The word originated from doogala (दुगला), which is a Caribbean Hindustani word that may mean "many", "much" or "a mix". Some of the connotations of the word such as bastard, illegitimate and son of a whore are secondary and limited to sections of North India where the term may have originated. Originally, in the West Indies the word was only used for Afro-Indo mixed race, despite its origin as a word used to describe inter-caste mixing.
There are sporadic records of Indo-Euro interracial relationships, both forced and unforced, before any ethnic mixing of the African and Indian variety. Women were a minority among earlier Indian migrants. Many did not take the voyage across the Atlantic for several reasons, among them the fear of exploitation and the assumption that they were unfit for labor.
Socio-religious practice played a part as religious practices are paramount to the Hindu religion and preservation of the religion and culture was of extreme importance to the indentured laborers. Association with those outside the community who engaged in Adharmic practices was considered to compromise the purity of the race, religion and culture, seen as necessary for survival in the foreign land.
The second reason was socio-economic. The arrival of Indians to the British Caribbean was not meant to be permanent. For most of the Indian immigrants, the aim was to gain material wealth under contract, then return to their respective homelands. The Dougla represented the postponement and deferral of that goal if not rendering it completely impossible, being a living symbol of departure from cultural custom jatis.
The third reason was racism. Trinidad, as well as other territories in the Caribbean, had a dynamic of power based on the colour of one's skin. This reinforced the rules by which Indo society functioned in excluding the Dougla. Other Indo-based types of miscegenation (Indo-Chinese (Chindian), Indo-Carib) tended to identify as one of the older, unmixed ethnic strains on the island: Afro, Indo or Euro or passing as one of them.
If they sending Indians to India
And Africans back to Africa
Well somebody please just tell me
Where they sending poor me?
I am neither one nor the other
Six of one, half a dozen of the other
So if they sending all these people back home for true
They got to split me in two
The biggest population of Dougla peoples, second (and if not on par), with those in Trinidad and Tobago are those in Guyana. Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese make up half of the Guyanese population, and Douglas number 15% of the country's demographics.
In the French West Indies (Guadeloupe, Martinique), mixed Afro-Indian people used to be called Batazendien or Chapé-Coolie, those who have escaped the disagreeable Indian condition by becoming hybrid.
In the French West Indies they are now treated in a more positive way by other categories of the population and no longer face the cruel existential dilemma of post-slavery times. The uncommon phenomenon of mutual acceptance and cultural exchange now attained, called by some "the Guadeloupe Model", has widely contributed to the rare harmony of the multiracial French West Indian communities.