Archive | October, 2012

SICCC: Paving the way for South Indian entrepreneurs…

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

South Indians haven’t got a platform to voice their opinion in trade delegations set up by the Government of Canada.

Many business people want to know if there are any grants or funding available. There actually is, at the federal and provincial level but they don’t know how to get it.

Balan Manian, Vice Chairman South India Chamber of Commerce (SICCC), has been working as a realtor inTorontofor the last 12 years. He studied engineering fromIrelandand worked inEnglandfor nine years as a technical trainer. The young entrepreneur talked to Generation Next’s Asma Aamanat about SICCC’s long term goals and objectives.

What motivated you to join South India Chamber of Commerce?

About eight months back, I was talking to some members of the South India Chamber of Commerce. We realized that there was no representation of entrepreneurs from the South Indian community. The Indian Chamber of Commerce has more concentration of people fromNorth India. Tamil Chamber of Commerce is predominantly Sri Lankan. In all that people from Kerala and Karnataka tend to be bypassed, as people tend to focus on what they are already familiar with. South Indians haven’t got a platform to voice their opinion in trade delegations set up by the Government of Canada.

How many South Indian realtors are in GTA? What’s the volume of business like?

There are more than 100 real estate agents; conservatively we have about 2500 South Indian businesses here. In terms of volume of business, it’s in excess of a million dollars. An average business is doing a business of at least a quarter billion dollars.

Do you think the South Indian community gets left out because of language and culture barrier from the rest of the country?

I don’t think language is an issue; people tend to be more focused on what they know. We get a lot of help from the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC). They’re a big supporter of ours – they’ve been helping us on how to get things going, how to set up trade delegations. South Indian Chamber of Commerce is now trying to pull in the South Indian members to give them a voice.

Now that you’ve opened the South Indian Chamber of Commerce, do you think your members will be open to be members of ICCC any other chambers of commerce?

Absolutely, we want our members to become members of various chambers so that they can network with more members – to develop international relationships.

Looking at your flyer, the aims and objectives seem to be really vague?

Our chamber of commerce focuses on creating a network environment for business people from South Indian primarily; however, we won’t say no to others. We want to develop relationships at the international level. We now have a lot of interest inIndiafromCanada, and we want to build up on those ties.

Have there been any trade missions to South India from Canada?

There’s one that is being organized by the City ofMarkhamin Jan 2013 in association with the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), that that’ll be the first one.

How about from the federal government and the provincial government?

At the provincial level, nothing has happened so far. At federal level, there’s going to be trade mission toIndiain December this year. They are going to the North, but they are taking part in Kerala.

How many members do you have?

Currently, we have an excess of 150 members. Our goal is to have a number of 1000 members by next year, and in about five years time the number should rise to 2000 members.

Is it being really ambitious? Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce is around for quite some time and they have around 1200 members.

There are lots of people here who are not members of any organization. That’s why we want to promote ourselves so that they see us active and how we can benefit them in trade delegations.

But there are lots of people who aren’t members of any organization, because they don’t see any advantage in doing so?

Right now we are about 8 people on the board and about 150 members. Through our members’ interaction we are showing them what can be done. We have a member of parliament Joe Daniel, a member of the Conservative Party who’s originally from Kerala. He’s helping us to get our connections back inIndiaso that our members get some practical help.

Are your members Conservative in their leanings?

I’m a Liberal. We want our organization to represent people – we all work with each other. So we are not really focused in that respect.

What kind of challenges do people face when it comes to setting up businesses?

Many business people want to know if there are any grants or funding available. There actually is, at the federal and provincial level but they don’t know how to get it.

Are they mostly immigrant businessmen or local?

They are mostly new – small ones like import, export, video, food et al. A lot of people come toCanadabut they can’t get work in their field. So they get into entrepreneurship and this is where we come in.

How many women do you think want to start up businesses, and what kind of representation do you have from women in your chamber?

We have about 9 ladies in our setup, who are entrepreneurs themselves. One of them is in publishing, the other in catering and so on. It’s a good mix.

