During his recent visit to Fiji, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced Lines of Credit and development assistance of around USD 80 million for Fiji and. The Visa on Arrival (VoA) scheme has also been announced for all the 14 Pacific Island countries. A number of measures have also been announced to strengthen India’s relationships with Pacific Islands.
- Narendra Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit these Pacific countries after Indira Gandhi who visited in 1981.
Summary of Measures Announced:
Visa on arrival (VoA) to Pacific Island Countries
- The VoA scheme has been extended to the nationals of all the 14 Pacific Island countries. These countries include: Cook Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Kiribati, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Niue, Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Forum of India-Pacific Island Cooperation
- A Forum for India- Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) is to be held on a regular basis.
Trade Office in India
- India has announced to set up Trade Office at an existing diplomatic representation in New Delhi to promote trade between India and Pacific Island Countries.
Special Adaptation Fund of 1 million US dollars for Climate change
- Money from this fund has to be used for adaptation to Climate change. Climate change is a major concern in Pacific Island Countries.India can also use this fund to provide technical assistance and training for capacity building to Pacific Island Partners.
Pan Pacific Islands Project
- Akin to the Pan-Africa Project, India has decided to formulate Pan Pacific Islands Project for telemedicine and tele-education in the Pacific Island countries.
Solar energy project
- India will also work on a solar energy project with the Pacific Islands at the community level. The regional hubs will be developed in the pacific Islands
Joint research in traditional medicine
- India looks forward to do joint research in traditional medicine and explore options of developing healthcare facilities for the benefit of people in the region.
Deputation of experts
- India has proposed to depute technical experts to share experience and expertise with pacific Island countries in the fields of agriculture, healthcare and IT.
Training to Diplomats from Pacific Island Countries
- Foreign Service Training Institutes of India will organise training programmes for the Diplomats of Pacific Island countries. These training will be held in both the countries (respective country and India).
Distinguished Visitors Programme
- India has proposed a Distinguished Visitors Programme to organise seminars and invite friends from the region. This will help to explore new ideas to strengthen the mutual beneficial economic cooperation.
- India proposed cooperation in use of Space technology applications for improving the quality of life of people and communications in this region. India may help these nations by sharing data that could be used for monitoring climate change, disaster risk reduction and management, resource management.
Sri Lanka has released five Indian fishermen, who were sentenced to death on charges of drug trafficking. The release was secured after diplomatic intervention by India’s Prime Minister, Ministry Of External Affairs (MEA), Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka.
Five fishermen from Rameswaram were arrested in November 2011 on charges of smuggling narcotics from India to Sri Lanka after they crossed the International Maritime Boundary Line. High court of Sri Lanka sentenced three Sri Lankans and five Indian fishermen death penalty in this case. These fishermen were caught from Rameswaram by Sri Lankan Navy in November 2011 on charges of drug smuggling in Sri Lankan waters. They were sentenced to death by Colombo High Court on 30th October 2014.
Justice Nanavati Commission has submitted its final report on the 2002 Gujarat riots to state chief minister Anandiben Patel. The final report of the commission on the 2002 riots, in which more than 1,000 people, mostly of minority community, were killed, comes after extensive investigation which ran over a period of more than 12 years and has more than 2,000 pages.
The commission members:
Retired d Supreme Court justice G T Nanavati and Retired High Court Justice Akshay Mehta.
In 2008, the inquiry panel had submitted one part of its finding with regard to the Godhra train burning incident.
In the part one report, the commission had concluded that the burning of S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express near Godhra railway station was a planned conspiracy.
Initially, the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the commission were to inquire into the facts, circumstances and course of events that led to the burning of the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express.
About Nanavati Commission
On 3rd March 2002, Gujarat government under the Commission of Inquiry Act had constituted commission comprising of Justice K G Shah in the wake of the Godhra train carnage on February 27, 2002, and the subsequent communal riots across the state.
In May 2002, the state government appointed retired Supreme Court justice G T Nanavati as the chairman of the commission and the TOR were further amended in June 2002, as per which the panel was also asked to inquire the incidents of violence that took place after the Godhra incident.
In 2008, after the death of justice K G Shah, retd high court Justice Akshay Mehta was appointed to the panel. The commission was given 24 extensions of around six months each to complete its investigations.
The commission investigated roles of then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, as per the TOR, his Cabinet colleagues of that time, senior government and police officers along with functionaries of some right wing organisations during the period of 2002 riots.