|India Table of Contents
Still another foreign-origin group, usually known collectively as Siddhis, are the descendants of Africans brought to India as slaves. Although most African-origin Indians are descendants of the large influx of slaves brought to western India in the seventeenth century, the first Africans reportedly arrived on the Konkani Coast in the first century A.D. as a result of the Arab slave trade, and there was an important African presence, including several short-term rulers, in Bengal in the fifteenth century. Siddhis (the name means lord or prince in African usage) sometimes rose to prominent--even ruling--governmental and military positions during the Mughal and British periods.
Most modern-day Siddhis are Muslims and are engaged in agricultural pursuits. They are found in Gujarat, Daman and Diu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and other states and union territories, where they are designated as Scheduled Tribe members.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress