The arrival in Fiji of the ‘South Indians’, almost a quarter of a century after the ‘North Indians’ meant that the former found themselves in a social system that had already been established. The lingua franca on the plantations was a derivative of northern dialects, as were the culture and customs practiced; the colonial administration was used to dealing with the North Indians. The later arrival of the South Indians placed them at a disadvantage, leaving them open to victimization and discrimination based upon their physical appearance, language, culture, the way in which they practiced their religion, their cuisine and mode of dress. In addition to this, it was claimed that they were more susceptible to depression and less hardy compared with their North Indian colleagues when it came to work. South Indians were drawn from areas with distinct linguistic traditions: Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam and Kanada, although the majority were Tamil speakers. They were shunned by the North Indians and were excluded from participating in their social and religious functions. It was several years before they were integrated into the ‘Indian’ community. To secure themselves against this victimization, they established, in 1926, the TISI Sangam. The intention was for the organization to be a representative body for all peoples of South Indian origin, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. Over time, divisions occurred as Telegu speakers began to feel that the Sangam was promoting Tamil language and culture at the expense of other languages, especially that of Telegu speakers. This led to the establishment of the Dakshina India Andhra Sangam in 1941, which sought to preserve Telegu language and culture. Since then, uneasiness has existed between the two rival organizations. The Sangam, estimates its membership to be 30,000, and it is actively engaged in cultural preservation, promoting the Tamil language, Hindu rituals and prayers –including an active fire-walking program. Many of its senior priests are either from India or have trained there. It has invested in all levels of education, including the tertiary sector, with a nursing school in Vanua Levu. Its supporters come from all backgrounds, but include a number of prominent businessmen and professionals who readily offer financial assistance. By contrast, the Andhra Sangam has a much smaller membership – between 2,000 and 5,000 – with some Telugu speakers choosing to join the Sangam. Unlike the Sangam, which has a national reach, the AS is much more localized to the West, having three temples located in the area around Ba, six schools and two colleges, located in the West.
The decision by the Sangam not to join the NCBBF was taken after consultation with its executive committee. The committee decided to continue with the stance they had taken in the aftermath of the 1987 and 2000 coups, namely to recognize the interim government as governing only by force, in the same way that the Rabuka governments had. They argue that they are primarily a cultural organization, and their required apolitical stance would be compromised by joining the NCBBF, which they view as a political initiative. The head of the Technical and Support Secretariat to the NCBBF, John Samy, claimed that the Sangam had failed to understand the purpose and function of the charter, suggesting that their position was most likely the outcome of preconceived ideas rather than facts. He added that he hoped the decision was based on ignorance rather than politics. Samy further argues that, as the charter is a national initiative rather than a political one, the Sangam’s integrity would remain intact as the opinions of all stakeholders in society are being sought rather than those of specific sections.
This has allowed the Andhra Sangam to become the de facto national spokes-group for those of South Indian origin, effectively raising their national status and profile. Their leader, Vinod Naidu, does not share the concerns of Dorsami Naidu; he suggested that the AS has a role to play in moving the country forward. It may, however, be much easier for the AS to join the NCBBF as they have historically rejected the NFP due to the role played by the future leader of the NFP, A D Patel, as legal advisor to the Sangam during the AS/Sangam split. In recent years they have given their support to the FLP. Vinod Naidu, as leader of the AS, praised the FLP’s 2006 manifesto, as he felt it was favourable for all the people in the country. He went so far as to say that he felt that it was the best party for Fiji. Beyond this, they have not issued any statements, choosing instead to become familiar with the charter process before offering further comments.
 Lal, B.V. 2000. Chalo Jahaji: On a Journey Through Indenture in Fiji. Prashant Pacific, Suva; Division of Pacific and Asian History, Australian National University, Canberra.
 ‘Secretariat queries Sangma Stand’, The Fiji Times Online, 29 March 2008.
 ‘New Members Answer President’s Call’, Fiji Daily Post, 16 April 2008.
 Interview with Vinod Naidu 14 June 2006.