Archive | July, 2011

Dr. Davindra Singh: Taking Care of the “ethnic skin” in Toronto

Posted on 27 July 2011 by admin

Dr. Singh

“Some of the more popular treatments requested by [South-Asian] women are Botox, fillers, skin tightening and laser hair removal. But by far, the most popular treatment is pigment blending, which helps to improve skin tone and texture.”

“Due to perceived pressures from the workplace, men are also more frequently turning towards cosmetic procedures. They are doing what they can to maintain a youthful appearance.”

 

According to the United Nations, Toronto has been declared as the most ethnically diverse city in the world. Similarly, a study conducted by Statistics Canada projects that by 2031, one-third of Canada’s population will be a visible minority.

These rapid demographical shifts create a need for specialized care in the treatment of ethnic skin types and until now, this specialized care could not be found in Toronto or even Canada. In February, Sikh-Canadian dermatologist Dr. Davindra Singh opened the doors of AvantDerm, a dermatology clinic that is effectively providing care to ethnic skin patients and beyond.

A sprawling, 7000-sq-ft space, this dermatology clinic by no means comes across as a typical medical office. The clinic uses Distillery District artefacts and modern décor to create a unique setting that represents both historic and urban Toronto. “The décor of the clinic strikes a chord on both a personal and professional level. From a professional perspective, patients come in and are taken aback by the atmosphere; it is very soothing and helps directs focus from illness. For me, I come in every day and enjoy being here.”

Born and raised in Peterborough, Dr. Singh attended Queen’s University for both his undergraduate degree and medical school. He then proceeded to complete his family medicine residency at McMaster University in Hamilton.His medical career began in the small, rural, Northern Ontario town of Iroquois Falls where he spent eight years practising as a family physician, emergency physician and sole physician of a nursing home.

During his time spent in Northern Ontario, Dr. Singh was warmly welcomed by the community. “Working in a small town certainly shaped my perceptions regarding the delivery of healthcare. I have spent my whole life practicing in underserviced areas so the notions of improved access and care to untreated populations comprise the foundation of AvantDerm.”

Following his work in Iroquois Falls, Dr. Singh headed to the University of Toronto to complete his dermatology residency. His experience as a family and emergency physician meeting the needs of a small community allowed him to perceive various gaps in healthcare in Toronto. One of these gaps was the lack of care for ethnic skin patients. “We have a population that is over 50% non-white. But if you look at the dermatologists in Toronto, there isn’t one that specializes in ethnic skin. I don’t exclude anybody but I think it’s important that somebody in the city has an interest in ethnic skin.”

Dr. Singh responded to the changing needs of the community when he opened his doors in February.In addition to the Ethnic Skin Institute, AvantDerm offersthe Rapid Access Clinic allowing for next-day appointments, speciality clinics, and cosmetic dermatology.

“Medical conditions and medical procedures, especially laser, are much more risky in darker skin. The best example is laser hair removal. The majority of black people are turned away because nobody can treat them safely. This is because the laser is targeting pigment in the hair follicle and this lies deep within the skin. If you have pigmented skin, there is added risk of burning as you try to reach the target. You have to have the proper machines and the proper skill to know what settings to use and how to cool the skin to protect it and still be effectively able to target the hair.”

Dr. Singh spent a significant amount of time studying in various ethnic skin centres around the world, including Howard University in Washington, D.C. He has brought back the technology and know-how to Toronto and is ready to serve the diverse population.

One of the biggest concerns with the South Asian-Canadian population is pigmentation issues, manifesting in a variety of different ways. For example, vitiligo is a condition which causes a loss of pigment in the skin. This can be devastating in patients with darker skin as it is more apparent due to the contrast with normal skin. Patients with darker skin also tend to have melasma, a skin condition that causes brown patches on face. Finally, ethnic skin patients with acne tend to have dark spots that remain after the papules and pustules disappear.

To manage mild acne, Dr. Singh recommendswashing your face gently, applying a prescription product recommended by a dermatologist and using a moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning. In the evening, the same regimen can be followed, save for the sunscreen.

Cosmetic dermatology treatments are also popular amongst the ethnic skin population. Dr. Singh attests that an increasing number of South Asian men and women are opting for non-surgical cosmetic skin treatments.

“Some of the more popular treatments requested by [South-Asian] women are Botox, fillers, skin tightening and laser hair removal. But by far, the most popular treatment is pigment blending, which helps to improve skin tone and texture.”