Most South Asian organizations have the same president/board members for many years. How do you ensure that the president is changed every two years?

We want our organization to be robust and growing. Our initial board members are on a term of 4 years. Thereafter they have to change.

Are you more focused on areas like Markham and Scarborough only?

No, we are all over GTA.

As any organization, are you going to support any political party?

We are not going to support any political party, although we do have members from the Conservative party.

What’s your vision for the next 10 years?

Next year, we want to get the trade delegation set up betweenCanadaandIndia. We are part of the Ontario Association of Chambers, and we want them to give us more recognition.

What’s your opinion on the Canada India trade negotiations?

We are encouraged by the developments, it’s all looking positive.

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What is a Sexual Assault?

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

After Toronto Police caught a 15-year-old perpetrator behind sexual assaults in Bloor and Christie area ofToronto, a woman was murdered in aTorontoalley on Tuesday morning.

After the news of sexual assaults broke, women wondered what sexual assault really refers to. Does it include groping, touching women, massaging their breasts in public, or something more serious like rape. The point is not to discount any other disgusting thing that men may do to women, but the idea is to beware women of more serious criminals out there.

We talked to a woman who was groped in public when she was strolling with her aunt. The man came at her from behind, rubbed her breasts from behind, aggressively, stroked her buttocks and ran in a matter of few seconds. At first the aunt didn’t even realize what was happening. By the time the aunt figured what was going on, and screamed, the alleged criminal was running back and all the aunt and the niece could see was his back, running in the opposite direction.

One has to note here that this woman, who is now 29, was only 13 at the time. She remembers the incident very well, from the time of the day to the kind of a dress she was wearing.

The incident was so shocking and embarrassing for both the women that none of them discussed the incident ever again. They also never told anyone at home that a guy had sexually assaulted a 13-year-old. Going to the police with a complaint is a far cry. The psychological implications of the attack in this case are clear, although she wasn’t raped or dragged into a dark, dingy alley. The point is that while rape is an extreme form of sexual assault, groping etc can be as bad as rape for some women.

Many many women, out of shame, do not share such incidents with anyone, not even with close friends or family members.

Given this fact, using an umbrella term of “sexual assault” is not only appropriate, it also creates fear in the minds of those who fantasize about attacking women. Additionally, suggesting thank God! it wasn’t a rape – and just groping – may lead the person to escalate to more serious nature of sexual assaults and even murder.

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“Cultures of the World”

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

Mississauga, ONA Taste of South Asia Gala, an exciting continuation of Big Brothers Big Sisters Cultures of the World passport series, was held at the newly renovated Mississauga Convention Centre on October 19, 2012. The evening came to life at 6:30 pm starting with a cocktail reception followed by a spectacular gala embracing South Asian culture, complete with flavourful food and cultural entertainment.

The community came together to raise over $60,000 to benefit the children and youth in our community who are in need of a mentor. For more information or to volunteer in one of Big Brothers Big Sisters 8 core mentoring programs call 905-457-7288 or visit www.bbbspeel.com.

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Canada announces $ 20 Million to Promote Mental Health

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

In response to a growing challenge of mental illnesses in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, the Canadian government through Grand Challenges Canada, will finance fifteen innovative projects that improve mental health diagnosis and care in the global south.

Grand Challenges Canada through a statement announced that the fifteen projects were selected through a rigorous scientific review from a total of 97 proposals detailing how to increase access, improve treatment and tackle stigma among people with mental disorders in poor countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) contends that globally, 450 million people have mental disorders and an estimated 75% of this number live in developing world.

Experts regret that 80% of people suffering from mental illnesses in the poor south have no access to proper treatment. The Canadian government will foster innovations that improve mental care in resource constrained corners of the globe.

“Global mental health is a significant challenge which left unaddressed could undermine the health, social and economic futures of developing countries,” said Jim Flaherty, the Canadian Minister for Finance.

