Expression of Interest thought from people wanting
to track their ancestors in Fiji or India
website of the Government of India. Click here for
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.
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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