“Due to perceived pressures from the workplace, men are also more frequently turning towards cosmetic procedures. They are doing what they can to maintain a youthful appearance.”

Photoaging, or the premature aging of skin due to sun exposure is also a concern for the South Asian community. “A common myth amongst the ethnic population is that they do not need to wear sunscreen. This is absolutely false.” Dr. Singh recommends wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Protection against UVA is unmeasured, however protection against UVB is measured by SPF ratings; Dr. Singh recommends SPF 45 or greater.

In addition to sunscreen, Dr. Singh recommends for patients to be gentle with their skin, eat a well-balanced diet, stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.

For more information about Dr. Singh and AvantDerm, please visit www.avantderm.com.

 

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We don’t take any votes for granted -Charles Sousa, Liberal MPP from Mississauga South

Posted on 27 July 2011 by admin

Charles Sousa (MPP from Mississauga South)

“The GPS  misfires. The technology has failed in the past…GPS gives false sense of security as to where the prisoners may be. Even Stephen Haprer, the Conservative, and the safety minister, Vic Towes has said that the GPS technology is unreliable. It cost federal Conservatives to reexamine their use of GPS,” said MPP Sousa.

 

After the historic defeat of Liberals at the federal level, Provincial Liberals are not taking any votes – ethnic or non-ethnic – for granted.

Liberal MPP from Mississauga South, Mr. Charles Sousa said in an interview with Generation Next “I’ve never taken anything for granted. I know the premier doesn’t nor do my colleagues. We wanna ensure that everybody is treated fairly… It’s our job to represent everybody in the community.. beyond election cycles. “

In his rising of Mississauga South, MPP Sousa says there are three big issues:

Rehabilitation and revival of lake shore, healthcare for again population and strong schools for young families.

“I have the entire lakefront. Rehabilitation of the waterfront.. That was the big issue…more public transit..LRT system,” is another one that residents of Mississauga South worry about.

In Mr. Sousa’s opinion, youth and young families are more cognizant of cleaner air and the use of renewable energy. “The younger group,” MPP Sousa said are more aware of “the greenbelt and green jobs.” This age group also has a greater “sense of health and safety culture,” noted the Minister of Labour.

Green jobs are said to be costlier to create. However, Mr. Sousa says that “these are high value jobs” that will help Ontario “be a place to come to” to buy green energy technology.

(In an interview with Generation Next, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, an Indian MP, has said that India can seek partnership with Canada to develop green energy technology.)

Mr. Sousa was very critical of PC Party’s proposal of putting GPS devices on sex offenders and letting them lose in public parks to do jobs such as garbage pickup etc.

He said that the PC Party “is not doing their home work. They are really not ready for prime time,” he stated.

He said imagine a sex offender with a GPS device loose at Erindale Park where your kids are playing.

“The GPS  misfires. The technology has failed in the past…GPS gives false sense of security as to where the prisoners may be. Even Stephen Haprer, the Conservative, and the safety minister, Vic Towes has said that the GPS technology is unreliable. It cost federal Conservatives to reexamine their use of GPS,” said MPP Sousa.

“It worries me that we are playing politics with something that is so concerning,” he added, noting that in the past two months prisoners have escaped from the US prisons in spite of US correctional officers’ being armed. Here in Canada correctional officers are not armed.

Mr. Sousa said that the Ontario government has sex registry in place that tracks sex offenders. All stakeholders including the federal government has access to it, although public has no access to it.

It’s interesting how Liberals are making use of what “tough on crime” federal Tories have said and done about fighting the crime.

Citing Tory Minister Toews again, Liberal Minister Sousa said “ Minister Vic Toews dismissed the idea of making it [sex offender registry] public. “

 

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Boxing is just not violent fight, it requires skills Amir Khan, World super lightweight champion

Posted on 27 July 2011 by admin

My mother doesn’t like to see the fight as it involves blood. She doesn’t like when I get hit, like any mother she would not bear his child get hit.

Before 28 I want to fight the world’s best fighter Floyd Mayweather, Jr. And after retiring, I will switch to training and would like to train kids. And do lots of charity work.

We went to meet Amir Khan, the upcoming rising star in the field of boxing at the famous gym Wild Card in Los Angeles. He was preparing for his next fight to unify his title at 140 pound weight division which is going to happen in Mandalay Bay Even center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fight will be featured live at HBO channel.