It is hoped that the fifteen innovative projects in fourteen poor nations will shed light on effective ways to address mental illnesses. Countries ravaged by conflicts, poverty and natural disasters, key triggers for mental disorders, will benefit from the new funding.

According to a statement, Afghanistan, Haiti and Pakistan, epicenters of conflicts and deprivation, are targeted in the new funding to scale up interventions that address mental health of vulnerable population.

“It is estimated that 50% of Afghanis over 15 years of age are suffering from mental health problems-depression, anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder,” noted the statement.

The funding from Grand Challenges Canada will however support improved awareness of mental health problems in rural areas of Afghanistan through simple technologies such as text messages, web-based tools and teleconferencing to enable community health workers reach patients in need.

Improving care for children with autism and intellectual disability in Pakistan will be focus of the new funding while in Haiti; emphasis will be on expanding access to mental care in rural areas.

Sub-Saharan African countries including Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe will benefit from the Canadian grant to help implement projects that addresses mental health for women, youth and children. Treating severe post war mental disorders in Uganda and Liberia will be prioritized in the new funding. Grand Challenges Canada added that the grant will be channeled towards programs that address dementia in Nigeria alongside youth depression in Malawi and Zambia.

In Kenya, the Canadian grant will boost mental health care for children and help scale up screening for alcohol and substance abuse, responsible for alarming levels of mental illnesses among the youth.

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Indo-Canadian activist and columnist Balwant Sanghera receives Queen’s Jubilee Medal

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

RICHMOMD – Indo-Canadian community activist and LINK columnist Balwant Sanghera is among a number of Canadians being recognized across Canada with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Sanghera immigrated to Canada from India in 1966. He obtained his M. Ed. From UBC, and then spent 17 years as an educator in Lillooet and 5 years in Hudson Hope before accepting a position as school psychologist with the Burnaby School District in1990.

As part of his assignment, Sanghera worked as part of a multidisciplinary team at the Maples Adolescent Centre in Burnaby. He retired in 2004 after serving in BC’s public school system for 36 years in various capacities. Sanghera is also past President of the Richmond Multicultural Concerns Society. He is currently President of the Punjabi Language Education association of BC, President of the East Richmond Community Association, chairperson of the South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence and is a former member of the Board of Directors of VIRSA, the Sikh Alliance Against Youth Violence, former member of City of Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee and the Multifest Committee of the Cambie Community Centre as well as being a member of the Board of Variance of the City of Richmond. His previous community appointments include Senator of Simon Fraser University for 7 years, Vice Chairman and Board Member of Langara College for 5 years and Councilor in Lillooet for 13 years. He has served as member and chairperson of the BC Teachers Federation’s Committee of Ombudspersons for ten years Sanghera has a long history of active participation in his community and has served on the boards of numerous organizations and has volunteered his time for many community initiatives. He is also a recipient of the 2002 Queen’s Jubilee Medal for his service to the community and in June 2004, he was awarded the Order of British Columbia. In 2005, Balwant was chosen as one of the top 10 citizens in Richmond. In 2006, Balwant was awarded the Pride of India award by India International Friendship Society. Later on, he was awarded the Glory of India award in 2007.

Sanghera was identified as one of 100 Indo-Canadians of influence in BC by The Vancouver Sun newspaper. He was also honoured as one of Top 25 Canadian Immigrants for 2010 by the Canadian Immigrant magazine. In 2011, Sanghera was awarded the Solicitor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Crime Prevention and Community Safety by BC’s Attorney General and Solicitor General Shirley Bond. He has just been chosen to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal .

The medal will be presented to Sanghera on November 10 at a special ceremony presided over by his Member of Parliament, Alice Wong in Richmond.

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Competition from emerging economies means the Government must act now – Flaherty

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, has introduced in Parliament Bill C-45, the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012. The Act implements key initiatives from Economic Action Plan 2012 to help grow Canada’s economy, fuel job creation and secure Canada’s long-term prosperity.

