Archive | February, 2011

A Woman with Ambition : Rachna Parsad, CEO of Gourmantra Foods

Posted on 26 February 2011 by admin

That summer they sold their masalas at a number of different local festivals.
Later in 2005, Rachna’s sister Mona put together a business plan on their idea for a course at Wilfred Laurier University. That summer they sold their masalas at a number of different local festivals. Later in 2005, Rachna’s sister Mona put together a business plan on their idea for a course at Wilfred Laurier University.

Full of ideas, Rachna Parsad’s one idea turned out to be a million dollar idea. This million dollar idea is Gourmantra Foods, a company that produces spices sold in local grocery stores across North America. In five years, the idea of selling blends from small foil bags has grown to be a full blown company with emphasis on taste as well as presentation. The business started off from a booth in Main Street, Markham and a $1,000 investment. It was instant success, and grew from there. That summer they sold their masalas at a number of different local festivals.

Later in 2005, Rachna’s sister Mona put together a business plan on their idea for a course at Wilfred Laurier University. The professor loved the idea and Mona got an A. The professor advised them to enter a  competition between Laurier, University of Waterloo and University of Guelph. The competition was won and “we got a lot of press coverage,” says Rachna happily.  The simple idea was now tested among consumers in a broader market. And, of course, there was great worth in it. Rachna Parsad, the CEO of the company is in the business with her mother and sister. She gave up her corporate job to be an entrepreneur. “There are about 300 people associated with our company, brokers, drivers, sales people, and manufacturers,” Rachna tells us. Not only does Rachna manage the business, she is a mother of a four-year-old son and a nine-month-old daughter. And she is still filled with energy and enthusiasm to do more. Increasingly, not finding Mr. Perfect or Miss Perfect is the concern in many South Asian families. Many people speculate that girls are too educated and too ambitious and are the reasons for late-age marriages. In Rachna’s opinion that’s not it. The real problem is to find place to meet with people. “Meeting new South Asians,” is a problem. Additionally “if you’ve grown up in the South Asian environment, maybe you identify better with that” so you look for a South Asian partner. Of course, “marriage is a lifetime commitment, and you have to find the person,” she reflects.

Rachna is also one of those young mothers who want her kids to be raised by the family and not a baby sitter. Having her parents and in-laws close by has been a great resource for her. The excitement of having a grandchild was so great that Rachna’s mother-in-law did an early child education course “just so she could understand how to raise children at this age. She does a lot of activities with them. She’s better than any daycare,” Rachna tells her, with gratitude for her mother-in-law. With love for culture, Rachna defines being Canadian as “Canadians are their culture first and then Canadian. It’s not like America, where they are just Americans. It’s not a melting pot but it’s a cultural mosaic. So you get to keep your heritage. Whenever I’m travelling I say I’m Canadian of Indian descent. That’s who we are.”  She wants her children to not only learn Hindi but also to understand the Indian culture and to relate to it. To that end, she is thinking of having her kids got to a summer school in India. Although her mother-in-law is much more into her son’s school’s activities, lately “my mother-in-law has put her foot down and said the teacher has asked that you go,” so now Rachna participates in her son’s school activities.

The next step for Gourmantra Foods is to develop a TV show called “Finding Her Mantra.” “Finding Her Mantra” is “about east meets west, about our cultural heritage and the interaction with the Western culture; how to run a business, and how to deal with two kids. It’s how I navigate through life. I’m pitching it, let’s see. I’ll keep my fingers crossed..I want to put Indian food in the mouths of as many Canadians as possible and Americans and make it as popular as Chinese food or pasta.”

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World Cup Fever Antakshari – Deshon ka Maha Muqabala

Posted on 26 February 2011 by admin

Wickets are down, pitch is set and Howzzat! The anticipated crowd awaits for 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup to be held on February 20th, 2011.  On February 19th 2011 Hindu Student Council at University of Toronto Mississauga hosted “World Cup Fever Antakshari – Deshon ka Maha Muqabala” which marked the 5th anniversary of Hindu Student Council. The night was filled with music, dance and food as four countries, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh embraced one another and celebrated unity under one roof.
Antakshari served as a mere excuse to celebrate unity as everyone started their night singing the National Anthem of India, Pakistan and Canada. Antakshari is a musical game commonly played by South Asians, however this Antakshari was filled with fun, twists and turns. As the crowd cheered and sang songs, it was apparent that there was no difference between one another as everyone enjoyed the game cheering one another to victory.
The night was further enhanced with the arrival of Mr. Hargurudeep Saini, VP of University of Toronto Mississauga, who took time from his busy schedule to be a part of Antakshari night.  Mr. Saini commented, “Antakshari is not about two teams, or about winning or losing, what is more important is the fact that we are gathered here, half way around the world and celebrating diversity”. Mr. Saini further made the evening more special by singing a song fit for occasion.
The evening wrapped up with everyone holding hands and celebrating the victory of harmony as everybody danced the night away. The games were well organized and the night was well-coordinated which contributed in creating an overall night of complete entertainment.
Hindu Student Council does not only strive to celebrate different festivals and occasions, but rather hopes to achieve a bigger goal of unity and diversity and rejoice each occasion as a community which was apparent at World Cup Fever Antakshari – Deshon ka Maha Muqabala. It has been five years since Hindu Student Council collaborated to achieve this goal and every year Hindu Student Council spreads this message and love to others hoping to achieve global peace.

