TORONTO: For the Indo-Canadian community here, August 15 was a day of flag-hoisting, patriotic songs, fun, frolic, chit-chat, thanks and a few announcements.
Canadian foreign minister John Baird will be in India next month, announced consul general Preeti Saran at a reception by the Indian mission in the evening after the flag-hoisting ceremony early in the day.
“We look forward to welcoming Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird to India in September. Preparations are under way for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to India. We hope that (Ontario) Premier Dalton McGuinty will plan a visit soon,’’ said the Indian consul general while hosting the reception to mark the Independence Day.
As India-Canada ties deepen after the signing of the nuclear deal in June 2010, the Indian consul general said these visits will give a further fillip to the bilateral relationship.
“Our leaders have identified education, innovation, energy efficiency, mining, infrastructure and agriculture as priority areas,’’ the consul general said.
Lauding the million-strong Indo-Canadian community for its contribution to Canada and the India-Canada relationship, she said they are “the greatest asset in our bilateral relations. I thank them for their contribution to bringing our counties closer together and wish them even greater success as citizens of Canada.’’
From the Canadian side, Indian-origin federal minister of state Bal Gosal said his prime minister was committed to deepening the bilateral relationship.
He highlighted the 23.4 percent increase in the bilateral trade during the last year, taking the total volume to $5.2 billion.
The two countries shared common values and the million-strong Indian diaspora has made an immense contribution in strengthening Canada-India ties, he said.
Harinder Takhar, Indian-origin minister in the Ontario provincial government, along with his ministerial colleague Kathleen Wynne, read a message from his Premier Dalton McGuinty in wishing India well on its 66th Independence Day.
The premier, who has already been twice to India in his first two terms, said he was looking forward to visiting India again.
Honorary Lt Col Hari Panday was there too in his full military uniform. This corporate executive, who brought the ICICI Bank to Canada, is the first Indo-Canadian to get the honorary rank and wear the uniform of the Canadian armed forces.
Among others present at the reception were Indian-origin senator Asha Seth, former senator Vim Kochhar, former Canadian high commission in Delhi Peter Sutherland, Scotiabank director (multiculturalism) Pankaj Mehra, RBC vice president Imitiaz Seyid, Panorama India chairman Ajit Khanna, and Canada-India Education Council vice president Kam Rathee.
Also present were hoteliers Steve Gupta and Harpreet Sethi.
Various cultural associations such as Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansathan, the Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation, the Goan Oversees Association, the Kannada Sangha of Toronto, the Rajasthan Association of North America and the Madras Arts and Cultural Association of Toronto were honoured for their contribution to this year’s Independence Day parade held in August 11.
In the end, renowned solo sarangi player Aruna Kalle cast her spell on the august gathering.