Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Baa… Baa… Barnaby: When Australia interferes in New Zealand elections



Thakur Ranjit Singh

The unprecedented reaction of Australian government in Barnaby Joyce affair is their attempts to hide their internal shortfalls by seeking sacrificial lambs in New Zealand. They are throwing a rotting and stinking rat our way as a means of political distraction that they urgently need. And National Party, some mainstream media journalists and others here pointing figure at New Zealand are wrong and misled by Australian government, which is blaming others to cover their idiocies.

An unprecedented diplomatic brawl erupted when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop jabbed New Zealand Labour Party, accusing them of conspiring to bring down the Turnbull government.  NZ Labour Party’s star performer and a minister prospect, MP Chris Hopkins became the unfortunate fall guy. He is reported to have asked parliamentary questions about citizenship after a chat with a former Helen Clark staffer. In fact it eventuated that a Fairfax media investigation into Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Baa… Baa… oops (my jest), Barnaby Joyce confirmed earlier this week he was a dual New Zealand national, which could disqualify him from Parliament. 


The Careless, the Fall Guy and the Pretty Leader: Barnaby Joyce, Australian Deputy Prime Minister, caught with his pants down, Chris Hipkins, the star Labour MP, and fall guy and sacrificial lamb for Julie Bishop, Foreign Affairs Minister of Australia, and the smiling assassin, the new Labour Leader  Jacinda Ardern, who teaches international diplomacy to Bishop.
It is reported Joyce’s father was New Zealand born and he left NZ in 1947, and Barnaby was born in Australia. An archaic clause in Australian Constitution says anybody with a foreign father also assumes citizenship of his/her father. Ironically, Barnaby with his mother and grandmother are Australian born, hence the laughable clause in Australian Constitution.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, contrary to her surname, was full of venom, bitterness and desire of a battle with NZ Labour Party. "I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labour Party to seek to undermine the Australian government, “Bishop said. What a load of hogwash, and what a joke.
Neither Australian Labour Party, nor New Zealand Labour Party, not the fall guy Chris Hipkins, not even remotely the new NZ Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern made Barnaby Joyce a Kiwi – Barnaby’s father did! So why is Bishop barking up the wrong tree?  They need to take some personal responsibility.

Let me tell you a story. My grandfather, Bansi came to Fiji in 1915 from British India as an indentured labourer from Karouli, Rajasthan, India. He was a British subject, and as a result my Fiji-born father was also a British until Fiji gained independence in 1970, and he became a Fijian, and so did I. When I migrated to NZ, I became NZ citizen, and also obtained dual Fijian citizenship. If I were to contest an election, as an intelligent and wise person who considers himself worthy of representing others, I need to possess grey matter to do due diligence to enquire about my eligibility. I make it my business to know about my heritage, ancestry and legal matters relating to citizenship, especially if you intend to be in politics. And here we have an Australian leader caught with his pants down, and blaming others for his predicament, despite saying that ignorance of law is no excuse. Perhaps his government can walk his talk and stop blaming Labour Parties of both countries, Chris Hipkins or Jacinda Ardern, for their folly.


Look here Jacinda Ardern, "I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labour Party to seek to undermine the Australian government" What a load of crap. IN FACT AUSTRALIA IS INTERFERING WITH NEW ZEALAND ELECTION BY PROPPING UP NATIONAL GOVERNMENT WITH HER STANCE
Australia’s Deputy prime Minister and other politicians have an army of staff, with some of the best brains money can buy to find out and fix these things. They cannot and should not blame others for sleepwalking.  Ask Indian MPs in NZ Parliament, Kanwaljeet Singh Bakshi, Paramjeet Parmar’ and Mahesh Bindra – they are smarter than some Australian politicians when it comes to due diligence. Does somebody so ignorant of his genealogy and citizenship deserve to be Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister?

Julie Bishop need to dwell on this issue, rather than blaming others for political misfortune of her party.  After her boorish performance, it should be Jacinda Ardern who should be saying, that when Labour Party in New Zealand comes to power after election next month, (August 23, 2017) she would have difficulty working with an Australian Government with such shallow and interfering Ministers. 

