Though C. L. R. James

in one of his recent pamphlets has found a trend toward inter-

racial mixing,49 we asked different groups of East Indians,

from urban and rural areas and from various occupational groups,

about their views on inter-racial marriages and thereby found

an overwhelming disapproval of racial inter-mixing through

inter-racial marriages.

Many of those who approve of inter-racial marriages

approve only in principle. When they are faced with a practi-

cal situation where the marriage of their daughter is involved,

they concede perhaps they would not approve of them. This

attitude of East Indians toward inter-racial mixing is

C. L. R. James, West Indians of East Indian Descent
(Port of Spain, IBIS Publication Co., 52 Park Street, 1965),
p. 2.

also confirmed by the findings of an earlier study of East
Indians done by Niehoffs.5

However, the strongest resistance to inter-racial

marriages from among various groups of East Indians seems to

be coming from the Hindus; the Indian Christians seem to be

the most liberal on the question of inter-racial marriage.

Muslims stand between the two extreme groups.

Religious differences between Hindus and other groups

are quite marked; Hindu religion with its caste organization

strongly discourages marriage relations with outside groups.

Furthermore, Hindus and Muslims, comparatively speaking, have

less direct and primary contact with Negroes than the Indian

Christians. Through their church memberships the Indian

Christians mix more freely with Negroes than Hindus and Muslims.

Among the occupational groups we found that the strong-

est objection to marriage with the Negro comes from the shop-

keepers and small businessmen, and the most liberal group is

that of the teachers. All other groups show marked resistance

and strong disapproval of marriage with Negroes.

The rural-urban variable is not important in the case

of the East Indian attitude toward marriage with Negroes.

5Arthur and Juanita Niehoff, East Indians in the West
Indies (Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Museum Publications in
Anthropology, 1960), pp. 60-62.

3oth in rural and urban areas almost the same amount of

resistance to integration with Negroes is found.

Most of the urban East Indian families maintain close

:ies with the rural areas. Therefore it is difficult for the

Irban families to save themselves from the censuring eyes of

:heir kinship group. Moreover, Trinidad is small and with

:he availability of easy transport facilities the communica-

:ions between the urban and rural areas is almost constant.

The attitude of the East Indian elite toward marriage

iith Negroes is not much different from the man in the street.

(See Table No. 5.)



Name of
nominationss Approve Disapprove Undecided N

lindu Leaders (2) 5% (36) 93% (1) 2% 39

luslim Leaders (5) 50% ( 5) 50% --- 10

:hristian Leaders (5) 13% (34) 87% 0 39

(12) (75) (1) 88

The elite here includes leaders from all walks of life,

politics, business, and professions. It is evident that, with

the exception of Muslim leaders, all others show a marked

resistance to marriage with Negroes. Of all the East Indian

religious groups, the Christians are much more educated and

Westernized; still, the top strata of the East Indian Chris-

tian community shows as much resistance to marriage with

Negroes as the Hindus.

Even after living in the West Indies for a number of

generations there is no significant difference in the attitude

of the leadership group toward marriage with Negroes. (See

Table No. 6-)



Generation born
in Trinidad Approve Disapprove Undecided N

1 (3) 9% (30) 91% 0 33

2 (8) 19% (35) 81% 0 43

3 (1) 8% (10) 84% (1) 8% 12

Totals (12) (75) (1) 88

However the leadership groups from all religions show

much greater liberalism in their attitude toward marriage with

Whites. (See Table No. 7.)

It is evident that color and race prejudice with re-

spect to the Negro are very strong. It seems that from

among all the religious groups, Hindus are much more

reluctant to go outside their own sub-cultural group for

marriage; however, as against their wholesale rejection of

marriage with Negroes, they are much more liberal with re-

spect to their attitude toward marriage with Whites. Further-

more, marriage with Whites raises social status in the

Trinidadian society.



Approve Disapprove Undecided N

Hindus (16) 41% (21) 54% (2) 5% 39

Muslims ( 6) 60% ( 3) 30% (1) 10% 10

Christians (22) 56% (15) 40% (1) 4% 38

Totals (44) (39) (4) 87

Reasons for the disapproval of racial inter-mixing

through marriage with Negroes range from simple racial preju-

dices to an expression of strong ethnic loyalty, and from

strong religious objection to great cultural disparities

between East Indians and Negroes.

People motivated by strong racial prejudices place

emphasis on the racial inferiority of Negroes, their color,

their physical appearances and expression of doubts as to

their being accepted as human beings. ("They are just

animals," "they stink," "they live like pigs," "they are the

sons of demon god, Ravan," "just put the tail at their backs

and they will look like a monkey god" are the common expres-

sions of racial prejudices used by the common man). Their

reaction to seeing an East Indian girl with a Negro also var-

ies from a feeling of strong revulsion to that of indiffer-

ence. Many would say that on seeing a young East Indian girl

with a Negro boy their blood boils or they just cannot see

an Indian woman submitting to a Negro. In an Indian major-

ity area like Debe or Penal open association between a young

Indian girl and a Negro boy would be very difficult to carry

on. In mixed areas there would be greater tolerance.

The elite group rationalizes its disapproval of East

Indian-Negro racial intermixing through marriage on cultural

bases. They argue that the East Indian cultural values are

directly opposed to the Creole culture, and marriage with

Negroes is bound to fail because of the incompatability of

the cultural background of the contracting parties. Further-

more, children of mixed marriages are looked down upon and

they are accepted neither in the Indian nor in the Negro so-

ciety. Some of them assert that inter-racial marriage with

Negroes will not improve either the race or the culture,

whereas marriage with Whites will result in improved


offspring. Many highly educated East Indian elite point out

that the "Dogala"--offspring of East Indian-Negro marriage--

is very hard to control, and because of being an outcaste, he

is prone to develop criminal tendencies. A pure Indian or a

pure Negro is easy to handle.

Another basis of rejection of inter-racial marriage

is the fear of loss of Indian identity. This fear is shared

both by the elite and non-elite. Though they insist that

they do not want to turn Trinidad into a little India, still

they do not want to lose their cultural and ethnic identity.

Fusion of races would not leave an Indian race, and this is

what they do not want to see happen in Trinidad.

Ethnic endogamy is only one dimension. The other di-

mension, on the basis of which we can analyze the nature of

pluralism existing in Trinidad, is the informal social mixing.

One of the bases on which we could assess the degree of racial

intermixing at the social level is the membership of clubs.

We asked East Indian elites what type of clubs they go to--

whether they go to racially mixed clubs, exclusive clubs, or

no club at all. We found that forty out of eighty-eight

elites do not go to any club at all, and an overwhelming ma-

jority of those who go to any club go only to racially

exclusive clubs. (See Table No. 8.)



Racially Mixed
Religion Exclusive Club Club No Club N

Hindus (20) 51% ( 4) 10% (15) 39% 39

Muslims ( 5) 50% ( 1) 10~ ( 4) 40% 10

Christians (11) 28% ( 7) 12% (21) 54% 39

Totals (36) (12) (40) (88)

From among the different elites of different religious

groups we find that the Indian Christians seem to be going in

the largest numbers to racially mixed clubs, and a majority

of Hindus and Muslims go only to exclusive clubs. East

Indian Christians seem to be racially less exclusive.

