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Vayalar Ravi to visit Australia, NZ, Fiji

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi leaves on a 10-day tour of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji where he will meet the Indian diaspora.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2006 15:45 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi leaves on Saturday on a 10-day tour of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji where he will interact with members of the Indian diaspora.

The minister is expected to use this visit, his first to the region since he took office, to promote the forthcoming Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the annual diaspora conclave to be held in New Delhi from Jan 7-9 next year, which will include a special session on Australia and the Pacific.

The visit is also expected to help his ministry formulate a comprehensive and specific diaspora policy.

Ravi, who will be accompanied by senior officials of his ministry, arrives Oct 15 in Sydney, where he will attend a pre-Diwali function organised by the United Indian Association.

He will also have a breakfast meeting with the Australia-India Business Council, according to an official press release.

In Canberra, he will attend another pre-Diwali function at the federal parliament and interact with the local Indian community. He will have an interactive session at the Research School of Asia and Pacific Studies at the Australian National University.

Besides, he will hold meetings with Australia's Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, and Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Amanda Vanstone, to discuss matters of mutual interest.

In Melbourne, Ravi will attend community functions and meet the Lord Mayor, John So. He will also interact with the ethnic media during his stay in Australia.

Moving on to Fiji on Oct 18, the minister will inaugurate a roundtable at the University of Fiji on the situation of the Indian diaspora in Fiji. He will be the guest of honour at a civic reception hosted by former Indo-Fijian prime minister and leader of the Fiji Labour Party Mahendra Chaudhary.

He will also have meetings with Fiji's Vice-President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, leader of opposition Mick Beddoes and several parliamentarians in Suva.

Ravi will attend a reception in his honour where he will meet a cross-section of the Indo-Fijian community.

The minister leaves for Auckland on October 21 where he meets New Zealand's Minister for Ethnic Affairs Chris Carter. He will attend an Indian community function at the Gandhi Bhavan.

In the New Zealand's capital Wellington, he will meet the newly appointed Governor-General, Anand Satyanand, who is of Indian origin, as well as several other dignitaries at a special Diwali function.

He will leave for India on October 23.

Both Australia and New Zealand have witnessed large-scale movement of Indian professionals, students, academics, and industry and trade representatives in recent years.

In Fiji, Indo-Fijians comprise 44 percent of the country's total population of around 900,000. Most of them are descendants of Indians who had been taken as indentured labour to work in the sugarcane plantations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

First Published: Oct 14, 2006 15:04 IST