About Us Diaspora in Trinidad and Tobago

The sub-continent of India contributed about 143,000 indentured workers to Trinidad between 1845 and 1917. A vast majority of these Indian emigrants came from Northern India, mainly from the districts of United Provinces and Bihar. Majority of these immigrants settled in Trinidad and even now mention with pride the province, district (Zila), fiscal unit (Pargana) and village from where their forefathers came.

From 1845 onwards, Indian settlers streamed into the British colony on shiploads bound to contractual labour lasting three to five years with an option to return home on lapse of period of indentureship.  However, few returned.  Approximately 134,183 Indians settled in Trinidad during the period 1845 – 1917 (indentured labour emigration to the Caribbean ended in 1917 with passage of British legislation) and their presence made a visible difference to the physical and cultural landscape of this nation.  

The relationship between India and Trinidad and Tobago has shifted from a mere manifestation of cultural, religious and historical ties, forming part of the Indian heritage consisting of approximately 42 per cent of a population of about 1.4 million people, to serious business and economic links premised on agreements and joint venture partnerships, investments in financial services, pharmaceuticals, tourism, medicine, and visibility in conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions. The Indian Diaspora in Trinidad and Tobago has thus graduated from indentureship to entrepreneurship. They constitute business magnates, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, professionals representing in politics, law, medicine, academia and the like.  Perhaps no field of social, cultural, economic and political activity is left uninfluenced by people of Indian descent. 

The other part of the community, NRIs, constitute about 500, mostly engaged in business, teaching and other professions.  An Indian PSU in operation - New India Assurance contributes to the country’s GDP and has a visible stake in the insurance sector.  Besides, Indian traders do visit from time to time to organize trade fairs which have made Indian garments, accessories, furniture and handicrafts very popular in the country.

The Diaspora is a formidable force in Trinidad, the largest numerical representation in the entire Caribbean; the most well-to-do and culturally strong and progressive ethnic group in the plural society of the country.  Such engagements do contribute in terms of cultural and emotional ties so as to reinforce the historical links between our two countries.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD)

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9th January every year since 2003 to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. Since 2015, its format has been revised to celebrate the PBD once every two years and to hold theme-based PBD Conferences during the intervening period with participation from overseas diaspora experts, policy makers and stakeholders. These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities. 

The 17th PBD Convention was held from 8–10 January, 2023 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh with the theme "Diaspora: Reliable partners for India’s progress in Amrit Kaal”. The Convention was inaugurated by Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, in the presence of Chief Guest, H.E. Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, the President of Cooperative Republic of Guyana, and the Special Guest of Honour, H.E. Mr. Chandrikapersad Santokhi, Hon’ble President of the Republic of Suriname. From Trinidad and Tobago, High Court Justice Hon’ble Frank Seepersad was conferred Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA) at the convention. Prior to this, former Prime Ministers Basdeo Panday (2005) and Kamla Persad-Bissessar (2012), former Ministers Winston Dookeran (2017) and Dr. Lenny Krishendath Saith (2010), and the National Council for Indian Culture (2008) have been conferred with the PBSA awards. 

Diaspora Services:

The Diaspora Engagement Division of the Ministry deals with all matters related to Overseas Indians, comprising Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) which include organizing Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Conventions and Regional PBDs, conferment of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, dissemination of information concerning admission of NRI/PIO students to various educational, technical and cultural institutions in India and issues related to NRI women.  

The following schemes are run by the Ministry:

  1. Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) - A foreign national, who was eligible to become citizen of India on 26.01.1950 or was a citizen of India on or at any time after 26.01.1950 or belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947 and his / her children and grand children, are eligible for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). Minor children of such person are also eligible for OCI. For further details visit https://www.hcipos.gov.in/page/oci/ 

  2. Know India Programme (KIP) - The Know India Programme is a three-week knowledge programme designed for the diaspora youth. The primary objective of the KIP is to foster a closer connection between Indian diaspora youth and their ancestral homeland by augmenting their understanding of India.

KIP participants get an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the history and culture of India as a civilization as well as the advancements and achievements of modern India across diverse domains, including but not limited to the realms of economy, industry, education, science and technology, telecommunications, information technology, and space science. The participants are granted the privilege of engaging in Learning Tours to a spectrum of institutions and organizations encompassing both the private and public sectors. These tours serve as a platform for participants to gain profound insights and engage in meaningful interactions with field experts and specialists. For more details, visit https://www.kip.gov.in/