About Us India - Tonga

High Commission of India

Suva

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India – Tonga Bilateral Relations

Historical Background: Tonga and India have traditionally enjoyed a close relationship. Late King Tupou IV and Queen paid state visits to India in 1971 and 1976. Indian Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi visited Tonga in 1981. Several Tongans, including members of the Royal family, have received training in India in defence and other courses under ITEC programme. In July 1972, the Late Prince Tu'ipelehake became the first Tongan to attend the Indian Military Academy in India.

The interaction between India and Tonga has gradually increased since the reopening of High Commission of India, Suva in 1999. The then Tongan PM/Foreign Minister visited India in May 2002 and had called on the PM, EAM and Agriculture Minister. Defence Advisor based in High Commission of India, Canberra is accredited to Tonga.

Recent Visit from India: In a historic first Ministerial visit to Tonga, Mr. Mansukh L Mandaviya, Hon’ble Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways, Shipping and Chemicals and Fertilizers visited Tonga on 25-26 April 2018. During the visit, Hon’ble Minister handed over a cheque of US$ 500,000 to Tongan PM as immediate relief assistance (out of US$ 1mn announced assistance).

Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIF)-I: Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi hosted the India-Pacific Island Countries Forum Summit in Suva (Fiji) during the visit on 19 November 2014 with the participation of 14 Pacific countries. Tongan delegation, led by the Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, attended the Summit.

Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC)-II: A Tongan delegation led by Hon. Semisi Fakahau, Minister for Agriculture, Food, Forests & Fisheries, visited India to attend FIPIC-II held at Jaipur on 21 August 2015.

India-Pacific Islands Sustainable Development Conference (IPI-SDC): Under the umbrella of FIPIC, Government of India organized the India-Pacific Islands Sustainable Development Conference (IPI-SDC) which was held at Suva, Fiji on 25-26 May 2017. Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (Dr.) V.K.Singh (Retd.) hosted the event. The Conference saw the participation of several high profile leaders from the 14 Pacific Island Nations. Prasar Bharati of India also gifted programmatic content on India for telecast to all the Pacific Island Countries. Mr. Semisi Fakahau, Minister for Agriculture, Food, Forests & Fisheries led the Tongan delegation for the IPI-SDC.

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR): On 16 February 2018, Prime Minister of India announced an assistance of US$ 1mn to Tonga in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Gita which hit Tonga on 12 February 2018. Dr. Satya Pal Singh, Minister of State for HRD met Mr. Penisimani Epenisa, Minister of Education of Tonga on 21 February 2018 on the sidelines of the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) and conveyed Prime Minister's message to Mr. Epenisa who appreciated the Government of India's assistance. Mr. Mansukh L Mandaviya, Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways, Shipping and Chemicals and Fertilizers visited Tonga on 25-26 April 2018 and during the visit handed over a cheque of US$ 500,000 to Tongan PM as immediate relief assistance (out of US$ 1mn announced assistance), the remaining amount is being allocated for rehabilitation projects under India-UNDP Fund.

Earlier Visits

From Tonga:

  • Late King George Tupou-V visited India on a private visit from 11-30 September 2009.

  • Ms. Alisi Kelini Tuita, Executive Officer, Ministry of Education, Women’s Welfare and Culture, visited India during 21-26 February 2010 to participate in the 10th Commonwealth India Small Business Competitiveness Development Programme at Jaipur.

  • Dr. Amanki Fakakovi, Executive Board member of Tonga National Olympic Committee participated in Chef-de-Mission seminar held at New Delhi from 8-12 March, 2010.

  • Tongan delegation led by Mr. Ponepate Taunisila, Deputy Director, Ministry of Education and Training visited India in connection with the Second High Level Meeting (HLM) on South-South Cooperation for Child Rights in Asia and the Pacific, held in New Delhi on 23-25 October 2013.

  • Minister for Internal Affairs Hon Fe’ao Vakata, and Senior Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Elsie Fukofuka, attended Distinguished Visitors Programme for Pacific Islands Countries, from 7-17 February 2016 in India.

  • Ms. Gloria Louise Guttenbeil from Tonga visited on 16-18 February 2018 to attend the 6th Conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) India Region in Patna, Bihar.

From India:

  • EAM’s Special Envoy on UN reforms visited Tonga in August 2005.

  • Indian naval ship INS ‘Tabar’ paid a goodwill visit to Tonga in July 2006. A reception held on board was attended by PM, Cabinet Ministers, diplomatic corps, senior officers and members of the Indian community. A large number of Tongans visited the ship. The CO and DA in Canberra called on the Crown Prince.

  • MOS (EA) led the Indian delegation for the Post Forum Dialogue Partners’ Meeting in Tonga on October 18-19, 2007. MOS (EA) paid a courtesy call on late King George Tupou-V.

  • High Commissioner represented India at the funeral of late King George Tupou-V on 27 March 2012.

  • Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha Smt. Meira Kumar visited Tonga from 17-20 April 2012 to attend the Commonwealth Parliamentary Assembly Mid-Year Executive Committee Meeting. Hon’ble Speakers of the Legislative Assemblies of Nagaland, Shri Kiyanilie Peseyie and Rajasthan, Shri Dependra Singh Shekhawat also attended the meeting. Hon’ble Speaker launched the Kolomotu’a Solar Project on 19 April during her stay in Tonga.

  • High Commissioner of India, based in Fiji, attended the coronation of King Topou-VI, on 4 July 2015.

Cooperation at International Forums: Recently Tonga supported Indian candidatures at various international forums:

  1. Mr. Aniruddha Rajput, advocate, Supreme Court of India to the International Law Commission in November 2016.

  2. Indian candidature of Dr Neeru Chadha to International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) in June 2017

(iii) The re-election of Dr Dalveer Bhandari for International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November 2017.

(iv) Indian candidature to the Executive Board of UNESCO in November 2017.

(v) Indian Candidature to International Maritime Organization (IMO) in November 2017.

International Solar Alliance: Paula Pouvalu Mau, CEO, Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communication, visited Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, to sign Framework Agreement of International Solar Alliance (ISA). His visit was sponsored by Government of India. Tonga is yet to ratify the Framework Agreement of ISA as country had sudden Parliamentary elections (after dissolving the Government by King) held in November 2017.

Participation in Founding Conference ISA at New Delhi:

Mr. Semisi Fakahau, Minister of Agriculture from the Kingdom of Tonga attended the Founding Conference of International Solar Alliance (ISA) in New Delhi on 11 March 2018.

Indian Assistance:

i. In 2007, GOI provided a grant-aid of US$ 100,000/- for construction of access road from Wharf to Hunga village.

ii. Another grant-aid of US$ 100,000/- was approved in 2008 for up-gradation of jetty in Hunga.

iii. On December 8, 2008, India donated 1,200 full uniform sets to Hon. Acting Minister of Defense, Tu'aTaumoepeau Tupou for the Tonga’s military.

iv. In July 2014, GOI had also provided grant-aid of US$ 300,000 for Tsunami Alert System.

v. In October 2014, US$ 115,000 was committed by GOI for Project Proposal “Upgrade to the Office of the Public Service Commission ICT Infrastructure”

vi. In September 2015, US$ 71,627/- was approved by GOI for project titled ‘Spectrum Monitoring Including Detection of Interference and Illegal Transmission’.

vii. On 28 August 2020, Government of India approved funding US$1,018,844 for support response to COVID-19 pandemic.

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR): On 16 February 2018, Prime Minister of India announced an assistance of US$ 1mn to Tonga in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Gita which hit Tonga on 12 February 2018. Dr. Satya Pal Singh, Minister of State for HRD met Mr. Penisimani Epenisa, Minister of Education of Tonga on 21 February 2018 on the sidelines of the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) and conveyed Prime Minister's message to Mr. Epenisa who appreciated the Government of India's assistance. Mr. Mansukh L Mandaviya, Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways, Shipping and Chemicals and Fertilizers visited Tonga on 25-26 April 2018 and during visit handed over a cheque of US$ 500,000 to Tongan PM as immediate relief assistance (out of US$ 1mn announced assistance), the remaining amount has been allocated for a project entitled “Repair and Reconstruction of its Export Building and Fumigation Facility” in Tonga under the India-UN Development Partnership Fund. This project is being implemented by UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry of Tonga. The project was to be completed by October 2019. However, UNDP Pacific Office in Suva has made a request for final No Cost Extension for this project until June 2021.

Human Resources Development

Tonga has been provided five training slots per year under ITEC programme. The number of persons who availed of civil training in 2012-13 was four, and in 2014-15, 10 slots were utilized. 11 slots have been utilized out of 15 slots allotted for 2015-16. Six slots were utilized out of 10 offered in 2016-17. For the year 2017-18, one slot was utilized out of five allotted slots. Two slots were utilized out of 5 offered in 2018-19. Both slots were utilized in 2019-20. One slot was utilized out of two in 2020-21.

Tongan Defence Service personnel who availed of defence training in various training institutions in India were seven during 2011-12, 04 during 2012-13 and 10 during 2013-14, one during 2014-15, 06 during 2015-16 and 03 during 2016-17, 04 during 2017-18,

Two experts from Tonga had attended the TERI Workshop on Sustainable Development in March 2007 in Suva. Four ‘solar mamas’ attended a training course at the Barefoot College, Tilonia.

One diplomat from Tonga attended the training for diplomats of Pacific Island countries organised by the Foreign Service Institute held in Nadi, Fiji in May 2015.

Mr. J. Somasekharan, Indian ‘Coconut Development Expert’ was on deputation to the Government of Tonga for a period of seven months from March-October 2017.

Culture: A 5-member cultural troupe from the Indian Cultural Centre, Suva visited Tonga from 17-21 July 2012 to participate at the Heilala Festival. Under the ‘Namaste Pacifika’, Indian Cultural Festival, Ministry of Culture sponsored ‘Mrs. Meera Das’ Odissi classical dance group performed in Tonga on 3 November 2017.

IDY 2019: Fifth International Day of Yoga was celebrated in Tonga on 15 June 2019.

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July 2021