Direct link to scholarships offered by  Govt. of India

List of Private NGOs offering scholarships

Abu Marwan Abdal Malik Ibn Zuhr: ‘Avenzoar’

Abu Marwan Abdal Malik Ibn Zuhr, known in the west as Avenzoar, was

Ummid Assistant

IGNOU invites applications for online nutrition course

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Views & Analysis

Fiji - where the heart still lives in India

Wednesday February 02, 2011 11:53:32 AM, Rajiv Bhatia, IANS

Despite having visited many places from Suez to Bali that showed the influence of Indian culture and cuisine, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the depth of India's impact on a few islands located in the Pacific Ocean. On my recent Air Pacific flight from Sydney to Nadi in Fiji, the friendly airhostess brought a tray of drinks and a bowl of besan ke sev, a popular savoury in India. It was a reminder that the distance of 13,000 km did not prevent the commencement of links with India in the 19th century, which continue to flourish even today.

Our hotel in Nadi belonged to a Fijian of Indian origin. Some of the personnel who helped us organise the lecture series that had taken my colleague and me to Fiji were named Nikhil, Rajnail Singh and Rajesh. The words 'namaste' and 'dhanyabad' were heard around. The very first meal served to us included dishes from northern India. We had temporarily left India, but while in Fiji I felt India had not quite left us.

As a British colony for nearly a century, Fiji opened its doors to labour from India, as workers were needed on sugarcane plantations. Between 1879 and 1914, about 60,000 people from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were brought for this purpose.

Known as 'girmitiyas' - after distortion of the word permit or the contract of employment - they and their descendents worked under terrible conditions. But they succeeded in building a nation with their sweat and sacrifice. Others followed later as free migrants.

Fiji changed them considerably as they, eating and living together, overcame their caste prejudices and developed a common language - Fijian Hindi. Also, they changed Fiji in many ways. Fijian Hindi is one of the three official languages of the country, English and Fijian being the other two. Fiji had Mahendra Chaudhary as its prime minister although a military coup of May 2000 led to his removal. Vijay Singh, the ace golfer, is known for successfully challenging Tiger Woods, displacing him from the number one ranking for quite some time.

Indo-Fijians numbered about 51 percent of the country's population in 1966, i.e., four years before Fiji gained independence, but it went down to 38 percent in 2007 and is projected to decline further to 26 percent by 2030. Their large-scale migration to Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere for economic reasons is a cause of worry to Fiji. Happily, relations between Indo-Fijians and indigenous Fijians known as 'itaukei' appear to be much better today than in the past.

During a morning walk just outside Nadi, I ran into a friendly but curious native Fijian. "Are you from India?" On my confirming this, he promptly invited me to his home. I could not resist the temptation to ask him how relations between native Fijians and Indo-Fijians were. "Now they are good," he said. Another answer from an educated Indian woman to the same question was: "Now we are all Fijians."

India can perhaps contribute to reconciliation by strengthening and deepening India-Fiji relations as part of a long-term plan to enhance ties with the Pacific island countries. Trade offers only limited possibility, but Indian companies can invest more in the main sectors of the economy - tourism, fisheries and services that cater not only to Fiji but also to neighbouring countries. The government of India has been striving to expand its development cooperation.

It was heartening to note that Vinod Kumar, India's new high commissioner, has been focussing on healthcare, education, renewable sources of energy and space science as new areas of cooperation. The Fijian high commission in Delhi asserts that Fiji considers India as "its major strategic development partner" and has been engaged in the task to "nurture and fortify" bilateral cooperation, trade and investment with India.

People-to-people relations encompassing both streams - Fijian and Indo-Fijian - need to be expanded further. An effective way would be to strengthen institutions such as the National University of Fiji, by deputing suitable Indian experts for short periods. Getting more youngsters to visit India for education, training and tourism would be another useful method.

