NEW INDIAN IMMIGRATION AFTER 1845
The planters were also at this period agitating for state-aided immigration even though this was opposed by the influential Anti-Slavery Society in England. But in Guyana, the planters, who held a majority in the Combined Court of Policy, decided to pressure the British Government to agree to help fund immigration from India. Their chance came in 1840 when the Combined Court of Policy was presented with a proposed tax ordinance which would approve funds totalling $206,000 to pay civil servants in the Colony. The planters refused to approve it unless immigration from India and elsewhere was permitted. The British Government then sent the Governor of Trinidad, Sir Henry Mc Leod, to negotiate with the planters who eventually won their demand. After the British Government agreed to re-open immigration, the Combined Court of Policy passed the tax ordinance.
While the sugar planters managed to obtain a limited quantity of labour from Madeira, West Africa, the West Indies and Europe, it was not until 1845 that immigration from India resumed, this time with the aid of government funds. In that year, two ships transported 593 Indians from Calcutta while one ship brought 233 from Madras. A steady flow continued in 1846 when 4,019 arrived from Calcutta and Madras. In 1847 a total of 3,461 arrived and 3,545 came the following year.
Many of these new immigrants (who came from 1845 to 1848) were unsuitable for field work since they were generally poor city dwellers. On arrival in Guyana, some of them abandoned their tasks on the plantations and resorted to a life of wandering, begging and doing menial jobs.
When this new batch of Indians first began to arrive in 1845, they refused to sign any written agreements with the plantation owners. As a result they had the option of working for not more than four weeks. In 1846, this increased to six months, but the planters felt that even this period was insufficient. Two years later, the hiring period was extended to one year; later in 1848, the British Government agreed to extend it to three years just before another ban was placed by the Indian Government on emigration from India. This ban was implemented because of the high death rate among Indians in Guyana.
When Indian immigration to Guyana resumed in 1851, the indentured labourer was required to agree to a contract period of five years. This was reduced to three years in 1853.