A large majority of the club-going East Indian elites

are members either of the West India Club (formerly known as

the India Club) and the Himalaya Club--both of which are

racially exclusive in their membership. Those of the East

Indian elites who go to mixed clubs go to such clubs as the

Rotary Club, which are dominated by the local Whites rather

than by the Negroes.

Evidently these findings reinforce the point that

social intermixing between different racial groups in Trinidad

is very much restricted.

There is also a great deal of cultural pride. East

Indians consider the Creole culture as inferior to their own

culture and resent the use of terms like "the Creolization

of Indians." East Indian elites insist in very strong terms

that "Creolization" and "Westernization" are two separate

processes; Westernization does not mean the acceptance of the

"Creole" moral values or the ways of living. According to

Morton Klass, "There is a value attached to being 'modern';

however, to an East Indian, being modern does not always mean

being West Indian."51 In the eyes of East Indians, "Creole"

life lacks stability, social virtues, and morality. On the

other hand, Negroes still look down upon Indians as inferiors

and call them "Coolies" who took up jobs which they refused

to carry on after their emancipation. In the words of V. S.

Naipaul, "The Negro has a deep contempt, .. for all that

is not White, his values are the values of White imperialism

at its most bigoted."52 On the other hand he says, "The

Indian despises the Negro for not being an Indian; he has,

in addition, taken over all the White prejudices against the

Negro with the convert's zeal and regards as Negro every one

5Klass, "East and West Indians: Cultural Complexity
in Trinidad," p. 858.

V. S. Naipaul, The Middle Passage (London, Andre
Deutsch, 1962), p. 80.

who has any tincture of Negro blood."53 The Westernized

Negro considers Indian living primitive, their food unhealthy,

and every sugar cane worker a criminal.54

There is very little effort on the part of the Trini-

dad Negro to understand the culture, institutional patterns,

and life goals of East Indians.

Even after the abolition of the colonial status of

Trinidad, the White community still occupies the top strata

of Trinidad society. They live in enormous colonial-style

houses, as one visitor describes, with a domestic staff, a

glorious view, and fantastic gardens filled with tropical

flowers. It is the members of the White community who set

fashions and patterns of social living which are eagerly

copied both by Negroes and East Indians. These people still

live in a world of their own and they have very few primary

contacts with the members of other ethnic groups.

Thus different ethnic groups live in close proximity

to each other, but they do not seem to be moving toward

creation of a racially-mixed social system.


5Sheila Soloman Klass, Everyone in the House Makes
Babies (Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1964), pp. 128-
129. (A very revealing and interesting study.)

5Trinidad Guardian, July 10, 1965.

Lack of National Identity and the Formation
of Political Parties

One of the most crucial factors in the formation of

a politically homogeneous culture is national identity.

"National identity," in the words of Sidney Verba, consists

of "the beliefs of individuals and the extent to which they

consider themselves members of their nation state." De-

scribing the old colonial society of Trinidad, Naipaul says,

"Every one was an individual, fighting for his place in the

community. Yet there was no community, we were of various

races, religions, sects and cliques; and we had somehow found

ourselves on the same small island. Nothing bound us together

except this common residence. There was no nationalist feel-

ing, there could be none." Today Trinidad may not be on

the brink of racial war, as Naipaul found,58 yet Trinidad is

far from the development of a common "national identity."

When we asked the East Indian leadership, "Do you think that

the policies of the People's National Movement government

endanger the "national solidarity," "There is no national

Sidney Verba, "Comparative Political Culture," in
Lucian W. Pey and Sidney Verba (eds.), Political Culture and
Political Development (Princeton, Princeton University Press,
1965), p. 529.

5Naipaul, op. cit., p. 43.

58Ibid., p. 80.

solidarity," came the flat answer from many of them. There

has always been an East Indian nationalism quite distinct from

the Negro nationalism. East Indians in Trinidad participated

emotionally in India's struggle for independence. With the

rise of the nationalist movement in India under the auspices

of the Indian National Congress and subsequently with the rise

of charismatic leadership of Gandhi and Nehru, the East

Indian young intellectuals always looked toward India for

their political inspiration and nationalist pride. As early

as the 1930's they started staging island-wide demonstrations
in support of India's demand for freedom.59 The Nationalist

Movement in India under Gandhi created a sense of racial pride

in East Indians in Trinidad. T. Roodal, an East Indian mem-

ber of the pre-independence Legislative Council, addressing

a public meeting held in support of India's demand for inde-

pendence, said the East Indians were not inferior people to

Europeans or any other race. He advised them "to be proud

that they are East Indians and continue to uphold that dig-

nity."60 Public meetings held in the Indian majority areas

were opened and closed with the singing of Indian patriotic

59Port of Spain Gazette, Jan 1, 1930.


songs and the Indian national anthem (Vande Matram).61 With

the achievement of independence by India many East Indian in-

tellectuals felt a sense of fulfillment. But subsequently,

when colonial Trinidad started moving towards independence,

they became bewildered by the prospects which East Indians as

a minority group would face in independent Trinidad. With

Nehru's advice to overseas Indians to forget that they were

Indiansand to get settled into the countries of their adop-

tion, came the climax of their disillusionment and disappoint-

ment and they felt badly let down. Before Trinidad became in-

dependent, Braithwaite noted, "In the case of the lower class

of Creole Trinidad, the levels of aspirations were 'national,'

the levels of expectations sub-cultural; in the case of the

Indian community, both level of aspiration and level of ex-

pectations tended, until recent years, to be sub-cultural."62

In spite of these cultural-ethnic cleavages and feel-

ings of racial exclusiveness, we tend to agree with Braith-

waite that Trinidad society could be placed at Gordon's tol-

erance level of cultural pluralism. According to M. M.


East Indian Weekly, August 24, 1929.

6Braithwaite, "Social Stratification and Cultural
Pluralism," p. 829.

At the tolerance-level of group relations ethnic groups
would maintain such a high degree of social isolation
from each other that virtually all primary contacts would
be within the ethnic group and most secondary contacts
would be either correspondingly confined or if across
ethnic lines, completely accommodating, various ethnic
groups would be encouraged to have a tolerent attitude
toward one another .. .63

Negroes and East Indians, as is evident, have been excluded

from each other's social structure--cliques, fraternal so-

cieties, religious organizations, and home visiting patterns.

Therefore, "The good group relation level" is non-existent.

At the same time, at least on the surface, the two predomi-

nent ethnic groups seem to tolerate each other, and they are

not engaged in open use of violence against each other. East

Indians, being a minority, have been on the defensive. On

the other hand, Negroes believe that within the next few

generations the East Indians will lose their ethnic identity

and will become absorbed in Trinidad society. East Indians,

on the other hand, are confident that they would not be lost

in the intermixing of numerous West Indian racial groups.

Thus it seems that the future does not hold the hope that

Trinidad society would rise above the tolerance level of

cultural pluralism.

