Arya Ratna Ambassador Kamlesh Arya, right, receives a certificate of recognition for his massive contribution towards the development of Fiji from Indian High Commissioner His Excellency Vinod Kumar during the University of Fiji Girmit Diwas celebrations on Friday, May 16 while Vice-Chancellor Richard Coll and event organiser and Hindi Lecturer Suklesh Bali look on. Photo: SHALENDRA PRASAD. 

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University of Fiji, May 16, 2014.  Speaking at the 135th Anniversary of Girmit, the Registrar of The University of Fiji, Kamlesh Arya asked what was being celebrated?

He then responded by stating that the celebration was about acknowledging: the challenges the Girmitiyas faced, the social dislocation they encountered, the visionary efforts they made towards uplifting their standards and that of the progeny, the level of resilience they displayed, the heart wrenching stories of pain and persecution they went through, their determination to survive against all odds, the hardships of the unknown terrain the 61,000 girmitiyas faced, the contributions they made to the development and economy of Fiji and remembering those who never made it to the shores en-route their treacherous journey they were enticed to take.

Landing in Fiji on that fateful day of 14 March 1879 started a new era of life and struggles for the girmitiyas in the hostile wilderness of Fiji under harsh and degrading conditions, stated Mr. Arya.

“That fateful day and that new era is 135 years old and is entrenched in the annals of Fiji. However, what needs to be analysed is what the celebration held for the present generation Fijians of Indian Origin,” asked Mr. Arya.

Mr. Arya said that the celebration sets the platform for: appreciating our struggles and opportunities for unlimited successes, fighting injustices, ensuring our self worth, upholding human dignity, creating a niche within the diverse Fijian society, respecting the ethos and the culture that has been set through painful encounters and sacrifices made, overcoming condescending social attitude, moving out of the past and making new adventures, preservation of moral and ethical values and social ideals and being law abiding Fijians under all circumstances.

Mr. Arya stressed that the present generation need to learn from the episodes that the forefather had been through between 1879 and 1916 are our strengths endurance as we continue to play our role shaping the our future and that of our nation. “Future will be determined by what we make of our present and therefore we must stop believing in the cliché that we are the stolen generation,” stated Mr. Arya. “We must stop pitying ourselves and work towards self worth and self realisation,” said Mr. Arya


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