Wickets are down, pitch is set and Howzzat! The anticipated crowd awaits for 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup to be held on February 20th, 2011.  On February 19th 2011 Hindu Student Council at University of Toronto Mississauga hosted “World Cup Fever Antakshari – Deshon ka Maha Muqabala” which marked the 5th anniversary of Hindu Student Council. The night was filled with music, dance and food as four countries, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh embraced one another and celebrated unity under one roof.Antakshari served as a mere excuse to celebrate unity as everyone started their night singing the National Anthem of India, Pakistan and Canada. Antakshari is a musical game commonly played by South Asians, however this Antakshari was filled with fun, twists and turns. As the crowd cheered and sang songs, it was apparent that there was no difference between one another as everyone enjoyed the game cheering one another to victory. The night was further enhanced with the arrival of Mr. Hargurudeep Saini, VP of University of Toronto Mississauga, who took time from his busy schedule to be a part of Antakshari night.  Mr. Saini commented, “Antakshari is not about two teams, or about winning or losing, what is more important is the fact that we are gathered here, half way around the world and celebrating diversity”. Mr. Saini further made the evening more special by singing a song fit for occasion. The evening wrapped up with everyone holding hands and celebrating the victory of harmony as everybody danced the night away. The games were well organized and the night was well-coordinated which contributed in creating an overall night of complete entertainment.Hindu Student Council does not only strive to celebrate different festivals and occasions, but rather hopes to achieve a bigger goal of unity and diversity and rejoice each occasion as a community which was apparent at World Cup Fever Antakshari – Deshon ka Maha Muqabala. It has been five years since Hindu Student Council collaborated to achieve this goal and every year Hindu Student Council spreads this message and love to others hoping to achieve global peace.

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Canada-Bangladesh strengthening the Multicultural Bonds

Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin

Lawrence Cannon, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with Dipu Moni, Bangladesh’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Ottawa to discuss the substantial and growing trade relationship between the two countries and issues of common concern including security, human rights and climate change.
The ministers expressed a desire for continued and increased people-to-people links, as well as deeper cooperation in areas such as education.
Canada and Bangladesh enjoy a close relationship, and representatives of the two countries regularly meet to discuss bilateral, multilateral and regional issues. Minister Moni’s visit was an opportunity to continue conversation and further strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two countries.

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After Egypt: Arab Voices Matter

Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin

Will the military cede space and open the political process to real reform? Will they be more responsive to the growing aspirations of their young who are demanding: jobs in an expanding economy where wealth is shared; an opportunity to participate in the shaping of the future of their country; and the freedom to express their discontent with and seek to change policies they find deplorable, without fear of repression?

Bahraini demonstrator lies injured on a stretcher as unrest continues throughout the region. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

