Sunvoice

EDITORIAL: The Fiji-India-Israel Highway

Fiji is the hub of the South Pacific. That’s more or less taken for granted in political circles. With Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu’s help, we could punch above our
04 Jan 2015 10:19

Fiji is the hub of the South Pacific. That’s more or less taken for granted in political circles. With Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu’s help, we could punch above our weight, not just politically, but technologically as well.

Fiji National University, take note. It might be worth planning for a world-class research and development institute, if that’s not already in the pipeline. The ultimate aim would be to emulate Israel which leads the world in civilian research and development spending per capita. No wonder then that Israel, with its own Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, has arguably more high-tech start ups per capita than any other nation on earth.

Under Narendra Modi, India has begun to boost ties with the Israeli government. When much of the Western world turned their backs on Mr Modi, after the Gujerat riots of 2002, Mr Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujerat turned to Israel.

The results were the transformation of Gujarat into the technological and economic powerhouse of India. Israeli companies invested heavily into the western Indian state. According to media reports, the India-Israel relationship covers “ projects in industrial research and development, solar and thermal power, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, water recycling and water desalination plants.”

Both Mr Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are keen on building ties with Fiji. The Indian leader visited us only and few months ago and consolidated and boosted Fiji’s traditional ties with the world’s largest democracy. Because of a heavy domestic political schedule, Mr Netanyahu missed meeting Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on his recent visit to the Golan Heights and Israel.

However, as this newspaper reported a few days ago, the Israeli leader sent an official letter to PM Bainimarama’s office apologising for not being able to meet the Fijian leader, but availing himself to meet should Mr Bainimarama visit Israel in the near future.

With all these factors at play, we thought it might be timely to propose a technological development nexus for Fiji-India-Israel, or FII as we termed it. Here’s a few ideas for the way forward.

  1. Appoint a Cabinet sub-committee to consider how best to maximise technological development opportunities with India and Israel
  2. The Minister for Education with the acting vice-chancellor of the Fiji National University should also begin discussions on the question of creating another structure within FNU to accommodate technological research and development
  3. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs with related stakeholders should also begin discussions on how best to harness expertise of the Fijian diaspora given the game-changing decision by the Fijian Government to grant dual citizenship to former Fiji residents. Israel benefitted from the rich expertise of returning Russian Jews to to their native homeland. The expertise of nuclear scientists, astro-phycists, chemical, electronics and computer engineers boosted the Israeli economy.

In Fiji’s case. what local Fijian expertise there is can be supplemented by expertise in the Fijian diaspora, or from India and Israel.

The traditional route for development in Fiji has been through tourism, agro-based industries and manufacturing to name a few. Our proposed technological development nexus (FII) is not meant to replace this. On the contrary, it just might make these traditional sources of foreign exchange even more lucrative. This among other things, might be reason enough to make Fijians, the happiest people on this planet for a long time yet.

 Feedback: josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 

 




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