The Mahatma and Wadan Narsey

Wadan Narsey was invited by the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial High School to address pupils on  Mahatma Gandhi Day. Click this link to read what he said.

The invitation to be chief guest came from  Kamlesh Kumar, the President of the Gujarat Education Society, and Kailash Rajput, the MGM Principal.

Graham Davis takes Wadan to task for using a school assembly to advance his own political ideas

In one of his several comments to Graham's posting, former Fiji resident Charlie Charters says Government does it all the time.  I think he's wrong, The intrinsic nature of what Government speakers and Wadan say differs.

As for Wadan's address, I'm not altogether convinced by Graham's argument  but there were times in his address when he crossed the line from a broad ranging address to making a political statement. Given the political division in Fiji, presumably replicated among MGM parents, a  captive audience of 14 to 17-year olds would seem to be an inappropriate forum.

Wadan is an old boy of the school and a Gujerati. In "normal" times he would be an obvious choice as chief speaker on Mahatma Gandhi Day. But in today's Fiji one has to wonder whether his selection  as the chief speaker by the Gujerati Education Society was  itself a political statement.

Knowing Wadan as they do, they must have known  the sort of things he would  say.


Anonymous said…
It's interesting that Wadan was asked to the join this government early on. He had several meetings with the PM. He only became a enemy of the state for disagreeing with the military and calling the coup what it is - illegal.
Anonymous said…
Warden may have started a tradition...lets see what next years speaker has to say.

Pity it wasnt a tradition before now, than we could have had Ghandi says to

How about Jisu, when can he have his day to call out our honourable politicians and dictators.

All the Churches, and all the preachers, won't put humpty dumpty together again.
Gutter Press said…
Crosbie, your article seems to be a knee jerk reaction in defence of your fellow traveller, Mr Davis and an unwarranted attack on an independent school governing body.

“Charlie Charters says Government does it all the time. I think he's wrong. The intrinsic nature of what Government speakers and Wadan say differs.”
No details – just a general feeling and then a statement with no backup. If you elect to make comments decrying Mr Charters’ opinion, at least have the courtesy to do the research that he did and find out who the various school speakers were and what the gist of their message was.

“Given the political division in Fiji, presumably replicated among MGM parents, a captive audience of 14 to 17-year olds would seem to be an inappropriate forum.”
The 16 and 17 year olds in the audience will be voting in the 2014 election. If they are not going to be educated in politics now, then when?
Secondly, why are you concerned about the political division in Fiji? I’m sure political division is replicated amongst MGM parents and probably always has been, as it is in every facet of society in all parts of the world. I would expect you rather to encourage parents and children alike to listen to the message, and then make an informed judgement using their own critical faculties.

“In ‘normal’ times he would be an obvious choice as chief speaker on Mahatma Gandhi Day. But in today's Fiji one has to wonder whether his selection as the chief speaker by the Gujerati Education Society was itself a political statement.”
Here you’ve displayed lazy insinuation at best. Before implicitly criticising the Gujerati Education Society you should have made enquiries about who their previous speakers have been over the past 6 years (or more) before making such a comment.
Furthermore, how is ‘today’s’ Fiji any different from the Fiji that existed before this coup? Fiji for the past 25 years has either existed in a pre coup-, a coup-, or a post coup-condition. The general tenor of Fijian society tends not to change much at all and in my experience life in Fiji has continued pretty much unchanged, albeit economically harder, from 2005.

You sound like the US Dept of Homeland Security which holds that ‘everything’ changed in the world on Sept 11 2001 as an excuse for depriving people of the civil liberties that they had previously been able to retain through many different wars and terrorist attacks.

“Knowing Wadan as they do, they must have known the sort of things he would say”
‘Must’ have known? Why – did you take the time to call them to enquire if they did indeed know?

So, if you’ll excuse me, rather lazy and irresponsible would appear to define your latest post which is a pity seeing as you normally don’t stoop to such levels. You normally make every effort to research your subject more thoroughly
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Gutter press ... Knee-jerk when I provided links to Wadan and Graham, need not have mentioned Charlie at all, and added very little comment of my own? Knee-jerk when i said I was not altogether convinced with Graham's argument but thought Wadan had at times crossed the line? An "unwarranted attack" on the MGM governing body when I questioned their choice of Wadan, well known for his vitriolic opposition to the Bainimarama government, as speaker? A failure to check the identity of all previous speakers? A failure to back up my criticism of Charlie who, incidentally, provided no back up to support his own claim? A failure to contact the MGM Board to see if they had any ideas on what Wadan might say? A failure to run the draft by you to see it met your expectations? The major part of the article belonged to Wadan and Graham. I offered four personal opinions clearly identified as opinions. As you did in your comment. I'd be pleased to hear of the research which shows 14-17 year olds are able to "make an informed judgement using their own critical faculties." Are you suggesting the voting age and the age of consent be reduced to 14, or school children should be able to exercise their judgement by walking out of a school assembly in protest? Should I take your comment as an "unwarranted attack" on me or merely as an expression of opinion on which we differ?
Joe said…
@Gutter Press
"Fiji has continued pretty much unchanged, albeit economically harder, from 2005."

Oh really? What about 1987 & 2000? It was OK then was it? Of course it was wasnt it? lol !!!
We all know which business communities backed which coup, and it hurts now when the playing field is being levelled, doesnt it.