Amir was born in Bolton, England. As a kid, he was very hyper active and naughty. So, his father decided to send him to the boxing club which was not far from his house. Joining the boxing club completely changed him to a different person. He became disciplined, dedicated and well behaved. He enjoyed boxing so much that he continued boxing and decided to become a boxer. He won silver medal in light weight boxing category at the age of 17 in Athens and became a world champion at the age of 21.

Since then there is no looking back.

His family stands behind him like a strong pillar and supports him fully, accompanies him to all his fights to give him extra strength. Amir also regularly helps his community by donating money to various charities during earthquake and tsunami disasters in South Asia.

He has also opened a gym for kids who are interested in boxing called gloves gym in 2007 in Bolton. He has a huge fan base in the U.K Now; he is ready to take off in North America. His success has not changed him, he is still the same. He lives at home with his parents in Bolton, hangs out with same friends.

His recipe for success is praying to the god, respecting his parents and hard work.

Here’s our chat with this successful young man:

How did you get into boxing?

I was very naughty when I was a kid. My father made me join boxing club at the age of 8 to burn off some energy. I enjoyed boxing so much that I never looked back afterwards. Later on, I become more disciplined in life and also started respecting people.

 

Did you have any other backup plan in your mind besides boxing?

I always wanted to do something in sports field .If I wasn’t a boxer I would have been involved   in sports medicine or physiotherapy.

 

When did you make sports a profession from yourself?

At the age of 18. I went from amateur to entering into the professional world of boxing. And I won the world title the age of 22.

How many fights have you lost so far?

I have lost only one fight. The fight happened very quickly and also I was fasting during Ramadan. But overall, I learned from my defeat that I need to take my career more seriously and train harder to come back stronger.

Who is your trainer?

My current trainer is Freddie Roach. We have been training in World’s best gyms like Wild Card Boxing Gym in Los Angeles and away from any distractions. Freddie motivates me on daily bases to be a better boxer.

Where were you born?

I was born in Bolton which in England.

 

Did you parents support you when you took boxing as career choice?

 

My parents have been supportive. My father has always been with me to all my fights. Since, I started boxing at the age of 8. Although my mother being a South Asian sometimes gets upset when I get hit..I know South Asian parents want their children to become doctors or engineers. But I believe they should support their kids in what they want to do. Because, everyone is good at something or the other. Once they know, what that is they can setup their goals from their own.

 

South Asian mothers are very protective of their kids. What does your mom say on when it comes to your fights?

 

My mother doesn’t like to see the fight as it involves blood. She doesn’t like when I get hit, like any mother she would not bear his child get hit. She usually stays in the hotel during the fight and prays for me.

Who is your favorite boxer?

Mohammed Ali has always been my favorite.

 

Describe your training week?

My training camp is usually 10 weeks. I have to wake up at 5.00 in the morning during training camp. Go for a run. My training includes sparring sessions, strength training and speed training. I also had to eat right kind of food at the right time. And try to focus on myself fully during training without any distractions.

 

When you hit your opponent in a fight, does it involve any pity or leniency?

Not really! Because, if the other person is hitting me then why should I be lenient towards him. And after all boxing is a sport. It’s your job. Once you are in the ring you are there to fight and you can put your emotions aside.

 

Do you think boxing is a sport which can be only seen through a violent eye?

 

No! Boxing is more of an art. It requires skills. I always tell kids if they want to fight they should fight in the ring not outside. If I see fights on streets, I always walk away.

 

What motivates you, when your self esteem gets low?

My family support motivates me to do better and better every single day. I am not scared of getting hit, but losing the fight scares me the most. I don’t like losing and I try to make sure I am 100 percent focused during my fights. Also, living up to fans’ expectation is a huge responsibility that gets me going.

 

 

What do you like to do when you are not training?

I like to go on holidays with friends and I like to completely relax during holidays which involves not getting up at 5.00 in the morning and also no dieting. I can eat all kinds of food.

 

Ok I heard many athletes do take steroids and additional supplements. What’s your take on it? Is it essential in a field if you are to excel?

No! In boxing you get drug tested prior to your fight. If you get convicted, one conviction can destroy your whole career.

 

What are your future plans?

 

I would like to retire at the age of 28. Before 28 I want to fight the world’s best fighter Floyd Mayweather, Jr. And after retiring, I will switch to training and would like to train kids. And do lots of charity work.

 

Did you know u have a large fan base in Canada? When will you be visiting Canada next?