If one lesson is to be learned from the remarkable events unfolding in Egypt, it is that Arab public opinion matters. For too long Arab voices have not been listened to, nor have Arab sensibilities or aspirations been respected. The Egyptian people have not only risen up, demanding to be heard, they have challenged other Arabs and the West to pay attention to what they are saying.
On Thursday night I watched a remarkable scene unfolding on television. As my dinner partner, Patrick Seale, and I sat transfixed watching the BBC, there, on one half of a split screen, was President Hosni Mubarak making a last ditch effort to save his rule. On the other half screen were throngs in Tahrir Square. The disconnect was so real. Mubarak was talking, but he simply wasn’t listening. He played every card at his disposal: the caring father, the patriot, the xenophobe, the reformer and more. Maybe, I thought, he was reaching out beyond the Square to those he thought might also be listening. But if his imagined and hoped for audience was there, they were not responding. The crowd in the Square was listening and his lack of responsiveness to their concerns only served to inflame them and deepen their resolve.
It was the immovable object squaring off against the irresistible force. In the end, the force won. The protesters rejected Mubarak’s promises and his appeals as “too little, too late,” and began to pour out beyond the Square to take new space and demonstrate their discontent.
Now the president is gone. The throngs have won this round and they are empowered to seek more change. It is not the end, just the beginning of a process, the outcome of which is still uncertain. With the military in charge, it will now be up to them to listen. Questions remain. Will the military cede space and open the political process to real reform? Will they be more responsive to the growing aspirations of their young who are demanding: jobs in an expanding economy where wealth is shared; an opportunity to participate in the shaping of the future of their country; and the freedom to express their discontent with and seek to change policies they find deplorable, without fear of repression?
In some ways, after February 11th, much has changed. In other ways, the struggle remains the same. A movement that has won a round now becomes a potentially formidable force. But a regime that fears losing control is also a force which must be reckoned with. In the weeks and months ahead we will see this drama play out in the streets and in negotiations. The constitution must be changed. President Mubarak has promised as much. The concerns of the demonstrators have been acknowledged by the military, who have said they are listening. Now we will see if they, in fact, were.
The problem of not listening to Arab voices is not only a problem for those Presidents who have fallen or those who are still at risk; it is a problem for the West, as well. For too long, the U.S., Great Britain, and others have ignored the concerns and sensibilities of Arab people. Arabs have been treated as if they were pawns to be moved about on the board. While we paid attention to our own needs and politics, Arabs were left to make do or accommodate themselves to realities we created for them, as we sought to protect our interests, not theirs.
This is not a new phenomenon. The cavalier dismissal of Arab voices began with Lord Balfour who famously rejected the first survey of Arab opinion, conducted for U.S. President Woodrow Wilson at the end of World War I. While the survey found Arabs overwhelming rejecting the European powers’ plans to carve up the Arab East into British and French mandatory entities, and the creation of a Jewish National Home in Palestine, Balfour balked saying “we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country… Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad…is of far greater import than the desire and prejudices of the Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”
As blatant as that rejection was, this practice of ignoring Arab concerns did not end. Until this day, all too often the West has acted across the Middle East as if Arabs were objects without sensibilities or concerns. We invaded Iraq without understanding the impact this might have on Arab opinion. We have continued to ignore Palestinian suffering and aspirations (recall Condolezza Rice’s dismissal of the plight and rights of Palestinian refugees with a casual “bad things happen in history”). And we have engaged in wide-spread profiling and other forms of deplorable treatment of Arabs and Muslims, paying no attention to the toll that these and other wildly unpopular policies were having on the legitimacy of Arab governments who were our friends and allies.
Now all this must of necessity change. When the Egyptian people organized themselves demanding to be heard they introduced a new and potentially transformative factor into the political equation of the region. It will no longer be possible to operate as if Arab public opinion doesn’t matter. It will no longer possible to act as if policies can be imposed and blindly accepted. No longer will we be able to consider only the Israeli internal debate or the consequences on Israeli opinion in our calculations. Arabs have been inspired by Egypt and empowered to believe that their voices must be heard and respected. It will make life more complicated for Western and some Arab policy makers. But if this complication is a good thing and it represents change, that has been a long time coming. As President Obama said, this is just the beginning and after today, nothing will be same. The reality is that this transformation will not only affect Egypt. The change that is coming will be bigger than any of us can imagine.

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Sarvpreet Minhas: Providing Avenue to Budding Artists

Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin

“I have the satisfaction of providing suitable platform to these budding artists to bring their hidden talents to the community and make a mark for themselves.”
“Many of our youth are falling to the wrong path like drugs and we need to create awareness in the community to put them back on right path.”

