Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Farouk Janeman: Salute to a Fallen Legend

Farouk Janeman: Salute to a Fallen Legend

By Guest Writer: Rajendra Prasad, Auckland, New Zealand

Farouk Janeman passed away on Friday 27, 2013 but the legend will endure. Some people live beyond their lives, as the fragrance of their legacy cannot be removed from the collective memory of a place, people or the nation. The small town of Ba in the West of the main island of Viti Levu became the football capital of Fiji and continues to. 

BA TOH BA HAI (Ba is unique Ba): Soccer -crazy Ba Town, where the icon and mascot of the town - a replica of Soccer Ball sits in the centre of  this Soccer Town. JANEMAN handsomely contributed to making Ba the SOCCER GIANTS OF FIJI 

“Jaane”, as he was affectionately called by his close associates, was the wizard of the game of football in Fiji. He was simply incomparable. He was feared by his adversaries and most teams posted additional players to ensure that Janeman was restrained. Despite such plans, there was no answer to the Janeman magic. If he could not score, he simply created gaps for others to hit the net.

The Legend and Wizard of Ba Soccer, FAROUK JANEMAN, who has been a pride, hero and very much-loved son of Ba in general, and Ba Soccer in particular. Ba and we all salute our loved Son

One of the most outstanding traits of Janeman was his unselfishness. Consequently, he inspired team work and team spirit, which became the strength of successive Ba teams that adorned the deadly and treasured ‘Black and Black’ uniform. Among the giants like Waisea Naicovu, Jone Nakosia, Esala Masi, Ramendra Narayan, Ratubaka, Ramulo Delai, Josetaki Kurivutu and Mitieli (only surviving member from this group) he was a scrawny figure in the field, lost among those that had indomitable height and size. If these were the traits for selection, Janeman may never have made it into the Ba team. However, he proved one point – it is not the size of the dog that matters but the size of the fight in the dog! His courage, tenacity and naturalness in the field were a joy to watch.

JANEMAN: Doing what he most loved doing-coaching soccer to ladies here.

Janeman played his first game as a striker for Ba at Cakobau Park in Nausori in 1970 when Ba won in the final against Suva. It was a sensational beginning for the debutant, following which the fame of Janeman grew exponentially. In Ba’s successive six year claim of the coveted Inter -District Football Tournament trophy from 1975-1980, Janeman awakened a new vigour and spirit in the people of Ba. They became so strongly anointed with football and the spirit of victory that Ba has become synonymous with football in Fiji. Nothing upsets them, including the coups in Fiji, as much as the loss of their team in any match or tournament. The names of the players are revered in every household and when you strike a conversation in Ba with this football crazy district, it is hard to change the subject. Janeman’s name may be repeated several times, if the conversation is not terminated early and history of his feats is allowed to be probed!

The legend, in action in younger days, in Ba team colours.

I distinctly remember the era of Ba’s supreme reign as the kings of football in Fiji from 1975-1980. I was Town Clerk, Ba and after every victory, it became a ritual for me to organize the closure of shops in Town and procession of supporters with the Ba team from the town centre to Govind Park on the following day. It was one of the most pleasant and rewarding duties that still brings nostalgic memories. People of all professions, races and ages joined in ecstasy, as streets lined with school children and residents cheered their heroes for bringing glory to their district. Undoubtedly, Janeman always drew the greatest attention and applause 

What made him so distinguished, as opposed to others? Janeman was not sheer talent but a player who read the game and strategized moves that engaged and strengthened team work. It was sheer delight not only to see his skills but also to see the agility of his mind and the niftiness of his feet. He headed, kicked, tapped or decoyed the ball with such skill that left the goal keepers baffled and the spectators on the edges of their seats. Undoubtedly, he was talented but he did not rest on his talents alone. He refined his skills and maintained an edge over others.

I distinctly remember one incident, which I would like to share. In the early 1980s Ba and Nadi were arch rivals. It was the era of Rusiate Waqan who was Nadi’s prized striker and Savenaca who was its most experienced and reliable goalkeeper.  Tussle between Savenaca and Janeman was consistent. It had elements of both seriousness and comedy.  Savenaca had a towering presence and Janeman looked like a toy in front of him. Savenaca had the ball in his hands and rules required that the goalkeeper had to keep bouncing the ball. Janeman stuck to Savenaca, the first bounce was okay but as the attempted second bounce hit the ground, Janeman kicked the ball inside the net. I had never ever seen such a feat since. It was agility and niftiness that has not been equalled. His wizardry was mind-blowing. No doubt he was referred to as the ‘fox’ by the media, as he constantly outfoxed his adversaries.

There was another side to Janeman that endeared others to him. He was a great story teller and indeed, he was always a prized member around the ubiquitous tanoa where thigh-slapping jokes and stories sent people into hysterics. He was kind, compassionate and generous and his heart bled for the poor. He worked at Morris Hedstrom, Ba and, his colleagues claimed that on pay days, some of his poor friends would turn up and he would generously share with what little he earned. His life was an open book and he shared his life generously with those whose misfortune of poverty denied them a table or company with those rich and famous.

