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Find out how Arya Samaj is playing a crucial role in educating children in Fiji!

Since its establishment, Arya Samaj in Fiji has focused on education largely and currently owns and manages many schools and institutions in the country

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(Aum) The symbol of Arya Samaj via Wikipedia.org
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  • The Arya Samaj in Fiji was established on 25th December 1904 at Samabula
  • Based on the fundamental principles of Dharma or True Religion, it teaches love, justice and righteousness towards all, irrespective of race, caste or creed
  • Vishnu Deo was the first leader and the only Hindi language newspaper in Fiji, Fiji Samachar

August 17, 2016: Arya Samaj is a Hindu faction that promotes values and practices based on the Hindu text Vedas, which started as a reformist movement by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati in the 19th century. Arya Samaj simply renounces all rituals and beliefs which are commonly associated with Hindus except those originating from the Vedas. It was the movement had that removed almost all concepts introduced after the Vedas in Hinduism.

The vision of Arya Samaj in Fiji is to evolve and educate-

“A Society where everyone is literate and conforms to acceptable moral, spiritual, cultural and social values”

Arya samaj in Fiji was established by a handful of followers who had little knowledge of the work of Mahrishi Dayanand. It was Dayanand, who was the founder of the Arya Samaj Movement in Bombay (now Mumbai) on 10 April 1875. Although the influence of Arya Samaj gradually became weaker among Indians in Fiji, as other organizations were established; but it remained a dominant force in politics until 1959. To the present day, Arya Samaj in Fiji speaks out on the issues affecting its members and its work, which is visible through the various educational institutions it manages today.

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Arya Samaj in Fiji was born out of the desire by the Girmitiyas meaning the descendants of Fiji Indians, to sustain the religious, cultural and social inheritance and provide a platform for the upliftment of their living standards. The inspiration to the members who established Arya Samaj in Fiji was derived from the Satyarth Prakash, written by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati himself in 1875. It can be dated back to 1893 when the learning centers were established by a small group of people who had organized themselves into sects. With the arrival of Shiu Datt Sharma in 1902, a temple was established in Samabul, which also acted as a school attended by many.

Today Arya Samaj is all over Fiji and since 1904, it has contributed significantly to the struggles of the Girmitiyas, their needs, and demands. Believing in promoting knowledge through education, the Arya Samaj in Fiji under the auspices of the National organization Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, established many schools to educate children. Prior to this several informal centers of learning were in operation by the Samajs and individual members that can be dated back to 1893.

From 1926 to 1929 under the auspices of Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, some 100 Fiji-born Indian boys and girls were sent to India to study at various Arya Samaj institutions. At the end of its first century of existence, the Arya Samaj Movement in Fiji proudly owns many educational institutions.

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Nadi Arya Samaj public school in Fiji via fijisun.com.fj
Nadi Arya Samaj public school in Fiji via fijisun.com.fj

MANAGEMENT
The affairs of individual Samajs or sects are managed by the officials through elections conducted every March of a year, by their respective members, under the provisions of Local Samaj Constitution provided by the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha. The affairs of the National Body, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, however, is managed by an Executive Committee consisting of 13 Office Bearers and 35 representatives from affiliated sections, who are elected at the Annual general meeting (AGM) every June. Other functions of the administrative wing of Sabha are vested in the various sub-committees and Boards of School Committees by appointment of the National Executive at the post-Convention (AGM) Executive meeting. The Arya Mahila Mandals and Arya Yuva Dals are an integral part of the Samajs and are very active at Samaj and National level.

The Sabha’s Headquarters is situated at its property at Samabula, Suva.

To conclude, Arya Samaj has specifically aimed at its educational activities and worked for the education of many children in Fiji, built many educational institutions as well. As Indo-Fijians have migrated overseas, they have taken their religion and culture with them. Consequently, Arya Samajs have been established and spread in many countries by former Indo-Fijians.

prepared by Yajush Gupta , twitter: @yajush_gupta

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The Other Side of “Hindu Pakistan”

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province

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Hinduism
The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures.

Sagarneel Sinha

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country. BJP didn’t let the opportunity go by launching a scathing attack on Tharoor and his party for insulting Hindus and Indian democracy, forcing the Congress party to distance itself from its own MP’s comment. Only one year is left for the next general elections and in a politically polarised environment such comments serve as masala for political battles where perception is an important factor among the electorates.

Actually, Tharoor, through his statement, is trying to convey that “India may become a
fundamentalist state just like its neighbour — Pakistan”. Tharoor is a shrewd politician and his remarks are mainly for political gains. The comments refer to our neighbour going to polls on 25 th of this month which has a long history of ignoring minorities where the state institutions serve as a tool for glorifying the religious majority bloc and ridiculing the minorities. This compelled me to ponder about the participation of the Hindus — the largest minority bloc of the country, in the upcoming polls.

There are total 37 reserved seats for minorities in Pakistan — 10 in the National Assembly
(Lower House), 4 in the Senate (Upper House) and 23 in various state legislatures — 9 in the Sindh assembly, 8 in Punjab and 3 each in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistani Hindus, like other minorities have the dual voting rights in principle. But the reality is they have no rights to vote for their own representatives as the seats are reserved — means the distribution of these seats are at the discretion of parties’ leadership. Practically speaking, these reserved seats are meant for political parties not for minorities. In case of general seats, it is almost impossible for a Hindu candidate to win until and unless supported by the mainstream parties of the country. The bitter truth is — the mainstream parties have always ignored the Hindus by hesitating to field them from general seats. In 2013, only one Hindu candidate — Mahesh Kumar from the Tharparkar district won from a general seat, also became the only minority candidate to make it to the National Assembly from a general seat. This time too, he is nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — a major centre-left party of Pakistan. However, there are no other Hindu candidates for a general seat from the two other significant centre-right parties — former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s Tehreek-E-Insaf (PTI). Although, there is a Hindu candidate named Sanjay Berwani from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — a Karachi (capital of Sindh province) based secular centrist party of Pakistan.

Shashi_tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is
elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country.

The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures. It means that despite the state’s hostile policies, Hindus have been able to remain stable in a highly Islamist polarised society. 90% of the Hindu population of the country lives in the Sindh province. Hindu population in Umerkot,Tharparkar and Mirpur Khas districts of the Sindh province stands at 49%, 46% and 33% respectively — making them the only three substantial Hindu districts of the country. The three districts have 5 National Assembly and 13 Provincial seats. However, Hindus have never well represented from these seats.

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province. Many of them belong to the Schedule caste — the Dalit community. A recent report based on Pakistan Election Commission’s data says that out of 2.5 lakh women of Tharparkar district, around 2 lakh of them are not included in the electoral list — means that they are not entitled to vote for the upcoming general elections. All over the country, there are about 1.21 crore women voters who will not be able to vote in the elections. The reason is the lack of an identity card. Most of them are poor who are unable to pay the expenses required for an identity card. This has made difficult for independent Hindu Dalit candidates like Sunita Parmar and Tulsi Balani as most of their supporters will not be voting in the upcoming polls. In Tharparkar district, around 33% percent are the Hindu Dalits — brushed aside by the mainstream parties. The reserved seat candidates are based on party nominations, where mainly the upper caste Hindus are preferred. Radha Bheel, a first time contestant and the chairperson of Dalit Suhaag Tehreek (DST), a Dalit organisation, says that the fight is for the rights of the lower socio-economic class and scheduled castes. Sunita, Tulsi, Radha and the other independent Hindu candidates know
that the possibility of winning from the general seats is bleak but for them the contest is for their own identity — an identity never recognised by the political parties and the establishment of Pakistan.