Group from left: Leader of Progressive Conservative Party, Patrick Brown, Mississauga City Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Seema and Dinesh Bhatia, Ontario Premier, Senator Asha Seth, Anu Srivastava, and other elected officials posing as a group
Despite the fact it was a Saturday and biting cold, elected officials from all levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal – came in hordes to participate in India’s Republic Day festivities at the landmark Pearson Convention Centre in suburban Brampton, known to be a sort of satellite Indian city because it is inhabited by thousands of Indo-Canadians, including dozens of affluent and influential businessmen.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was there wearing white, heavily embroidered by silver-foil flowers. Also in attendance were Federal Minister of Science and Innovation Kristy Duncan, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Members of Ontario Legislature: Dipika Damerla, leading community members Indira Naidoo-Harris, Amrit Mangat, Patrick Brown and a dozen more.
In her brief remarks, Premier Wynne said: “Sixty-seven years ago today, the Constitution of India came into force. This marked the final step in India’s journey to becoming a sovereign nation. With this Constitution the new nation was built on the democratic ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity,” she says in her message noting that “these are democratic values that Ontarians also cherish.”
She went on to emphasize how part of India’s “rich history and heritage” Indo-Canadians “draw great pride and inspiration.” Her emphasis also was on how “India has come into its own,” the country that’s the “world’s largest democracy, with a powerful, fast-growing economy and increasing cultural influence.”
She discussed her last year’s official visit to India. During that visit, she said, they signed close to 52 business agreements/MoUs.
Over half a million persons of “Indian roots” live in Ontario. Through their skills and drive, they “have made (their) … mark in all sectors of society and helped strengthen our economy,” said Wynne. And, she was pleased how Indo-Canadians have helped strengthen “Ontario’s ties with India and the global Indian community.”
The Premier said she was “grateful for (their) contributions” as they have “helped make Ontario a more vibrant and more globally competitive province.”
State Bank of India Canada provided the main sponsorship to make the event viable, said Panorama India chair Srivastava. SBI President Rajesh Gupta was pleased to sponsor the national event, the support he said they would continue giving. He was also proud to announce that the SBI portfolio in Canada had climbed to a billion dollars and he was optimistic that within the next two years it would exceed $2.5-billion.
The Republic Day festivities at the community level were organized by Panorama India, community organization, and co-sponsored by the Indian Consulate.
Panorama India chair person Anu Srivastva, while welcoming guests and close to 700 members of the community, who packed the Convention Centre, spoke about the forthcoming events, including this year’s Independence Day celebrations at the Toronto City Hall, scheduled for August 20: “We had close to 20,000 people at 2016 Independence Day celebrations. This year, with the help of Indian Consul-General Dinesh Bhatia “we will surely have 50,000 people,” Srivastava claimed.
(Ajit Jain can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)