Loyalties or commitments to nation states are always

difficult to achieve in a developing country, but they are

6Gordon, op. cit., pp. 153-154.

much more difficult to achieve in a society like Trinidad

where primary loyalties are conceived in terms of ethnic or

racial origin. Conflict on political issues is viewed as

conflict between different sub-national units. In the ab-

sence of common historical experience and cultural heritage,

any conscious effort on the part of a ruling ethnic group to

develop what David Apter calls "political religion"64 is

likely to be interpreted by another group as an attack on

its sub-national identity.

It is obvious that in the absence of a national aware-

ness and common value patterns, the Trinidad political system

lacks consensus. In such a political system the different

sections of the society are held together by force. Earlier

this force was exercised by the colonial power; now it is

exercised by the dominant cultural-ethnic group. In such

societies, as M. G. Smith says, "The monopoly of power by

one cultural section is the essential pre-condition for the

maintenance of the total society in its current form"65

Thus in the case of Trinidad a parliamentary type of institu-

tional framework has been superimposed upon a society which

6David Apter, "Political Religion in New Nations,"
in Clifford Geertz (ed.), Old Societies and New States
(Glenco, Illinois, The Free Press, 1963), pp. 57-104.

6Smith, The Plural Society in the British West
Indies, p. 86.


is characterized by deep ethnic-cultural cleavages and which

lacks homogeneity.

In such societies formation of stable political par-

ties cutting across the ethnic-sub-cultural lines is an ideal

highly difficult to achieve. Therefore, with the advance-

ment of Trinidad towards independence, both the ethnic groups

started competing for political power and ended up with par-

ties relying heavily on ethnic loyalties and sub-cultural

solidarities. Multi-racialism is only for "window-dressing"

purposes; therefore, both the PNM (The People's National Move-

ment) and the DLP (The Democratic Labor Party)--the only par-

ties at the time of the independence of Trinidad--are basic-

ally representing the Negro and the East Indian elements,

respectively, of the Trinidad society.

Therefore in order to understand the role of the DLP

in the political system of Trinidad, first of all, it becomes

essential for us to describe the historical and sub-

cultural characteristics of the East Indians in Trinidad.



Trinidad Before the Arrival of East Indians

Trinidad was discovered by Columbus on July 31, 1498,

and was incorporated into the Spanish empire. It remained a

Spanish possession until February 18, 1797. Spain was not

interested in the colonization of Trinidad for, in the words

of Eric Williams:

Spain was interested not in Trinidad but in gold. If
Trinidad had gold, then Spain would show an interest in
Trinidad. . There was really no gold in Trinidad,
notwithstanding early reports that gold had been found
in some of the rivers. There being no gold Spain was
not impressed, and Spaniards were not interested.1

The Spanish Government followed a policy of exclusiveness in

the settlement of Trinidad, and in 1630 the King protested to

the Governor of Trinidad for allowing certain Portuguese to

settle there. What Trinidad needed most was agricultural de-

velopment and permanent settlers. "Spain found it impossible

iEric Williams, History of the People of Trinidad and
Tobago, p. 21.

Philip Sherlock, "The Story of Trinidad," Indepen-
dence Supplement of Sunday Guardian, Aug. 26, 1962, p. 90.

to give the island the help needed for its development, nor

was she able to find the men and money to subdue the (American)

Indians." It was a Frenchman named Roume de St. Laurent who

persuaded the Spanish Government to liberalize its immigra-

tion policies and to provide for the safety and security of

the settlers. Consequently, newly-appointed Governor Don

Chacon in 1784 made some efforts to attract settlers to Trini-

dad. Under his orders all European settlers with families

were to be given thirty-two acres of land with a provision for

an additional eight acres for every slave brought in. The two

conditions imposed were that the settlers should be Roman

Catholic by faith and should affirm their loyalty to the Span-

ish King. A large number of French settlers moved into Trini-

dad from the French West Indies. According to Philip Sherlock,

"The island was Spanish but its leadership was largely French."

With the arrival of new settlers sugar took the place of cocoa

as the chief crop of Trinidad. The French changed the charac-

ter of the island, agriculture and commerce developed and a

large number of slaves were brought in. In 1789 "The island

had a population of 18,918, including 10,000 slaves, 4,467 free

people of colour, 2,151 European."5

C. R. Ottley, Spanish Trinidad (Port of Spain, College
Press, 1955), p. 23.

Sherlock, op. cit., p. 90.


With the declaration of war between England and Spain,

Trinidad changed hands and became a British possession in

1797. Under British control Trinidad was turned into a sugar

producing colony dependent upon slave labor. According to

Dr. Williams:

The West Indian planters grew sugar . and we became
the sugar bowl of Europe. Our production was for the
world market. We needed labour, however. The native
Indian (aborigines of Trinidad) labour was too weak to
stand the discipline of the slave gang. One Negro slave
was worth four Indians. White servants and convicts
with whom the planters experimented were too expensive
and their term of service too short. The money that
would buy the services of a white man for ten years would
buy a Negro slave for life. Thus Negro slavery originated.
Whatever be the later rationalizations--that the black man
was inferior, that the black man alone could stand the
tropical sun--the origin of Negro slavery had nothing to
do with either race prejudice or moral aberration. The
two determining factors were economic: first, in a new
society where good land was plentiful and constant
labour scarce slavery was necessary for the large-scale
production of staple crops; second, Negro slavery was a
case of survival of the fittest. The West Indian economy
was thus based on the production of sugar for the world
market by thousands of labourers imported annually from

Most of these African slaves came from the Gold Coast, the

Congos, and Angola.

The Abolition of Slavery and Search for New Plantation Labor

Slavery was abolished in 1833, but a system of appren-

ticeship was established, known as the "transitional period to

Murli J. Kirpalani, et al., Indian Centenary Review
(Printed by Guardian Commercial Printery, Port of Spain,
Trinidad, 1945), p. 21.


liberty." Under this system the slaves were obliged to work

for their masters and defaulters were to be awarded with cor-

poral punishment. "The newly-freed people found it difficult

to understand that, though free, they remained apprentices,

tethered to their estates. For two days they disregarded the

instructions to go back and work." Many were jailed and

tortured. Finally in 1838, the British Parliament provided

for compensation to be paid to the planters and the Negro slave

became a free man; he could work for himself.

"One of the first results of freedom here, as in

Jamaica and Guiana was the flight of labour from the estates.

Some of the 'now frees' went off to squat on new land or saved

up and bought holdings." The planters made every effort to

debar Negroes from purchasing land and settling as independent

farmers. However, planters failed to force them back as wage-

earners. This brought the sugar industry to the verge of col-

lapse. A Parliamentary Committee of the British Government

appointed in 1842 found that:

. in consequence of the emancipation of the Negro
there had been a diminution in the sugar production of
the West Indies to such an extent as to have caused
ruinous injury to the proprietors of estates in those

Sherlock, op. cit., p. 90.