I had training camp at Sugarrays gym in Vancouver. Canada is a beautiful country and would love to visit their again.  As of now, Fans can follow me on twitter Amirkingkhan and also my facebook official page

 

By Sonam Singh

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Progressive Conservative stars flock Brampton Springdale

Posted on 27 July 2011 by admin

 

Like the recent federal election campaign, Conservative political super stars flock Brampton riding of Brampton Springdale to boost the profile of PC candidate Pam Hundal. Encouraged by the election of Conservative MP Parm Gill, Progressive Conservatives are hopeful that they can win the riding of Brampton Springdale.

 

On Saturday July 23  Brampton Springdale PC Candidate Pam Hundal held her official campaign kick off and office opening where over 400 people attended.

 

PC Leader Tim Hudak along with former Premier Hon. Bill Davis, MP Parm Gill and Senator Consiglio Di Nino were there to attend the inauguration and addressed the crowd in support of Pam Hundal

 

Others also in attendance were City Councillor Gael Miles and her mother, and Councillor Vicky Dhillon and Neil Davis. PC President Ken Zeise also came out for the opening.

 

The office is located at 312 Queen Street East and marks the official start to the Provincial Election which is on October 6th.

 

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Liberal family will win Ontario’s future – McGunity

Posted on 27 July 2011 by admin

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty addressed Liberal supporters at a Richmond Hill hotel.

 

Raising the morale of party volunteers who he said carried the weight of candidates and MPPs “on their shoulders,” Mr. McGuinty talked about challenges Ontario faces as it heads into the future.

 

The six bag challenges, he told the supporters are: to be globally competitive, developing renewable energy network, healthcare for seniors, ever-rising living costs, collaborating with the federal government and science and technology renovation.

 

“So, there you have it. Six great challenges of the next 10 years. Challenges we must acknowledge, confront, and overcome. Leadership today demands it. Success tomorrow depends on it,” declared Mr. McGuinty.

 

Although Ontario Liberals had ciriticized PC party for not releasing their platform, now it is Ontario Liberals who are under the fire for waiting till September to release their platform.  Nonetheless, taking a shot at his opponents, Premier McGuinty said “Man, it’s hot out there. It’s so hot the PCs and NDP actually have flip flops on their feet, and not just in their platforms.”

 

As opposed to an image of “the tax man,” Ontario Liberal leader has always presented himself as an individual who believes in family values and moving ahead together as “an Ontario family.”

 

 

“I grew up taking responsibility. That’s what I do. Today, Ontarians need someone who is prepared to take responsibility for our future. Ontario needs a group of men and women who believe in each other and in the potential of our great province. They need strong leadership that calls upon our best, brings us together and lifts us up. They need a political party that is prepared to roll up its sleeves and take responsibility for leading all of us with hope, energy and idealism into the next decade,” he stated.

 

 

 

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Jake Dheer announces candidacy in Ward 5 by-election

Posted on 27 July 2011 by admin

Long time community volunteer, Jake Dheer, registered as a Ward 5 Candidate in the Mississauga by-election on September 19th.    “I want to work for the residents of Ward 5 and be a positive influence on Mississauga Council” said Dheer. “This by-election is about who will respect the taxpayers of this community. The choice is clear. Voters can elect Carolyn Parrish, a professional tax and spend politician who puts personal vanity ahead of the interests of this community or they can elect a fresh face that puts people first.”   “If elected, Parrish will continue to be a polarizing figure on Council and bring things to a standstill while carrying out a personal vendetta against the Mayor and her opponents. She has already wasted more than $6 million of taxpayers money,” he added.  “What this community needs is a Councillor who will put the priorities of this community first. We need to address local issues such as community health, policing and transportation while keeping a sharp eye on taxes,” Dheer pointed out. “My priorities are the communities priorities, not looking down the road to occupy the corner office.”  Jake’s long list of volunteer activities includes having served as Chair of the Mississauga Board of Trade and having held leadership roles on board of numerous local organizations including United Way of Peel, Credit Valley Hospital Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel, Peel Children’s Aid Foundation, Living Arts Centre, University of Toronto Mississauga’s Principal Advisory Council, City of Mississauga’s Economic Development Advisory Council, Heritage Mississauga, Mississauga Chinese Business Association, Mississauga Tourism West Toronto Advisory Board, Interim Place, Mississauga Central Lions Club and Carassauga to name a few.    Recipient of several awards and recognition in the broadcast industry and for his community support, Jake was chosen as Mississauga’s 2005 Citizen of the Year and, in 2009 was the recipient of the prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International, recognizing his contributions to Mississauga.  This year, Jake received the Ted Rogers Innovation Award at the annual Rogers TV’s Impression Awards, recognizing excellence in community television programming.

