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PBD Canada 2011

The PBD Canada, the fifth in a series of Overseas / Regional PBDs, was a resounding success

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Canada was held in Toronto from 9-10th June, 2011 at the Metro Toronto Covention Centre. The Governor General of Canada Mr. David Johnston graced the inaugural ceremony on 9th June. The Premier of Ontario Mr. Dalton McGuinty also attended and spoke at the inaugural function. Several members of the Canadian Parliament as well as Ministers of the Ontario Government also attended. The Indian delegation was led by Smt. Preneet Kaur, Minister of State, Ministry of External Affairs. The theme of the Conference was “Building Bridges: Positioning Strategies for the Indian Diaspora”. The inaugural session was attended by nearly 1,000 persons, the largest ever participation in any regional PBD. 

On the first day, three pre-Convention seminars were held. The first was ‘Roundtable on business prospects between India and Canada’. Both CII and ASSOCHAM had taken large business delegations to PBD Canada. The CII delegation was led by Mr. Deep Kapuria and ASSOCHAM by Mr. Vinay Sharma, co-Chairman of the SEZ Committee of ASSOCHAM. Mr. Arun Maira, Member, Planning Commission gave the key-note address at this session. Mr. Maira emphasized in his address that Canadian businesses need to look at India in the context of the local environment. Innovative products and services which suit the Indian market need to be the focus. Business models should also utilize local talent. The Canadian Federal Minister for Trade participated in the panel discussion and also announced a 10-year business visa for Indian businesses.

The other two seminars were ‘Rountable on Building bridges: People to people contacts and building bridges’ and ‘Seminar on synergistic cooperation in Arts, Culture and visual media’. All three pre-convention seminars were very well attended.

Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Dr. A. Didar Singh with delegates

Three plenary sessions were held on 10th June, ‘Role of Indian diaspora:Building economic bridges’, ‘Enagaging diaspora youth:Education and Innovation’, and Interactive panel discussion on ‘Engaging the Global Indian’. Mr. Harinder Takhar, the Ontario Minister for Government Services attended the session on ‘Engaging the Global Indian’ and Smt. Preneet Kaur, MoS, MEA gave the key-note address. It was emphasized that India and Canada should expedite signing the ‘Social Security Agreement’, ‘Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement’ and the ‘Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement’ to boost bilateral trade and economic engagements.

Five concurrent sessions were held on 10th June, ‘Small and Medium Enterprises’, ‘Innovation, Science and Technology’, ‘Innovation and Economic Development’, ‘Healthcare and Telemedicine’, and ‘Advancing Equity: Focus on Gender’.

Smt. Preneet Kaur also addressed a press conference on 10th June in which she answered the concerns of overseas Indians regarding the passport surrender issue, finger printing of potential visa seekers, political asylees issue and pension-related issues of overseas Indians.

The Canadian High Commissioner to India Mr. Stewart Beck and the Indian High Commissioner to Canada Mr. S.M. Gavai were present throughout the event. 

As was Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Dr. A. Didar Singh.

The event was very widely covered in the local media including main-stream media, both print and audio-visual. 

Overall, the event was extremely well organized at a very prestigious venue. Both the content as well as level of debate was of a very high order in all the sessions with several expert panelists from both Canada as well as from India.

The positive outcomes of PBD Canada 2011 can be summed up as follows:

1. It helped showcase India and the immense opportunities available for investment and trade with India both for diaspora and India watchers and friends of India in Canada.
2. It raised the profile of the Indian diaspora in Canada.
3. Its Canada-wide outreach united other diaspora bodies under a common theme and identity.
4. GoI / MOIA’s direct involvement, participation and encouragement of such an event brought to fore India’s ‘unique’ relationship with its diaspora amongst India watchers in Canada.
5. The Convention was projected as a major highlight of the celebration of Year of India in Canada.

June 2011

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