Pres­i­dent to Gir­mi­tiyas: No Longer Vu­lagi

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - SELITA BOLANAVANUA SUVA selita.bolanavanua@fi­

Dan Fox, of the Univer­sity of the South Pa­cific (left), and Sadr­is­han Ve­laidan of arts group, Moana Loa Fiji, de­pict two cul­tures com­ing to­gether un­der one ban­ner, Gir­mi­tiyas (In­den­tured labour­ers from Bri­tish In­dia) and iTaukei (Indige­nous peo­ple) dur­ing the open­ing of the Gir­mit Cen­ten­nial Cel­e­bra­tions at Al­bert Park in Suva yes­ter­day. The cel­e­bra­tions mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the ar­rival of the last ship load of in­den­tured labour­ers. The Pres­i­dent, Ma­jor-Gen­eral (Re­tired) Jioji Kon­rote, told the crowd, We are now one peo­ple, united by a com­mon name, Fi­jian. The de­scen­dents of in­den­tured labour­ers are no longer called vu­lagi (out­siders), he said.

Twelve prom­i­nent Fijians were last night hon­oured for their con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety. They in­clude em­i­nent writ­ers, artists and com­mu­nity lead­ers. The cer­e­mony, at the Univer­sity of the South Pa­cific (USP), was part of the Gir­mi­tiyas Cen­ten­nial Cel­e­bra­tions which opened at Al­bert Park in Suva yes­ter­day. The cel­e­bra­tions mark the 100 years since the last batch of in­den­tured In­dian labour­ers from Bri­tish In­dia ar­rived in Fiji. The Min­is­ter for Health and Med­i­cal Ser­vices, Rosy Ak­bar, who was chief guest, said the cel­e­bra­tions were for ev­ery­one, young and old.

The award re­cip­i­ents are:

Pro­fes­sor Subra­mani

He is one of the Fiji’s lead­ing prose fic­tion writ­ers, es­say­ists and crit­ics. He has taught lit­er­a­ture at USP and Fiji Na­tional Univer­sity (FNU) and has a legacy of work be­hind him.

Jogin­dar Singh Kan­wal

He is one of the most distin­guished writ­ers and ed­u­ca­tion­al­ists in Fiji. He has con­trib­uted hugely to­wards the preser­va­tion of the his­tory of Gir­mit through his writ­ings.

Anandi Lal Amin

He has con­trib­uted im­mensely to­wards the pro­mo­tion of cul­ture and tra­di­tion in the com­mu­nity. He is a mem­ber of the Fiji Arts Coun­cil and taught Hindi and mu­sic in schools for over two decades.

Rashik Lal Jo­gia

He is a well known singer lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Mo­hit Prasad

He is a se­nior lec­turer at USP. He teaches lit­er­a­ture and cre­ative writ­ing and has a lot of pas­sion for Gir­mit stud­ies.

Mo­hammed Yusuf Sahib

He worked for Hindi news­pa­per, Jagriti and then for Jai Fiji. He also teamed up with Sheri Ka­mala Prasad Mishap in restart­ing the news­pa­per, Jagriti.

De­wan Chand Ma­haraj

He is the founder and direc­tor of Qual­ity Prints Fiji Lim­ited. He is also the direc­tor of De­wan’s Hold­ing, Sun In­sur­ance and Quan­tum Fiji.

Satvik Dass

He is a re­cip­i­ent of ICCR (In­dian Coun­cil for Cul­tural Re­la­tion) schol­ar­ship. He has won many awards in­clud­ing Hall of Fame given by Fiji Per­form­ing Rights As­so­ci­a­tion Awards (FIPRA).

Ist Deo Ma­haraj

He is the grand­son of Sukh Lal and Ganga Dei who came to Fiji on the ship SS San­gola 3 from Bri­tish In­dia in 1909 un­der the In­den­tured labourer sys­tem.

Bi­hari Prasad

He is the pres­i­dent of Wa­ter Project for Com­mu­nity, pres­i­dent of Farm­ers Union for Labasa branch and com­mit­tee mem­ber for Ram Leela com­mit­tee.

Indu Chan­dra

Se­nior lec­turer at USP. She is the co-or­di­na­tor of Hindi stud­ies. She re­ceived a spe­cial award in 1977 and 1978 from the Ut­tar Pradesh San­skrit Academy in Lucknow, In­dia.

Umakant Pa­tel

He is also known as Bachub­hai Pa­tel. He is a lead­ing busi­ness­man in Fiji to­day. He has taken the fam­ily busi­ness from its hum­ble be­gin­ning in Ba to the in­ter­na­tional level through his vi­sion. Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Photo: Ron­ald Ku­mar.

In­dian High Com­mis­sioner to Fiji Vish­vas Sap­kal (stand­ing, third from left), Min­is­ter for Health and Med­i­cal Ser­vices Rosy Ak­bar (stand­ing, mid­dle), Univer­sity of the South Pa­cific Vice Chan­cel­lor and pres­i­dent Pro­fes­sor Ra­jesh Chan­dra (stand­ing, right), with de­scen­dants of Grim­i­tiyas – who were awarded for their con­tri­bu­tion to Fiji’s de­vel­op­ment – and guests at the Ja­pan-Pa­cific ICT Cen­tre at USP last night. Photo: Vil­imoni Va­ganalau

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