Dr. Ganeshwar Chand, better known as Ganesh Chand, is a Fijian academic and former politician of Indian descent. He is a founder of the University of Fiji and serves as a Trustee of the Fiji Institute of Applied Studies and as Editor of Fijian Studies: A Journal of Contemporary Fiji (source).
From 1999 to 2006, Chand represented the Lautoka City Indian Communal Constituency, one of 19 reserved for Indo-Fijians, having won for the seat for the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) in the parliamentary elections of 1999 and 2001. He was Minister for Local Government, State Planning, and Housing in the government of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, in 1999 and 2000.
On 19 May 2000, He was among the 43 members of the People's Coalition Government, led by Mahendra Chaudhry, taken hostage by George Speight and his band of rebel Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) soldiers from the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit. He was released on 13 July 2000 after 56 days of captivity.
Chand was considered one of the more moderate members of the FLP, and spoke against the practice of using the "fear factor" to attract votes. He also made headlines on 21 November 2005, when he spoke of the positive aspects of the government's budget, and praised the government for implementing some of the Opposition's recommendations. He added that the budget was the best of all the government's bad budgets.
Chand announced his retirement from active politics in 2006, and has since been spending time at the newly established University of Fiji whose establishment he spearheaded. He was publicly critical of FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry's choices of Senators for the 2006-2011 term, saying that the appointment of a close relative of Chaudhry's among the Senators could be interpreted by the public as nepotism.
The Fiji Live news service reported on 29 December 2005 that at a conference of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) on 5–6 January 2006, Chand would be one of five people to receive the Pravasi Bharatiya Community Service Award. The others were Diljit S. Rana of Ireland, B.R. Shetty of Abu Dhabi, Sudha Acharya, executive director of the South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS). There was also a special recognition award to Pavan Kumar Darisi of the World Arya Vysya Mahasabha. Chand, an accomplished jazz flautist, performed an abbreviated rendition of the Oscar Peterson standard 'I Love Paris' at the prizegiving reception. The awards, which are granted to persons of Indian ancestry for their contributions to the countries they are members of, were presented by Governor Sushil Kumar Shinde of Andhra Pradesh.
The conference was held as a prelude to the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which ran from 7–9 January. The theme of the conference is "Global Indian Diaspora: Today and Tomorrow". Chand was one of the speakers at the conference, one of many organized by GOPIO since its inception in 1989.
Chand was the second citizen of Fiji to receive this award, the first being Mahendra Chaudhry in 2004. The citation for the award praised him for his role in campaigning for the restoration of democracy in Fiji in the wake of the two coups which deposed the Bavadra government and severed Fiji's links to the British Monarchy in 1987, and also noted his role in the establishment of the University of Fiji to cater for underprivileged students. He was also an accomplished author, the citation said.
It was announced on 5 September 2006 that Chand was suing the Fiji Times for what he claimed was a defamatory report on the front page of the newspaper, on 26 August 2000. The report claimed that police were investigating his alleged involvement in the theft of government property, including furniture, from his office. Chand told the High Court in Suva that he knew nothing of any investigation until reading the allegations in the Times. Police had questioned him and searched his home, from which some items had also been stolen, he said, but he did not consider that to constitute a police investigation.
Chand is seeking F$150,000 in damages and a further F$75,000 in aggravated damages, and a court order to prevent further defamation. He is also demanding a front-page apology in Fiji's three daily newspapers.Judgment was delivered in early 2007 in favour of the Fiji Times.
Director of FIT
- Interview with Ganesh Chand, on the history of Indian immigration to Fiji.