Janeman had friends that transgressed race, culture or class. He was visibly uncomfortable with the rich and famous but most at ease with those with whom he could sit on the floor and share their joys and sorrows. This was a measure of a man who lived life to the full. Ba’s famous son leaves a legacy that will be indelibly etched in the history of football in Fiji. Farewell, Jaane! Those victories of Ba team, during the days of its unsurpassed glory (1975-1980), are treasured memories that remain part of our lives. Thank you for sharing your talents, bringing glory to Ba and enriching our lives. I know that there are thousands in Fiji and across the world who share these sentiments. We pray to Almighty God for His mercy and grace. May your soul rest in peace!

Former soccer rep friends remember the legend at the funeral. From left: Former Ba goalkeeper Ananaiasa "Hurricane" Naivivi, former Suva goalie John Grey, former Lautoka reps John Monday and Paula Tora at Yalalevu Muslim Cemetery on Saturday 28 September, 2013. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA [From Fiji Sun]

(Rajendra Prasad is the former Town Clerk, Ba (1972-1987) and is the author of book, “Tears in Paradise – Suffering and Struggles of Indians in Fiji 1879-2004)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pratap Chand’s Footprints: An insight into post-Girmit life in Fiji

Pratap Chand’s Footprints: An insight into post-Girmit life in Fiji

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Pratap Chand’s "A Fijian Memoir - Footprints of a Girmitiya’s Grandson": Book launch in Auckland, New Zealand on 15 September, 2013.

When the sound of Indian drums, hudda and Tassa, drifted into the jam-packed Milton Hall in Mangere East in Auckland, one could be mistaken that they were in Fiji. Had it not been for the cool spring air, and overhead noisy jet planes lining up to land at nearby Auckland Airport, it would have been mistaken for an event in Tavua, or Ba, or even Labasa.

Gusts led into the reception hall on accompanyment of hudda and tassa

Honestly, if one were present in the Auckland book launch A Fijian Memoir - Footprints of a Girmitiya’s Grandson, one would honestly feel they were at home, back in Fiji.

The hall was filled with family members, friends, former trade unionists and a contingent of former Fiji teachers. Grand entry was made with the accompaniment of drums and tassa, when the Chief Guest, former Parliamentarian Master Shiu Charan, the author Pratap Chand and Fiji Teachers Association of NZ President Satya Swami made entry into the hall. It was a moving entry, a nostalgic feeling reminding us of those good days in Fiji. When these three gentlemen, with former Deputy Speaker and Labour MP Giyannendra Prasad took the head table, it was such a reassuring sight for the migrant Fijian community to cherish their leaders.
The distinguished leaders: from left, the author, PRATAP CHAND, the Chief Guest who launched the book, MASTER SHIU CHARAN,  over-view  of the book by GIYANNEDRA PRASAD, and President of Fiji Teachers in NZ, which hosted the launch, SATYA SWAMI

The Chief Guest, Master Shiu Charan, former trade unionist and former NFP parliamentarian, considered it an honour and auspicious occasion to launch a book authored by a close friend, akin to a younger brother... “It is auspicious in that our presence is to commemorate Brother Pratap Chand’s fulfilment of a dream—he has authored a book titled A Fijian Memoir—Footprints of a Girmityas Grandson,” Shiu said. He recommended people to read the book because “….  Pratap has expressed his sentiments with gusto and a sense of fellow feeling…” which will leave the reader no choice but to identify himself somewhere in the web of things, as events and incidents explained are what most rural third generation Indo-Fijians have been through in growing up in Fiji.
Chief Guest, Master Shiu Charan, launching the book: " I now have pleasure and pride in launching Brother Pratap Chand's book- A Fijian Memoir -Footprints of a Girmitiya's Grandson".
The decision to write the book was well explained by a Shakespearean play that Satendra Singh, our literature teacher and the then Principal of DAV College, Ba, explained in 1973. It is the same DAV College that Pratap attended in 1960s with another author and former Ba Town Clerk, Rajendra Prasad, who wrote “Tears in Paradise-Sacrifices and suffering of Indians.”  A literature lesson from Shakespeare’s As You Like It explains that adversity, troubles and difficulties bring out the best in people. That is what Pratap went through, who, while nursing the sickness of his wife, commenced writing, which now has culminated in this expression of what the new generation of Indo-Fijians went through as they grew up in Fiji.
The author, a jovial PRATAP CHAND: " Perhaps my village people may have high levels of cyanide because of the cyanide-affected fish they got in abundance when Emperor Mines released cyanide into Yalandro River."
In his presentation, Chand revealed two principal objectives in writing the book. The first was to document “the growing up process and the struggle of the third generation Indo- Fijians”, their education, struggles, trials, tribulations and life in village, a path that many of us have treaded. The other reason was to encourage and inspire others to write and tell their stories. And from what he says, some friends are already sharpening their pencils, or hunting for their keyboards to tell their tales.