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Family Immigration

Posted on 27 July 2011 by admin

How much time do we have to wait to see the reunification of numerous families of Canadian taxpaying immigrants?

The solution cannot just be to dealy the sponsorships.  The fact of the whole matter is we as sponsors don’t want to bring over our parents and grandparents to ultimately take advantage of the system.  There is a bigger picture we are focused on, and that is to be together; to fulfill a whole, and complete a family.

 

It seems that the file processing times for family sponsorships have been stalled, or in not so better terms, delayed until further notice.  This won’t be news for many who have patiently waited for an especially long time to hear any update on their loved ones’ visa files.  How much time do we have to wait to see the reunification of numerous families of Canadian taxpaying immigrants?  It almost seems unfair as it is highly significant for a family to be together.  This does not apply to a specific culture or race, as it is universally important that children get the opportunity to see and bond with their grandparents, and parents with their children.  Why, you ask?

They assist in bridging the growing gap in learning about their ancestral culture, traditions, and developing familial values, which wouldn’t come from elsewhere.  It is significant for a child’s development to have the love and closeness of a grandparent, just as it is for a parent.  They would not only invest time to teach and do educational activities, but also play a role of a religious coach.  This time would otherwise be spent watching TV or doing something less beneficial.  We cannot disregard the sponsoring sons and daughters, wishing for a familiarity and guidance of their parents, treading through a different country’s challenges.  As role models they are needed.  Of course, this goes vice versa where the seniors have a right to be with their families, especially during retirement, where they can enjoy their time with their nearest and dearest.

Economically family reunification is just as important. It provides a support system for an individual family, especially in a country where two members have to work to make a comfortable life.  This familial support system is highly misunderstood by many, and appears be called a burden on the government and society.  This is the fear that has caused the processing to freeze. Let’s be realistic.  There’s a positive side and a negative view to everything.  A yin and yang as many would know it.  Why not see the positive sides to unite our families faster?

If families were united, then maybe new mothers would go back to work faster as child care would be taken care of.  Wouldn’t this be a smaller burden on the government, as there would be lesser claims on unemployment?  Many couples do not have the choice to rely on other family members or friends to care for their children while they are at work, so many are forced to stay unemployed.  So, why not place them in daycare?  Not only is this option non-affordable to many, but because of such high volumes of kids in ratio to daycare personnel, children are often overlooked with regard to details such as diet, habits, interaction with others, etc.  On the other side, the day care system would not have to bear such an overload as it does today.

As we know, the general concern is that new- immigrant seniors taking advantage of the health care system.  If this is so, then why not streamline a set of rules and time for them to be able to utilize such services, instead of letting it be a free for all?  Maybe a closer monitoring of citizens and residents, who aren’t actually living in the country and are at par with enjoying the benefits, might create more awareness and trust.  There is a list of proposals to reduce this apprehension, and address the issues.  They just have to be considered.

The solution cannot just be to dealy the sponsorships.  The fact of the whole matter is we as sponsors don’t want to bring over our parents and grandparents to ultimately take advantage of the system.  There is a bigger picture we are focused on, and that is to be together; to fulfill a whole, and complete a family.

By Heetal Patel

Brampton

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War of words between Pakistani politicians

Posted on 27 July 2011 by admin

When leaders engage in war of words, the party activists operate like the drum-beaters, echoing what the leaders have said and, invariably, raising the tempo of confrontation and resorting to violence.

Their leaders should issue a joint appeal for peace and all of them should visit the troubled areas jointly. It is through their joint effort that peace and stability can be ensured and democracy can be saved from collapsing.

 

The city of Karachi is at war with itself for multiple reasons. It seems that ethnic and political conflict is just one cause in a context where, at times, religious-sectarian killings take place. There are a host of criminal elements, especially the drug gangs, land mafia and extortionists who have collected enough weaponry and trained manpower that engages in violence.

If we focus on Balochistan the situation is alarming as kidnapping and bombing and firing incidents take place from time to time.  The separatist Baloch movements targeted non-Baloch residents of Balochistan. A good number of them have been killed and a large number of them have left the province.  The Baloch activists also get killed. Of late, these activists are being kidnapped and then their dead bodies are found after a couple of day which is causing much negative reaction.  Most nationalist leaders accuse the ISI and the MI for such incidents. However, these agencies deny the charges. There is no way to verify any claim but the political circles in Balochistan continue to hold the intelligence agencies responsible for the killings of Baloch activists.

