Enslaved in Paradise, a book about, as its subtitle says, “A history of mammoth betrayals of Fijians by the British, Chiefs and Leaders of Fiji 1876-2006” by author Rajendra Prasad, was launched on Sunday, August, 12, in Auckland.

High Commissioner of India in New Zealand Sanjiv Kohli declared the book published in the presence of Honorary Consul of India in Auckland Bhav Dhillon, National Party MP Kanwaljit Bakshi, former Labour Party MP Rajen Prasad and more than 250 people who had gathered to witness the launch and buy early copies of the book signed by the author.

In his welcome address Rajendra Prasad, who had earlier authored Tears in Paradise (2004) said, “One of the most notable things that I came to learn from Tears in Paradise was that racial antagonism or racial hatred in Fiji was deliberately stoked by indigenous Fijian politicians just before every election to segregate their flock, using non-existent fear of Indo-Fijians dispossessing indigenous Fijians of their land, culture, customs and customary rights.

But once in the seat of political power, the same leaders who incited politics of racism during the political campaigns became advocates of multiracialism, multiculturalism, promoting unity in diversity. This was the vicious cycle of Fiji politics where deceit, distortion and lies were traded with reckless disregard or respect for truth or even basic human decency.”

The author was Town Clerk of Ba before he migrated to New Zealand after the first Fijian coup of 1987 and pursued a career in business in his adopted country. But his longing for Fiji and his thirst to find out why his people living in a country that is truly paradise went through what they did, turned into an all-consuming passion.

His decades long research resulted in his first book Tears in Paradise in 2004, which was an instant success having gone through three reprints. He travelled to several countries invited by the Fijian Indian diaspora and his conversations opened his eyes to many new facts and stories.

His passion ignited again, he went back on his quest to dig up more facts that were hidden deliberately or otherwise and 14 long years after his first book, he has now published his second, Enslaved in Paradise.

Chief Guest High Commissioner of India Sanjiv Kohli spoke of the present Indian government’s initiatives to maintain connections with the Indian diaspora and its recent actions in reaching out to Indian diaspora living abroad especially in times of geopolitical emergencies. In a previous role, Mr Kohli himself played a central role in the largest ever evacuation in human history when thousands of Indians working in Kuwait were successfully evacuated during the war with Iraq.

Dr Rajen Prasad, former Labour MP also spoke at the launch. He presented a gist of the book in his own unique style.

Founding Editor of The Indian Weekender Dev Nadkarni, who has also wide experience living, working and reporting on Fiji was the master of ceremonies at the launch function.

The book can be purchased from the author Rajendra Prasad (Mobile: +64 210622700) email: raj.prasad@xtra.co.nz

Rajendra Prasad shines a light on many a forgotten nook and cranny of Fiji’s brutal history of indenture, revealing new perspectives on why events unfolded the way they did. With painstaking research he digs out facts, some quietly swept under the colonial carpet, others concocted to keep the two races firmly divided, with the Fijian elite’s willful collusion. The elite on the one hand and a fractious Indian leadership on the other effectively marginalized leaders espousing inclusion on both sides of the divide. So, both Taukeis and Indians suffered equally. That’s not a perspective that comes out often in books on Fiji’s history and that’s why Enslaved in Paradise makes for such compulsive reading.