If it were so-if only….

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I just had a fantasy that I lived in a world where the empirical data indicated to me that all populations of humanity were equally endowed with the same frequency of a variety of handy phenotypes. Ah, what a world it would be! Politics would be much simpler-broad axioms would be much easier….

So-a question, brought up on the boards by “Sen” I believe: Why hasn’t the Indian Diaspora in Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Fiji created paradises with their industry & unleashed human capital? Comparing these situations to Singapore is unfair of course, the little city state has choice location-but it must be remembered that the Chinese of Southeast Asia drive the economies of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, and to a lesser extent Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Does the “Hindu Rate of Growth” have something to do with the lack of social or genetic capital of the early settlers? Were the Chinese who settled Southeast Asia a particular subset of the population of China proper, more enterprising & industrious? (Indians sent to work as indentured laborers were generally from the lower-castes)

16 Comments

  1. Well, these tropical outposts of Greater India like Mauritius are not hellholes by any means. But I presume that most of the examples you cited were populated by Indian peasants brought in by the British to work on plantations. I don’t know about Singapore in detail, but I imagine that its sensational location for trading attracted immigrant merchants from China. Two very different classes of immigrants.

  2. these are valid points-from what i know, uttar pradesh & bihar were the primary sources of the cheap labor the british needed in these sugar oriented colonies. today, these are two of the most dysfunctional & backward states (especially bihar). the people were from the lower castes as well, though a few brahmins made it to the carribean, and mauritius has a small community of gujaratis.

    and singapore is a special case probably. the indians there tend to be professionals as well. but what malaysia? most of the chinese (from what i recall) came to work on the rubber plantations.

    jason, any info here?

  3. The Chinese in Malaysia did not come to work in rubber plantations. They were involved mainly in tin mining. They are perceived to located in the urban areas. The Indians were brought in as labourers to work in the rubber plantations and to build railways, roads etc. The difference is that the Indians were brought in or encouraged to come to Malaysia by the British. It would stand to reason you bring in people who would be easier to control. Futhtermore the British controlled India at the time. The British however had nothing to do with the Chinese. In fact they were suspicious of them and they dealt with them differently.When it was clear to the British that their time was up, they preferred to hand over the administration to the Malays. To this end they set up special schools to educate them. The Chinese had their business but the Indians……..

  4. Whoever JS was it wasn’t me but good points. Yes, I believe most Indians that came from M’sia were from lower castes.

  5. BIG DISSENTING NOTE:
    What about South Africa? Indians there even during Apartheid had near-white affluence and were said to be the richest Indian community anywhere. They came as labourers too but I seem to recollect that a lot were from Panjab (Sikhs mainly)

  6. South Africa has many Gujuratis. Gujurat is the wealthiest large state in India, and the Gujurati diaspora in East Africa, South Africa, Canada and Britain is quite wealthy (both Hindu and Muslim).

    Some other examples of poorly performing Indian diaspora are in Fiji, Trinidad, and Guyana.

    Perhaps because of the brown presence on this blog, distinctions are often made on the regional origins of Indian communities outside India (or South Asia, whatever). Given that India is as mucha continent as a country, distinguishin between Gujuratis and Tamil is like distinguishing bnetween Norwegians and Italians.

    What is the regional origin of the Chinese diaspora in different countries? IS in entirely Fukienese and Cantonese? Is there any Chinese diaspora that originates in the interior (frex, Chungqing)? Is there any reason to beleive that among Overseas Chinese, regional origin makes a difference (Taiwan would be a god test case here).

  7. There is less differentiation between different regional groups of the Chinese, because China is 99% HAN. Unlike India, which has at least 100 different groups. The only study of cast, I am aware of was by the British Anthropologist Cooke in 1912. He classified Indians into a myraid of racial and ethnic types. The other Anthropologist who is well known in looking at India is Carleton Coon.

    So India is clearly more diverse than Mainland China. And this may be why some Indian Diaspora are more sucessfull than others.

    In Canada, Punjabi’s (like myself), Gujuraties and Sikhs are the most numerous Indian Groups.

    Ofcourse you also have the Sikhs of BC who came at the turn of the century.