Other problems include the troubled economy, inflation and price hike.  As the month of Ramadan approaches, the prices of food items have been inflated by the shopkeepers, traders and the middle men.  There is hardly any check on them and they get away with high prices.  The federal and provincial governments have announced Ramadan low price package for some food items. However, these goods are available from special sale points where it is not always possible to go. The stocks of such sale points end quickly; new supplies are often delayed.  Instead of providing some food items on lower prices, the federal and provincial governments should control prices in regular markets.

All public services for ordinary citizens are in disarray. There are shortages of gas and electricity. At times, petrol shortages also surface. The railway network is nearing collapse.  Unemployment is another challenge to the state and society.

Pakistan also faces the problems of religious extremism, religious and social intolerance and terrorism. Add to this the problem of corruption that exists at all levels and both at the federal and provincial levels.

Given these problems one would assume that the political parties and leaders would join together to address them so that the problems of the common people are reduced.  Unfortunately this is not the case.  The political leaders make verbal commitments on these issues but they do not do much to solve them.

The opposition parties use these problems to criticize the ruling party and do not extend cooperation for coping with these problems.  Take the example of Karachi, the three major parties, i.e. the PPP, the MQM and the ANP, accuse each other of fomenting trouble in Karachi.  Each party projects itself as innocent, victim of injustice and the defenders of the rights of the people. The other party is described as evil and blamed for violence in Karachi.  Every party expresses grief only at the killing of its workers, not bothering about the deaths in the other party or the ethnic group.

These political developments have increased pessimism in Pakistan about the future of democracy. The major political parties are engaged in futile confrontation and their idiom and discourse is a negation of the principles and spirit of democracy.   The top leaders of the PMLN and the PPP have employed extremely rude idiom against each other. When leaders engage in war of words, the party activists operate like the drum-beaters, echoing what the leaders have said and, invariably, raising the tempo of confrontation and resorting to violence.

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf and the Jamaat-i-Islami separately project them as the alternative to the PPP and the PMLN. Therefore, they hold the PPP and the PMLN  responsible for all ills in Pakistan.  They are dismissive of other political parties. Imran Khan is convinced that his party would knock out the two major parties in the next general elections.  This perspective is hardly shared by serious political observers.

The MQM engaged in bitter verbal fight with the PPP after it left the coalition in the last week of June; the level of violence also increased in Karachi after the MQM decided to quit the Sindh coalition.  Now, it appears that the PPP and the MQM are moving towards reconciliation which is expected to reduce tension in Karachi.

There is no doubt that the performance of the federal government is poor and it does not engender confidence that it will resolve some the major problems of the people.  However, the same can be said about governance issues in Punjab and other provinces. The Sindh government has failed to maintain law and order.

These problems cannot be dealt with only by government’s action. The major political parties, especially those having political standing in Karachi need to think beyond making hard hitting statements.  They should jointly make an effort to maintain peace in Karachi rather than blaming each other for the trouble. Their leaders should issue a joint appeal for peace and all of them should visit the troubled areas jointly. It is through their joint effort that peace and stability can be ensured and democracy can be saved from collapsing.

By Dr. Hasan Askari

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Engineering Sustainability in Toronto: A Chat with Professor Khandaker M. Nurul Habib

Posted on 27 July 2011 by admin

Professor Khandaker M. Nurul Habib

“The provincial regional and provincial engineering certification programs have taken a lot of initiatives to train engineers and make them more competitive for the Canadian job market. I would suggest that newcomer engineers should try to get used to the system here.”

“Engineering is more of the driving force of the economy. The whole economy is run directly and indirectly by engineers. Whether its transportation, infrastructure, products, new inventions, all are results of the engineers. I don’t think there will be any shortage of jobs, there can be ebbs and flows but engineering is not a single branch anymore.”

Toronto is the home of nearly 2.48 million people, and in the bustle of this city, you can meet a pop star one day and a politician the next. But in the midst of the all these people from so many different walks of life, you are sure to come across those who have taken a deep and focused interest in betterment of the city and the environment around us.

 

Professor Khandaker M. Nurul Habib from University of Toronto Engineering is one such person. Professor Habib discussed the situation of Highway 401 on April 19th which remained blocked for nearly 12 hours due to a truck that caught on fire on that day. He suggested designing a “control and rescue system that will minimize the obstruction and helps to divvy the traffic flow to the whole network” and “encouraging people to drive less so the highway is not the only option for transportation”.