“All the ruling parties have spoken positively of our [South Asians’] contributions,” says Mr. Sarvpreet Minhas, President of Doaba Niwasi Welfare Society of Canada. However, he also notes that many South Asians fall prey to “fraudsters.” Nonetheless he stands firms in suggesting that the South Asian community believes “in sharing their earned wealth with needy and poor sections of society.”
To integrate the South Asians better in the society, Mr. Minhas who is also the CEO of Ragaa Models and Talent Agency of Toronto, holds cultural events to promote the young talent and to showcase the amazing potential our youth possess.
In his opinion, “there are no proper avenues in our South Asian community to allow children and youth to showcase their cultural talent.” Mr. Minhas is organizing an event on March 25th whereby a Mr. South Asia Canada, Miss South Asian Canada and other titles will be announced.
His reason for promoting the local talent is simple. “I have the satisfaction of providing suitable platform to these budding artists to bring their hidden talents to the community and make a mark for themselves.”
He also feels that the government has a responsibility to help the South Asian community integrate better in the society. “South Asian community needs time and facilities to be part of the Canadian culture. There should be efforts from our leaders and the rulers to ensure  that many more South Asians enjoy the honour  of enjoying  the Canadian culture. The Canadian government must allocate more funds to local settlement agencies for proper settlement  of South Asians in this great country.”
Just as South Asian youth have tremendous talent, so are they prone to fall on the wrong path. “Many of our youth are falling to the wrong path like drugs and we need to create awareness in the community to put them back on right path,” says Mr. Minhas, who is computer engineer by trade, but works as a real estate agent in the community.
Mr. Minhas concedes that the South Asian community needs to encourage its youth to serve in the police services and Canadians Armed Forces. “There is definitely an impression going around the country that most of South Asians shirk joining the police jobs or jobs  in the armed forces. But as things are improving more and more of youth of our community are opting for police jobs though very few in our community are known to have come forward for jobs in the armed force during last 10 years. Let us  hope things start improving in this direction,” states Mr. Minhas.
Mr. Minhas feels that “every leader involved with business, trade and politics has been speaking day in and out in praise of the great contribution” of the South Asian community in Canadian politics, economy and society in general.
The one step forward is to have stronger Indo-Canadian relationship. “Those who think that interests of Canada and India are inseparable are right since business, trade  relations between the two countries have touched new heights thanks to the leadership of our Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Indian counterpart Manmmohan Singh. The trade is likely to touch $15 billion a year and it speaks of mutual cooperation of both the countries. The present year 2011 is being celebrated as India year in Canada and we Canadians  will like and love to see various Indian events showcasing India’s co operation with Canada.”

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The Toronto Tabla Ensemble Brings Music, Diversity And Culture To Our City

Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin

By Priyanka Jain
Toronto

‘If somebody takes interest in an arts organization who’s dedicated to our culture, and doing it in such a way that we’re helping the younger generation to do something with it, then by giving us the sponsorship, more will come. They will be doing it for the right reasons; the grassroot reasons,’ said Das.

‘I don’t think I’ll ever retire. Artists don’t retire, it’s our creative juice. The day you retire is the day you die.’


I sat down with Ritesh Das, Artistic Director and tabla teacher at the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, a narrow building in a tight row of stores lined up on College St., in the midst of Downtown Toronto.
Das was born and raised in Kolkata (famously known as Calcutta), India. Das’ parents were the first to open a music and dance academy in Kolkata, which allowed Das immediate exposure to music and tabla at a young age. When Das was 22-years-old, he moved to Los Angeles, USA, to be a part of the AMAN Folk Ensemble. While in L.A, Das was also travelling back and forth to San Fransisco, where he was studying tabla under his guru, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, who he still remains close with.
In 1987, Das moved to Toronto and married kathak dancer Joanna De Souza. Together, they both wanted to open their own centre, where they would combine both their talents.
‘The Ensemble came out of soul searching. I wanted to do something for me and my voice,’ said Das.
Das and De Souza began performing at small venues such as mandirs and community events, and because the response and feedback was so positive, people began inquiring about classes. For a few years, Das and De Souza travelled to peoples’ houses, churches, high schools, under the Toronto Tabla Ensemble name, just so they could accomodate their students who were widely spread out.
A few years later, Das and De Souza decided it was time to have a more stable environment for their students, and concentrated on finding a Downtown location. In 1991, the Toronto Tabla Ensemble had opened up at 335 College St.
‘I believe that tabla fits with every culture, every genre of music. So Toronto is a beautiful place to do that, we have everyone here,’ said Das.
At the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, Das both teaches tabla, and leads the ensemble. Students that show dedication have the opportunity to be a part of the ensemble.
‘I said in my last show- many hands have come, and many hands have gone, but the music will always go on.’
Das’ main emphasis at the Toronto Tabla Ensemble is to individually nurture each one of his students to their full potential.
‘In order to be a good teacher, you will have to understand and care for your students. It’s like you are their dad, their friend, their shrink. You’ve got to care,’ said Das.
Das aims to bring to his students every reason possible for them to develop a passion for the tabla.
‘I have students that come and go, but they come back for the learning, and the spiritual reasons; not to perform. If you only want to do that, it’s the wrong thing to do,’ said Das.
Although Das is an experienced and renowned tabla player, he still strives to be better everyday.
‘Musically speaking, artistically speaking, I’m very happy, but I’m always going to take it to the next level,’ said Das.
The Toronto Tabla Ensemble does receive some government funding, but it is not enough, according to Das.
‘This is doing so much for the community. If somebody takes interest in an arts organization who’s dedicated to our culture, and doing it in such a way that we’re helping the younger generation to do something with it, then by giving us the sponsorship, more will come. They will be doing it for the right reasons; the grassroot reasons,’ said Das.
Das also explains that it isn’t the amount of funding you get, instead it’s whether or not one deserves that amount to further develop what they’re doing.
‘I think the people on the panels [deciding funding] should actually physically be here. They should say I’m gonna give you money, but I wanna check you out first,’ said Das.
Despite this ongoing problem, the Toronto Tabla Ensemble have still gained a good reputation in the Toronto community. They have performed at numerous jazz and folk festivals, and have also appeared on CBC News World and Much Music. They were also top ten in Now Magazine after their first concert in 1991.
‘I see the results of joy in them when they play something or they perform somewhere. That motivates me to keep going; the happiness in others.’
The focus of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble is to collaborate with other instruments and sounds, and to make unique and diverse music. Their first collaboration was with the taiko drums, and they have also collaborated with jazz, flaminco, rock and roll, and much more.
‘Collaborating with another kind of music brings both audiences to watch. By doing this, the ensemble members and the audience understand each other,’ said Das.
Das continues to share his knowledge and tabla technique with his students. He has learnt a lot being under the guidance of Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, not only about music, but about life in general.
‘You have to have a focus, you have to have a vision, and above all that, you have to have patience. If you have all of these things, you can achieve anything, not just music,’ said Das.
Das opens the doors of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble to absolutely everyone. He describes the art of music so simply, yet meaningful, by saying ‘Music goes on. It has nothing to do with looks, age, showmanship, it’s music.’
He mentors a diverse group of aspiring musicians, and is always looking to expand and extract talent out of his students.
‘The difference between universities and this place is that you go to university for four years and you’re out. Here, you’re never out.’
As of right now, ’this is a dream come true’ for Das, and he continues to share his love of music and tabla with people.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever retire. Artists don’t retire, it’s our creative juice. The day you retire is the day you die.’