Of 14 officials from eight Pacific countries who attended lectures delivered by us, two were from Fiji - both women of Indian origin working in the Foreign Office. I found them smart, attentive and articulate as students. Their dream was to represent their country as "diplomats" and also "to visit India some day."

An Indo-Fijian settled in London but visiting Nadi wanted my help in locating his father's relatives in Bihar. "A part of my heart", he said wistfully, "still lives in India." Indeed the angst of our diaspora remains an abiding bond.



(A former Indian ambassador to several countries, the author visited Fiji recently to impart training to diplomats of several Pacific countries. He can be contacted at rajivbhatia@airtelmail.in)

 

 

 

 

 

  Bookmark and Share                                          Home | Top of the Page

Comments

Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of www.ummid.com

Comments powered by DISQUS

More Headlines

Two pilots killed as chopper crashes into Nashik locality

Brazil mudslides: Toll reaches 860

Mubarak says he will not seek another term

Flying Maruti car at AeroIndia this year

Maharashtra demands central aid to modernize police force

India to take up fake varsity issue, Rao heading to US

Jordanian government resigns

Maoism, terrorism, fundamentalism serious challenges: PM

Another key accused in Malegaon blast held

March of a million in Cairo to dislodge Mubarak

Lashkar behind killing of Kashmir sisters, Omar says shame

Super successful Sikh is Toronto's biggest Indian car man

What's bothering Bihar's entrepreneurs? Ask 'MBA Sabziwalla'

Kerosene mafia attack police team in Nagpur

 

 

 

Top Stories

March of a million in Cairo to dislodge Mubarak

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square Tuesday and many more were streaming in to participate in the march of a million as the movement    »

Anger in Egypt: March of a million people planned to oust Mubarak

Egypt uprising echoes Philippines 25 years ago

 

Picture of the Day

Protesters have returned to the streets of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, for the fifth consecutive day, following violent overnight protests across the country staged in defiance of a curfew.

(Photo: AFP)

 

  Most Read

Maoism, terrorism, fundamentalism serious challenges: PM

Naming leftwing extremism, cross-border terrorism and religious fundamentalism as serious challenges facing the country, Prime Minister    »

For India's Muslims, Vastanvi has got it right

The controversy surrounding Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, elected as vice chancellor of Darul Uloom in Deoband, a leading school of Islamic theology with followers across the   »

New Deoband Chief's love for Modi fails to get Muslim approval

 

  News Pick

Kerosene mafia attack police team in Nagpur

Exactly a week after the additional collector of Nashik district was burnt alive by the oil mafia, a team of 10 policemen  »

Sonawane's Burning: Maharashtra raids oil, milk adulterators

Another key accused in Malegaon blast held

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad has nabbed Praveen Mutalik, one of the key absconder accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, an official said Tuesday. He was nabbed from Karnataka late Monday and a hunt   »

Pakistani with two PhDs in four years

A Pakistani national has startled his peers and countrymen by completing two PhDs in just four years. Kashif Mehmood has done his PhDs in Business Administration and Computer Science from two leading universities in France.  »

What's bothering Bihar's entrepreneurs? Ask 'MBA Sabziwalla'

He is called the "MBA sabziwalla" and wants to make Bihar India's vegetable hub. Kaushlendra, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), is now working towards   »

Lashkar behind killing of Kashmir sisters, Omar says shame

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) guerrillas gunned down two teenaged sisters after forcing them out of their home in the Jammu and Kashmir town of Sopore, triggering panic in the area, police said Tuesday  »

 

 
 
 
 
 

RSS  |  Contact us

| Quick links

News

 

Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant

 

National

Religion

RSS

Scholarships

About us

International

Culture

Twitter

Government Schemes

Feedback

Regional

History

Facebook

Education

Register

Politics

Opinion

Newsletter

 

Contact us

Business

Career

     

Education

       

 

 

Ummid.com: Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange

Ummid.com is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

© 2010 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.