The Journey through the Years 2004:

The Indian Parliament passed a Bill amending the Citizenship Act 1955, allowing former Indian passport holders to apply for ‘Overseas Citizenship.’ Contrary to popular belief, this was not ‘Dual Citizenship,’ since ‘Overseas Citizens of India’ (OCI) were not allowed to contest and vote in Indian elections, hold public offices and purchase agricultural land. The Bill provided for OCI to apply for Indian Passports, after ten years, provided they stayed in India continuously for one year and gave up their foreign passport/s.

The amended Act also allowed People of Indian Origin (PIO) such as those from Fiji, South African and other countries to apply for OCI subject to certain terms and conditions.

India’s muted response to the capture of Saddam Hussain had less to do with India’s traditional affinity with Iraq. It was a cautionary response in view of its dealings with the US. Saddam Hussain was considered a friend of India.

The second edition of ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Divas,’ held in Delhi from January 9 to 11, attracted 1200 people from different parts of the world.

An Indian Newslink Editorial said the détente between India and Pakistan following the meeting between their two leaders in Islamabad could usher in peace in the region.

Video libraries that dealt with unrated feature films and other materials were warned that they would come to grief, as the Government intended to invoke the provisions of relevant laws.

Indo-Fijians planned major events to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Fiji (on May 14 1879).

Shortage of teachers and nurses continued to worry planners and Government officials in Fiji, as an increasing number of pedagogues were leaving for greener pastures abroad.

Tough Immigration Regime

The tough immigration policy that came into effect in December 2003 began to bite with the number of permanent long-term migrants showing a declining trend. Experts claimed that it would harm the New Zealand economy in the long run.

Tamil Tigers (LTTE) expelled Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, popularly known as Colonel Karuna, from the Tiger ranks. This was viewed as vertical crack into otherwise a united rebel group that waged a relentless war against the Sri Lankan Government, seeking a separate homeland.

Indian Newslink commented over the Labour Government’s rapid slide in popularity, which was becoming a matter of concern for Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Much-touted amendments to the Holiday Act came into effect on April 1. The new law included payment to employees’ time and a half when they worked on public holidays; increase in annual holiday entitlement and separation of and increase in entitlement to sick and bereavement leave. The standard three weeks leave was to be increased to four weeks from April 1, 2007.

In India, the Congress Party rode back to power and following objections to Sonia Gandhi becoming the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh was installed at the country’s highest office.

Floods in Fiji caused extensive damage to property and rendered thousands of families homeless. Torrential rains lashed Fiji for three days beginning April 7, as rivers overflowed their banks in many places.

An Indian Newslink poll revealed that the Indian community would vote for the Labour Party with an overwhelming majority if elections were held immediately.

It was a first for the opinion poll in which 968 people responded. It included Indians from India, Fiji, and other parts of the world, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Nepalese and people of the Middle East. Helen Clark (Labour) topped the list as the most preferred prime minister (82%) followed by Dr Don Brash (National Party 13%), Richard Prebble (Act Party 3%) and Winston Peters (NZ First 2%).

Mr Prebble resigned from his Party in May.

The newly constituted Families commission became operative from July 1, with former Race Relations Conciliator Dr Rajen Prasad as the Chief Families Commissioner.

Attorney General Margaret Wilson claimed that the establishment of the Supreme Court had enhanced public access to the justice system. Effectively, New Zealanders had a final court, in their own country, able to adjudicate on all judicial matters.

Successful visit

Ms Clark returned from India after a successful visit, during which she held discussions with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and other leaders. In Mumbai, she met with Mukesh Ambani of the Reliance Group and the main stars of Kaho Na Pyar Hai (partly filmed in New Zealand) Hrithik Roshan and Amisha Patel and Producer-Director Rajesh Roshan. She also visited Bangalore and met with the officials of Infosys.

Member of Parliament Dr Ashraf Choudhary, Ombudsman Judge Anand Satyanand and Families Commission Chief Families Commissioner Dr Rajen Prasad and a business delegation accompanied Ms Clark to India.

Indian Newslink marked its Fifth Anniversary in November.

We do not claim to be a large, mainstream newspaper but being small does not diminish the importance of a publication. We believe we have, these past five years, exercised considerable influence on issues of concern to the community, at times to the displeasure of some.

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