Chand feels that Fiji needs an explosion where people are prepared to write and tell their stories which would inspire the present and future generations. He warns that his stories are in no way to be considered to be historical accounts, as they are written from recollection of memories. “I recount a village growing up process with games and activities which have been taken over by technological and urban forces. I record these as legacies of the past which may provide the current generation a
glimpse of life that existed not so long ago,” he said. His revelation about release of poisonous cyanide into Yaladro River by Emperor Gold Mining Company is a snapshot of how multinationals have poisoned the world. He jokingly, in fact factually quipped that perhaps people of Tavua may have high level of cyanide because of the disoriented and almost-dying fish they collected from the river for food. Indeed some of the accounts of what he wrote would be eye-opener for children of third generation Indo-Fijians, growing up in Auckland, London, Sacramento, Vancouver and Sydney.

Part of the large audience

In a very inspiring presentation by Giyannendra Prasad, Solicitor, former Labour Parliamentarian, Deputy Speaker of Fiji Parliament and a close friend of Pratap Chand, he urged Fijians to read more. He briefly presented an overview of the book, touched on the growing up process of Pratap, childhood, education, Teachers College, employment, marriage, scholarship, Lecturer at Nasinu Teachers College (NTC) where he met Shiu Charan and exposure to unionism that commenced there. He later touched on contributions of teachers and unions to form Labour Party, Chand’s role as Minister of Education, and how an opportunity to improve Fiji was lost to the events of 2000 (Speight coup). He brought some lighter moments by describing how we used to make “cars” out of Capstan or Champion tobacco tins and pretended we were driving cars. Anecdotes of Holi, Diwali, borrowing from neighbours, subsistence farming and small village incidents, coupled with patches of Fiji Hindi, created humour and laughter.
GIYANNENDRA PRASAD, who did an overview and short-review of the book: " Adversity brings the best in people, as it did in Pratap Chandra, who has completed a book that he commenced writing in difficult times."
Giyannedra, on a more serious note, echoed those Shakespearean thoughts on difficult and testing times. “It is at times of crisis and challenge, not at times of comfort and convenience, that test of human character and strength are exposed. It is those times that brought the best in Pratap,” and has resulted in this book.

Indeed, what Giyannedra said is so factual and evident, and his impromptu thoughts (no written or prepared speech) on Pratap are a reflection of his immense wisdom, knowledge, decorum, demeanour and eloquence. I was fortunate to capture these thoughts on a digital recorder and transcribe it for our readers…”His many sacrifices, utter devotion to his ailing wife...The dignity which he maintained both during illness and eventual loss, is profoundly touching and indeed rare and truly inspiring. It is strongly recommended reading…In reading the book, it will be a great celebration of life of a remarkable and great friend, Pratap Chand, “Giyannedra concluded.

Part of the audience

Indeed it was a great presentation by all the speakers, and the occasion blessed Pratap Chand’s achievement with huge presence of so many friends, family and well-wishes from Fiji. It is now upon us to get a bout of that déjà vu or nostalgic feeling by reading the book and going back to the good stress-free old days in Fiji that for many of us, only remains a dream. For others, it is a bundle (gathri) of memories, “Yaadein” which we unwrap from time to time in moments of sadness and despair, to get some comforts from days gone by, when we hum… Koi lauta de mere bite huye din... (Somebody please, hand me back my gone by days.)

Happy reading, and tell us your tales as well.

[Note from FIJI PUNDIT and Thakur Ranjit Singh: This is NOT a book review, but news and pictorial journalistic presentation of the launch of the book. The book review will be done at a later stage on this Blogsite, FIJI PUNDIT, which tells you what other media ignore.]

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Anirudh Diwakar: A tribute to Fiji’s Golden Voice, Fourth Anniversary -25.08.2011

      Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand

A tribute to ANIRUDH DIWAKAR - Fiji’s Golden Voice who left a legacy for radio broadcasting in Fiji, and wherever Indo-Fijians are involved in Radio in our Diaspora

His voice still boom in Radio Tarana in Auckland - the Golden Voice, after three years is still fresh as today -everlasting.

It has been three years since the golden voice of Fiji, Anirudh Diwakar, left us, but that vacuum still remains. While he has gone, he has left us a legacy and trend that Hindi Radio stations in Auckland, and elsewhere in the world copy and follow: Fiji Style Radio.

ANIRUDH DIWAKAR -An award winning radio personality who started a new trend in Radio, now copied by Hindi Stations worldwide. This is called Fiji Style Radio.

The sudden passing away of Anirudh Diwakar, Programmes Director of Communications Fiji Ltd’s Hindi Station, Radio Sargam came as a big shock. This loss was not only felt by people in Fiji but also by Indo-Fijians settled around the globe. Most of them were touched by the golden voice of this veteran with 40-year long service to radio broadcasting.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rise, Indians: Stop your hypocrisy, your women need protection- Where is my India?

