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Press Release - Exhibition organised by the National Archives of India in Mauritius on the occasion of the 43rd Anniversary of the Independance Day of Mauritius titled 'The Journey of Girmitiya - Movement of Indentured Labour from India to       Mauritius' 

On the occasion of the 43rd Anniversary of the Independence Day and the 19th Anniversary of the Republic Day of Mauritius, The National Archives of India, the High Commission of India, and the Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture (IGCIC) is paying homage to the memory and indefatigable spirit of the Girmitiyas by organising an archival exhibition of digital prints titled 'The Journey of the Girmitiya - Movement of indentured labour from India to Mauritius'. The exhibition was inaugurated at the Municipal Hall Mayor’s Parlour, Municipality of Port Louis by His Excellency The Hon. Mookhesswur Choonee, Minister of Arts and Culture, Government of the Republic of Mauritius, on March 14, 2011 and is open to the public at the venue from 0930 hrs to 1530 hrs. The exhibition will be displayed at various venues across the island including the Quatre Bornes Municipality, at a later stage.

The exhibition offers the people of Mauritius the opportunity to view rare documents and photographs on the indenture system at an exhibition put up by the National Archives of India at Port Louis Municipality Hall.

It is the first exhibition the National Archives, which celebrated its 120th foundation day last week, has mounted on the subject and it displays for the first time some rare pictures, documents, charts, sketches and maps of historical value. The documents trace the arrival of Indians in Mauritius.

The exhibits are drawn from public records, private papers of eminent personalities, newspapers and other publications and is designed in four sections - 'From Mother to a Land of Hope', 'Saga of Struggle', 'Back to Roots' and 'Partners in Progress' - setting out the journey, the time of struggle in the plantations, building a new life and retaining cultural traditions and finally, India and Mauritius as partners. Some of the striking and evocative displays are listed below:

1. An application dated June 1836 from the Mauritius Government to the Government of Bengal for 'introduction of Indian labourers in Mauritius'.

2. An early agreement between the Dutch and the East India Company regarding the transfer of prisoners of war from Mauritius to Bengal in 1794.

3. A photograph of the Kidderpore dockyard showing the boarding point from where the indentured workers boarded the ships that took them to the colonies.

4. A document of particular interest is a letter addressed to the Secretary to the Government of India detailing the poor conditions faced by Indian workers and their return to Madras (Chennai) in December 1844.

5. Another statement details the number of suicides that took place in each district of the colony of Mauritius in 1876 while another panel carries a statement regarding the complaints made by Indian immigrants against their employers in 1877.

6. The document that refers to the subscription raised in Mauritius by Indian workers for 'the sufferers of the Mutiny in India in 1858'.

As Mauritius celebrates the 43rd Anniversary of its Independence Day, and the 19th Anniversary of the Republic Day, this set of historical and vivid exhibits shall serve to further enhance and reinforce the unique bonds that India and Mauritius share.


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