“With Canada achieving one of the strongest economic performances in the G-7 and over 820,000 net new jobs created since July 2009, our Government is on the right track for the Canadian economy and Canadian families,” said Minister Flaherty. “However, the global economy remains fragile, especially in Europe and the United States. That’s why we remain focused on supporting the economy with our pro-growth Economic Action Plan 2012.”

The proposed Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 will bolster Canada’s economy and help improve communities across Canada with initiatives that build a strong economy and create jobs; support families and communities; promote clean energy and enhance neutrality of the tax system; and respect taxpayers’ dollars.

Build a strong economy and create jobs by:

-Extending for one year the job-creating Hiring Credit for Small Business, which benefitted nearly 534,000 employers last year
-Promoting interprovincial trade
-Improving the legislative framework governing Canada’s financial institutions
-Facilitating cross-border travel
-Removing red tape and reducing fees for Canada’s grain farmers
-Supporting Canada’s commercial aviation sector

Support families and communities by:

-Improving Registered Disability Savings Plans
-Helping Canadians save for retirement by implementing the tax framework for Pooled –Registered Pension Plans
Improving the administration of the Canada Pension Plan
-Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012

Promote clean energy and enhance neutrality of the tax system by:

-Expanding tax relief for investment in clean energy generation equipment
-Phasing out tax preferences for the mining and oil and gas sectors

Respect taxpayers’ dollars by:

-Taking landmark action to ensure the pension plans for Members of Parliament, Senators and federal public sector employees are sustainable, financially responsible, and broadly consistent with the pension products offered by other jurisdictions as well as fair relative to those offered in the private sector
-Closing tax loopholes
-Eliminating duplication

“Ongoing global economic turbulence and competition from emerging economies mean the Government must act now to build a stronger economy,” said Minister Flaherty. “Delaying needed economic and fiscal reforms would only serve to lead Canada down the same road as the troubled European and U.S. economies.”

Ontario Ahead of Target on Lowering Deficit – Duncan

The deficit projection for the current fiscal year has improved by more than $400 million from the 2012 Budget forecast to $14.4 billion. The province remains on track to meet the 2012 Budget deficit targets in 2013-14 and 2014-15 and for the deficit to be eliminated by 2017-18.

“Despite ongoing global economic uncertainty, Ontario is ahead of its targets for lowering the deficit for the fourth year in a row. We will work with anyone who is willing to work with us to meet the objectives of eliminating the deficit and protecting jobs and public services,” stated Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan.

Ontario is projecting growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.0 per cent in 2012, 1.9 per cent in 2013, 2.3 per cent in 2014 and 2.4 per cent in 2015.

As of September 2012, Ontario employment was 356,000 net new jobs above its recessionary low in June 2009. Ontario is expected to create nearly 350,000 net new jobs by 2015, reducing the unemployment rate to 6.8 per cent from a high of 9.4 per cent in June 2009.

The fiscal plan provides no funding for incremental compensation increases for new collective agreements. The government is currently consulting on draft legislation that proposes to freeze compensation for executives and managers across the Ontario Public Service, and the Broader Public Sector (BPS) who are eligible for performance pay. It also proposes to ensure future BPS collective agreements are consistent with the province’s goals to eliminate the deficit and protect jobs and public services. The proposed draft legislation would support avoiding increased spending in the BPS of $2.8 billion over three years and help to protect roughly 55,000 public sector jobs.

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Supporting students before they drop out

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

At the University of Ottawa, researcher Ross Finnie has been experimenting with a custom-tailored, low-cost statistical model that can identify the students most likely to abandon their studies and offer them help as soon as possible. “This could turn around a lot of lives,” said Dr. Finnie, an economist who studies postsecondary education. “I think the institutions agree they have to be more proactive.”