Where is my India?  Rise, Indians: Stop your hypocrisy, your women need protection

Thakur Ranjit Singh

I am forced to revisit my earlier posting after yet another gang – rape in Mumbai and continuing disrespect for women in India, despite so many protests.

Is this the face of women in India?

Anglo Saxons, White men and non-Hindus do not have Rascha Bandhan festival, vows to protect sisters: they do not have Navratam, singing and dancing praises to women: they do not have multitudes of Goddesses who are revered above male deities.
Yet these non Hindu men, these Anglo Saxons and White men appear to have more respect and regard for women than Hindus and Indians with so many show-pieces and hullabaloo glorifying women. And in real fact, we treat our women as trash and crap. A Gold medal, perhaps a platinum one, for hypocrisy?

Are brothers ( read males) in India incapable of protecting and safeguarding their sisters and showing respect for other women? What is the message of RASCHA BANDHAN when we cannot respect ALL sisters? How can we expect our sisters to be safe when there is wholesale disrespect for women with law becoming a joke?.

We pray and revere lifeless Devi, Deity and Mata, yet rape and mistreat out living Goddesses-our women. Is mera Bharat Mahaan? (Is India really that great? If rapists become Members of Parliament, then law and justice are really blind.

All the Sadhus and Swamis roaming the developed world, collecting foreign dollars and teaching us about manners and God-fearing ways should go back to India and civilise Hindus in India first. We in developed countries have laws protecting our women. India does not have that. It appears justice system in the largest democracy has become a laughing stock of the world. The supposed oldest civilisation in the world has to learn good manners, social justice and human rights from Anglo Saxon countries like USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia

When will our women be safe?

In the aftermath of gang-rape in New Delhi and ensuing eruption of smouldering volcano of protests, what came out loud and clear is that INDIAN JUSTICE SYSTEM HAS FAILED WOMEN, IS VERY JAUNDICED, SLOW-PACED AND MALE-CHAUVINISTIC.

Existing laws have failed to serve as a deterrent, coupled with questionable and slow-paced corrupt justice system, equally corrupt, unprofessional, ill-trained male-chauvinistic police force and corrupt elites and politicians who can buy justice, police and freedom from crime. It is a dying shame for a country which claims to be doing well economically, which treats half its population with such contempt. It appears conscientious, dedicated and honest policemen in India like Singham and Chulbul Pandey, exist only in Bollywood movies.

Are honest, conscious, loyal and non-corrupt police officers in India like Chulbul Pandey and Singham only limited to Bollywood screens? Where are they in real life?

Especially hypocritical is the fact that India has festivals, rituals and mythologies glorifying honour and power of women. The most powerful deities have been our Shakti Mata, and Durga, but only in stories and mythology. Hindus pray reverently to lifeless statues of Mata, Durga, and Shakti made of imported plastic and masonry made in China or Brazil. Yet we treat our living women in India with such contempt and indignity. It speaks volumes for Hindu religion, which theoretically respects women but really treat them like dirt.

This is a call on migrant Indian population in developed world with more civilised rules, regulations, norms and customs about treatment of women- USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Britain. Is it true that had it not been for British civilisation, the supposedly oldest civilization in the world would still be burning its widowed mothers, sisters and daughters of the pyre of their dead husbands?

New Zealand is one of the “cleanest” and non-corrupt countries in the world, including Australia, USA and Canada. Indian migrants owe an obligation in our fortunate positions to do this and raise voices against the rot in India. Migrant Hindus migrated to developed countries, normally pray in Diwali to deliver us from darkness into light, and praise truth. However, we appear to show silence, in fact tacit approval of the rot in our former home. This goes against the grain of Diwali message and Hinduism to deliver us from darkness to light.

For how long will our Draupadi and women get abused and disrobed without any Lord Krishna, in form of Government and laws coming, to their rescue? Is the largest democracy in the world failing their women?

This is a call to all women organisations, Hindu organisations and all others migrated to developed world, which have been beating the slogan of “MERA BHARAT MAHAAN” to stand up and be counted. Join Indian revolution now initiated by brutal rape in Delhi, and call for better governance on treatment of women in India. Let the Indian High commissioners busy in cocktail circuits in your respective countries to carry the message to India that actions of Indians and its corrupt governance shame all People of Indian origin throughout the world. Economic prowess may be there, but as nation, India has failed to protect its women. It appears to be country without a heart.

For how long will our Sita in India continue going through "Agnee Paricha"- proving chastity through fire? Haven't human rights, social justice and equality reached the largest democracy in the world?

Rise for your India. Cry, beloved India.


[NOTE: I have been accused by many of being very negative and raising issues which should be left alone. However, I feel that as a media commentator and journalist, I should be a watchdog of the community, rather than being its lapdog for financial and other benefits. How long can we sing, dance and raise flags, hold conferences and forums in name of Motherland, assuming everything is hunky dory back in India. Somebody needs to speak truth in the national motto of India: Satyamev Jayate - truth shall triumph].

