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The Journey through the Years 2001:

While millions of people around the world were ‘hijacked’ by the magic figure of ‘2000’ making it the dawn of the New Millennium, many later admitted that Year 2001 would actually have that distinction.

Earthquake in Gujarat

However, 2001 did not augur well for India- just as the country was marking its 51st Republic Day on January 26, disaster struck in Gujarat. An earthquake, measuring up to 8.1 on the Richter Scale killed more than 20,000 people, injured about 167,000 men, women and children and rendered 400,00 people homeless.

Foreign Minister Phil Goff visited the devastated areas, while he and Prime Minister Helen Clark attended several meetings to express New Zealand’s sympathy to the large Gujarati community here.

The Government’s amnesty to overstayers from Fiji following the May 2000 Coup did not enlist the expected response.

India’s Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee appealed to Indians abroad to build strong relationship with India and help it grow as superpower of knowledge by 2010.

We reported an immigration scam involving people of Indian origin, selling their passports in the black market. Authorities claimed that once illegal immigrants arrive in the country, they destroyed the documents and claimed refugee status.

New Zealand population (3,842,800) inched towards four million mark and Indian population totaled 42,408.

Our March issue reported an official warning against illegal car sellers.

Police expressed concern at the rising incidence of suicides among young people of Indian origin and urged the public to seek assistance for victims from rehabilitation centers. Screen star Amrish Puri, a veteran actor in Hindi films, who was shooting for Jaal in the South Island, won the hearts of New Zealanders with his friendliness and humility.

Indian Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha presented his ‘Mother of all Budgets’ for 2001-2002, aiming to make India another Asian miracle economy through second generation reforms.

The Newspaper reported (April) that while the people in Fiji were still recuperating from the effects of the May 2000 coup, unscrupulous persons posing as immigration agents conned numerous people of thousands of dollars, promising them permanent residence in New Zealand. Police and Immigration officials were working together to track down the so-called ‘Agents.’

Corrupt Politician

India’s ruling BJP proposed an ‘Adoption of Ethics Code,’ following the arms bribery scandal that rocked the Establishment. Former BJP President Laxman Bangaru was secretly filmed by Tehelka news website accepting cash from reporters posing as arms dealers.

The New Zealand Government formally launched the Office of Ethnic Affairs, with Ms Clark claiming that the move demonstrated the Government’s commitment to look after the welfare of growing ethnic communities.

New Envoy to India

New Zealand appointed Caroline McDonald as it High Commissioner to India.

Foreign Minister, Phil Goff said that relationship between India and New Zealand was improving and trade between the two countries is expanding.

Incidence of Indian homes being targeted by thieves to steal jewellery was on the rise and it was feeding a strong black market. Police believed that demand was fuelling the increase in burglary of Indian homes.

Bobby Jindal in US was hailed as the first person of Indian origin to be appointed to the post of Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services in the George W Bush Administration in the US. In a rare 100-0 vote, the Senate approved the appointment.

Venkat Raman was appointed Editor in September.

Fiji began preparations to go to the polls in August and the New Zealand Government contributed $636,000 towards the cost.

The visit of India’s Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh helped thaw bilateral relations.

Faltering Immigration

Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel told Indian Newslink that the Government would streamline immigration policy, which had been criticised as inadequate and ambiguous ignoring the needs of potential immigrants.

Fiji’s politics reached a new height of infamy, as terrorists who held the Mahendra Chaudhary Government hostage were given the nod to stand for election to Parliament. These included George Speight, Ratu Timoci Silatolu and ex-SAS agent Ilisoni Ligairi.

September 11, 2001 became a black and bleak landmark in the US and World history, with terrorist attack on World Trade Centre Buildings in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. The Muslim community everywhere was subject to undue and unfair condemnation.

Our editorial echoed the sentiments expressed by Race Relations Conciliator Gregory Fortuin that peaceful Muslims should not become targets. Sikh, Hindu and Muslim places of worship in Auckland were attacked.

The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand asked for immediate cessation of the US lead bomb attacks on Afghanistan, claiming that continued strikes would only serve to claim innocent lives and that New Zealand reassess its involvement in the campaign.

The New Zealand Tamil Society said that it was working with the police to uncover what its members believed that an organized syndicate of burglars was targeting the homes of Tamils in Auckland. At least ten homes were burgled and items stolen included jewellery, cash and electronic equipment.

Parents of Avinil Pritesh Karan hired a Private Investigator to resolve the mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance of their son on August 8 from Bucklands Beach where he was housesitting for a family. The case remains unsolved.

Sir Vidhiadhar Surujprasad Naipaul won the Nobel Prize for literature.

A devastating fire destroyed the offices of Indian Newslink on November 11 but the month’s edition, produced in less than three days, was released on time.

We broke the heart-rending story of 87-year-old Ram Rati, who was abandoned by her five children and lived a life of solitude in an Old People’s Home in Suva, Fiji.

We appealed to her children to look after the aging woman.

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