The Life and Times of a Diplomat in Fiji – The New Indian Express


Family novels typically involve generations of self-discovery and relevance in the present. Ajay Singh spans four generations separated by a timeless ocean and two nations bound together by the tale of freedom and homecoming. In 1885, like so many others, Singh’s grandfather sailed from Calcutta to Fiji to work as an indentured labourer.

Britain had abolished slavery in 1833. To replace the slaves who worked on its lucrative sugar cane plantations, Britain invented the famous “indentured labor system” in 1837 under which Rural Indians were taken to distant colonies such as Guyana, Mauritius and Fiji to work. a minimum of five years. After that, they could return to India or continue to live in the colony as free citizens.

Trinidad-born novelist VS Naipaul is one of the most distinguished descendants of an indentured laborer. Ajay Singh’s ancestor came from a village near Agra and stayed in Fiji with his wife for five years, and returned to India in 1901 with their Fiji-born son, Bere Singh. But four generations of the family have maintained close ties to Fiji. Ram Chander’s grandson, Bhagwan Singh, was the first High Commissioner of Free India to Fiji which gained independence in 1970. His great-grandson, Ajay Singh, married Shiromani, a Third generation Indian of Fijian descent.

The author adopted a clear and simple style to describe complex images with ironic humor. He writes: “At the end of December 1976, I brought my Fiji-born wife, Shiromani Tiwari Singh, to my ancestral village, Jaingara. His ancestors moved to Fiji two generations ago from a village called Dhakaiya in the neighboring district of Faizabad. The village women, curious and excited, exclaimed Are yeh to bilkul hamare jaisi hai. They expected the stranger to look different.

Ajay Sing

Ajay Singh died two years ago before he could complete the manuscript. His trusted friend Professor Mahavir Singh completed it from the notes he left. It is the fascinating story of a brilliant career, first as a journalist, then as a politician and finally as a diplomat. When Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980, the Prime Minister whom she overthrew Chaudhri Charan Singh, established the All India Kisan Trust to protect the interests of farmers. The trust included leaders such as George Fernandes, Biju Patnaik and Sharad Yadav. Charan Singh offered Ajay the post of his Managing Director. Ajay had a journalism degree from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He took the job and his political rise was rapid. He was elected to the Legislative Council of the UP in 1986 and on the death of Charan Singh the following year he took over as Chairman of the Trust.

Karma has its own quirks and fancies; in 1989 Ajay Singh won the parliamentary seat of Agra and was appointed Deputy Minister of Railways in Vice President Singh’s short-lived Janta Dal government. In 2005, he was appointed India’s High Commissioner to Fiji – a political appointment by the Congress government due to his talent and reputation, just like his father was.


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