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rakscha Bandhan Message: Respect all women if you want your sister respected do so to sisters of others

Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand

Anglo Saxons, White men and non-Hindus do not have Raksha Bandhan festival, vows to protect sisters: they do not have Navratam, singing and dancing praises to women: they do not have multitudes of Goddesses who are revered before and above male deities, like Gauri-Shankar, Sita -Ram, Radhe-Shyam ,  Lakshmi -Vishnu, and so on.

Yet these non Hindu men, these Anglo Saxons and White men appear to have more respect and regard for women than Hindus and Indians with so many show-pieces and hullabaloo glorifying women. In real fact, we treat our women as trash and crap. Why this hypocrisy? Why do we Indians and Hindus have institutionalised discrimination against our sisters when our businesses make money on falsehood of Raksha Bandhan?

RAKSHA BANDHAN - Brotherly-Sisterly love:one of the deepest and noblest of human emotions.
The chaste bond of love between a brother and a sister is one of the deepest and noblest of human emotions. 'Raksha Bandhan' or 'Rakhi' is a special occasion to celebrate this emotional bonding by tying a holy thread around the wrist. This thread, which pulsates with sisterly love and sublime sentiments, is rightly called the ‘Rakhi’. It means 'a bond of protection', and Raksha Bandhan signifies that the strong must protect the weak from all that’s evil. 

Brotherly-Sisterly love and affection commences at a very early age. Where does all this disrespect for women in Indian males come from? Should not this trait remain forever? That is why, Raksha Bandhan festival should be used to re-inculcate and rekindle respect for all sister and all women
This Hindu festival will have little relevance to the theme of brotherly-sisterly love and respect for women if all what it involves is singing, dancing and a platform for speeches by politicians. And an avenue for Indian businesses to sell more sarees and Indian media to have an avenue to make more advertising dollars.

To the brothers, who has Rakhi tied to their hands, and who vow to protect their sisters, I have one question for them: You vow to protect your sister, but who protects my sister - your wife?

Sisters, when you tie the sacred thread, Rakhi on your brothers’hands, please ask them not only to vow to protect you, but your Bhabhis (sister-in-laws) – their wives as well, because they also are somebody’s sister.

This is especially relevant because Indians in general and Hindus in particular hold the relationship of a brother and sister in high esteem, which supposedly signifies respect for sisters – the women. To Indian brothers, while your married sister is someone else’s wife, at the same time, your wife happens to be someone else’s sister. Hence there is a commonsense reason for reciprocity if one wants to protect sisters. What this means is that for your sister to be respected and protected, you need to do the same to your wife who is somebody else’s sister.

Bollywood has glorified brotherly-Sisterly love. The leading one is Dev Anand's "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" which immortalised this love with melodious song: Phulo ka taro ka sab ka kehna hai.
But is this happening? We reportedly have high incidents of family violence in India and amongst Indian migrants to New Zealand. It therefore came as no surprise to me that Hota, one supposedly combined group of Hindu organisations and temples, when they are blaming Indian Newslink for publishing a research report they see derogatory to Hindus. That research by Massey University shows that Indians in general and Hindus in particular are biggest woman beaters in Auckland. I believe that, as that is a fact. Hospital records, police statistics and Ministry of Social Development figures substantiate this. Through this concerns, in 2010, Waitakere Indian Association held a joint workshop with these organisations to tackle this problem.Rather than yipping like puppies on steroids, these Hindu organisations will be better -off to inculcate better respect for women among Hindus in nHw Zealand. What they learn from multitudes of Swamis visiting NZ, they need to practice in life. Rather than running with a bruised ego, these people need to inculcate better respect for women within their community.

That is all Raksha bandhan is all abot., 

 History of Raksha Bandhan extends to mythological times of Lord Krishn and Dropadi and to Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun, which dates back to 1535. The central ceremony involves the tying of a Rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. That is Raksha Bandhan.

Another Bollywood Brotherly-sisterly love: Feroz Khan and Kum Kum. The root of Rakhi can be traced to Mahabharat and Mughal Raj

Last year, when the highly acclaimed Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate, was played on TV, it covered the topic of family violence, still quite relevant to Indo-Fijian migrants and Indians in general. For countless women, entering married life often means the beginning of a stressful, violent existence. Beating one's wife seems to be ingrained in many men's mindsets as the appropriate behaviour for a strong male, but the consequences are misery for the wife and children, and often a broken, unhappy home. The show conducted a survey which showed that women are NOT in the biggest danger in public places, but while in their own homes. That is not only confined to India but among Indo-Fijians in New Zealand as well.