Governments are pressing institutions to improve student retention as a way of creating a more educated work force, with Ontario’s government pledging to raise the percentage of Ontarians with a postsecondary credential to 70 per cent. Dr. Finnie and research associate Stephen Childs used simple data schools already have to predict which students will be at risk and tested it using an anonymous cohort of students from UOttawa, where graduation rates range from 63 to 99 per cent across various programs. Scrutinizing basic background factors such as whether a student is male and from out of town, they accurately identified 30 per cent of dropouts; tabulating high school marks zeroed in on 35 per cent; and adding first-term marks from university or college correctly tagged 45 per cent of students who left early.

Combining these factors makes the prediction more accurate, and adding answers from a survey asking questions such as “How are you doing?” and “Is your program a good fit for you?” could make the model even stronger. The first school to pilot Dr. Finnie’s model is Hamilton’s Mohawk College, where more than a quarter of students drop out before their second year. The school plans to use Dr. Finnie’s predictions to identify incoming students as either college ready, under-prepared or at risk, and approach them with customized levels of support.

Dalhousie University invites students with average marks below 60 per cent to Back on Track with an e-mail at the start of each term, but the school’s advisers have to wait for students to register low grades. And last fall, only 32 of 343 students contacted accepted the offer.

Some schools are trying their own experiments. The University of Guelph telephones students for informal checkups, and invites first-year students whose marks lag to Bounce Back, a voluntary mentoring program. Those who joined were 10 per cent more likely to stay in school and increased their grade point averages 5 per cent in the following semester, while those who didn’t saw little improvement.

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PMS may be a myth: Study

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is widely used to explain mood swings, food cravings and crying spells that women sometimes experience shortly before their menstrual cycle. But a brave group of female researchers have debunked that idea – and it is sure to set off a firestorm among women who believe their emotional state is more fragile in the days before their period than what the medical evidence suggests. “Women might actually admit to being in a bad mood for good reasons at other times of the month,” said Professor Gillian Einstein, one of the study’s authors and the director of the collaborative graduate program in Women’s Health at the University of Toronto.

The researchers don’t debate the physical symptoms – bloating, breast tenderness and stomach pains – linked with menstruation. Nor do they look into premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a controversial and uncommon extreme form of PMS. But a review of the literature, which came down to 47 in-depth studies, revealed that only 14 per cent of them found an association between negative mood and the premenstrual phase. The research was published last week in the journal Gender Medicine. Some women are already showing their displeasure with the findings. “Who are a small group of scientists to tell us how we feel?” asked Elissa Stein, New York-based co-author of the book Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation. “I bring my own personal experience to the equation. How can you say there is no such thing?”

Stein said PMS is treated as a joke; it is a way of dismissing a woman’s emotions and behaviour. “That’s really detrimental to women,” Stein said. Gynecologist Dr. Dustin Costescu-Green fears the study could be a slippery slope where the medical community does not fully appreciate the symptoms women are experiencing. He said that researching a large group of women, as opposed to reviewing the literature, would make for a more robust study. “My concern is that … women who are finding that their mood is impacting on them, they’re not going to come forward because now we have a paper that says this isn’t a real problem,” said Costescu-Green, a contraceptive advice, research and education fellow at Queen’s University.

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Happy Navratri

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

Ontario Soccer Association in Vaughan was a sight of Garba celebrations on Oct 20th. Men, women, and children dressed in traditional dresses celebrated Navratri with great deal of zeal. Navratri is a very important and major festival in the western state of Gujarat and Mumbai, during which the traditional dance of Gujarat called ‘Garba’ is widely performed. This festival is celebrated with great zeal in North India as well including Bihar, West Bengal and the northern state of Punjab.

The festival at Ontario Soccer Association was organized by Swar Sadhana Music School. More information about the school can be found at www.swarsadhana.ca.

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How Will the Next Government Form a Coalition?

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

By Dr. Hasan Askari

Lahore

  Pakistan is gradually moving towards new general elections. The term of the National Assembly will expire on March 18, 2013 and the Provincial Assemblies will complete their term of life within two-three weeks after that. Some political leaders have suggested that the PPP should declare the state of emergency and extend the tenure of the National Assembly by one year by a vote in the National Assembly. This is not expected to happen because it will increase the political problems of the People’s Party and it would find it extremely difficult to rule for the extended term. Such a decision will also be challenged in the Supreme Court and given the anti-federal government mood of the Supreme Court, the PPP government may face embarrassment there. Further, the constitution does not specifically talk of extension of tenure of the provincial assemblies.

