|This article is outdated. (November 2014)|
There are strong cultural links between the countries as 38 percent of Fiji's population is of Indian descent. India has used its influence in international forums such as the Commonwealth of Nations and United Nations on behalf of ethnic Indians in Fiji, lobbying for sanctions against Fiji in the wake of the 1987 coups and the 2000 coup, both of which removed governments, one dominated and one led, by Indo-Fijians.
On 15 August 2005, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said that the Government of India had loaned F$86 million for the upgrading of Fiji's sugar mills, which would be completed in time for the 2007-2008 crushing season. This was to enable Fiji to diversify its sugar industry into bio-fuels. Indian High Commissioner Ajay Singh said that his country had also offered technical expertise with the restructuring of the industry. He was speaking at the India National Day celebrations in Suva.
Qarase's state visit to India, 2005
Qarase and his Foreign Minister, Kaliopate Tavola, began a week-long state visit to India on 8 October, to open Fiji's new High Commission in New Delhi. The High Commission had hitherto operated out of a hotel. About 50 local businessmen accompanied the Prime Minister.
On 10 October, Qarase and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, signed four agreements. The most important is a three-year cooperation agreement in New Delhi. The agreement, most of which covers development cooperation, can be extended by mutual consent. They also signed a health service partnership agreement, while Tavola and India's Tourism Minister Renuka Chowdhury signed a tourism agreement.
Singh urged Fiji to embrace multiculturalism as a permanent part of its identity. Qarase said that Singh had told him he understood the difficulty of forging unity in a multiracial nation, because India was in a similar situation. He said that Singh had denied Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry's earlier hint that India would not help Fiji if it passed its controversial Reconciliation, Tolerance, and Unity Bill, a claim made by Chaudhry on his return to Fiji in September.
Speaking in Sydney, Australia, on 16 October, Qarase judged his just-concluded Indian visit a success. He said that one of the highlights for him was his visit to the Banariaman sugar mill in Mysore. He said that Fiji could learn a great deal from the Indian sugar industry.
Fijian disaster relief to India, Pakistan
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (November 2013)|
On 14 October 2005, the Fijian Cabinet endorsed an aid package proposed by Foreign Minister Tavola to assist India and neighbouring Pakistan with relief efforts in the wake of the Kashmir earthquake which devastated northern areas of both countries, especially Pakistan, on 8 October. Acting Foreign Minister Pita Nacuva said that Fiji would donate F$30,000 and F$60,000 to the Indian and Pakistani governments respectively. A Cabinet statement declared, "The earthquake has caused immense loss of lives and damages in the two countries so it is proper that Fiji demonstrates its solidarity to the two Governments and their people in this time of national pain and suffering. The donations are also a way of showing reciprocity as the two Governments have always assisted with our relief efforts in times of natural disasters."
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