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Elections will be a test, says former diplomat

Shayal Devi
Monday, April 21, 2014

FORMER Indian High Commissioner Thettalil Sreenivasan believes the September elections under the new Constitution will be a real test of whether Fiji's citizens will rise above narrow considerations of race, religion and origin.

He said India and the rest of the world looked forward to the verdict of the people.

"This is not because we have any prescriptions for Fiji but because we want peace and prosperity in Fiji in which India has an abiding interest," he said.

"I am glad to see that even after a long gap, India and Fiji have developed a robust relationship once again. We have earnestly worked with the present government in its efforts for nation-building as well as to hold elections.

"I understand India is committed to share its resources and rich experience in holding free and fair elections in Fiji.

"I also notice that the relations between India and Fiji have become robust and mutually beneficial."

Mr Sreenivasan said building democracy was only the first step for Fiji.

"Development is also essential not only in terms of GDP but also in terms of Gross National Happiness that Fiji enjoyed for a long time. The technological revolution is bewildering because it came without a user's manual.

"Fiji must be part of the technological revolution without losing its identity."

According to Mr Sreenivasan, Fiji must benefit from the demographic dividend and this could be done by educating young people to shoulder global responsibilities.

"Fiji does not have the enormous problems that face other countries such as pressure of population, urbanisation issues and environmental degradation.

"You still have fresh air, the legendary Fiji Water relished around the globe, and the blue seas around you.

"Modernisation of Fiji is achievable with united action."

Mr Sreenivasan left the country after the events of 1987 and said coming back after 25 years had not diminished his love for the country.

"I had a most delightful visit and people at all levels, including Sitiveni Rabuka himself, received me with warmth and affection.

"I would like to look forward rather than grieve over the past but we should not forget that the breach of that constitution and the turmoil in paradise resulted in the grievous loss of valuable time and resources.

"I am glad to see after I have talked to leaders of various communities and interests in the last few days that there is genuine regret over those developments and Fiji is well on its way to securing the goals of democracy and equality."

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