So, what would Gandhi have said to A D Patel, S M Koya, KKT Mara,and QE2 in the late 60s? Go figure.

" I am not just an economist but a “Gujerati economist" " That says it all, doesnt it?

Gutter Press said…
Crosbie, I’ve re-read my original post and feel that I could have couched my criticism in softer, less self righteous, language. I’ve evidently offended you for not doing that, so I apologise.

Definition ‘Knee jerk’ – an automatic response to something.

I used the phrase ‘knee jerk … defence’ in recognition of the fact that, to my knowledge, you never criticise Mr Davis’ articles. (‘…not altogether convinced…’ isn’t criticism, it’s asking for further evidence to be convinced).

If those articles were to only receive the oxygen of publicity available to his blog that would be perfectly acceptable. However his many divisive comments, often making up in unfounded opinion what they lack in hard evidence, are disseminated widely amongst the Fijian public via the Fiji Sun. Again, this wouldn’t be an issue but for the important fact that the paper refuses to print letters or opinions pieces expressing a contrary view. I would be happy to give you examples, but the list would be a very long one.

It’s important that Fijians of all ages are given an opportunity that is largely denied them to hear alternative points of view about society at large and the ways in which it can be shaped.

As far as your rhetorical questions go:
Yes - I feel that it was unwarranted for you to question the school board’s choice of public speaker since you have no children at MGM. Your disagreement was therefore on principle only, relating to political opinion being given to a captive audience.
No - Mr Charters’ lack of support of his own claim doesn’t really excuse your laxity. Your blog has an academic tenor which commences in the preambles, where you refer to your scholarship and length of time in the Pacific. It’s for this very reason that you draw a certain readership.
The research you ask for which develops the critical faculties of 14 – 17 year olds is called schooling.
No - I didn’t suggest that the voting age be lowered to 14, I noted that the 16 and 17 year olds present would soon be voters as the voting age in 2014 will be 18. Hence the need for them to become politically aware.
No - I didn’t mention reducing the age of consent to 14. I’m curious as to why you would mention that.
No - I didn’t suggest that school children walk out of a school assembly in protest. I specifically wrote ‘I would expect you rather to encourage parents and children alike to listen to the message…’ rather than be concerned about the airing of a relatively mild criticism of this government’s method of taking and maintaining power.

My comment wasn’t an unwarranted attack on you. It was a request for you to maintain your standards and to avoid making insinuations that might inadvertently cause people great difficulty. You’re already aware that this government doesn’t take kindly to criticism and it is very easy to lose employment, particularly in the government sector. So, out of respect to the MGM Board, Principal and teachers, I hope that rather than indulging in the opinionated commentary that other bloggers are so adept at, you ensure your facts are correct before going to press. Specifically - asking if Mr Narsey’s selection as speaker was a political statement and if they were aware of the content of his speech beforehand.
%$#@! said…
If we take all the partisan, snide, self-indulgent apeasement out of this blog what will there be left?
Joe said…
Sorry,you dialled the wrong number. Follow these instructions to find the correct number:

1) Go to section "C"
2) Go to page "4"
3) Go to line "dot5"

You will find that the correct number is "C4dot5"

Good luck dumbo
Siphon Money Patel. said…
Where did you get this BS from? Wadan was never asked to join the govt. He has zero to contribute except to himself. The sooner this.saviour of the Gujis disappears from Fiji the better off the country will be.
Charlie Charters said…
Croz, I came to this late. When I posted my third reply to Graham's article it was on the basis of having Googled something like 'Bainimarama school address'. Bainimarama obviously makes these addresses to schools on a regular basis, and that's fair go. I looked through the speeches, as reported, and in about 1 in every three there seemed to be as much overtly political content as there was in Wadan's (particularly in his enthusiasm for the support of school cadet programmes - because cadets learn the value of discipline, leadership, honesty - at which point the speeches segue into ... just like the Army and/or correctional services). Truthfully there were so many instances, it was so self-evidently a regular pulpit for the government to preach on its virtues, and the articles all demonstrated the same point (without even attempting to provide any balance or context, a key merit of Wadan's speech was he credited the government for its aspirational goals), that there seemed no point in linking to them.

However, clearly you feel my argument lacks evidence, so I Googled again, and this was the first article thrown up, from July:

Croz, your blog reported on the relief efforts. There were many genuine heroes but - as you detailed - there were also instances of failure (either by commission or omission), allegations of mismanagement, incompetence and self-dealing, corruption etc. In the current situation that exists in Fiji - with no legislative body to scrutinise, a cowed media that is hesitant to investigate, and an executive and judiciary that seem mutually supportive - it is wholly misleading to claim that the Government is honest and transparent. Misleading in that it is completely beyond testing or independent verification. Likewise to assert that the relief effort was well managed and free of corruption.

Personally, I am not particularly outraged that Bainimarama makes these claims at schools.

But I think it speaks to a shocking double standard that Graham Davis should line up Wadan for a typically robust beasting, purely because he spoke a bit of 'soft politics' to a school audience while the evidence is clear government figures preach 'hard politics' to the very same audience on a regular basis.

Even more shocking - subsequently - is the extent to which Davis's derision has unleashed some truly poisonous racist commentary about Gujeratis. All of course (so far) unmoderated and protected by the 'cowardly cloak of anonymity', to quote Davis's own words. Another double standard (and on Fiji Day too).

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