Colonies and that while this distress has been felt to
a much less extent in some of the smaller and more popu-
lous islands it has been so great in the larger colonies
of Jamaica, British Guiana and Trinidad as to have caused
many estates hitherto prosperous and productive to be
cultivated for the last two or three years at considerable
loss and others to be abandoned.10

In Trinidad alone, as Lord Stanley told the House of Commons,

the loss born by sixty-two estates amounted to $983,000.11

Planters searched desperately for labor; they tried Chinese

labor but failed. Keeping these facts in view, Sir Ralph Wood-

ford, a Governor of Trinidad, had already recommended to the

colonial office:

The cultivators of Hindustan are known to be peaceful and
industrious. An extensive introduction of that class of
people accustomed to live on the produce of their own la-
bour only, and totally withdrawn from African connections
or feelings, would probably be the best experiment for the
population of this island where the King has the power of
enacting the laws and regulations he may think fit for
their protection and support and where the soil is grate-
ful and probably corresponds much with that of their own
country. But without their priests, their chiefs, one of
whom it would be desirable should be acquainted with some
one of the European languages, their families, their arti-
sans, their plants and seeds, the success of such a plan
could not be expected.

They might easily select a favourable spot for their
residences, and if after sometime they should find an in-
clination to work on the sugar estates, the planter would
have the best means of satisfying himself of the advantages
of free labourers over slaves.12

Kirpalani, op. cit., p. 23.


12Williams cit. p. 77.
Williams, op. cit., p. 77.

The Immigration of East Indians to Trinidad

Indian immigrant labor was first introduced in Mauri-

tius. This immigration came to be known as the "Coolie immi-

gration" and the labor-contract under which they were

brought was called the "indentured system." In the words of

C. Kondapi, the chief characteristics of the indentured

system were:

. five years of state regulated labour, denial of
the right to change the employer or employment, recruit-
ment of labour units and not families, gross dispropor-
tion of men to women emigrants, payment of emigration
charges for recruitment by the employer and the denial
of increased wages inspite of increased prices and profits.
The employer was under legal obligation to provide fixed
wages, free housing, medical attendance and other

These were the days of free enterprise and the princi-

ple of non-intervention. "The Indian emigration was an enter-

prise conducted by the state rather than by private individuals.

From the time the coolie was recruited in India until he had

been returned to India, the state endeavored to exercise such

regulations as would ensure the success of coolie emigration."15

Great Britain, Report of the Committee on Emigration
from India to the Crown Colonies and Protectorates (also
known as the Sanderson Report), The Command. 5193 and 5194
(London, H.M.S. Office, 1910), p. 4.

C. Kondapi, Indians Overseas, 1838-1948 (New Delhi,
Indian Council of World Affairs, 1951), p. 18.

1Edgar L. Erickson, "The Introduction of East Indian
Coolies into the British West Indies," The Journal of Modern
History, Vol. VI, No. 2 (June, 1934), p. 135.

I. M. Cumpston attributes this to the doctrine of

trusteeship applied to the colonies on the basis of the pre-

vailing religious beliefs.16

Immigration from India to Trinidad started in 1845.

Immigration agents for British Guiana, Trinidad and Jamaica

were stationed in India, each agent having a depot at Calcutta.

The coolies were kept in these depots before their embarkation

for these colonies. A number of licensed recruiters and sub-

agents were employed by the agents for recruitment of the in-

dentured labor. "The actual recruitment was carried out in

distant places up country, such as Patna, Muzaffurpur, Gorakh-

pur, Fyzebad, Cawnpore, and Allahabad."17 These recruiters

were not reliable persons. The Sanderson Commission quotes

one Mr. J. A. Brown who described recruiters as "generally very

low class men, and thought that the sub-agents as a rule were

rather a low type of people."18 J. Geoghegan describes the

activities of the recruiters in these words, "The recruiters

hang about the bazaars and the highroads where they pick up

loiterers and induce them to accompany them to the depot and

I. M. Cumpston, Indians Overseas in British Terri-
tories, 1834-1854 (London, Oxford University Press, 1953),
p. 174.

1The Sanderson Report, p. 16.

18Ibid. p. 18.
Ibid., p. 18.

agree to emigrate by relieving their immediate wants and by

representation, no doubt much overdrawn, of the prospects be-

fore them."19 A number of cases of kidnapping were also re-

ported. The majority of the East Indian emigrants who came

to Trinidad did not come with the intention of becoming perma-

nent settlers. Many came for temporary benefits, because they

were maladjusted at home, had quarreled with their families

or were expelled by the caste punchayats or were simply jobless

and were hunting for jobs.20

On reaching Trinidad the indentured East Indian immi-

grants were placed under the protection of a state officer

known as the Protector of Immigrants who was assisted by a

sub-Protector. The Protector of Immigrants was given very

wide powers. Under the Immigration Ordinance of July 17, 1889,

he could "at any time visit estates, inspect conditions and

treatment of immigrants and their dwellings and hospital ac-

commodations, inquire into complaints of all kinds, lay infor-

mations against employers or any other persons and at all

hearings before the Magistrate act on behalf of the immigrant

as if he were the principal in the matter and report to the


Kirpalani, op. cit., p. 33.

2The Sanderson Report, p. 77.

21irpalani cit. p. 35.
Kirpalani, op. cit.. p. 35.


The Protector of Immigrants was empowered by the law

to allot the immigrants to different plantations. It was

recommended that as far as possible, immigrants were not to

be separated from their families, neighbors, friends or vil-

lagers. The employers were also asked to provide rations for

one year and were allowed to make deductions from laborer's

wages. The ordinance also made provision for hospitals at

every plantation for the use of the immigrants. They were

housed in notoriously poor barracks which lacked privacy.

The planters had proposed a seven year indentured pe-

riod but, considering it to be too long, the Gladstone Govern-
ment reduced it to five years. Women laborers could be in-

dentured for a term of three years. They were to work for

nine hours a day and were entitled to one day off after working
five days a week for two consecutive weeks. Penalties were

provided for absence from work or for desertion. The legal

wages fixed by the ordinance were twenty-five cents for able-

bodied male immigrants and sixteen cents for persons other
than able-bodied indentured adults. With the consent of the

Protector of Immigrants and the immigrant, at the end of his

Erickson, op. cit., p. 129.

2The Sanderson Report, p. 66.

24Williams, History of the People of Trinidad, p. 103.

indentured term he could re-indenture for another term not

exceeding one year.2

The indentured laborer was not allowed to move to

another locality without a pass from his employer. According

to Dr. Williams, the Indian immigrants lived in the shadow of

the jail. "In whatever else the ordinance of 1889 fell short,

it certainly did not fall short in respect of prosecutions."26

Desertion was usually punished with heavy fines or imprison-

ment. The poor workers were unable to defend themselves and

did not possess the means to obtain expert legal advice. "The

magistrate usually gave heavy weight to the evidence given by

the employer.27 Magistrates, Mac Neill and Chamanlal found,
gave excessive punishment to the indentured worker. Even

the Sanderson commission noted that "there is, however, one

matter in which we consider that the treatment of the indentured

immigrants is not wholly satisfactory and that is the extent

to which employers have recourse to the criminal courts to

2The Sanderson Report, p. 66.

2Williams, o~. cit., p. 107.

2Great Britain, Report of the Government of India on
the Conditions of Indian Immigrants in Four British Colonies
and Surinam (Known as the Chamanlal Report), Part 1, Command
No. 7744 (London, H. M. S. Office, 1915), p. 23.