 

Professor Habib grew up in Bangladesh in a middle class family of six children. “We were four brothers and 2 sisters; two of my brothers are medical doctors and 2 of us are engineers, one of my sisters is a gynaecologist and the other is a banker”.

 

There seems to be a trend of doctors and engineers and so I ask if there was any pressure from his parents to choose a certain career. Professor Habib tells me that his parents were nothing but encouraging. “We were encouraged to do whatever challenged us and I found engineering most challenging. I love mathematics, more importantly applied mathematics which is engineering, and you get to see how reality is changing.”

 

Habib came to Canada in 2003, with a university scholarship to do his PhD and decided to stay, eventually applying for permanent residency. So what about Canada made him want to stay? “There were a couple of things”, he says, “Number one, I liked the Canadian education system. I found it challenging and competitive, and an even playing field here; I liked the international crowd. All of my colleagues are definitely not Canadian born, almost 80% are immigrants. So it’s an internationally competitive playing field and I enjoy that.”

 

Habib says that growing up in Bangladesh was an inspiration for him to pursue a career in transportation engineering. “I got interested in transportation engineering because I saw how bad the transportation system could be if it’s not properly designed or maintained. Dhaka city has the worst traffic congestion because of many reasons but I was encouraged by the enormous size and complexity of the problem. It is the very reason I have chosen transportation as my specialty and I’m really enjoying the work I’m doing”.

 

As we all know, the University of Toronto has one of the most diverse student bodies, perhaps in the whole world, so I ask Professor Habib of his thoughts on it. “I would say the student population at UofT does reflect the Canadian society, specifically the Toronto, Ontario society. The percentage of Asians and South Asians are huge in number, it reflects the general population of Toronto and specifically South Asians are very high in number in the engineering program”.

 

Some of the readers might be rolling their eyes, thinking of what has almost become a proverb in our South Asian society: You have to become a doctor, lawyer or an engineer. There’s the stereotype that if you are a South Asian parent, you give your children a pick of the three careers, they choose one and live happily ever after. Professor Habib disagrees, “I think there shouldn’t be any pressure. Those types of pressures are prevalent back home because parents normally think about the economic future. Here in Canada its different, whatever subject you’re studying you can do very well in it if you have ambition for it. If the students really don’t like or enjoy the topics and techniques it is definitely not good for them and may lead to poor marks in the future”.

 

And to further erode the stereotype, students of Asian and South Asian background are not infinitely better than others, Habib says. “I think some kind of type-casting is out there, like ‘oh they are South Asians and do well because they work hard’. Well if someone works hard, they will do well. So I found that students of South Asian background are hard working, they are smart people for sure but that doesn’t mean they are smarter than people from other ethnic backgrounds. There shouldn’t be any discrimination. So I don’t think there’s a specific to it, but in general whoever works hard will do well”.

 

Habib is a civil engineer with a special focus on transportation technology. When asked if the engineering field is going be a place to find jobs in the future, he assures me that the field is constantly changing and that there will always be jobs available. “Engineering is more of the driving force of the economy. The whole economy is run directly and indirectly by engineers. Whether its transportation, infrastructure, products, new inventions, all are results of the engineers. I don’t think there will be any shortage of jobs, there can be ebbs and flows but engineering is not a single branch anymore. Traditionally the younger generations are attracted to more challenging areas and we’re expanding, we are seeing many things that we couldn’t even think about before, like information and technology systems as well as new areas like nanotechnology, biomedical science etc., and those things are just emerging and have not been fully explored yet. So I don’t think there will ever be a time when engineers can’t find a job when they are running the whole system”.

 

Speaking of newer fields of engineering, are these going to be the most lucrative branches of engineering in the future? Professor Habib says it is hard to tell because while newer branches of engineering attract newcomers, the older and more foundational branches or engineering such as electrical or mechanical engineering are always going to be necessary. “If you ask me about the most dynamic and new braches I would say nanotechnology and biotechnology. But it doesn’t mean older areas like mechanical or civil or electrical engineering will be obsolete in the future because (a) once you are trained as an engineering in an undergraduate program in any branch, as long as you have some theoretical knowledge in any particular area, you can update yourself and you can change your area to adjust with the demand; (b) engineers are not always just good at calculation and design, but we are very good at managing things too, we learn about applying theoretical knowledge and translating quantitative method, and when engineers can translate those things in economic and financial analyses then they do very good, many entrepreneurs in Canada are from an engineering background. So I don’t think anybody can say any branch of engineering will be dying out and such. The basic demand of general engineering will always be there”.

