After Myanmar and Australia, Modi to visit Fiji

Narendra Modi would be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Pacific Islands in three decades.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to extend his tour to Myanmar and Australia next month, by adding a short hop to the Fiji Islands as well, making the 10-day visit the longest trip abroad in his tenure so far, double the duration of his visits to Brazil, Japan and the US. According to a source working on the PM’s visit, he plans to fly from Canberra to the Fijian capital of Suva for a day-long bilateral trip on November 19th.

Mr. Modi would be the first Indian PM to visit the pacific islands in three decades, since PM Indira Gandhi travelled there in 1981. He has been in contact with the Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama since he called to congratulate PM Mr. Modi in May. In a tweet at the time, the PM had promised to “make India-Fiji relations stronger in the coming years." Announcing the visit, the Fiji Sun newspaper said the visit would “reinforce closer ties between Fiji and India, the Asian superpower.”

The visit will be part of PM Mr. Modi’s outreach to countries with substantial Indian-origin populations. Indians were first settled in the far-off islands by the British as indentured labour, but over the years many “free settlers” followed, and set up businesses there. According to the last census in 2007, Indian-Fijians made up about 37% of the population numbering more than three lakh. Despite that being the largest proportion of Indian diaspora living anywhere, it is lower than earlier years due to a large number emigrating to other countries because of harassment from native Fijians. Fiji elected an Indian-origin Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhury, in 1999, although he was deposed in a coup a year later.

Mr. Modi will travel to Fiji after >a four-day visit to Australia where he will attend the G-20 and is likely to attend a number of Non-Resident Indian (NRI) gatherings including a mega event at the Sydney Olympic park for about 20,000 Indian-Australians. As The Hindu had reported earlier this week, invitees to a gala event dinner thrown by the Australian government for him at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds >will also include many prominent Indian-Australians. PM Modi will return from Suva on November 20th,less than a week ahead of his next visit to Nepal for the SAARC summit on November 25th.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 6:00:03 AM |

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