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POPULAR UPSURGE AGAINST AUTHORITARIN RULE

Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

The protest also represents the generational change in the Middle East. The growing number and societal weight of youth (from 15 to 30 years) is cracking up the traditionally authoritarian and highly elitist political order.

Some of the Middle Eastern and African Muslim countries are facing internal revolt against the political status quo.  The relatively quiet countries like Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Iran are experiencing street protests for effective participation in state affairs and greater freedoms and rights.  The clash between the protesters and Libya’s security forces proved to be quite violent. It is expected that the rulers in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya would offer talks to calm down the protesters. However, it is not clear if their demands would be satisfied in a meaningful manner.

Tunis
The wave of protests began in Tunis in the third week of December 2010 against the oppressive and authoritarian mafia type rule by the president Zainulabideen bin Ali who had been ruling with an iron fist since 1987. After some resistance against the protesters he fled the country in January 2011.

Egypt
This was followed by a countrywide protest in Egypt against the government of Hosni Mubarak who had been ruling since 1981 when he assumed power after the assassination of Anwar-al Sadat. Earlier he served as Vice President to Anwar-al Sadat.  This was also a personalized, authoritarian and oppressive rule and there was no hope of getting rid of him through elections.  The presidential election was to be held later in 2011. But no one expected a change through the elections.  Either he was expected to contest the presidential election or his son was to be the candidate.
The major feature of the political movement in Tunisia and Egypt was that the protesters did not engage in looting and destroying of public property. At times the clash between the security forces and the protesters saw reciprocal violence but the protesters generally avoided violence. The protest in Al-Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, was a remarkable display of political determination and discipline.  Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office on February 11.

Libya
In Libya, Colonel Gaddafi has been ruling since 1969 when he assumed power in a coup against King Adrees. In the past protests were successfully crushed. Now, it seems that he will have to give way to some of the demands for opening up the political system and more political and civil rights.

Iran
In Iran, political trouble erupts from time to time since June 2009 presidential elections which produced victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the second term.  Several people were killed in the protest soon after the elections. Now, the protests have erupted again against the Iranian President. However, it seems that the clergy-dominated Iranian government wants to deal with the protesters in its traditionally tough and intolerant manner.

Yemen
Yemen is another case of narrow authoritarian rule with poverty and under-development rampant. It is also viewed as a seat of Islamic militant groups, especially Al-Qaeda. The tribal and sectarian conflict is common in Yemen. Now, the capital city has witnessed protest marches for political rights. This movement is limited to the capital city but it is expected to spread to other towns, although the rural areas are expected to stay aloof.