Julie Bishop needs to appreciate that who sought clarification of NZ laws is irrelevant. The real issue is her interference in our elections. Bishop used this issue to suggest if NZ Labour won the upcoming election, then that Government would not be trusted by Australia. Ironically, she happens to be the one who is interfering in the electoral process of New Zealand and thus propping up National government. She appears to be attempting to influence NZ election outcome with her unethical and unwarranted threats. She is the real culprit who deserves scorn.

Jacinda Ardern, the new leader of NZ Labour Party (Centre), flanked by her Deputy, Kelvin Davis (left) and Finance Minster-in-waiting, Grant Robertson (right). Ardern came out with flying colours in this episode.Unlike Julie Bishop, she was composed, controlled, sensible, conciliatory, and was even smiling. 
In this whole sordid affair, anybody who came out shining and winners is Jacinda Ardern, who had been on the job for only some two weeks. In the first international controversy after taking the helm, she lived up to her reputation of the smiling assassin. Rightfully, she refused to apologise, as there was no wrongdoing on her part. And unlike Julie Bishop, she was composed, controlled, sensible, conciliatory, and was even smiling. She did not call Bishop, but was, and is still, waiting for her to call her – as Julie Bishop was the one who drew first blood.

And that distracting stinking rat is back on the government side of Australian Parliament – creating a stink which may result Labour Party assuming control in Australia, as we will do in New Zealand.

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a NZ Labour Party Member, is a media commentator and runs his blog-FIJI PUNDIT] 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Maa Tujhe Salaam – a Salute to India on Independence Day 2017


Maa Tujhe Salaam – a Salute to India on Independence Day 2017



Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand.

A salute to India on its 71st anniversary of independence -15 August, 2017.

On the night of 14 August, 1947, the first Prime Minister of Independent India, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, gave the historical, Tryst with Destiny speech”

Long years ago we made a tryst (date) with destiny (fate), and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. ”


Jai Hind-Hail India
I dedicate this article on behalf of Indian Diaspora in Auckland and also in memory of my Indian Girmitiya (indentured labourer) grandfather Bansi, to all the freedom fighters who were able to deliver this dream – a meeting with fate and cashing on the reality of an Independent India. 

I am a third generation Fijian (Indo Fijian).My grandfather Bansi, was displaced from Karouli, in Rajasthan and torn and tricked from his roots by British in 1915, to slave in Fiji to fill their coffer via sugar plantation, as an indentured (Girmitiya) labourer. I made a pilgrimage to his village some sixteen years ago.


Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India (left) with father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. "Tryst with Destiny" was a speech made  to the Indian Constituent Assembly in The Parliament, on the eve of India's Independence, towards midnight on 14 August 1947.
As the Airbus 320 of Lufthansa Airlines glided towards Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, it was a milestone in my life. This was a flight from Frankfurt, Germany, around midnight of 20 October, 2003. Fate destined that I , together with my good wife were passengers on that flight. I was filled with emotions and unprecedented feelings of delight. I had pledged on the burning pyre of my father that one day I would visit my grandfather’s birthplace, to trace my roots, and also visit the places that we only read in Holy Scriptures. The land we looked upon with awe and reverence, and called Bharat Mata –mother India. As I stepped out, I knelt down there and picked some dust and anointed on my forehead. This was the earth where Ram and Krishn also treaded, and so did my Aja, Bansi. And the land we only knew from Bollywood, and little bit from my Girmitiya grandfather. This was his birthplace.


Bharat Mata - Mother India. Maa Tujhe Salaam- a salute to India on its 70th Anniversary of Independence.


I had good and exciting memorable times in tracing my roots to my lineage and the land of Prithviraj Chauhan, near Jaipur in a small town called Karouli in Rajasthan. I was saddened to see that the economic development and progress in India has failed to reach remote areas, as sections of the country is gripped in poverty, with deep division in the then leaders. Karouli is very close to Vrindavan, Mathura and Taj Mahal, and near stronghold of dacoits like Gabbar Singh of Sholay fame, near Chambal Valley. But those things some other day.

When the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi visited Fiji over three decades ago in 1981, she had good advice for descendants of indentured Indian labourers or girmitiyas as we are known there. She told us that Fiji was now our country, hence we belonged there. As a result, we owed allegiance, loyalty and love for our country, Fiji.


Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai - the country where River Ganges flows-India. The great country where  this author went in 2003 to trace his roots in Rajasthan. This Raj Kapoor movie gave world a lesson on how to treat your visitors- Atithi Deva Bhava - visitors are our Gods. This is a lesson world leaders need to learn from India.
When Fiji’s racist and ethno-nationalist deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase visited India some two decades ago, he failed to learn anything from Indian hospitality.  The uncrowned father of Indian movies, Raj Kapoor immortalized this aspect of Indian culture in his film, “Jis Desh Mein Ganga Baheti Hai” (the land where Ganges flows) with this song….”Mehmaan jo hamara hota hai, woh jaan se pyara hota hai, jyada ki nahin laalach humko thore mein gujara hota hai... hum us desh ke waasi hai jis desh mein Ganga baheti hai...” His song translates to say that we value our visitors more than our life; we do not lust or greed for much as we manage in little that we have... We hail from the land where the Ganges flows…. And from that land if Qarase had learnt that language of Indian love, he may still be ruling Fiji today. But he failed to do so at his peril. And as they say, the rest is history.

Nationalist leaders and others around the world should gain immensely from Indian history and the way of life. Ethnocentric Anglo Saxons, Europeans and other ignorant people who still regard India as a land of snake charmers and rope tricks need to see Akshay Kumar’s Bollywood movie Namastey London. (Greetings to London) They need to get a translation of episode where the protagonist Akshay Kumar, shuts up the great grandson of an English East Indian Company employee who was running down India and its people.


  1. Namastey London: a scene from the movie where the protagonist, Akshay Kumar tells the true tales of real India to a grandson of an Englishman whose grandfather served in  India [Click on the (blue) link above to see that scene- strongly recommended-very inspiring for anybody who hates ethnocentrism.)

By clasping his hands, Akshay says that when we Indians greet each other in the tradition of five thousand year old civilization, we fold our hands close to heart in Namastey (greetings) because we believe that God resides in the heart of every human being. 

We come from a nation where we allow a lady of Catholic Religion (Sonia Gandhi) to step aside for a Sikh (Manmohan Singh) to be sworn as the Prime Minister by a Muslim President (Abdul Kalam) to govern a nation with over 80% Hindus (India)

English is spoken and read more widely in India than in England. India has 5,600 newspapers, 35,000 magazines and 21 major languages with combined readership of 120 million, many more than in England. We have reached the moon and back but yet many Anglo Saxons (Europeans) still feel that India has reached only as far as gourd flute of snake charmers. We have third largest pool in the world of doctors, scientists and engineers. All these are of the details of our intellectual might, now look at our physical might.

May be the English grandfather did not tell that we have the third largest army in the world, and even then Indians clasp their hands in humility because they do not believe that they are above or beneath any individual…..end of the lesson. 

So next time you are confronted by an ethnocentric individual who runs down your Bharat Mata , then you repeat the above to shut him. Some good movies, among others, to enlighten you and your children on pride of India are Manoj Kumar’s Shaheed, Upkar and Purab aur Paschim.


Purab aur Pachhim  (East and West)), Manoj Kumar's movie that tells an exemplary tale of Indian culture versus London Anglo Saxon culture. A pride in promoting our culture-very relevant to our westernised Indian Diaspora, especially teens who frown on things Indian.
But how true are those dreams and future that Jawaharlal Nehru uttered some 70 years ago to the date?

The service of lndia means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over. And so we have to labour and to work and work…”


"You support me and be a good Indian, and I will make India number one..." NARENDRA MODI- The Lion of Gujarat - answer to our prayers for somebody to wrest back honour, dignity and respectability that Indian once commanded.
And that work shall continue. And we are proud that India today is in better hands than ever been so, under Narendra Modi. And shall we pray that he will be able to wrest back the dignity India once had. The economic development of the last 70 years has not trickled down to the common people. There is a lot more that needs to be done, where social justice is delivered to ALL Indians. 


A salute to India-Maa Tujhe Salaam

And as we raise the Tiranga, the tricolour flag of India, we pledge to emulate the dreams of our freedom fighters who brought independence to India.

Jai Hind (Hail India)

(About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh, based in Auckland, New Zealand, is a third generation Indo Fijian. He was born in Fiji Islands. His indentured grandfather, Bansi came as an indentured labourer to Fiji in 1915. Thakur runs his blog site, FIJI PUNDIT)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Airport Trams - Labour’s Devil’s Advocate challenges Auckland Transport

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Thakur Ranjit Singh

Since that infamous Chris Carter letter in 2011 which rolled current Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff as Labour leader, this Thakur, Kiwi Pundit/ Fiji Pundit, has been writing about Labour Party. Nobody took notice. Leader after leader changed: Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe, and finally Andrew Little in the cleanest takeover by a resurrection of Helen Clark-Jacinda Ardern.

