Fiji meet stimulates Hindu businesses

A Fijian minister has extolled the significance of health and education in the success of a business enterprise, emphasising Dharma and ethics as important ingredients.

Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma said that socio-economic growth will be meaningful only if it is accompanied by good health and good education.

“Traditional medicinal systems like ‘Ayurveda and principles of education such as ‘Vidhya Dhan’ are important measure of progress and prosperity,” he said, speaking at the first Pacific Regional Economic conference at Nadi on May 4.

The Conference was organised by the World Hindu Economic Forum (WHEF) under the theme, ‘Making the South Pacific community prosperous.’

Indian High Commissioner Vinod Kumar said that organisations like WHEF provided the appropriate avenue to foster bilateral relations, trade ties and people-to-people contact for the benefit of all concerned.

“Fiji’s location and natural beauty will attract more film producers from India and such conferences help focus the country on the world map,” he said.

Corporate responsibility

Former London School of Economics teacher Professor Gautam Sen said that Hindu businesses develop services and share their expertise globally.

“Hindus should promote ethical business practices, improve the welfare of people and function towards abolition of poverty and delivering greater prosperity,” he said.

WHEF Founder Swami Vigyananand said that the Organisation works towards social, national and international progress, primarily through generation and sharing of material wealth in a manner that does not cause environmental destruction.

“Economic prosperity is the basis to sustain a civilisation, as enshrined in Chanakya’s Arthshastra (Dharmasya Moolam Arthah),” he said.

The beginning

Following an initiative of the New Delhi-based Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Swami Vigyananand established WHEF and brought together like-minded people from various parts of the world to deliberate on issues of concern.

A brilliant man, he is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology based in Karagpur, reportedly one of the best in the world.

The establishment of the WHEF stemmed from a number of facts, the most important of which were (1) There are more than 1.15 billion Hindus around the world, accounting for 1/6th of the global population of 7 billion and (2) Their contribution to the world GDP between the 1st and 15th Centuries was 35% of the World GDP.

Hindu contribution

Swami Vigyananand said that contributions of Hindus through the ages have benefited humanity in many ways. These include the Vedic knowledge, introduction of ‘Zero,’ scientific inventions, spiritual and cultural awakening.

Citing the Jewish people as an example, he said that although their population is less than 13 million worldwide, they have contributed enormously to the global economy and politics.

Among the other main speakers at the Forum were Fiji National University Vice-Chancellor Dr Ganesh Chand, Fiji Commerce Commission Chairperson Dr Mahendra Reddy and Oceania Development Network Chair and Professor of Economics at the University of South Pacific Professor Biman Prasad.

Dr Chand spoke on the importance of businesses supporting tertiary educational institutions through research and development, and sponsoring scholarships for deserving students as part of social responsibility.

Dr Reddy linked prosperity and economic growth to business ethics, while Professor Prasad analysed the business environment and economic performance in the Pacific.

Future plans

Two workshops, one each on ‘Young Hindu Business Leaders’ and ‘Developing Entrepreneurship among Women’ formed a part of the Forum.

Noel Lal of Australia and Dr Guna Magesan from Fiji chaired the final session on ‘Where to from here?’ outlining the future plans of WHEF.

Further information about WHEF in the region can be obtained from Jay Dayal on 0679-9929605. Email: whef.pacific@gmail.com

The picture here shows Dr Neil Sharma lighting the lamp, watched by India’s High Commissioner to Fiji Vinod Kumar (to his left), Professor Gautam Sen, Jay Dayal (partly seen) and Hindu Council of New Zealand President Vinod Kumar

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