The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has taken up a number of initiatives to showcase its heritage, which include heritage tours. Kolkata port had served as an originating point for large number of indentured labourers who went to different parts of the colonial world through this port, said Vinit Kumar, chairman, KoPT.
The Kolkata Port Trust in association with the Institute of Social and Cultural Studies recently organised a seminar at the site of its Indenture Memorial on the theme of ‘Indentured labour and the Ganges.’ Inaugurating the seminar, Vinit Kumar, chairman KoPT referred to the unique legacy of the Port as an originating point for the large number of indentured labourers that went to different parts of the colonial world.
He highlighted that the Port has taken up a number of initiatives to showcase its heritage which include heritage tours that are likely to receive an impetus with the introduction of an old restored paddle-steamer on the river sometime later during the year. Meanwhile, professor Geraldine Forbes, distinguished Professor of History, New York State University, Oswego, delivered the keynote address and dwelt on the different historiographical aspects of the transit and living conditions of “coolies” in the colonial settlements.
Explaining the importance of the seminar, Gautam Chakraborti, coordinator, heritage, of the Port, said “after the lift of the initial ban on indenture, the first ship sailed to Mauritius from Calcutta in January 1842. The Memorial, visited by descendants of immigrants from all over the world, was set up in January 2011.” M K Singh, director general of Police, Home Guard, West Bengal, Prof Ishani Naskar of Rabindra Bharati University and a few other speakers, reminisced and discussed the dispersal of the diaspora from the port of Calcutta from varying social and cultural perspectives.