Jordan
Earlier some protests took place in Jordan. King Abdullah replaced the prime minister and asked the new Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit to adopt “quick, concrete and practical steps” for the introduction of a “genuine political reform process” in order “to strengthen democracy.” The new government is taking steps to accommodate the political pressures from below.
There are several common denominators in the protest movements in the Islamic countries of Africa and the Middle East. All these regimes, monarchical or republics, are authoritarian and oppressive.  There is no concept of civil and political rights in opposition to the government. Some of these rulers have been in offices for a long time. If elections are held these are not genuine and the people have little, if any, freedom for political organization, speech and protest.
The Arab countries with oil revenue are better off than those that lack any mineral wealth. The former like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Libya have spent good amount of resources on the welfare of people, especially for education, housing and jobs, which has dampened the zeal for agitation.  In other countries, people also suffer from poverty and under development. However, with political eruption in Libya, there are now concerns about political stability in other oil rich countries.  In Saudi Arabia, some people have asked the King to allow them to set up a political party.
The protest also represents the generational change in the Middle East. The growing number and societal weight of youth (from 15 to 30 years) is cracking up the traditionally authoritarian and highly elitist political order.  A good number of them have visited abroad, especially the West, and use modern communication systems like internet, e-mail, satellite television, cellular phone. This latest technology has made them conscious of what is happening elsewhere. Their political, social and economic aspirations are forcing changes in these societies.
The authoritarian rule is on the decline but this does not mean that all these countries will adopt participatory and democratic political system.  There is hardly any tradition of democracy in these countries.  Therefore the transition from authoritarian rule to democracy is going to be slow and painful.  Some of these countries may experience military rule or a period of political uncertainty.   However, one thing is clear. There is no going back to authoritarian, personalized and oppressive rule. All rulers will have to open up the political system on their own initiative or under pressure from the people.

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We want you to be part of our community

Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin

We want you to be part of our community
– Brampton Commissioner of Community Services Jamie Lowery

“Councillor Dhillon’s insights will certainly help us and his knowledge of the community will certainly help us. I guess one of the main things is for the media to help us, to let people know that these facilities are for them and we’re committed to making sure they enjoy them and the customer service is top notch, because again it’s the tax payers that pay for it.”

If you are holding a cultural festival or an event, the City of Brampton welcomes you. Having these kind of events in the City also promotes good neighbourly feelings whereby communities look out for each other, says Brampton Commissioner of Community Services Jamie Lowery.
“We will do what we can to help promote their [South Asian] events and support their events. That’s how you also make your community safer. If your neighbours know each other, they look out for each other, it’s automatically safer because people are talking to each other and you’re out looking for each other. So it’s in the city’s best interest to support the community best we can within our means and certainly it is a priority to make sure that these kind of events,” says Mr. Lowery.

Almost half of Brampton’s population is South Asian. Is this community engaged? Commissioner Lowery’s belief is South Asians “are engaged.” Those of us who go to Brampton have noticed a large number of South Asian seniors sitting in the malls, parks and community centres, and riding bicycles on roads.Commissioner Lowery’s belief that the South Asian community is engaged is based “on the number of seniors groups we have. We have 48 teenage groups but certainly when we have recreational programming, South Asian communities utilize them. Is there more that we could be doing? I think we are constantly finding ways to reach out to the South Asian communities and to get them more engaged in our community because really we are in the business of supporting all members of the community.” Community Services department of the City of Brampton has proposed $96 million operating budget for 2011-12. The money is spent on Animal Services, Brampton Clean City, Cemeteries, Community Centres, Fire & Emergency Services, Fitness & Sports, Parks, Trails & Pathways, Rose Theatre, Recreational Activities,  Sports & Leisure and Trees, Plants & Flowers. Department of Community Services has approximately just over 3,000 employees – full time, part time and temporary. The City of Brampton is growing at a rapid pace. With the new neighbourhoods, parks and recreational facilities are important for the well being of the community. Commissioner Lowery’s department provides parks and recreation to the community.
Commissioner Lowery tells us that “with every new development in the city, parks are a big component of that. We also have about 6,000 acres of park land throughout the city..The demand is certainly out there for rec centres, our programs are quite robust so I would say that we are very well equipped as a community with our community centres.”
Commissioner Lowery is content with the federal government’s commitment to help municipalities under Canada Economic Action Plan. The federal stimulus dollars has helped the City spend on projects “that would have never have happened without the funding and so it basically helped us accelerate some of the work that our infrastructure was lagging behind in.”
Diverse communities have diverse needs. Commissioner Lowery’s department has had requests to have a separate swimming pool for Muslim women.
Commissioner Lowery’s department has responded to the need. “Instead of isolating that community, and saying it’s just for Muslim women, we’ve made it a women’s swim..we’ve put up curtains. When we did some of our renovations in our rec centres, we put more family change rooms in, so there is a heightened sense of privacy. That has gone over really well, not only with the Muslim community but with all the communities,” says Mr. Lowery.
In 2010, most swimming related deaths occurred in immigrant communities. The City of Brampton offers swimming lessons at a very affordable price for its residents.
City of Brampton’s Fire and Emergency Services is known to be one of the finest in Canada. Commissioner Lowery advises the residents to take fire prevention measures. “A lot of emphasis is on smoke alarms, so protect yourself with a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm. Also young kids go through our fire life safety building, and general awareness. Our fire department is also active in marketing and educating people on child seat safety. A lot of our material is used in other parts of Canada to train and educate people,” says Mr. Lowery.
Commissioner Lowery’s message to the South Asian community is simple. “We really want you to be a part of our community. We’re here to listen and to take your ideas and we want you to be involved as much as you can in the great city of Brampton. We have some great facilities, and amenities that you are welcomed to take advantage of. If you have some ideas of improving our services we certainly want to hear them.”
City’s commitment to diversity is also evident by appointing Brampton City Councillor Vic Dhillon, one of the few South Asian Councillors in the Greater Toronto Area as the Chair of Community Services.
“His insighs will certainly help us and his knowledge of the community will certainly help us. I guess one of the main things is for the media to help us, to let people know that these facilities are for them and we’re committed to making sure they enjoy them and the customer service is top notch, because again it’s the tax payers that pay for it,” states Commissioner Lowery.

