Crossing the Kala Pani
A documentary history of Indian indenture in Fiji
Edited by Brij V. Lal, 1997
Division of Pacific and Asian History, Research School of
Pacific and Asian History, The Australian National University
The book will be available for download
by end of April 2004 from Fiji
Institute of Applied Studies. Here we kindly place two
excerpts from this book.
Girmit: The agreement of indenture
FORM FOR INTENDING EMIGRANTS
1. Period of Service-Five Years from the
Date of Arrival in the Colony.
2. Nature of labour-Work in connection with
the Cultivation of the soil or the manufacture of the produce
on any plantation.
3. Number of days on which the Emigrant is
required to labour in each Week-Everyday, excepting Sundays
and authorized holidays.
4. Number of hours in every day during which
he is required to labour without extra remuneration-Nine hours
on each of five consecutive days in every week commencing with
the Monday of each week, and five hours on the Saturday of
5. Monthly or Daily Wages and Task-Work
Rates-When employed at time-work every adult male Emigrant
above the age of fifteen years will be paid not less than one
shilling, which is at present equivalent to twelve annas and
every adult female Emigrant above that age not less than nine
pence, which is at present equivalent to nine annas, for every
working day of nine hours; children below that age will
receive wages proportionate to the amount of work done.
6. When employed at task or ticca-work every
adult male Emigrant above the age of fifteen years will be
paid not less than one shilling, and every adult female
Emigrant above that age not less than nine pence for every
task which shall be performed.
7. The law is that a man's task shall be as
much as ordinary able-bodied adult male Emigrant can do in six
hours' steady work, and that a woman's task shall be
three-fourths of a man's task. An employer is not bound to
allot, nor is an Emigrant bound to perform more than one task
in each day, but by mutual agreement such extra work may be
allotted, performed and paid for.
8. Wages are paid weekly on the Saturday of
9. Conditions as to return passage-Emigrants
may return to India at their own expense after completing five
years' industrial residence in the Colony.
10. After ten years' continuous residence
every Emigrant who was above the age of twelve on introduction
to the Colony and who during that period has completed an
industrial residence of five years, shall be entitled to a
free-return passage if he claims it within two years after the
completion of the ten years' continuous residence. If the
Emigrant was under twelve years of age when he was introduced
into the colony, he will be entitled to a free return passage
if he claims it before he reaches 24 years of age and fulfills
the other conditions as to residence. A child of an Emigrant
born within the colony will be entitled to a free return
passage until he reaches the age of twelve, and must be
accompanied on the voyage by his parents or guardian.
11. Other Conditions-Emigrants will receive
rations from their employers during the first six months after
their arrival on the plantation according to the scale
prescribed by the government of Fiji at a daily cost of four
pence, which is at present equivalent to four annas, for each
person of twelve years of age and upwards.
12. Every child between five and twelve
years of age will receive approximately half rations free of
cost, and every child, five years of age and under, nine
chattacks of milk daily free of cost, during the first year
after their arrival.
13. Suitable dwelling will be assigned to
Emigrants under indenture free of rent and will be kept in
good repair by the employers. When Emigrants under indenture
are ill they will be provided with Hospital accommodation,
Medical attendance, Medicines, Medical comforts and Food free
14. An Emigrant who has a wife still living
is not allowed to marry another wife in the Colony unless his
marriage with his first wife shall have been legally
dissolved; but if he is married to more than one wife in his
country he can take them all with him to the Colony and they
will then be legally registered and acknowledged as his wives.