Sunday marked the 165th Indian Arrival Day, the day when 238 people first arrived in Trinidad and Tobago from India to work on the plantations. Several cultural and religious functions were held throughout the islands to commemorate the day as “an active reaffirmation of the government’s commitment to ensure that every creed and race [finds] an equal place.”
Talking about the time when over 148,000 Indians were brought from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar between 1845 to 1917 to work on sugar plantations, New Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar called it a journey and arrival that have “taken us all centuries [. . .] still the journey continues as we steadily improve the means by which we travel to the destination of our nationhood.” To mark the occasion, she has renamed the Ministry of Arts and Culture as the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism.
Approximately 44 percent of the population of 1.3 million in the country are of Indian origin. Trinidad and Tobago President George Maxwell Richards said on Sunday that “Their stake in this country is undeniable and, while the circumstances of their progenitor’s arrival were less than noble, history has not stood in the way of progress.” Winston Dookeran, MP for Tunapuna and finance minister in the new government, added that Indian Arrival Day is a statement that “this nation is the home of people from all parts of the world.”