The issue we have is for Hindu and Indian groups to recognize the problem and address the vice, because richness in our culture on respect for sisters and women seem to be inversely related to how we actually treat them. In fact, for celebration of Raksha Bandhan, my suggestion would be to pass a message to our community to address the issue about respect for women and family violence. This is because celebrations are good avenues for addressing social issues in the community. Therefore sisters, when you tie the sacred thread, Rakhi on your brothers’ hands, please ask them not only to vow to protect you, but your Bhabhis (sister-in-laws) – their wives as well, because they also are somebody’s sister.

Therefore I plead to all brothers to accept this theme and slogan for all Raksha Bandhan in future:

 Tumhari bahen ka main rakshak mere ghar mein, meri bahen ka tu rakshak apne ghar mein. In other words, I request all brothers to take this pledge please: I vow to protect your sister in my home, please pledge to protect mine in your home.

Tragedy for Indians is that while they pledge to protect their own sisters, then why do they openly abuse sisters of others. If we took the theme of Raksha Bandhan to protect sisters, that translates to respect for women. Then why are women so much abused and dishonoured in India? Are our festivals only a sham and show piece , without any meaning?

We cannot continue to happily celebrate Raksha Bandhan while our sisters get beaten up by their husbands behind closed doors in their own homes, without community taking any positive action.

Let us all join in the spirit of Raksha Bandhan to respect all women, and introduce social theme for betterment of our women. Happy Raksha Bandhan to all.

[Thakur Ranjit Singh advocates change in community attitudes towards festivals we celebrate, to address issues in our communities. Otherwise the well-meaning festivals remain hollow and meaningless. ]

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Responsibilities of Indian Diaspora to actions embarrassing India

Responsibilities of Indian Diaspora to actions embarrassing India

Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand.

We have just marked 67th Independence Day celebrations of India in Auckland and presumably other cities of Australia, Canada, UK and USA. As the dust settles from such celebrations in Auckland, New Zealand at Vodafone Event Centre, Civic Theatre and Mahatma Gandhi Centre respectively, the migrant Indians need to stop and think. We should not merely sweep and hide reality and problems of India TODAY under carpet and sing and dance about India’s proud history of the PAST.

At India Independence Day, we dance and sing to India's PAST. We need to have things in PRESENT India which also make us proud, and not shame us. We salute all freedom fighters who make us proud. Hope current generation of leaders can also make us proud.

Indian Diaspora needs to appreciate and understand their responsibilities to Bharat Mata, Mother India, which has been fast falling in the chasm of dishonour internationally in certain respects. We need to question: what has six and a half decades of Independence delivered us? Where is my India today?

Last year I riled Indian leadership in Auckland by raising some truths about India in the spirit of the motto of the country: Satyamev Jayate-truth shall prevail. For speaking truth, I was virtually lynched and blacklisted by Indian community which later agreed about the truths I has spoken.

This is a call on migrant Indian population in Developed World with more civilised rules, regulations, norms and customs to stand up to injustice in India. Fortunate Indian migrants/ Diaspora in Developed Countries, with better governance, social justice and human rights provisions owe a duty of care to the unfortunate and oppressed women, scheduled caste and poor people in Mother India.

Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi - two proud leaders of India who the present-day Indians need to emulate. Unfortunately most of their teachings have been eroded out of action of today's many politicians and citizens.

New Zealand is one of the “cleanest” and non-corrupt countries in the world, with Australia, USA and Canada not far behind. Misplaced nationalism and blind loyalty of Indian leadership and Indian media in New Zealand cannot remove the fact that today’s India is at the bottom of the ladder of “clean” countries. Hence as migrant Indians in Developed Nations, we can work as pressure for change in India, even in small ways. We owe an obligation in our fortunate positions to do this and raise voices against the rot in India so widely documented and unearthed.  We normally pray in Diwali to deliver us from darkness into light, and praise truth. However, we appear to show silence, in fact tacit approval of the rot in our former home or home of forbears. This goes against the grain of Diwali message and Hinduism to deliver us from darkness to light.

The land where the Ganges flows - a proud nation-India has been internationally tarnished for some vices which shame Indian Diaspora. There are many things in India which make us proud. We migrants collectively need to raise objections to New Delhi about poor governance and other oppressive practices that shame Indians worldwide. Diaspora need to act as pressure group to bring in changes.

This is a call to all Indian organisations, women and religious organisations beating the slogan of “MERA BHARAT MAHAAN” (my India is great) and publicly celebration India, its festivals and achievements, to stand up and be counted. Join Indian revolution now initiated by brutal rape in Delhi, and call for better governance, anti- corruption laws and better treatment of women in India. Let the Indian High Commissioners busy in cocktail circuits and public relations exercise in your respective countries to carry the message to India that actions of Indians and its corrupt governance shame all People of Indian Origin (POI) throughout the world. Economic prowess may be there, but as nation, India has failed to protect its women, lower caste and poor people. It appears to be country without a heart.

