Apravasi Ghat in Mauritius - Cultural identity as a heritage site

Apravasi Ghat in Mauritius - Cultural identity as a heritage site

Question - Aapravasi Ghat in Mauritius has significance as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explain the genesis of the cultural identity of the Ghat as a heritage site.

Aapravasi Ghat is known as the symbol of British Empire’s “great experiment” of using free labour instead of slaves for working in sugar plantations. This ghat located in Mauritius is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a cultural symbol of the efforts and hardship endured by Indian workers.

• This Ghat is located on the bay of Trou Fanfaron in Port-Louis

• Immigrants reached here following a journey across the Indian Ocean for many weeks

• The capacity of the Aapravasi Ghat then was 600 immigrants

• Workers of multiple faiths from different communities and many varying Indian states arrived here for promoting business and advancing

• In 2006, Permanent Representative to UNESCO, Biswajit Mukherjee made a plea for the inclusion of this site as a symbol of a historic memory for a heritage site

• Aapravasi Ghat was included in the list of World Heritage sites providing global recognition for indentured labour

• This is an important symbol of the indentured labourers as ancestors of a massive Indian population here

• More than 70% of the Mauritian population arrived here through the immigration depot at Aapravasi Ghat

• Rapidly growing sugar industry in Mauritius needs great labour input and Indians arrived from Bihar as well as UP and the Southern provinces of the nation during colonial times to work here

• The most famous structure here is the Coolie Depot/Immigration Depot. This includes the sheds for housing the immigrants as well as their living accommodation

• This Ghat represents the strength of the human spirit in the face of insurmountable odds

• More than 462,000 men, women and children from India and other parts of the world landed at this Ghat for new lives and livelihoods

• Indentured Indian immigrants were a massive milestone in the evolution of Mauritian history as well as its society, polity and economy

• In 1987, the government of Mauritius declared this site was the national monument. In 2006, it received impetus to become the first indentured site in the world for being inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites

• This indentured labour system was replicated in colonies such as Australia, Fiji, Guyana and Trinidad. More than 30 colonies across the world were home to Indian indentured labourers, including Mauritius’s Aapravasi Ghat

Facts and Stats

- Apravasi Ghat consists of a flight of 14 steps on which the first batch of 36 Indian workers climbed onto when they first arrived at Mauritius on November 2nd, 1832

- The system of indentured labourers were established in the year 1833 by the British Parliament
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