IN THE LAND OF GIRMITIYAS
Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi flew to Fiji from Australia, the first visit by an Indian Prime to this Pacific Island nation in 33 years. He met with his counterpart, PM Frank Bainimarama and pointed out that Fiji could serve as a hub for stronger Indian engagement with Pacific islands. About 37.5 per cent of Fiji’s population of 900,000 plus is of Indian origin, descendants of Girmitiyas who went to work there as indentured labour. This is an extract from the PM’s address before the Fijian Parliament
“… Honorable Members,
For India, Fiji will always have a special place. The tide of history brought many from India to your shores. It has forged our ties of culture and kinship. But, our relationship today stands on a much broader of our shared values and our common interests as developing countries. And, now, together we were partners in making history.
You graciously hosted Indian scientists in Fiji for tracking our Mars Mission, Mangalyaan. It was the only mission in the world to succeed in the first attempt.
I convey today the gratitude of the people and the scientists of India. This simple yet profound act of cooperation reflects the boundless possibilities in our relationship, if we choose to seek them.
Our trade and investment ties have been modest. Our relationship in science, education and culture could be stronger. Yet, there are examples of our partnership that should inspire us – our cooperation in upgrading your sugar mills or the public-private partnership in the area of healthcare.
As we have collaborated in running hospitals here, we can also extend our cooperation in pharmaceuticals and traditional medicines.
As Fiji adjusts to the changing global markets, India is prepared to be your partner – In making your existing industry stronger and finding new opportunities for your youth. For countries like ours, village and small and medium scale industries are the source of enterprise and employment.