New Delhi/Suva: The development partnership between Fiji and India remains strong, the two countries share unique ties that have kept them bound together, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh said in his address to the Indian diaspora in Suva.
“As a trusted partner we have been with Fiji at all times and despite the challenges of the recent pandemic our partnership for progress has continued to expand steadily,” he said during his interaction with the Indian Diaspora at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.
He also extended Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s greetings to the Indian Diaspora in Fiji. “The unique cultural linkage and very strong people-to-people ties bind our two countries together,” he added.
Administrator (UTs of Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep) Praful Patel was also present during the event.
Also present were the Deputy Prime Minister Biman Prasad, Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Sashi Kiran and Minister for Sugar and Multi Ethnic Affairs Charan Jeath Singh.
On Tuesday, MoS Rajkmar Ranjan Singh called on Fijian Deputy Prime Minister Biman Prasad during which talks were held on ways to further deepen and expand the longstanding India-Fiji ties.
MoS Rajkumar Ranjan Singh also met Fijian Minister for Sugar and Multi-Ethnic Affairs Charan Jeath Singh to discuss India-Fiji development partnership in the two sectors.
The Indian High Commission in Suva, in tweets, said:
“MoS (External Affairs) Hon. @RanjanRajkuma11 called on Fijian Deputy Prime Minister Hon. @bimanprasad today.
Discussions focused on ways and means to further deepen and expand the longstanding India-Fiji ties. “
“Today morning, MoS (External Affairs) Hon. @RanjanRajkuma11 called on Fijian Minister for Sugar & Multi-Ethnic Affairs Hon. Charan Jeath Singh to discuss India-Fiji development partnership in these two key sectors. Partners in progress. “
“The end of an ugly chapter, and a new beginning!” is how Deputy Prime Minister Professor Biman Prasad referred to Monday’s events marking Girmit Day in Suva.
In a show of support, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh said the special day would ensure that the hard lessons and details of the girmitya and their descendants would be passed on for generations.
As hundreds of people gathered at Albert Park in Suva to mark the day yesterday, Prof Prasad spoke about what he described as an “ugly chapter” in our history, and about forging a new beginning for descendants of the Girmitya in Fiji.
There was work to be done in healing the heartache of the past and he noted the reconciliation church service organised by the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma as a positive step forward to building a strong bond between Fijians of Indian descent and the iTaukei and other races in Fiji, a report said.
“Because the Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka gave it top priority, it marks the start of an age in which the Girmitya descendants and their offspring can remember and share history with the country,” he said.
The Deputy PM said the Girmitya legacy must live on and must not be abandoned.
Speaking at the Girmit Day celebrations on Monday, he said the Indo-Fijian Community has a very rich history and culture that has immensely contributed to Fiji.
He said the descendants of the Girmitiyas “have done their forefathers and the nation immensely proud, in the fields of economy, education, politics, and law. They have and are serving their land of their birth with distinction,” he said.
“This is the legacy that the current generation must cherish, uphold and bequeath to future generations. One way of ensuring this is through education of our children of the sacrifices and struggle for dignity and justice of our Girmitiyas,” he added.
He said this is one small step towards protection of the legacy of the Girmitiyas and that the future cannot be constructed from a position of fear and exclusion of others.
Prof Prasad said that Sunday’s Church Service of reconciliation should send a very strong signal that Fiji is, and will be, the motherland of the descendants of the Girmitiyas.
“The only way forward is to be proud of our heritage, celebrate the work and efforts of our ancestors, and illuminate a path into the future through hard work and unity, that brings success and honour to Fiji,” he added.
On Monday, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and leaders of religious organisations and some political parties signed the Fiji Forward Declaration.
This is the process of building the nation together, understanding and working together as two of the largest races in Fiji.
The declaration states that we are the members of the various communities that have made Fiji their home where we gather to worship and seek forgiveness and declare our commitment to peace, unity and reconciliation.
Signing the declaration were Prime Minister Rabuka, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad, Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry, Tunitoga Aisea Jack Komaitai, All Nations Church leader Reverend Epeli Ratabacaca, Head of the Catholic Church in Fiji Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, descendants of Girmityas and other religious leaders.
The reconciliation service was attended by the Marama Bale Na Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa, New Zealand High Commissioner Charlotte Darlow, Cabinet Ministers and families of the descendants of Girmityas.
The celebrations started on Friday and ended with the inaugural Girmit Day public holiday on Monday.