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“No justice for USP student Kamlesh Prakash” 1986


“No justice for student Kamlesh Prakash” 1986

a Kamlesh PraksahIn early 1986, one of my bright economics students, Kamlesh Prakash, brought to my attention that he felt that he had been victimized by one of his lecturers because of his close association with another economics lecturer (not me) who was then “out of favour” with the Acting Head of Economics (not me), and that his application for reconsideration of his script (given a “C” grade) had not been dealt fairly. He requested a fair treatment.

Soon after, the same student (now a graduate) applied for a junior lectureship in the Economics Department and was not considered favorably on the grounds that he had this “C” Grade.




b Kamlesh Prakash


I protested to the Head of SSED (Dr Thaman) that there had not been a neutral reassessment of the students’ script, to no avail.










I also protested to the Head of SSED that in a recent screening committee for an appointment to the Economics Department, the Acting Head of Economics sat on the Screening Committee and did not declare his conflict of interest that two of the candidates (Kamlesh Prakash and Rajendra Narayan) had signed a petition against him. The University took no action.

c Kamlesh












Kamlesh Prakash went on to head TPAF, later was appointed to a senior ILO position in Japan, and currently is Ambassador for the Bainimarama Government in the Middle East.
Kamlesh Prakash is no exception- he is merely one USP student whose case was still in my papers as I cleared them out recently.  There were many other good Indo-Fijian applicants to the Economics Department who did not get a fair treatment.  I had to fight tooth and nail to get appointed, many excellent candidates like Satish Chand (now Professor in Australia), Parmesh Chand (PS Fiji Government and now Head of PICPA at USP), Parmendra Sharma, and eventually even Biman Prasad who tried often to transfer from USP Extension Services.

When political scientists (and I) try to understand why so many Indo-Fijian intellectuals have supported the military and elected governments of Bainimarama, it would help them to examine these Indo-Fijians’ personal experiences where, despite their qualifications, abilities and experience,  they faced painful discrimination as Indo-Fijians-  from Fijian ethno-nationalists and whites and kailomas in powerful positions in Fiji.  There is a long list, starting with John Samy, Nahat Shameem, Rajesh Chandra,  etc, including Kamlesh Prakash. Their talents were never called upon or recognized and they were frequently discriminated against, because of their ethnicity.

They understandably appreciate Bainimarama’s powerful and frequent calls for the equal treatment of Indo-Fijians, who he has decreed should be called “Fijians”.  No other indigenous Fijian leader has done that, with the exception of Dr Bavadra, whose prime ministership was brutally cut short by the Fiji Military Forces 1987 Rabuka coup.

At the end of the day, it is understandable why even Bainimarama’s unelected and treasonous military government received the full support of Indo-Fijian academics, social and religious leaders and university vice chancellors.

Today, not only are Fijian ethno-nationalists silent about keeping Indo-Fijians “in their rightful place”, but also deathly quiet are the many white expatriates at USP and in the wider Fiji society, who not too long ago, could be relied upon to dump on Indo-Fijians at any opportunity.

Whether this lasts or not, this is a Bainimarama legacy which I am not unhappy about, whatever else I may think and write about his long term impact on the Fiji economy, basic human rights and media freedoms.

Post-script in 2016

This “condemning by association” is not to be associated with just expatriate vice chancellors or managers. There is another story to be told about another regional vice chancellor who recently told one of deputies that he was not to associate socially with an “undesirable” Member of the Fiji Parliament, nor with his very senior academic friend at USP. That Deputy has just been summarily dismissed from USP.

USP’s story of conflicts is not a simple one of expatriates versus locals (which may  have been somewhat relevant in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s) but power relations are more to the core, whoever wields the power.




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