28bid p. 28.
Ibid.. p. 28.

enforce their statutory rights against their indentured

labour."29 The government of India usually adopted an atti-

tude of neutrality, and it especially failed in looking after

the indentured laborer at the end of the contract period. The

planter was interested in him only as a tool used for the maxi-

mization of profit. Unsatisfactory housing conditions, unsani-

tary living, excessive exploitation and introduction of child

labor led to the outbreak of disturbances at different periods.

As Brahmins and Madrasis were thought to be at the bottom of

these disturbances, they consequently became suspects in the

eyes of the Protector of Immigrants, and he stated in his an-

nual report of 1909, "I certainly think it would be for the

benefit of the colony that no 'return' [Indians who had been

in Trinidad before] nor any sort of Brahmins are recruited as

my experience is that they invariably give trouble and incite

others to do the same."30 Planters were interested in contin-

uation of indentured labor rather than encouraging them to be-

come free settlers. "As a result of their influence planters

could get legislative measures passed which were administered

in a spirit of substantial injustice to Indian immigrants."31

The Sanderson Report, p. 28.

3Kirpalani, op. cit., p. 45.

31The Sanderson Report, p. 4.

Furthermore the Sanderson Report observed that planters

failed to appreciate the fact that "Indians make excellent

settlers, and that it was to the advantage of the colony to

encourage them to settle down as free citizens and so contrib-

ute to the general prosperity."32

Contribution of the East Indian to the Trinidad Economy

The Sanderson Report recognized the great contribution

of East Indians to the development of the Trinidad economy

(See Table No. 9).



(Value given in pounds sterling)

Year Imports

1850 476,000
1860 829,304
1870 1,042,698
1880 2,382,368
1890 2,248,893
1900 2,500,258
1907-8 3,374,824
1908-9 2,682,702

Source: The Sanderson Report, p. 64.



It will be interesting to have a look at the population of

East Indians for this corresponding period (See Table No. 10).




East Indian Per
Total East Indian Cent of Total
Census Year Population Population Population

1851 69,609 3,993 5.7
1861 84,438 13,488 16
1871 109,638 27,425 25
1881 153,128 48,820 31.9
1891 200,028 76,218 35
1901 225,148 86,383 33.9

Source: Syed Reza Ahsan, "East Indian Agricultural Settlements
in Trinidad: A Study in Cultural Geography," an un-
published Ph.D dissertation, Gainesville, University
of Florida, 1963, p. 60.

Thus with increased East Indian population the exports from

Trinidad also increased. The Sanderson Commission also noted

a remarkable increase in sugar and cocoa production with the

advent of East Indians to Trinidad. The East Indian inden-

tured laborers were described as perfectly docile and manage-

able, though resentful of injustice. They pursued their avo-

cations without associating with any party in agitation or

politics. Cumpston reported that "employers frequently

33The Sanderson Report, p. 64.

34Ibid. p. 22.
Ibid., p. 22.

thought the Indians superior to Creoles and Africans. The

newcomers did not have the 'savage,' unruly disposition of

the Africans, and they could be trusted with responsibili-


East Indian immigration to Trinidad not only saved

the sugar industry and agriculture from total ruin, but the

immigrants also became excellent settlers. At the end of

their term of indenture,the East Indians with their savings

started new careers, and many of them became small business-

men, land proprietors or took up numerous other occupations.

The Sanderson Commission noted that the "majority of Indians

who remain in the colony after the expiration of their inden-

ture, either as small proprietors or as free labourers, prove

a valuable addition to the population, and that in the second

and third generations many inhabitants of Indian extraction

become men of considerable property and attainments." With

their thrift, hard work and future-oriented value system the

East Indian community made impressive economic advances and

many among them became petty proprietors owning considerable

land--as much as 500 acres--who employed hired labor.37

Cumpston, op. cit., p. 121.

36The Sanderson Report, p. 22.

3The Chamanlal Report, p. 21.

With the rise of the nationalist movement in India,

Indian nationalist leaders like G. K. Gokhale, Pandit M. M.

Malviya, and Srinivas Sastri carried on a relentless fight

against the continuation of indentured labor of Indians in

British colonies. Western educated nationalist leadership in

India regarded the system of indentured labor as damaging to

India's prestige in the outside world. They looked upon it

as a "badge of helotry" and therefore advocated its abolition.

In spite of the protests from the officials of the colonies

of British West Indies and pleas of the East Indian National
Congress of Trinidad,38 the indentured immigration was finally

abolished in 1917.

Though there was an overwhelming disapproval of the

Indian immigration to Trinidad and other colonies of the West

Indies and there was also concern as to the plight of a small

number of indentured laborers on their return to India, the

conditions of the East Indian settlers in Trinidad were not
as bad as was depicted in the Indian press. Reverend C. F.

3Report of Inter-Colonial Conference on Indian Immi-
gration, MPN 3304, Trinidad Archives, p. 1.

39In the following Indian newspapers scathing criti-
cisms were made of the indentured system and the plight of
laborers caused by it: Daily Express (Madras), Sept. 17,
1927; Andhra Patrika (Madras), Sept. 17, 1927; Forward
(Calcutta), Sept. 20, 1927; and Bombay Chronical, Sept. 23,

Andrews, a personal friend of Mahatama Gandhi, who visited

Trinidad and British Guiana, in his memorandum submitted on

August 10, 1929, describes how returning immigrants were eager

to go back to Trinidad. They were not accepted in their vil-

lages because of their colonial habits and were constantly

harassed by the caste organizations in India.

Agriculture is looked upon as a noble profession and

possession of land is a point of prestige with every Indian;

therefore, the Indians in Trinidad became the majority of the

purchasers of the Crown lands, and in March, 1928, Indian ag-

ricultural land holdings were 105,000 acres which were valued

at 4,864,653 (sterling) and their bank holdings were 175,808

(sterling). They were running nine-tenths of the motor buses

and nine-tenths of the dairies.4

Occupational and Rural-urban Distribution of
the East Indian Population

In spite of the economic advancement of some sections

of East Indians, the major portion of its population remained

culturally and educationally quite backward. J. D. Tyson re-

ported in 1939, "The fact would appear that in 1931, there

were more East Indians engaged in agricultural pursuits than

4Cited in "Governor's dispatch" to L. S. Amery,
March 5, 1928, Trinidad Archives.

4Cited in letter of the Protector of Immigrants,
January 30, 1928, Trinidad Archives.

all the other races put together." Furthermore, he said,

"Not only do the East Indian male and female provide the bulk

of the agricultural labourers on the sugar and cocoa estates,

but they supply more than two-thirds of the sugar cane farmers

of the colony." He also observed that the percentage of

literacy was lowest among East Indians (33 percent) as com-
pared with other racial groups.44 He strongly criticized the

government's policy of sanctioning grants in aid to the schools,

whereby only Christian schools could get aid whereas the taxes

came from the pockets of Christians and non-Christians alike.45

He noted that only 50 percent of East Indian children of

school going age were in average daily attendance at schools.46

The 1946 census shows the rate of illiteracy among the
East Indian population of Trinidad (see Table No.11).4

J. D. Tyson, Memorandum of Evidence for the Royal
Commission to the West Indies (Port of Spain, Yuille's
printerie, 1939), p. 35.



