“An open bit of racism against Fiji Gujarati” (25 Nov. 2014).
An open bit of racism against Fiji Gujarati (25 Nov. 2014)
(added to 27 Nov)
Professor Wadan Narsey
On the 24 November 2014, I received an email from a person (Kumar), a Hindustani person now living in Australia. He did not attempt to hide his identity and Australian work address, which I have removed from these emails which I quote verbatim, in red. (he later apologized for his abusive email when one of my friends complained to his Australian employer):
“I have been following your articles since 1985 and you never pinpoint of the Gujiratis evading tax in Fiji and building empires overseas. Read my article and if Baini and Khaiyum set up a taskforce to recoup all the money from 1970 onwards of all gujiarati businesses it is going to raise at least $500 million dollars and maybe considerably many more dollars. No one knows how much tax Vinod Patel, Punja, Motibhai, R B Patel, Lodhias, Bhika Bhai, R C Manubhai, C P Patel, all the maichod Ba and Western Viti Levu Gujiratis etc owe to the Fiji Government.
U should not even comment about Fijis economy because you Gujiratis did not come to Fiji as indentured labourers and did not work 16 hour days on sugar plantation.
You gujiratis have been the main reason for the hatred of the entire Indian Community by the Fijians and you Gujiratis have treated us like Dogs in the 100 plus year history of Fiji. I witnessed where Vinod Patel and Motibhai never allowed their housemaids to eat in the kitchen of their house but sit outside in the balcony in the blazing sun to have their lunch in Varadoli Ba. I was a neighbour of all these families in Ba. That is how bad and filthy your race of Gujiratis are in Fiji. I can proudly say as a true North Indian of very highly morals that I hate each and very Gujirati family of Fiji. U are all dogs and worse than filthy jews.
There are many Indians like myself who wish that all the Gujiratis are deported to India and all their assets frozen and handed to poor Indian families. They should be all deported to Gujirat in India naked on the plane from Fiji.”
Later that day, I received another email from the same person.
Today is one of the most happiest and celebrate’’’ days for us the True Girmit Fourth Generation Fiji Indians that the Biggest Chamcha of Ratu Mara and the biggest MaiChod Gujirati is now fuckon going to Jail. He probably never paid a single dollar of tax in Fiji that Mahend Maichod.
Many Ba Indian families will be celebrating tonight with few beers and hot curry.
You should now think of packing your bags and go and live in Gujarat where you belong with the rest of the Gujiratis from Fiji.
XYZ was celebrating the Fiji court’s decision to jail for one year, one of Fiji’s prominent tycoons, Mac Motibhai Patel (Chairman of Post Fiji and originally from Ba) for apparently extending the contract of Post CEO Peni Mau, without referring the matter to the Board of Post Fiji.
In my dismay at this unwarranted attack on me personally and Gujarati in general, I circulated XYZ’s emails to Fiji Parliamentarian and National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad (and to some other friends), to warn him know about this particular set of sentiments prevailing in the Indo-Fijian community.
To my relief (and saving me the unpleasant task), Professor Prasad, himself a descendant of the girmitiya (indentured laborers) wrote to XYZ:
I have read both your emails to Professor Wadan Narsey. I am absolutely disgusted and disturbed by the way you have insulted Professor Narsey. You claim to have read Professor Narsey’s articles since 1985. If you have actually done so, then I am very surprised that you have the audacity to accuse Professor Narsey of not addressing many of the issues facing this country over the last 40 odd years. Your generalisations are not only without any substance but also very vulgar. Professor Narsey is never known to have been partial in his views on issues of integrity and honesty. To him it does not matter who belongs to what race, caste etc. He has always been forthright and honest in his writings.
I know Professor Narsey from 1985 when he taught me at the University. He was the finest teacher I had in my entire uiversity studies both in Fiji and abroad. Professor Narsey is the finest and most respected economists in the Pacific region. He is a man of absolute integrity, honesty, and bravery. Many would not have dared to take on those who ursurped power in Fiji in 1987, 2000 and 2006. Professor Narsey has consistently writen on almost every issue facing Fiji over the last 40 years. You talk about indentured labourers and girmit. You should read Professor Narsey’s 1979 article on the sugar industry, Indians and the colonial rule. You will then understand him better.
