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Expression of Interest thought from people wanting to track their ancestors in Fiji or India

Tracking website of the Government of India. Click here for more information

Click here for first infos about Milaap project

Click here to read an interesting story how South Africa created a CD-ROM for tracking of indentures labourers 

Since his website has been launched we are receiving calls from interested people to assist them with the search for their ancestors.

As you are aware, the National Archives of Fiji has all over 60'000 emigration passes in 240 folios.

While the Japanese aid agency JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) has provided some support, none of the staff of the National Archives can be full-time assigned to their project of plain indexing the existing material.

We have already informed Mr. Setareki Tale, the Director of the National Archives, that should there be a demand, we might be able to provide assistance for putting all passes in digital format and on this website.

We herewith invite people that would like to trace their ancestors in either or both India and Fiji, to write to information @ fijigirmit.org and express their interest.

If we have a certain critical mass of interested parties, we could organise the initial scanning of all passes. Each person wanting to track her/his ancestors would have to pay a nominal fee and gain access to all the passes.

How much the fee will be is not yet determined - but it will depend on the number of people intending to track their ancestors. We still have to find out how much time this mammoth task requires and how easy it will be to enter relevant information in a searchable database.

We just received an e-mail from Mr. Satish Rai:


Congratulations on the launch of your new website. I am specially happy about this initiative as a researcher and documentary film maker. My special research area is Discover Your Indian Roots, on which I have produced two documentary films already. The first one-Milaap Discover your Indian Roots was launched in Fiji during India Week in last year. For the second one I was sponsored by the Government of India Tourist office to shoot in India yearly this year. The film Milaap-A Royal Discovery is now complete.

I have noticed that some of the letters to you sought information about tracing roots in India. I have some knowledge regarding this. During India week I ran information sessions and managed assist some 60 people to obtained copies of their ancestors' immigration passes from the National Achieves of Fiji. I have handed over copies of these passes to the Discover Your Indian Roots project in Uttar Pradesh in India. If you so wish, you may direct requests for assistance regarding search for Indian roots to me. I may be able to assist some of them (raj2 @ iprimus.com.au address does no longer work as per Sept 2005)

Click here for more information about Milaap Project.



CD-ROM to help South African Indians trace roots
By Fakir Hassen, Indo-Asian News Service
from Yahoo India News

Friday February 13, 2004. 8:13 AM

Durban, Feb 13 (IANS) A CD-ROM painstakingly compiled here by a veteran researcher will help South Africa's 1.2 million Indians - mostly descended from indentured labourers first brought in 1860 - trace their roots.

Joy Brain took more than 25 years to compile the information in the CD and discussions are on with publishers and those who can fund the project on whether it should be sold as a commercial product or put into the public domain.

"We were not allowed to photocopy the original documents because of their fragility. The details (of the early immigrants) were recorded in books that are now very delicate and falling to pieces in the archives of Durban," Brain told IANS.

"It took so long because we had to copy everything by hand. There was no other way of doing it from the books that are up to six feet long, with often difficult handwriting legibility."

Brain said the resumption of ties between India and South Africa a decade ago after nearly 40 years of isolation because of apartheid had resulted in a resurgence of interest by local Indians in tracing their roots.

"There was a time when there was not much interest. But now they are interested in finding the village where their ancestors came from or to get a certificate of Indian origin, for which they need proof from the archives."

As a church historian, Brain saw Indian names cropping up frequently in her research, which prompted her to start researching the history of South Africa's Indian community. After visiting India, she wrote several books in this area.

The latest work collates all the information that was recorded by the authorities in the then British colonial territory of Natal, which brought in the Indians to work on sugar plantations as indentured labourers. The majority of them opted to remain in the country when their periods of employment expired.

"This work will be useful to anyone, even those not living in Durban. Up to now they have had to pay somebody to research their queries or phone me about it," said Brain.

"More importantly, it preserves for posterity the important documents in a form that will avoid people ripping the originals to pieces."

Brain said the Genealogical Society of South Africa had done a lot of work in the complicated task of indexing the content that had been captured for the CD-ROM.

Brain also set out to disprove the "myths and legends" about the early Indian settlers that had persisted through generations but had no documentary or other evidence to substantiate them.

"Some of these distress me a lot. The descendants of those early Indians need to be proud of what their ancestors did, rather than constantly moan and groan about how they were ill-treated (by their colonial masters).

"It was courage, enterprise and hard work that built them up into what the Indian community is today.

"I heard a woman on the radio this week saying how they had been promised that all the families would go together to (wherever they were allocated) and then they weren't, but that's not true. You can prove from the state registers that they kept families together."

Another claim that Brain disputes is that recruiting agents and ships' masters deliberately sought out Indian women of easy virtue to go on the lengthy boat trip to South Africa.

"This is an insult to Indian women. Perhaps there may have been 150 out of the 150,000 women who came here who were like that, but to generalise the issue is unfair."

Brain now plans to research and write about the caste system and its impact on the recruitment process, as well as why people in certain areas in India appeared to have been amenable to going to South Africa while others were not.

"They sent out recruiters all over (India). Some were very successful while others were not. Some got more people than they could handle while others got none. We want to investigate the reasons for that."

Trace your roots in India (for Indian Diaspora)

A substantial number of overseas Indians or descendants of the Indians who left Indian Shores in the second half of the 10th Century or in the early decades of 20th century to such far off places as the Caribbean, African continent, Mauritius, Fiji etc. The present day generation in the Diaspora nurture a deep urge to know their ancestral roots in India for sentimental reasons. Some of them also wish to contribute to the development of the village & town of their forefathers as a symbol of their sentiments.

Efforts have been made in the past by members of the Diaspora to establish the identity of their ancestral villages & to re-establish the social link that was snapped in the distant past. However such endeavors yielded limited results.

This website is designed to address the queries from the members of the Indian Diaspora on their ancestral roots in India in a systematic manner, in an interactive mode by developing a database through a questionnaire , transmission of the data to the administrative unit in the relevant district in India.

Click here to go to the website. However, we were informed (in 2005) that the website, also working, does not bring any results. But you may still try.