4Ibid., p. 37.

4Ibid., p. 36.

47Hopkins cit. p. 44.
Hopkins, op. cit., p. 44.



Ages 10 and over
(Both Sexes)

East Indians 50.6







Ages 65 +
(Both sexes)





According to the 1946 census, 92.36 percent of the

East Indians lived in rural areas (See Table No. 12).


POPULATION IN 1943-46 48

Urban Percent




Rural Percent


Even in 1964, 83 percent of the East Indian population lived

in rural areas (See Table No. 13).



Urban Percent

Rural Percent

48Hopkins cit p. 15
Hopkins, oj. cit. p. 15





TABLE 13 continued

Races Urban Percent Rural Percent

East Indians 17 83

Whites 65 35

Chinese 67 33

Mixed 51 49

Lebanese and
Syrian 80 20

Others 55 45

Source: Rural Development in Trinidad and Tobago (classified
confidential), (Port of Spain, UNESCO Regional Office,
1964), p. 8.

Four-fifths of the Indians live in rural areas and

though 51 percent of the Negro population is technically

shown to be rural, a majority of them live in urban areas.

Their over-all percentage of rural population increases when

it is recognized that they constitute 93 percent of the popu-

lation of Tobago which is mainly rural and agricultural.

After comparing the occupational distribution of East

Indian population with other ethnic groups, Tyson observed

that there was a very meager representation of East Indians

in services. Conceding that the percentage of illiteracy was

quite high among Indians, nevertheless he observed, "The

community has already produced a considerable number of highly

educated and successful professionals and businessmen and the

figures compiled by the evidence, both for Board and Com-

mittees and for the permanent Civil Service, lend consider-

able force to the complaint constantly made that there is

differentiation against Indians as such." 49(See Table No. 14.)

He further observed, "There are only nine Indian Jus-

tices of Peace out of about 230 for the whole island and I

understand that there is no Indian Justice of Peace in such

Indian areas as San Fernando, Chaguanas, Penal, Siparia, Cedros

and La Baria. It is difficult to believe that there are not

suitable Indian gentlemen in those areas."50

East Indians in Trinidad were known for ignoring the

importance of education of their children. K. J. Grant, the

well-known Canadian missionary in Trinidad, said of East

Indians in Trinidad, "There was no appreciation of education

on the part of either parents or children. They had no out-

look, no prospect in life. With all their latent intellec-

tual capacity, they felt that in Trinidad as well as in India

they were doomed to be the children of toil." There were

49 50
4Tyson, op. cit., p. 41. 5Ibid.

5K. G. Grant, My Missionary Memories (Halifax, N. S.,
The Imperial Publishing Company, 1923), p. 82.



Total of
Occupations East Indians Other Races

Government Service:
Public Officers, Mes-
sengers, etc. in gov-
ernment offices, Police 119 2,019

Professions: Legal, Med-
ical, Ministers of reli-
gion, Teachers 637 4,494

Commercial: Merchants,
Clerks, Shopmen, Shop-
keepers and Hucksters,
Hotel keepers, Spirit
dealers 3,574 12,298

Industrial: Mechanics,
Boatmen and Fishermen,
Mariners, Laundresses
and Seamstresses 3,015 40,891

Domestic: 1,253 22,796

Agricultural: Managers
and overseers, Peasants,
Proprietors, Metayers
and Farmers, Agricul-
tural laborers 40,679 37,927

General Laborers 7,647 Not available

Miscellaneous: Proprietors
and persons living on pri-
vate means 3,071

Not employed 24,861

83,859 persons of 15
years and over

Source: Tyson, op. cit., p. 44.

various reasons for the educational backwardness of East

Indians in Trinidad. East Indians came from rural India

where the rate of literacy was very low and where the tradi-

tion was to keep the children at home to help their parents

in field work. Moreover, East Indian indentured labor in

Trinidad, in the early stages, sought economic stability.

An Indian laborer knew that with some savings he could pur-

chase crown land and settle as an independent farmer. Conse-

quently, for additional income, he brought his children to

sugar estates to work instead of sending them to schools.

There was also deliberate neglect of East Indian education by

sugar planters and the Government, because they were afraid

that with education of East Indians they would lose plantation

labor. There were also racial prejudices against East

Indians as a result of which, as John Morton, the pioneer

Canadian missionary noted, "There was scarcely an East Indian

child to be found in school in the whole island."53 It was

the Canadian Presbyterian Church which undertook to educate

the East Indians.

The Canadian mission did admirable educational work

among East Indians but the fear of conversion to Christianity

Kirpalani, op. cit., p. 54.

Sarah E. Morton, John Morton of Trinidad (Toronto,
Westminister Co., 1916), pp. 41-42.


kept the Hindu and Muslim parents from sending their children

to these educational institutions. In recent years, with com-

paratively increased economic resources, they are not only

building business houses but are also increasingly spending

larger amounts of money on the education of their children.

Larger and larger numbers of East Indians are becoming

education-conscious and are sending their children abroad for

higher education. Ahsan who studied East Indian settlements

in rural Trinidad found that "of about 80 families investiga-

ted more than 60 percent wanted their sons to go to the Uni-

versity to become a doctor of medicine or a solicitor. About

10 percent wanted their sons to go no farther than elementary

school. Thirty percent wanted high school education for their

sons. There is a general feeling among East Indians in

Trinidad that they are now leading in professions because of

the rapid strides which they had made in the sphere of educa-

tion. However, as the comparative figures in Table No. 15

will show, with the exception of law, East Indians are still

far behind other racial groups in all professions.

Though East Indians are still not leading in the pro-

fessions, nevertheless during the last twenty years the number

of Indian professionals has been steadily rising.

C. L. R. James, Party Politics in the West Indies,
p. 147. (San Juan, Trinidad, Vedie Enterprise, 1962).
55Ahsan cit. p. 184.
Ahsan, op. cit., p. 184.



East Indians Other Races
Profession 1945 1965 1965

Barristers 16 61 98

Solicitors 13 14 81

Doctors 19 88 257

Dentists 3 17 76

Druggists 10 31 285

It is evident that during the last twenty years an

East Indian class of professionals has been rising very rapid-

ly. It is this class which is more and more becoming con-

scious of the discrimination from which the East Indians have

to suffer. The rise of an educated East Indian middle class

also poses a threat to the status of the Negro middle class,

which has been dominating civil services and professions up

to now.

With respect to the civil services, East Indians in

Trinidad are grossly under-represented as against their

These figures have been compiled on the basis of
information provided by Kirpalani, op. cit., pp. 57-58 and
the Trinidad Tobago Year Book 1964-65, pp. 149, 150, 280 and


numerical strength in the total population. In the cabinet,

the supreme court, the prime minister's office, the governor

general's office, in the parliamentary secretariat, in the

high ranking diplomats, and the senior police staff, East

Indians have little more than insignificant representation.

