Group photo of 14 past ICCC presidents who attended the event
Group photo of 14 past ICCC presidents who attended the event

Toronto: It was a heartwarming and an emotional celebration of the 40th anniversary of Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) last week with participation of its 14 former presidents, including incumbent president Arun Srivastava.

To Srivastava, who took the initiative of inviting all his predecessors, the event was unprecedented “because never before in Chamber’s 40 years history had so many presidents come together and shared their experiences of leading the organization to its glory.” He stated proudly that the program was held at Chamber’s own building in Toronto with its President (in 1982) Ramesh Chotai revealing how they had in their bank account $87, with he putting in $50 from his own pocket.

It was Ajit Someshwar (President 1991-93), stated as “flamboyant entrepreneur of today, who started the annual awards and gala night by honoring successful Indo-Canadians in different fields, the annual event which’s now a fixture in Toronto’s social calendar flocked by the business and professional Bay Street community – Indo-Canadians and others alike.

Srivastava’s current rein is categorized as “dawn of the new era,” new era as he has taken the initiative of organizing “path breaking Canada-India Business Symposium” annually in June to coincide with the Chamber’s signature award and gala night event. The symposium will bring Indian and Indo-Canadian business people and professionals together to talk about increasing two-way Canada-India trade and allied issues and that should give a different color to the Chamber’s annual event.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper has attended the Chamber’s Gala in 2006. Finance Minister Paul Martin has attended the Chamber’s event as the chief guest in 1997 when Raj Kothari was its president.

Kothari took pride in saying the Chamber was for the first time recognized by the Indian government as they were asked to organize an important event for then Minister for External Affairs and later Prime Minister I.K. Gujral.

Ajit Khanna (President 2005-07) is called “the harbinger of change, a role that he has continued to perform long after he ceased to be the President, the role he has played as the chair of the Government Committee, putting in place a structure that has ensured good governance in the Chamber’s operations.”

Each successive president, present for the historic event, had his own story to share – what he/she did to leave their own foot print to make the Chamber the prime community and business organization that it has now become, including its recognition – the only overseas Indian organization to have been honored with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in 2012 under then President Satish Thakkar’s leadership.

The organization’s character has changed gradually “transforming from a community platform… to one that boosted the entrepreneurial proclivities amongst the community, nudging, urging the community to look for independent avenues to utilize their talent, acumen, and qualifications.”

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