  8. John Ray said:

    “….They came as labourers too but I seem to recollect that a lot were from Panjab (Sikhs mainly)”

    I don’t think that there are many Sikhs, if any, in South Africa. I never saw a single Sikh during the two times I visited that country and my mother (born and raised in South Africa until she was 30) said the first time she saw a Sikh was when she arrived in London England at the age of 30.

  9. gujaratis are over-represented in south africa, UK & the US. i don’t know about canada, but mauritius and i believe fiji has a small but influential gujarati mercentile community (who take pride in their non-indentured past).

  10. Ahh..
    So Gujuratis are they key. Interesting. Parsees speak Gujurati too and they are the pinnacle of Indian success. And since most Parsees are pretty brown they are probably ethnically more Gujurati than Iranian.

    On the Chinese:
    Over 90% may be HAN but that is like saying 90% of the people living in Europe are Europeans. You don’t have to travel far in China to move from one dialect to another — with a high degree of mutual incomprehension. And if you think they are “all the same” (how Western!) just ask a Shanghainese what they think of the Cantonese!

  11. Firstly it was not “Sen”, but me who came up with that point. Besides Gujrat is not the most prosporous state n India, it is NO.2 after Maharastra (Where I reside). The truth is that the Chinese are more homogenous than Indians. In India there are thousands of ethnic groups along with castes in each. In China on the other hand there are only about 60 ethinic groups while the largest group the Han Chinese are 90% while in India the largest group (Hindi speakers) make only about 33% of the population at the most.
    However though the Indians in Guyana, Figi have not turned their nations into Singapore’s or Taiwan’s, they have had no problem dominating the black population there. In Guyana, blacks and Indians have different political parties and relations both the communities are tense at best. However you guys are forgetting one more nation made into a first word naton due to Chinese ingenuity, Taiwan. Any word on that.

  12. sorry about the confusion sub. i avoided mentioning taiwan because of the rebuttal that they had “american help.” a common one in my experience from NRIs when comparing india and other asian countries….

  13. I would agree that China is less diverse than India, but it is still extremely diverse. And south China is the most distinct region of all, with several unintelligible “chinese” languages.

    Are Chinese emigrants disproportionately from the south? US and Canadian Chinese populations arise largely from southern China. The only country I know of which has Chinese residents originating from many parts of China is Taiwan.

    But this is blog is best when it is quantitive. What is the genetic similarity between northern, southern, and inland residents of China? Compare with India?

    (As for Guyana, Fiji, etc, the “too-many-blacks” excuse won’t cut it. Indian communities in East Africa are very wealthy, those in Guyana and Trinidad are not. The first place to look for an explanation is among the Indian population.)

    (And what ‘blacks’ are there in Fiji? The island’s indigenous population is melanesian. No blacker than your average south indian)

    (I think Maharashtra is, per capita, ten percent richer than Gujurat. But Mumbai skews Maharashtra’s data upwards. I would bet Gujurat has a higher median income)

  14. I agree with Ikram, that Bombay or Mumbai pulls up the state per capita income (Do not forget the prosporous city of Pune or Poona). Talking about Bombay, the Gujrathi community is really strong here. Indeed Bombay may have more Parsees than Gujrat itself. So large and prominant is the Gujrathi community there that in the Universites in Bombay along with English, Hindi and the local language of Marathi, Gujrathi is taught too. (No other non-Marathi local language is given so much importance). The owner of the company where my dad works is Gujrathi too and they do own a lot of businesses here. Besides Rajib do you know about the Chinese community in Calcutta?

  15. the only thing i know about the calcutta chinese is that they are migrating to the west and southeast asia. also, it is hilarious to someone named “william lee” speak with a strong indian accent in english.

  16. Fiji and Mauritius both got two waves of Indian immigrants – agricultural laborers from Bihar and U-P in the 19th century, and Gujarati merchants in the 1920s. While neither country compares to Singapore, both are enormously successful by regional standards – Mauritius compares favorably to South Africa (or even Malaysia), and Fiji is certainly head and shoulders above Vanuatu or Tonga. Mauritius and Fiji are probably at least as wealthy compared to their nearest neighbors as Singapore is to Malaysia or Thailand. Given the resources available to them, I’d say that the Indians in Fiji and Mauritius have created prosperous societies.

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