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Ignatieff Liberals are spreading myths and cherry picking stats on family reunification

Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin

Minister Kenney

The federal government is not cutting family class immigration, in fact it is increasing it said Minister Jason Kenney in a teleconference with the multicultural media. He categorically denied any “cutting” in visas for parents and grandparents, saying that by law Citizenship and Immigration is obligated to process the applications of parents and grandparents.
“There’s been some recent inaccurate media coverage and unfair Opposition political attacks suggesting that the government is cutting family class immigration this year, 2011.  That is not true.  We are not cutting family class immigration to Canada in 2011.  Any allegation to the contrary is untrue.  To the contrary the government is actually planning to increase total family immigration to Canada in 2011.”
He also said that opposition’s position is “irresponsible” as the government has limited resources to process the applications at record high levels every year.
“That’s not sustainable on a permanent basis.  We don’t have the resources to maintain levels quite that high,” Minister Kenney stated.
The Ignatieff Liberals have been spreading myths on the issue of family class immigration, cherry picking statistics to give the impression the numbers are going down, not up. Here are the facts.
“Within the family class, our government is putting wives, husbands, and children first.  Through a slight decrease in projected admissions range for parents and grandparents, we will be able to significantly increase the number of spouses and children admitted next year,” continued Minister Kenney. “That means more dads, mums, and children being reunited with their loved ones than in previous years.”
“The Conservatives campaigned on family values, but once again, they are breaking another promise to Canadians,” said Mr. Joe Volpe, former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
“The Conservatives tell families to be responsible for their own child care when parents go to work, but the fact is new Canadians entering the workforce often rely on parents and grandparents for child care and help around the home. They are taking away a necessary support system,” added Mr. Volpe.
“Jason Kenney tried to hide behind public target ranges released last October for 2011 family class visas, but failed to explain more recent internal targets from January that drastically reduce family class immigration even further than last year’s 5-year low or the fact that his own public documents show falling family class visas every year since 2006,” said Liberal Citizenship and Immigration Critic Justin Trudeau.”
MP Olivia Chow, NDP critic for Citizenship and Immigration was equally outraged at the federal government’s decision of cutting the family reunification class visas.
To these allegations, Minister Kenney retorted “It’s easy for the Opposition to say whatever they want because they don’t actually have to make choices.  They can just criticize everything without actually having to counterbalance all the different streams of immigration.”
Minister Kenney also urged the public to give their feedback at www.cic.gc.ca on possible changes to the points grid in the federal skilled worker program.
“No decisions have been taken about how we might modify the points grid because we do want to receive public input,” Minister of Citizenship and Immigration said.

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How India Can Win the World Cup

Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin

By AR Hemant, India

Is there such a thing as a template for good results in a World Cup? West Indies had exceptionally strong batting and vicious pace. In 1983, India batted deep and had many swing and seam bowlers. Australia in 1987 didn’t lose a single tight match with their deceptive slow bowlers. Pakistan peaked late in 1992, but did it with steady build-ups and explosive finishes. Between 1999 and 2007, Australia were — well — Australia.
Since Sri Lanka won the last Cup in the sub-continent, it is important to analyse how they did it. They had explosive openers, a middle order that didn’t let the momentum slip and an army of slow bowlers. Compare that with India in 2011. After the two warm-up games, it seems MS Dhoni has finally found the template for World Cup success — dominating the middle overs.
In ODIs, all teams look to make the most of the first and last 10 overs. But this World Cup will be won by the team that controls the middle overs and Powerplays the best. A month back in South Africa, these were India’s pain-points. But on spin-friendly wickets in Bangalore and Chennai, they seem to have hit upon their magic formula — confident starts, aggressive build-ups, and a strong spin attack to bamboozle their opponents.