For instance, out of fiteeen cabinet ministers, there are only

two East Indians (both Muslims). Out of nine senior officers

in the prime minister's office, none is East Indian. The sit-

uation is the same in the governor general's office. Out of

eleven judges of the supreme court only one is East Indian,

and out of five top diplomats of the country only one is East

Indian; whereas, out of three parliamentary secretaries none

is East Indian (for details see Appendix No. II). Thus the

civil services, both at home and abroad, are staffed with
Negroes. Niehoff, who conducted field research in Trinidad

in 1960, also noted that there were only two occupations in

which East Indians were grossly under-represented, one of

which is the civil services (the other was domestic servants).

He found that in the whole of St. Patrick county (where East

Indian population is 43 percent) there were 150 constables;
all were Negroes except three. According to a memorandum

Albert Gomes, "Race and Independence in Trinidad,"
New Society, Aug. 27, 1964, p. 16.

5Niehoff, East Indians in the West Indies, p. 52.

submitted to the government by the Indian Association of

Trinidad, out of 2,000 members of the police force, there are

only fifty (or 5.2 percent) Indians. In the civil services,

according to the memorandum, the representation of the East

Indian community is between 10 to 15 percent. Commenting on

the position of East Indians in the civil services, Niehoff

points out, "We do not believe that Indians have any particular

objection to civil service work in itself. It is probably

that the reason comparatively few are found in such occupa-

tions is due to the friction between Indians and Negroes.

. He also found that Negroes, who hold senior posi-

tions in the civil services deliberately, make the entry of

East Indians into civil services difficult.

The Indian community is mainly rural and an overwhelm-

ing majority of them live in South Trinidad (See Figure No. 1).

In the words of Albert Gomes, "it has become the major and

indispensable factor in agriculture upon which the whole econ-

omy largely rests."61 Entry into the civil services being

denied to Indians, they seek careers in business and other

professions. In some industries such as the cinema and bus

and taxi transportation, Indians have a near monopoly.

5Memorandum submitted by the Indian Association of
Trinidad and Tobago on the Draft Trinidad-Tobago Constitution
(St. Clair, Port of Spain, 1962), p. 2.

6Niehoff, East Indians in the West Indies, p. 52.
Gomes, op. cit., p. 15.

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Though the fortunes of the Indian community have

considerably increased, it is, nevertheless, an overstatement

to say, as Albert Gomes says, that most of the wealth is in

the hands of Indians.62 All the major banks are foreign-owned

--Canadian, British and American--and the largest employers

like Texaco, Shell Refinery, The Caroni Limited, and The Trini-

dad Sugar Estates Limited, The Forrest Park, The Orange Grove,

and the like are American or British-owned companies. Major

department stores and business houses are also foreign owned.

However, the Indian business class has started giving tough

competition even to Europeans in various aspects of business

life.63 Their increasing economic power, their rapid strides

in the sphere of education, their passion for ownership of

land, natural increase in their numbers, their deep identifi-

cation with their sub-national group and their strong desire

for political assertiveness would create an extremely explosive

situation in the politics of the multi-ethnic society of Trini-

dad. In the next chapter we will describe the main elements

of East Indian sub-culture which have made the community a

stabilizing factor both in the social and economic life of

Trinidad and which have also made them a conservative and

conformist force in politics.





Cultural Diversity and the Process of
Political Socialization in Trinidad

We have noted above that the Trinidad society is

characterized by cultural pluralism. East Indians and Negroes,

the two main ethnic groups, in spite of living in close prox-

imity for more than a hundred years, possess values, institu-

tions, kinship groups, authority patterns and goals which are

distinctive to each group. The East Indian sub-culture con-

stitutes a sub-system within the territorial jurisdictional

system of Trinidad. It is through this sub-system that the

socialization process of the members of the East Indian Com-

munity is performed. Political socialization, which consists

of "a set of attitudes--cognitions, value standards and feel-

ings--toward the political system, its various roles, and role

incumbents" is a part of the general socialization process.

"The analysis of the political socialization function in a

particular society is basic to the whole field of political

Gabriel A. Almond, et al.(eds.), The Politics of the
Developing Areas (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1961),
pp. 27-28.

analysis, since it not only gives us insight into the patterns

of political culture and sub-cultures in that society but also

locates for us in the socialization process of the society the

points where particular qualities and elements of political

culture are introduced, and the points in the society where

these components are being sustained or modified."2 This po-

litical socialization process may place emphasis on "particu-

lar" elements or "universalistic elements," or it may be a

combination of both. In Trinidad as in most of the multi-

ethnic developing countries, the process of political sociali-

zation is ethnic oriented--the emphasis is on particularistic

elements rather than on universalistic elements. It is through

the family system and the kinship group, through religious or-

ganizations and educational institutions that East Indians

have attempted to cling to the basic characteristics of their

culture. They are also the main instruments in the process

of an individual's socialization, in the development of his

personality and beliefs.

Thus in order to understand the political behavior

and socialization process of the East Indian Community and

its strong sub-national loyalties, a description of the role

of the operation of its various cultural institutions is essential.

2bid., 31.
Ibid. p. 31.

Role of the East Indian Family System and Kinship
Group in the Perpetuation of Ethnic Loyalties

The unit of Hindu society in particular and in the

Indian community in general is not the individual but the

joint family. According to Mandelbaum, "The classic form of

the family in India is that of the joint family;" it consists

"of a number of married couples and their children who live

together in the same household. All the men are related by

blood, as a man and his sons or grandsons or a set of brothers

and their wives, unmarried daughters, and perhaps the widow

of a deceased kinsman. At marriage a girl leaves her ancestral

family and becomes part of the joint family of her husband."

He further adds, "A very important feature of this social unit

is that all property is held in common."3

East Indians in Trinidad have successfully transplanted

this institution of Indian social life in its basic form which

they brought from their homeland. The East Indian family in

Trinidad is still characterized by the inferior or unequal

status of women, parental selection of mates, rarity of

Quoted in T. N. Madan, "The Joint Family: A Termi-
nological Clarification," International J. of Comparative
Sociology, Vol. III, No. 1 (Sept., 1962), pp. 10-11.

A. Niehoff, "The Survival of Hindu Institutions in
an Alien Environment," Eastern Anthropologist, Vol. XII, No.
3, (March-May, 1959), p. 185.


divorce, sharing of property and its inter-relationship with

the caste-system. In Trinidad, according to Morton Klass, an

Indian's first "allegiance is to his family, his next to his

wider circle of kin."6 Kinship is one of the most important

structural relationships in the community, and it includes

numerous real or supposed uncles, aunts, sisters and cousins,

grand father and grand mother--from both the mother's and the

father's side. Each person is accorded a status in the kin-

ship group hierarchy and receives his due respect.

From the very beginning the Indian child is brought

up under a complex structure of kinship relations and family

authority patterns. He is taught to obey his elders, pay them

due respect and share manifold family responsibilities.

However, the Indian family in Trinidad has undergone

a few changes in some respects. For a considerable period,

marriages performed according to Hindu and Muslim religious

rites were not given legal recognition and the offspring of

all such marriages was considered illegitimate. It is only in

recent years (in the case of Muslim marriages in 1930 and in

the case of Hindus in 1946) that such marriages have been given

legal recognition.