As they had failed to listen, scoring own goals and falling on their swords, I was forced to became Labour’s self-appointed Devil’s Advocate. This term originated in Roman Catholic Church where somebody from within a Church raised issues and argued against anybody marked for sainthood. In our current discussion, I am pretending to be against an idea or plan that a lot of people support, in order to make people discuss and consider it in greater detail. My intention is to enhance discussion. I am not an opponent but on the same side, but wish to raise issues so we are well geared to face our supporters.


Heavy Rail - Train

As Labour’s Devil’s Advocate, I would raise some questions to Auckland Transport (AT) which I consider as an uncontrolled Council Controlled Organisation (CCO) of Auckland Council (my satire). In response to NZ Herald editorial  raising many questions about suitability and credibility of trams on Dominion Road, the new Labour Leader, Jacinda Ardern attributed Auckland Transport (AT) and independent transport economists who gave them the idea of trams to Airport. They are supposed to have studied the issue in depth and came with the recommendation that trams was the best option for Auckland's transport future.

Yours Truly, Thakur Ranjit Singh, and my blog, FIJI PUNDIT have been ardent supporters of HEAVY RAIL linking airport. I suggested a heavy link from Puhinui Station (Southern Link) to Airport, via Puhinui Rd, linking Domestic and International Airports, and thence linking to wider Auckland rail network. 

I see this has been rejected in favour of trams. I may have been insignificant, but there is support from somebody who knows his stuff. He is Mike Lee  who is a councillor on the Auckland Council and the former chairman of the Auckland Regional Council. He chairs the transport committee of Auckland Council, and sits on the board of Auckland Transport. Many writers and critics are sceptical about Labour’s choice which is based on recommendation from AT. 
Light Rail looks good on Whiteboard, writes John Roughan in NZ Herald.
"The simple and obvious solution is a line to the nearest point on the main trunk, at Puhinui, just a few kilometres from the airport.

Light Rail -Tram

It is obvious to any passenger on the right side of a plane landing from the east. The line would cross flat land still farmed or leased for industry, easily acquired. There is not much more to say about it."

However, Auckland Transport thinks otherwise. Hence in my position as a Devil’s Advocate, I raise some questions, which Phil Twyford has to obtain from Auckland Transport, and its independent transport economist to satisfy scepticism of people who are opposed to trams in favour of heavy rail.


Shorter route from Puhinui Station to Airport-less than 7km mostly through farmland and green country, to link to National Rail Network

Here are some questions for Auckland Transport:

1) How much would it cost for a heavy link from Puhinui to Airport for a 7km link through green country? How long will it take?

2) How much will it cost for the 24 km link from Queen Street to Airport and how long will it take, considering a kilometre of Te Atatu Road took over 2 years?


3) What do they mean Southern is a heavily-used and cannot take any more traffic. Trains currently run at half hour intervals. What happens in the remainder 29 minutes?


4) Would light rail accommodate airport freight? If no, should not this link be used to replace freight trucks from roads?


5) Has Auckland Transport seen the setup of heavy rail link to Sydney Airport, and learnt from it?


6) As mentioned, Te Atatu Rd of some 1km took over 2 years, and huge frustrations from residents and businesses. For 500 metres of Muriwai roundabout, it is taking 2 years. How long will it take 10km from Queen Street to Motorway 20 link at Mt Roskill, involving residential and business disruptions, on relatively narrow roads with dense population?


7) How long will it take the remainder 14 km via Motorway 20 and 20A to the airport?


8) Dominion Rd is narrow and densely populated, especially between New North Rd to Balmoral Rd. There would be long disruptions to businesses in that congested area. How will two lanes of light rail link and road transport be accommodated without demolishing buildings, some of which have heritage recognition? How will cyclists be accommodated?


9) Does light rail climb hills?


10) Could not light rail in the city and heavy rail link from Puhinui to airport run in conjunction, supplementing each other?


We need answers. To Auckland Transport and its independent transport economists: Let’s do this
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[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a Labour Party member and supporter. He runs his blog Fiji Pundit]