Dominating the middle overs — batting

In Chennai against New Zealand, Gambhir and the middle order lifted India from a slow start much like Gurusinha, Aravinda and Ranatunga did many times in 1996. From a rate of 4.5 when Sehwag fell, Gambhir and Kohli pushed the rate to 5, before Dhoni and Raina blew it threw the roof.
Power-hitting, wise strike rotation and a low percentage of dot balls did the trick. Gambhir, master of the short single, had 33 dots, 39 singles and three twos in his 89.
Dhoni in his brilliantly paced hundred had just 15 dots and 28 singles. He and Raina placed the Powerplay perfectly, not leaving it for the end. This is the exact opposite of what India were doing in South Africa: not rotating strike, losing middle order wickets cheaply and timing their Powerplays badly.
If India can replicate their Chennai methods again, they have Dhoni, Pathan, Raina and Yuvraj waiting down the order to provide the RDX for the slog overs. Yuvraj isn’t in top form yet, but with the spinners and Zaheer batting deep, India finally seem to have a sturdy line-up.

Decoding the Powerplays

Let’s throw a look back at what winning teams have done with the batting Powerplay recently. In the series against England, Australia lost just one game out of seven. In Adelaide, they had Cameron White and David Hussey going strong while chasing 300. They didn’t take the Powerplay. Wickets fell. They lost by 21 runs.
This wasn’t an aberration for Australia. They’d always taken the Powerplay late in this series — five times in or after the 42nd over, at other times in the 37th and 38th.
South Africa beat India 3-2 recently. In Durban, Duminy and de Villiers took the Powerplay in the 27th. The result: 45 runs, no wickets, and the run rate shot from 5.5 to 6 in the middle of the innings. India lost by 135 runs.
When India beat New Zealand 5-0 recently, they took the Powerplay just twice in five games — in the 40th over in the first ODI, and in the 38th in the fourth where Pathan blasted the bejesus out of New Zealand.
This gives us the indication that it is best to claim the Powerplay in the middle overs when you have set batsmen. Anything else is an opportunity lost, as Australia discovered in Adelaide.
As Harbhajan said about timing the batting Powerplay in this excellent interview to Cricinfo:
“The best way to take it is to keep wickets in hand. If after 25 overs the team is 150 for 2, and say, one batsman is on 60 and the other on 50, I will take the batting Powerplay straightaway. Those two batsmen are settled and have the momentum with them, so if they keep going 350 is possible, because in the last 10 overs batsmen will go for the slog in any case.”

Dominating the middle overs — bowling



The traditional approach to bowling the middle overs in the sub-continent has been to employ slow bowlers — often part-timers — defend the boundaries and save your best bowlers for the slog.
India can run away with the Cup by turning this method upside down.
Put the spinners on attack, employ a slip and leg-slip, put more fielders in the ring and tell the batsmen to go over the top if they’d like. When he led India against New Zealand, Gambhir used this ploy to perfection. The Black Caps were sitting ducks against Ashwin, Pathan and Yuvraj who took 24 wickets between them in five ODIs.
Dhoni has tended to be more defensive. But in the two warm-up games, he followed the Gambhir route, causing the batsmen to self-destruct under pressure. It’s also to India’s benefit that they’ve found a spinner who means to attack all the time. Ashwin could be India’s best spinner since Harbhajan.
Sri Lanka in 1996 had mastered slowing down the opposition with their spinners. New Zealand in 1992 had stunned the world by opening with an off-spinner. Tied down with the slow bowling, successive batsmen threw away their wickets. In 2011, India now has the best spin attack along with Sri Lanka. It would be hard to stop these two teams.

Jayawardena not aware of Jayasuriya’s record

Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardena was unaware on Sunday that he had broken a record set by his former captain Sanath Jayasuriya for the country’s fastest century in a World Cup match.
“I didn’t know that until the last minute when they asked me (on television) honestly,” Jayawardena said after his innings helped secure a 210-run victory over Canada in Group A.
The otherwise calm and composed Jayawardena hit 100 off 81 balls that included an uncharacteristic four off a reverse sweep to break Jayasuriya’s record of an 85-ball hundred made against Bangladesh at Port of Spain in 2007.
“I am quite happy it was a good start for us,” he said.

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