News East West
TORONTO: Indians in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) celebrated 65th Republic Day with a flag-hoisting ceremony and the singing of the National Anthem at the Indian mission here.
After reading President Pranab Mukherjee’s speech to a large gathering at the consulate here, Consul General Akhilesh Mishra highlighted the influential role played by the million-strong Indian community in Canada and in furthering relations between the two countries.
“In my view the Indian community is going to play a pivotal role in anchoring the growing India-Canada trade and economic partnership –especially in transfer of technology and collaboration in SMEs sector. My vision is to develop at least 1,000 focal points in the community to catalyze and guide flow of trade and investment, both ways, between India and Canada. I seek your support and guidance,’’ he said.
The Consul General said his discussions with Canadians leaders – cabinet ministers, MPs, MPPs, mayors and businesses – have shown that the “Indian community enjoys unprecedented goodwill and respect in Canada. Almost every Canadian political leader I have met has spoken very warmly and positively about Indians in Canada and how they have enriched the Canadian society.’’
The Indian envoy said there is “great synergy and complementarity between the unique strengths of the Canadian economy and the needs of a rapidly growing economy of India. We are working to leverage the enormous opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation.’’
Promising fast, transparent and efficient visa and passport services, Akhilesh Mishra said all the backlog has been cleared and the Indian mission in Toronto is now providing services on a daily basis.
“At the end of August 2013, we had a backlog of over 2,500 services, including passports, OCI, PIO, PCCs, surrender certificates and visas – by December 2013, they all have been cleared. Now we are providing services on day-do-day basis. By doing so we have successfully eliminated all sorts of middlemen and intermediaries who thrived on the bottlenecks in the processing and delivery of consular services.”
The Consul General added, “All emails are being responded to promptly, mostly same day. I myself monitor the responses. I am personally working hard to promote greater connectivity between the Consulate and the community. I have interacted with, and also welcomed in my office, the entire cross-section of the diaspora. I don’t believe in the barrier of the glass window between the Consulate and the community – I don’t believe in the – me versus you discourse – but in the philosophy of we, who have to work together and make things better and solve any problems that anyone may have – you or me. My team and I will be there with you, always.’’
After the flag-hoisting ceremony, erstwhile Panorama India Idol Farzana sang `Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo’ and Scarborough seniors’ head Sarpanch Atwal `Jhandiya Tirangya’ to a huge applause by the gathering which also included ICICI Bank (Canada) founder Hari Panday, former ICCC president Satish Thakkar, Indian Cultural Centre head Dr. Yarlagadda Lakshmi Prasad, chancery head Pardeep Kumar, Consul Prit Pal Singh, south Asian media members and others.