INDIA SEEKS WORLD HINDI CONFERENCE IN FIJI

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 31) - A visiting government delegation from India has promised more cultural grants to Fiji.

India's Secretary for External Relations Vijay Kumar said the Indian government would continue to provide grants if requests were made through proper channels.

Kumar said he was negotiating with the Fijian Prime Minister to have the World Hindi Conference in Fiji towards the end of the year or at the beginning of next year. The conference normally attracts at least 1,000 delegates and would benefit Fiji with its tourism spinoff, he said.

[PIR editor’s note: According to an India Ministry of External Affairs press release, the purpose of holding an international Hindi conference is to strengthen linkages with people of Indian origin abroad - especially those that are Hindi speaking - draw the Indian diasporas into cultural events and also to emphasize the role of Hindi culture in the modern World.]

Surinam and the United Kingdom have hosted such recent gatherings. Delegates from Mauritius, Canada, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Kingdom are among those that attend the Conference.

Fiji Multi Ethnic Affairs Minister George Shiu Raj said while there were no specific provisions for a conference of such a magnitude in this years budget, he would discuss the matter at the Cabinet level.

Raj said it would be a challenge to take the offer in view of the conference's tourism potential and the opportunities people would have to meet other delegates.

At a meeting with Shiu Raj in Suva yesterday, Kumar said the Indian government would continue to support the development of cultural programs in Fiji and promised various types of cultural-related aid to Fiji.

Kumar said the Indian government would also donate musical instruments such as harmonium, dholak [hand drum] and other instruments to cultural centers.

The Multi Ethnic Affairs Ministry has Indian cultural centers in Labasa, Savusavu, Suva, Nausori, Ba and Nadi, where programs are offered for the rural community.

The Fiji government has allocated FJ$150,000 [US$87,800] for cultural programs this year.

February 1, 2006

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