 The PPP and its allies want to improve their performance in the last five months of their tenure. They want to focus especially on reducing electric power cuts by the end of the year. However, there are hardly any signs that the federal government can show any major success in its socio-economic field and power generation.

 The PMLN’s Punjab government wants to complete the much publicized transport project inLahoreby the end of December so that it adds this project to its achievement list for the next elections. The PMLN is also working hard to neutralize Imran Khan’s appeal to youth.

 ThePakistanTehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) is engaged in political mobilization. TheSouth Waziristanmarch was the latest attempt to draw attention towards the PTI and project itself as the most vibrant party. After having done a series of public meeting in major cities, now it will resort to more public marches for political support building.

 A good number of political leaders are exploring different political parties for getting the party ticket. The main focus is on three political parties, the PPP, the PMLN and the PTI. The PMLQ of the Chaudhris of Gujrat will contest elections in partnership with the PPP but it is unilaterally given election ticket. This can create complications between the PPP and the PMLQ.

  Pakistan’s political scene is taking an interesting turn in terms of political orientations of the competing political parties. The situation on the centre-to-the left of the political spectrum seems somewhat orderly. The PPP occupies the leading position, followed by the MQM and the ANP. The PMLQ is expected to stay with the coalition. These parties have uneasy relationship with one another but they will lose if they splinter. The MQM and the ANP are strong in their respective provinces but both face challenges from Islamic political parties, i.e. the Sunni Tehrik inKarachiand JUIF and the PTI in Khyber-Pakhtunkwha.

 The political scene on the Right of the Center to extreme-right and Islamist orientations appears to be crowded and confused. There are a host of political parties that are expected to appeal to similar voters. The PMLN leads this side of the political spectrum but it faces challenge in thePunjabfrom Imran Khan’s PTI. The Jamaat-i-Islami will also pull some votes from amongst those being sought by the PMLN and the PTI. As the Jamaat has an image problem, a good number of people with Islamist orientations are expected to opt for the PMLN and the PTI.

  Islamic political parties are attempting to set up an electoral alliance. It appears that they may not create one all-embracing alliances. The Jamaat-i-Islami is trying to create its own alliance. The JUI-F and some smaller parties want to revive the old MMA (minus the Jamaat). Two other alliances are likely to contest elections: The Sunni Tehrik and the Defa-i-Pakistan Council.

  The PMLN is quietly negotiating with small Islamic-sectarian groups, especially the Ahle-Sunnet-Wal-Jamaat party, formerly the Sipah-i-SahabaPakistan, for seat adjustment. It may try to collect smaller groups around it to weaken the position of the PTI.

 The urban Sindh is dominated by the MQM, although other contenders, including the PTI, would challenge the MQM’s traditional dominance. In the rural areas, there is a noticeable alienation from the PPP. It is difficult to suggest who will benefit and to what extent. The nationalist groups are endeavouring to offer them as an alternative to the PPP. The PML-Functional is hoping to bag more seats. The PMLN has also engaged in mobilization in interior Sindh. However, its success in the interior depends on the standing of its Sindhi candidate rather than the PMLN and its leadership.

  Balochistan continues to be divided among Sardars, politically active ethnicity based groups and political parties. Its electoral results are expected to be divided unless Sardar Akhtar Mengal and others return to active politics and create political alliances with mainstream political parties.

 The real political picture will start becoming clear in January-February 2013. The Party manifesto will be ready by that time. It appears at this stage that no party will get a clear majority in the National Assembly. As more parties are competing now, the National Assembly may be more divided than the present one. It would be a hard task to create a post-election ruling coalition. Whosoever is able to do that will be the real winner.

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