Rock star Modi wows Canadians; boosts Indo- Canadian trade and ties

Letter from New Delhi

A lot of excitement has been generated in Canada by the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Modi, said Zul Dhanji, a financial adviser in Montreal.

“India is poised to become a super power in the next few years and may possibly overtake China,” he said, adding that “this will require India to open up to the world. This is going to be a mammoth task. But it is evident the new prime minister is determined to do this.”

“Modi has already done a lot to boost trade with foreign countries,” said Ramesh Patel, who works for a large and rapidly growing industry in Toronto. “At one time, we were bogged by filling 16 separate forms. Now, we only have to fill six forms.”

An accountant, Mehboob Karmali, whose parents were born in India, attended the Toronto rally with an estimated 10,000 people. He was surprised by the huge turnout. “I have never seen a foreign leader being greeted so warmly,” Karmali said, “This is a good sign showing that Canada and India are serious about doing business, creating jobs and helping develop tourism.”

Modi met and talked business with Canada’s political, business and academic leadership, and interacted with the Indian Diaspora which now exceeds 1.2 million. No wonder Canadians have come to regard Modi as a business-friendly politician since he interacted with Canadian businessmen and investors.

Currently, the value of trade between India and Canada is around $6 billion a year; it is poised to double in the coming five years. Canada has agreed to supply uranium to India over the next five years. Altogether 16 commercial agreements, worth more than $ one billion, were signed during Modi’s visit to Canada. This will help create jobs in both countries. Canadians see India as an opportunity with Asia’s rising superpower.

Robert Brown, an industrialist who makes regular visits to India, said the Asian giant has woken up and ready to grow and expand by leaps and bounds. “India is a rising power in infancy,” he said. Brown added that India needs a lot of help from other highly developed countries to achieve progress it so badly needs since poverty is endemic.

Surjeet Singh, a chartered account, said Modi is pro-business, pro-foreign investment and has a successful track record of remarkable progress he achieved in India’s Gujarat state which he headed prior to his election as India’s national leader.

“There is a lot of optimism in India today,” he said. “After decades of decay, uncontrollable corruption and crumbling infrastructure, India is finally on the right path to becoming a super power and a bigger trading and investment partner with many western and Asian nations.”

It was obvious, Modi, the shrewd and charismatic Indian leader, was not bothered by protests in Toronto and Vancouver, home to a large number of Sikhs. He visited Sikh temples and was honoured by local Sikh leaders and he commended the community for their contribution to Canada.

Nahmoud Gillani, an Ismaili Muslim optometrist in Vancouver, British Columbia, said thousands turned out to welcome the Indian leader. Gillani said that his spiritual leader, the Aga Khan, maintains close relations with India and is involved in numerous educational and cultural projects. “The Aga Khan was recently honoured by the Indian government,” he said. “He also met with all government leaders, including Modi.”

As expected the ‘rock star’ prime minister got a huge welcome and was warmly received in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Commenting on this, Gilani said, “Despite some allegations against him, the Indian and Canadian masses turned out to greet him. You don’t normally see this.”

Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi. Sultan Jessa worked for top newspapers in Kenya and Tanzania for many decades before moving to Canada. He received Canada’s highest and most prestigious Order of Canada. He was voted as one of Canada’s top 25 immigrants for 2010


* Published in print edition on 24 April  2015

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