ISSN: (Online) 2321 -4155
ISSN: (Print) 2320 -7000

JOURNAL OF INDIAN RESEARCH
VOLUME : 3, ISSUE : 3, October-December, 2015 (ISSN No. : 2321-4155)
 
DALITS AMONG INDIAN DIASPORA IN MAURITIUS: IDENTITY, TRANSFORMATION AND INTEGRATION
Devi Dayal Gautam
 
ABSTRACT
Mauritius is a British territory in the Indian Ocean 500 miles to the East of Madagascar. It measures 720 square miles and has a current population of 1.281 million people (World Bank, 2010). Discovered by Portuguese, most of the current generation ancestors came from France (the original settlers), Africa (slaves), India (indentured immigrants) and China (shopkeepers). Sixty-seven percent of the population of Mauritius is of Indian origin; twenty-eight percent Creole, i.e., of mixed African and/or Indian and European descent; three percent is Chinese; and two percent is European or of European origin. The majority of the Indian immigrants to Mauritius (60 percent) came from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Western Bihar, while 33 percent were recruited from Southern India (Tamils, Telugus) and 7 percent from Maharashtra (Marathis). Dalits constituted 27 percent. The ethno- social and cultural assimilation of Indian Diaspora in Mauritius makes a homogenous creolic nation where caste in contemporary Mauritius is insignificant. The categories are quite fluid and new umbrella categories subsume changing caste identities. But cultural dominance of Indian sub- continent is creating caste difference to a certain extent. Caste might not matter in issues of marriages and other social practices in Mauritius but in politics it is strongly visible. The government of Mauritius has enacted the Equal Opportunities Act, in 2012 to eliminate direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of age, caste, creed, ethnic origin, impairment, marital status, place of origin, political opinion, race, sex or sexual orientation. Equal Opportunities Commission has also been established. Ministry of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment has been set up with a view to combat social exclusion. This paper aims to summarize the historical formation of the Dalit identity in Mauritius.
 
KEYWORD
Babaji, Babuji, Bombis, calcatias, chamars, creoles, Dalit, Dusadh, endogamy, Kangani system, “les indiens”, Malaysia, plantocracy, social stratification, Varna.
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