Leo Davids, "The East Indian Family Overseas," Social
and Economic Studies, Vol. 13, No. 3,(Sept., 1964), p. 391.

Klass, East Indians in Trinidad, p. 93.

The most significant change in the Indian social

structure has occurred in the status of Indian women in Trini-

dad. Indian women enjoy more freedom than their counterparts

in India. In the beginning there were less women than men,

and Indian men rather than wooing the Negro women, competed

among themselves for the hands of Indian women. Women, being

more in demand, got more freedom. In recent years with the

spread of higher education among women and increasing western-

ization of Indian women, especially in the urban areas, they

are seeking greater economic freedom.

However, there is still very little participation of

Indian women in public and political life. In rural areas,

where the joint family exists and where the mother-in-law still

rules, women do not move out of their houses for canvassing or

political campaigning.

Selection of mates by parents or by the older members

of the family helps in maintaining caste and religious ties.

Parents usually try to arrange matches within their own caste

or religious group.

The system of joint property causes a great deal of

family bitterness. There is a lack of the tradition of making

a will, and most people die without leaving one. Consequently,

after the death of the father, many families split apart on

the question of the division of the property. Quarrels over

the division of the property and the mutual jealousies

nurtured in joint families continue to smoulder throughout

the lifetime of a number of joint families. Many time broth-

ers become each other's bitterest enemies in their public or

social life. However, from among different religious groups

the role of the joint family is declining among East Indian

Christians. We can see from Table No. 16 that about 59% of

the members of the East Indian Christian elite were born into

nuclear families, against 33% of Hindus. Members of the East

Indian Christian elite, being more westernized, seem to have

moved away from the joint family system more than the two

other religious groups. But this does not mean in any way



Religion Nuclear Joint No Answer N

Hindue (13) (25) (1) (39)
33% 64% 3%

Muslim ( 4) ( 6) (10)
40% 60%

Christians (23) (16) -(39)
59% 41%

Totals (40) (47) (1) (88)

V. S. Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas (London, Andre
Deutsch, 1961) (This is an excellent study of the Hindu joint
family in Trinidad.)


that the important role of the family has declined among East

Indian Christians or in any other religious groups of East


The importance of the family in the lives of East

Indians is also confirmed by the present survey of the East

Indian elites. We asked the elites how much importance they

attach to the influence of family in their lives. An over-

whelming majority of them replied that they attach "very much"

importance to its role. (See Table No. 17)



Religion of No
the Elites None A little Very much Self-made answer N

Hindus (0) (3) 8% (34) 89% (1) 3% (38)

Muslims (0) (1) 10% ( 7) 70% (2) 20% (10)

Christians (1)3% (1) 3% (36) 91% (1) 3% (39)

Totals (1) (5) (77) (4) (87)

Such family-centered social life has been termed by

Banfield as "amoral familism." Amoral familism is based on

the belief that everybody in the society is pursuing the inter-

est of his own family, and that whoever seeks public office

seeks it for his own good and not for the good of the

community. There is always distrust of the outsider. In

such societies organization of effective leadership is very

difficult to achieve.

Within their own social circles Indians have a great

deal of mutual distrust. "Indian is the greatest enemy of

the Indian" or "Do not trust an Indian, every Indian is try-

ing to cut the other's throat" -- these are some of the most

common comments made by East Indians about their fellow East


However, one cannot minimize the significant contri-

butions made by the stable Indian family system to the rise

of the community's business and professional class. Morris

Freilich, who studied Indian and Negro peasants, found that

whereas the goal of the Negro peasant is the fete, that of

the Indian peasant is family improvement. "The magic word for

the East Indian around which his whole life is centered is


It is through the family that East Indian children

learn the values inherited from their culture. The Indian

child as against a Negro child has a much less wide

Edward C. Banfield, The Moral Basis of a Backward
Society (Glencoe, The Free Press, 1958), p. 85.

10Freiich, cit., p. 155.
Freilich, op. cit., p. 155.

consciousness of social life and public life; his life is

centered around the family, and he has restricted social re-

lations. The Indian children, furthermore, are rewarded for

conformity, accomplishment and obedience.1

This important role of the family in the life of the

East Indian introduces numerous traditional elements in an in-

dividual's political orientation. It encourages also perpetu-

ation of particularistic and ascriptive values and strong

ethnic identifications. Loyalties to family, village, religion,

and ethnic group become primary obligations, and all these

strongly promote political participation on ethnic lines.

Religious-Cultural Cleavages among the East Indians

In the political socialization and recruitment process,

religious-cultural diversities play a highly significant role

in the life of the East Indian. To understand the political

organization of East Indians, it is essential to recognize that

East Indians are not a solidly united ethnic group, but are di-

vided into various religious groups (See Table No. 18).

The Hindu immigrants who came to Trinidad from what

was formerly known as the Eastern United Province and Bihar

states of North India brought with them three Hindu religious

1Helen B. Green, "Values of Negroe and East Indian
Children in Trinidad," Social and Economic Studies, Vol. 14,
No. 2 (June, 1965), pp. 204-216.

sects--namely, the Sanatan Dharma, the Kabir Panth, and the

Seunarianies. The Sanatan Dharma is the orthodox sect and

claims to represent the traditional body of Hindu beliefs.

The main features of the Sanatan Dharma are its emphasis on

the varna-ashrama dharma--recognition of the four castes and

the four stages of human life, idol worship and the emphasis

on the Vedas, the Puranas and the Smrities as the main sources

of Hinduism.



Hindus 67.9%

Muslims 15.0%

Christians of various
denominations 16.7%

Others 0.4%

Source: Kirpalani, op. cit., p. 61.

The four castes in which the Hindu social life is

divided are: (1) the Brahmins (priests and teachers); (2) the

Khshatriyas (the warriors and rulers); (3) the Vaish (the

traders); and (4) the Sudras (the menials). According to the

Sanatanist teachings every man gets his caste on the basis of

his birth, which itself is the result of one's actions (Karmas)

in his previous life. Therefore, high and low castes are


divinely ordained, and a person is incapable of changing his

low caste status through his efforts.

The four stages of life are: (1) the Brahamcharya--

the stage of life starting from birth and lasting until mar-

riage; (2) the Grihast--the stage of the married householder;

(3) Banprasth--when a married householder leaves his family

and goes into the forest; and (4) the Sanyas--when man finally

renounces the world and seeks salvation through meditation.

The Sanatan Dharma places great emphasis on the duties

and obligations of a Grihast--the householder. Many persons

may not reach beyond this stage of life, and therefore a

Grihast, the householder, should perform different types of

Pujas--worship of gods and goddesses. It is the Pundit, the

Hindu priest, who performs most of these Pujas. Thus the Pun-

dits, who are always from the Brahmin caste, occupy a very im-

portant position in the Sanatanist sect. Most of the Pujas

can be performed at the residence of the householder, and

therefore there may not be any need of going to the temples.

Though there are numerous temples scattered throughout the is-

land, very few Hindus go to them for worship.

There exists also a Pundit Parishad--a Council of Hindu

priests--which carries on the Sanatanist religious teachings

learned from India.

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