Organisations in Auckland like Bhartiya Samaj, Auckland Indian Association and Radio Tarana which organised respective Indian Independence functions in Auckland need to take a collective stand. So does the umbrella body of Indians, New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA) and Indian media, especially its radio stations and print media, need to stand up as watchdogs. They need to collectively raise their voices collectively against vices in India, so that, we as a Diaspora, may be able to pass a message to India that it needs to improve its human rights and social justice issues if it wants to do business with New Zealand and other respective Developed Nations. Indian trade delegations, conferences, forums etc. and other organisations promoting trade with India need to pass this strong message of distaste of things in India which shames all Indians in New Zealand and other countries. Other developed Countries with sizeable Indian population could follow suit.

"Satyamev Jayate": It is inscribed in Devanagari script at the base of the Indian national emblem. The emblem is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Asoka which was erected around 250 BC. National motto of India is - Truth Alone Triumphs. But how true is this in activities of Indians in India and abroad?

And advice to Indian leaders, especially here in New Zealand, is to be more reflective as people from the largest democracy in the world and be protectors of free speech and media freedom. Therefore it belittles all Indians if they indulge in the shameful habit of shooting the messenger, and those who stand up for truth.

It is time to rise for your India. Cry, beloved country.

(About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a third generation Indo Fijian. He was born in Fiji Islands. His indentured grandfather, Bansi was a Thakur from Karauli in Rajasthan, India. He is also a holder of People of Indian Origin (PIO) passport issued by Indian Government that allows him free access into India. He runs his blogsite FIJI PUNDIT, which is accessible at:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Australian evil for Fiji - continues long after Girmit

Australian evil for Fiji - continues long after Girmit

Guest Writer: Rajendra Prasad, Author: Tears in Paradise

Prologue by Thakur Ranjit Singh:

During the dark Girmit (Indenture) days in Fiji between 1879 and 1916, there existed an AXIS OF EVIL to hide the inhumane, criminal and villainous acts by trio, comprising Colonial Sugar Refining Company, British Government and AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. They say, leopards do not change their spots. The evil that Australia was for Fiji, especially Indo Fijians, in nineteenth century still continues today, as is exposed by our GUEST WRITER, 
Rajendra Prasad.....
Rajendra Prasad, author of this article and author of TEARS IN PARADISE-Struggle and Sacrifices of Indians in Fiji-1879-2004


Rajendra Prasad:

Professor Stephen Howes, Director of Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University has made a shocking revelation that the Australian Government had been vetoing loans to Fiji worth hundreds of millions of dollars from the World Bank and ADB. He made this revelation in The Australian Newspaper on May 29 and also noted that Australia, in bizarre twist, had doubled its annual aid to Fiji, since December 2006, now valued at over $F100 million.

It is interesting to note that on one hand Australia vetoes World Bank and ADB loans and on the other hand it doubles its aid to Fiji following the December 6, 2006 military coup. This Australian approach is a duplicitous act that shows Australia, as a nation that unashamedly engages in practices that would readily qualify it to join the rogue nations of the world where morals and ethics are dismissed callously, embracing the much-maligned adage that means justify the end. Yet, it never ceases to preach belligerently to island nations on democracy, good governance, accountability and transparency.

Rightly, most island nations think of Australia as the big Pacific bully with New Zealand as its lapdog. Both connive and conspire to promote their agendas and the aid funds that they provide to island nation works as carrot and the stick is applied selectively. In achieving its objectives, the Australian Government has shown that it can even engage in terrorism, as venal as those carried out by Taliban.

In 2007, it organized an operation to kidnap Dr Julian Moti QC, the Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands, on trumped up charges of sexual violation, involving a minor in Vanuatu. Interestingly, he was already acquitted of the charges laid against him in Vanuatu court in 1999. However, it did not matter, the quarry was hounded and hunted for years and had to be delivered to the slaughter. In this sad saga, even Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, an ardent supporter of Dr Julian Moti, became its unfortunate victim, as he lost in a vote of no confidence motion passed against him. Australian complicity in this affair is a logical conclusion.

JULIAN MOTI -former Attorney General of Solomon Islands, who had become a thorn for Australia and RAMSI, and had to be removed. He was wrongly framed, charged and kidnapped out of Solomon Islands. He has since been cleared of any wrongdoing, but as usual, Australia has proved that its evil for Indo-Fijians is as fresh today as it was for Indentured Indians.
His successor, Derek Sikua, facilitated sacking of Dr Julian Moti QC as Attorney-General and court processes to swiftly deliver him in the arms of Australia. In the court proceedings that followed, it was revealed that the Australian Federal Police had provided substantial financial incentive to the complainant and her family to elicit conviction of Dr Julian Moti QC. After prolonged court battles, Australia’s highest court, dismissed the case.

Why was Dr Julian Moti targeted? He was seen as an impediment to Australian interests in the Solomon Islands. Though he was an Australian citizen, he was not given the honour and dignity to which every Australian is entitled. Besides, Dr Julian Moti was no ordinary citizen, as he was a Queen’s Counsel, an internationally acclaimed law professor and Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands. However, it did not matter. His Indian ethnicity may have worked to his disadvantage, as he was placed in handcuffs and flown and delivered to Australia as a fugitive. What more, a crime of this magnitude escaped the Australian media and was of no interest to New Zealand.