Your generalisations about the Gujarati community in Fiji is highly regrettable. You forget that many of them started in Fiji with small businesses at a time when colonial settlers and their descendants controlled the business sector. You also forget that one of the most respected Indian leaders in Fiji was the late AD Patel. It was Mr Patel who negotiated the Denning Award which got the Indian sugar farmers out of almost a slavery-like condition.
I am also surprised and disgusted with your use of foul language. It is incredibly immature and unprofessional for you to use your work email and send such a derogatory email. I am sure you would not want others to use the same language against you.
I hope you will have the decency to apologise to Professor Narsey.
XYZ immediately warned Professor Biman Prasad:
“Do not send me any correspondence to me from now onwards. Otherwise I will report the matter to the Australian Federal Police of harassment”. (sic)
XYZ eventually apologized to me through someone else’s email.
While I have received many sympathetic and supportive emails expressing disgust at XYZ’s racist outburst against me personally, and against Gujarati in general, it would seem that there are Indo-Fijians in high places in Fiji, totally sympathetic to the views of Pravind Kumar.
One extremely influential person who is the head of a place of higher learning, and also a former student of mine, wrote to me in relation to XYZ’s email:
My take: Wadan and XYZ are in the same league, except that one abuses boldly directly on the basis of facts, the other subtly but without knowing the facts. Sad that discourse has descended to such gutter levels.
He wrote again to me:
“Dear Wadan, Over the past few years, you have steadily descended to peddling filth which only bitter people are capable of. I expected much more from my gurus. Unfortunately, you have – progressively – disappointed me with the venoms you regularly spew out, for me to place you in the same league as Pravind… You are no different, guruji.
And after one of my friends had complained to XYZ’s employers, whose logo was used in his racially abusiive email to me, the same head of higher learning wrote to me again, but now accusing me of bigotry, :
“And if the employer is asked to bully an employee for expressing his views which we many not share, where does one go to complain when a free lancer like wadan, makes bigoted comments?”
A continuing problem
It is unfortunately true that such racist views do prevail within the Indo-Fijian community, despite the Bainimarama Government’s rhetoric of racial equality between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians, and should be confronted by our social leaders.
A few months ago, in relation to the MIDA Chairman’s reaction at the alleged hate speech of Ratu Tim Vesikula, I had pointed out the many internal different kinds of racism among Indo-Fijians themselves, including that between Gujarati and Hindustani Indo-Fijians.
I had also referred previously to the Hindustani racism against Gujarati when posting a 1974 article on my blog site, interestingly on the plight of cane farmers who were the descendants of girmitiya, whose leases were expiring in Koronubu, Ba.
The same descendants of girmitiya, who XYZ claims to be representing in asking Gujarati like me to be repatriated to India.
The irony is that in many of my articles I have criticized the lack of ethics and principles of Fiji’s prominent business houses, not just Gujarati (who I have named), but of all ethnicities, and none of them would consider me a “friend”.
The majority of Gujarati are not business people, and there are many Gujarati businesses who are honest and contribute their fair share of employment and taxes in Fiji, like most other businesses of other ethnicities.
Mr XYZ’s views, while extremely disturbing to me personally as a Gujarati whose ethnicity does not influence his views as an economist and public commentator, is nevertheless totally understandable as one of the results of the nasty Indo-Fijian politics that has gone on in Fiji over the last forty years. XYZ was apparently a strong Fiji Labor Party supporter according to one of his academic supervisors at USP, and it would not surprise me that he has friends in Fiji who oppose my views and egged XYZ on to write his racist diatribe.
It is a pity that previous Indo-Fijian social leaders have not ever publicly confronted these racist attitudes, either among the Hindustani or the Gujarati, and their ill effects fester on, hopefully less and less, especially with the rise of progressive political leaders like Professor Biman Prasad.
It has not been a good month for me, with attacks on me personally by some journalists from the Fiji Sun, ironically owned by a Gujarati businessmen (CJ Patel) who is one of many in cahoots with the Bainimarama Government, which is paradoxically also supported by the same XYZ. Another former student has taken out an advertisement threatening to sue me for asking further questions about her company, based on the revelations in the Auditor General’s Reports.
Fiji is full of racist paradoxes.