USP Theses Collection


close this section of the library Sharma, Lalita Devi.

View the PDF document Indo-Fijian emigration : a case study of the children of girmitya in Wainasasa
Author:Sharma, Lalita Devi.
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Award: M.A.
Subject: Fiji -- Emigration and immigration
Date: 2001.
Call No.: pac JV 9460 .S47 2001
BRN: 928374
Copyright:Under 10% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: International migration has gradually become an exceptionally important issue for Fiji. Fiji's emigration is continually being linked to insecurity created by political and economic upheavals (Howard 1992). Fiji, because of its multi-ethnic composition, has been labeled a plural society but ethnic cleavages make it potentially unstable. The fear of economic and political insecurity has been driving 5000-6000 people annually from Fiji since the coups of 1987. Statistics clearly show that emigration is an ethnic issue. More Indo-Fijians emigrate than any other ethnic group. Added to these reasons are the family re-unification grounds and the search for greener pastures. Despite the loss of thousands of people from Fiji, the topic of emigration has been a rather silent subject in relation to scholarly debate in Fiji. Whatever little is written on the issue of emigration there are differing responses. Some view emigration as lack of loyalty and commitment to Fiji by Indo-Fijians. Contrary to this argument, the causes of emigration should be traced to unfair constitution, fears over personal safety, discrimination, lack of clear commitment by the government to multi-racial equality and the unavailability of land. The present study questions some of the generalizations made by emigration theorists in relation to emigration trend from Fiji's plural society. It challenges the regional and general approach adopted by various emigration theorists. Indo-Fijians are still regarded as vulagi (visitors), in their own country of birth, where they have lived for four or five generations. They face the stark prospect of political disenfranchisement and unequal citizenship. Unwanted and humiliated, fed up with coups, understandably many Indo- Fijians seek to re-build their lives in other countries. By studying a specific local area this paper attempts to verify why emigration has been the only choice for the immigrant Indo-Fijian community in crisis situations. Generalizations by scholars of different disciplines do not specifically address the reasons for 'uprooting' and settling in a different environment. The 'push' has been so vigorous that not even a single house in the research site is without a family member living overseas. Clearly what happens at the national level affects the locals as well. A micro-level study gives a deeper understanding of why people move. This thesis argues that the Indo-Fijian community has been 'uprooted' to such a level that the exodus will continue and no amount of political stability is going to change the tide. Perhaps genuine offer of dual citizenship and a compromise on salient issues may see some Indo-Fijians returning either to work or do business here again. I feel that process will be encouraging but admittedly slow and cumbersome.
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