On the occasion of the Independence Day of India on 15 August, I convey my best wishes to the readers of Fiji Times and all the people of Fiji.
India became independent on 15 August 1947. Since then we have worked hard to bring about inclusive social and economic development of the country.
The people of India have achieved much to be proud of. However, there are still many challenges.
We are committed to make our best efforts to overcome these challenges. We are working to bring about universal education and healthcare, elimination of hunger and poverty, and overall improvement in the social and economic life of everyone.
We have high hope and higher aspirations.
India and Fiji share a traditionally close and friendly relationship. In recent years our ties have grown stronger.
Hon. President HE Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Hon. Prime Minister HE Commodore V. Bainimarama, Hon. Ministers HE Joketani Cokanasiga, HE Dr. Jiko Luveni, and HE Dr. Neil Sharma have travelled to India in recent months. Hon. Minister of State for External Affairs of India HE Mr. E. Ahamed is expected to visit Fiji later this year.
These visits would contribute to our growing interaction and enhance our bilateral relations.
We are working with the Government of Fiji to expand our cooperation in various areas such as education, health, human resource development, agriculture, sugar, solar energy, among others.
We have good cooperation in multilateral fora and have similar concerns on most global issues.
People-to-people exchanges are an important aspect of our relationship.
It is good to see that there have been increasing academic exchanges, growing tourism, visits of Indian performing artistes and filmmakers, and greater awareness about each other.
We would also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Indian Cultural Centre in Suva on 15 August.
We are happy to see that more students have been availing of scholarships for studies and more officials are benefitting from training in India, including defence, police, and senior provincial officials.
We look forward to continue strengthening our relations in all areas.
Vinaka and Dhanyavad
* (Vinod Kumar)
High Commissioner of India