Unexpectedly it was Burma (now Myanmar) that attracted by far the largest number of Indian immigrants. Between 1840 and 1940 around 8 million Indians crossed to Sri Lanka, 4 million to Malaya, and 12 to 15 million to Burma. Migration across the Bay was on par with that across the Atlantic, and half of it ended up in Burma. In the 1930s Rangoon overtook New York as the world's foremost port of immigration. To the extent that three-quarters of its labour force was of Indian descent, it had become an Indian city. Indeed, with Tamil Chettiars acquiring a handsome share of Burma's rice fields, Burma was as much an Indian colony as a British one.
Friday, January 24, 2014
In the 1930s Rangoon overtook New York as the world's foremost port of immigration
Hmm. I guess I should have read on. In, There is no ignorance so blind as academic ignorance, I commented that the book being reviewed was about the interesting, but little discussed, topic of intra-imperial migration in the British Empire; Australians to South Africa, Indians to Fiji, etc. Had I read on just a little further, in that same issue of Literary Review, there is a review by John Keay of the book Crossing the Bay of Bengal by Sunil S. Amrith which puts some empirical data to my skeletal comment.