Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fiji Indians & Reconciliation

Indians are misrepresented: Prof. Nandan, Sunday, August 06, 2006

INDIANS in Fiji have for a long time been deliberately misrepresented to the world.

However, University of Fiji's Professor Satendra Nandan is hoping that a new generation of thinking men and women will end the national blasphemy.

Mr Nandan was speaking at a symposium for academics in Deuba yesterday on living together in a globalising Fiji.

"Where else do we get the idea of paradise so blatantly advertised by the FVB without a single Indian face?" he queried.

"Is it the failure of our imagination that we have not been able to imagine our community in that famous phrase, we have never become an imagined community?

"As a consequence we cannot imagine the other who is our brother, neighbour, co-worker, colleague and compatriot integral and essential to humanity.

"A community not only represented but often deliberately misrepresented to the global perception is the Indians."

Mr Nandan spoke on the topic Living Together: Worlds Apart.

He said unless people of Fiji learned to respect the Constitution, the global community would have little respect for us.

"We regard the Deed of Cession as a sacrosanct; it gives 90 per cent of our land to native people.

"It gives Fijian chiefs a special position in the Constitution and national consciousness. Perhaps this is how it should be.

"But how easily the Constitution of free Fiji is torn apart, the Constitution that gives us equality and equal value as citizens.

"No document should be more multi-valued and more sacred. And yet, I know no country which has had many constitutions destroyed and drafted as Fiji.

"Unless we learn to respect it, the global community will have little respect for us."

Mr Nandan said the days of being second-class citizens should have been over long ago.

"If one section of our community is bullied into accepting it, it is far more insidious to those who bully us," he said.

"Democracy, in its true sense, may not exist anywhere but like the idea of God, it is essential for our progress, survival and self transformation.

"If there's one God there must be one equality too."

Mr Nandan said the idea of God brought him the notion of reconciliation.

"This is a remarkable and rich concept and it comes out of our search for truth and a sense of justice," he said.

"There can be no genuine healing where we do not understand and share the suffering of others.

"Without genuine acknowledgement and understanding of the unnecessary suffering we have caused to so many and damaged many lives, the process of reconciliation will remain hollow."

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