Perceptions of and responses to transformation among people of Indian origin in post-apartheid South Africa: 1994-1999.
The theme of this dissertation is reflected in its title and was written to capture this particular historical juncture in post-apartheid South Africa. It was inspired by a variety of factors, including the harsh historical experiences of the Indian population since their arrival as indentured labourers in 1860, the current reassertion of ethnic identities and widespread ethnically based conflicts throughout the world, and the minority rights campaign that is gaining momentum in Europe. The significance of the last point is that West European countries generally enjoy the status as trendsetters on social policy issues, and the rest of the developing world often tends to follow suit. In this respect, this dissertation attempts to illustrate how the views of the Indian minority on transformation, in between the 1994 and 1999 democratic general elections, have been influenced and shaped. Their experiences were important in ascertaining their perceptions and responses to transformation. Research was carried out in the Greater Durban Area across class boundaries, covering suburbs such as Reservoir Hills, Clare Estate, Asherville, Overport, Phoenix and Chatsworth. The outcome of this effort is contained in 229 pages consisting of ten chapters. It is viewed in the context of the circumstances that prevailed just before the county's first democratic general election of 27 April 1994, up to the period of the next general election of 2 June 1999. Of central concern here were the dynamics surrounding the inevitable transfer of power from the White minority to representatives of the Black majority, and how the smallest ethnic minority i.e. the people of Indian origin, were reacting to this process. Research was carried out on the issues about which respondents felt very strongly. These translated into chapters on the history of violence against Indians in South Africa, the widespread impoverishment that is overshadowed by the visibility of the Indian middle and upper classes, their perceptions of informal settlements, Indian priviledge versus African empowerment in the public transport sector in Durban, finding new schools, and emigration - viewed as a solution to some and a dream to others.