There is no doubt that Australia holds considerable influence in the affairs of the World Bank and ADB because of its economic might and influence in the region. So to bring down Fiji to its knees and noting that its smart sanctions were not working; it used its power and influence to initiate economic sabotage against Fiji. The World Bank and ADB relented but in a dubious attempt to pacify Fiji and regain its lost ground (to China) it doubled its aid package. This purported gesture made no difference to Fiji, as Fiji, the hub of the Pacific, is now China’s protégé in the Pacific. And to confirm it, China demonstrated it in no small measure, as Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama became the first leader in the Pacific to have the honour of audience with the newly appointed President Xi Jinping. Australia and New Zealand are not even listed in the queue!
Frank Bainimarama has always been shown in bad light by Australia , New Zealand and their blinkered media which fail to appreciate the fundamental problems Fiji has. The sham of democracy that have been displayed to the world by successive racist and nationalist Fijian Governments  failed to grant social justice to almost half of Fiji's population. Australia and New Zealand had turned a blind eye to this blind-spot of democracy in Fiji

Both Australia and New Zealand habitually malign Commodore Bainimarama and his Government and if they care to analyse and compare it with the previous democratically elected Governments since independence, they will find that only validation they had was the elective process but the core value of each was to discriminate against its Indo-Fijian citizens. They were discriminated, alienated and marginalized. For example, the Rabuka Government introduced positive discrimination against them and its successor, the Qarase Government pursued it as affirmative action. In essence, the intent was same only label was changed to hide the lethal intend and content.

Following Qarase Government’s accession, there was a massive eviction of Indo-Fijians from land that they leased from indigenous landowners. It was a Government-initiated plan to persecute Indo-Fijians for their support to their own ethnic party (1999 elections) that displaced them. Hundreds of families were routed from their farms and homes, as village after village emptied.  Eviction of Indo-Fijian farmers was nothing but oppression of a race for exercising its democratic rights. It did not matter to the Government for the damage it caused to the sugar industry or to the Fijian economy, as it derived pleasure in destroying the lives of innocent citizens.   
Laisenia Qarase-an ethno-nationalist and racist wolf in democratic sheeps clothing. Australia and New Zealand tolerated his abuse of democratic principles and lack of fairness and social justice. They kept quite on him disinheriting Fiji's Indo Fijians and introducing racists policies that displaced many Indo Fijian cane farmers. . When he failed to heed the warnings of Bainimarama, only then he was displaced. Many feel Bainimarama's military rule is miles better than his wanting democratic rule.

Both Australia and New Zealand knew about the Government’s criminal intent and also saw thousands of Indo-Fijians made destitute. It did nothing to assuage their pain and suffering, presumably for reasons that the actions were perpetrated by a Government that was democratically elected! They kept quiet as if it was justified. Or is it because the victims were ethnic Indians who do not attract same consideration or sympathy as those that are born with a fairer skin? Theoretically, both advocate adherence to democratic precepts but apply it selectively.  For example, they do not give their great message of democracy to China that is an authoritarian regime and ritually engages in violation of human rights.

 Today, Australia harbours those who were behind the 2000 coup and had categorically condemned the 1997 Constitution and asked for its abrogation because it failed to protect the political hegemony of the indigenous oligarchy. But when they got back into power in a subsequent election through corruption and rigged voting, they embraced the same Constitution and lauded it as just and fair! From this, a logical question follows - is Australian intelligence so naïve that it cannot distinguish between those who are true advocates of democracy and those who are opportunists? No, Australia is not naïve. Australian politics is not grounded on principles but on sheer opportunism.

It is to Fiji’s credit that it has a strong Government that has stood toe-to-toe with the regional bullies. Australia assumed that by denying Fiji loans through the World Bank and ADB, Fiji would become economically insolvent, forcing it to look to Australia for rescue. In such event, it felt that it would be able to reassert its power and position in the Pacific, which is now lost forever.  Now the Chinese dragon is going to protect, promote and defend the Fijian shores by proxy and Australia and New Zealand better maintain their distance lest the dragon spits fire from its citadel in the Pacific.

Even the Russian bear has opened its door to Fiji, as Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama was scheduled to meet President Putin after meeting the Chinese President Xi Jinping. When all's said and done the kangaroo and the kiwi are no match to the dragon and the bear. Indeed, the Pacific had become the battle ground of a cold war that has been decisively won by China. The Australian Government policy towards Fiji, dictated by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, will come to haunt Australia. Any country that allows trade unions to dictate its agenda is doomed and in the forthcoming Australian elections in September, change of Government is a foregone conclusion.

(*Rajendra Prasad is the author of Tears in Paradise – suffering and Struggles of Indians in Fiji 1879-2004).