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Chapter Summary

Due to the geographical proximity, labour migration from South India to Ceylon builds on a longstanding history. Presumably, Indian immigrants were already employed in pre-colonial Ceylon. In the early years of labour immigration, natural push and pull factors sufficed to induce South Indian Tamil villagers to undertake the long journey by foot and boat and come to the Kandyan highlands as plantation workers. Indian labour migration to Ceylon-in sharp contrast to the system of indentured labour migration devised in India in the 1830s-was 'free'. In the early phase of labour migration from South India to the planting districts of Ceylon, the immigrants and the kanganies usually reached the island in small, privately owned sailing vessels. The immigrant labourers' life on the coffee and tea plantations of Ceylon consisted mainly of work.

Keywords:Ceylon; immigrants; Indian labour migration; Kandyan highlands; South India



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