 

Habib advises newcomers to take advantage of the regional and provincial engineering training and certification programs. “This is true, some immigrants, specifically the middle aged immigrants, find it difficult to cope with and get a particular job. I think the provincial regional and provincial engineering certification programs have taken a lot of initiatives to train engineers and make them more competitive for the Canadian job market. I would suggest that newcomer engineers should try to get used to the system here, its great if they can get some sort of training (lots of engineering colleges and universities provide short term training programs). So getting some education at the local university or college will definitely be the best way for them to get into the job market”.

 

As Professor Habib says himself, things are changing and in the recent years some changes in policy have affected the field of engineering, albeit not directly. “Sometimes the policies of different [political] parties affect our scope of work and research. One example is that the previous government changed the census form; the long form of the census is now voluntary whereas it was mandatory before. It does affect our forecasting capacity because in transportation and civil engineering we use models to forecast future demand. So it’s a technical issue, not a political one. Politics never extends its hands on the professors”.

 

Politics may not extend its reach on professors but professors can surely influence the kind of decisions that policy makers make. “As an educator-researcher, our role is not to develop policy but to allow the policy-makers to make informed decisions. Very specifically, we are involved in developing mathematical models where you can artificially generate what the city will look like in the future. So it helps the policy makers to make a decision knowing the consequences of that in the future. For example, one of the dimensions of our research is sustainability. We want to change our transportation system to one that is sustainable; sustainable means that the system will generate less emission and pollution and at the same time maintain the demand and economic activity of the region. Our ultimate goal is to find the policy that will lead us to find the best and most sustainable transportation system in the future”.

 

As the interview comes to an end, Professor Habib urges Canadians to make more sustainable choices. “My advice or suggestion would be that whenever you decide to use the transportation system, to do it responsibly because it is easy to take your car and burn fuel, but when you drive you don’t know how much pollution you are creating. When you take the transit, you know how good of a thing you are doing. When you are biking and walking, you should know that you are not only helping the system but you are also helping yourself. So I suggest that you be more sustainable in nature in transportation activities. Being a responsible citizen, is not only good for the country but for the whole world that we are degrading day by day”.

 

 

If you are interested in the research that Habib is conducting, be sure to check out his website at http://www.civil.engineering.utoronto.ca/staff/professors/khandker.htm.

By Nazifa Islam

 

 

 

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Canada to revoke citizenship from 1,800 for fraud

Posted on 27 July 2011 by admin

“I’m here to tell those people that Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” Kenney declared.

(Toronto – AP) The Canadian government said it will revoke the citizenship of at least 1,800 people who allegedly used fraudulent means to obtain citizenship status.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said most of those people were counseled by crooked immigration consultants on how to concoct fake proof of residency.

To become a citizen a person is supposed to have lived in Canada for three out of four years.

“Sadly, there is an industry of what we call unscrupulous agents operating around the world who sell advice on how to take advantage of Canada to break our laws,” Kenny said.

Up to now, Canada has successfully revoked citizenship status — usually an arduous process involving lengthy court appeals — from only 66 people.

But Kenney suggested most of the 1,800 won’t contest the revocation since the evidence of fraud is strong and most don’t live in the country full-time.

Kenney said scamming the citizenship system appeals to foreigners who don’t want to live in Canada but want to take advantage of the country’s free health care, subsidized university tuition fees and the security of the Canadian passport.

“I’m here to tell those people that Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” Kenney declared.

The government conducted a two-year investigation into citizenship fraud and the government is in the process of notifying those whose citizenship will be revoked.

While there is public support for immigration, polling shows a limited appetite for increasing immigration levels. An Angus Reid poll published last year reported that in an online survey of a representative sample of 1,007 Canadian adults, 46 percent of respondents believed immigration is having a negative effect in Canada, while 34 percent believed it is having a positive effect.

The nation of 34 million accepted more than 280,000 immigrants last year — the highest total in more than 50 years. For the past decade the country had accepted roughly 250,000 new permanent residents annually. As Canada’s population ages, some have suggested Canada should take in more immigrants. But some argue that immigrants weigh on Canada’s social system and require greater resources to succeed in the country, such as language courses.

 

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