The book tells about tears that created a paradise in Fiji that would otherwise had remained relatively undeveloped and poorer, like some of its other Pacific neighbours. This was done through the suffering of indentured Indian labourers from India. The book tells about the suffering these indentured labourers, girmitiyas, as they were known, went through, at the hands of colonialists, who comprised British and Australians (the latter descending from “convicts”, as history tells us.)
In one of my earlier writings, I had mentioned about the forgotten history of our forefathers. In that forgotten history was also hidden the theft committed from Indo Fijians by Australians, hiding behind Colonial Sugar Refining Company, that we call CSR.
Australia’s CSR Company, which operated sugar mills, had been a tool of oppression for decades for Indians in Fiji. History substantiates enormous degree of exploitation of Indian cane farmers by the sugar milling company, both in physical terms, as well as in financial terms.
Prasad talks about the wounds of indenture that caused great pain and suffering to subsequent generations of Indo Fijians. He accuses British Government, the CSR Company and the Australian Government of being the axis of evil who robbed a generation of freedom, liberty and rights of the indentured labourers.
In a book titled ‘A Short History of Fiji” D. Scarr quotes J. B Thurston, Colonial Secretary in 1880 (later Governor of Fiji- 1888- 1897) labeling CSR as ‘the most selfish company in the Australasias.’
He told Sir Arthur Gordon, the first Governor of Fiji:
“With all our ‘highfalutin’ to the contrary, the wrongs we have committed in the name of Christianity, civilisation, progress are manifold. We are, as a race, a race of robbers and spoilers”
According to Prasad, Australia as the beneficiary of the ill-gotten gains of the CSR Company in Fiji was in a position to exert its influence to reduce the suffering of the girmitiya, but economic considerations outweighed human ones. In addition to this, the victims were coloured while the perpetrators were white and their own people, hence the expediency that justified injustice.
Was CSR Company really the evil predator that it was branded as? The author had a revelation of this when he sought permission to publish some photos from its publication covering Fiji operations. They agreed on the condition that materials used were not injurious to its reputation and they sought right to review his work for fairness, seeking copy of any such material. The author felt that, the company was still domineering, and felt it could still intimidate and dominate the lives of descendants of the people they milked to make millions.