Archive | May, 2013

Lucky to be paired opposite Salman Khan, says Jacqueline Fernandez

Posted on 29 May 2013 by admin

MuMBAI: Actress Jacqueline Fernandez, who has been paired opposite Salman Khan in upcoming film `Kick`, says it is a dream come true to work with the “biggest star in Bollywood.” The ex-Sri Lankan beauty queen, who featured this year in `Race 2`, will be seen romancing Salman on-screen in the action flick to be helmed by Sajid Nadiadwala, who will also be making his directorial debut with the film. “It is like a dream come true for me.

Salman is the biggest thing in Bollywood. I feel lucky,” Jacqueline said at an event here today. `Kick` is remake of a 2009 Telugu hit of the same name. It goes on the floors in July and is expected to hit theatres on Eid next year. “It is too early to talk about the film. It would be better if Sajid Nadiadwala reveals other details,” said the 28-year-old who made her Bollywood debut in 2009.

Jacqueline was also part of last year`s films like `Housefull 2`, a comedy film directed by Sajid Khan.

She has also signed Sajid Khan`s next film but was not willing to share details about it. Jacqueline also appeared reluctant to talk about her reported break-up with Sajid Khan.

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Madhuri Dixit enthralled guests at Jhalak’s press conference

Posted on 29 May 2013 by admin

But what came across as a pleasant surprise was Karan Johar’s gig to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’s Senorita at the press conference of Colors’ Jhalak Dikhhlaa Jaa. The participants performed too, as they were introduced to the audience. Apart from Drashti Dhami, Siddharth Shukla and Karanvir Bohra, Meghna Malik, Aarti Chhabria, Ekta Kaul, Shweta Tiwari, Lauren Gottlieb, singer Shaan and the winners of India’s Got Talent 4 Sonali Majumdaar and Majru Sumnath. Also seen were Colors CEO Raj Nayak and Manisha Sharma.

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Zindagi 50-50

Posted on 29 May 2013 by admin

It doesn’t matter what the intent of the film-maker is, if the execution fails to live up to the concept altogether. Zindagi 50-50 aspires to stress on the dilemmas of the lower middle class inhabitants of Mumbai. That significant aspect however takes a backseat as the film resorts to sex and sleaze to get the point across. In order to attract the masses, besides the ample skin show, dialogues are loaded with sexual innuendo, all of which is unnecessary. As a result, you do not empathise with any of the lead characters of the film. Why these people do the things they do is not clear either. Portrayal of women as mere victims of lecherous men in power is hard to buy.

Madhuri (Veena Malik) is a sex worker, who knows she is the best in the business. She does not regret anything until she finds solace in Birju ( Rajan Verma). Birju is married to righteous Rupa (Supriya Kumar) whose world revolves around her husband. Naina (Riya Sen) is a junior artist who aspires to be a lead heroine. How far can you go to realise your ambition, forms the story. The film is full of clichés and topics that have been addressed in movies a billion times before. As the film ends, you wonder if the filmmaker justifies adultery, prostitution and exploitation of women in general, including the casting couch. You also wonder if there is an under lying message in the film, which hints that a woman needs to sleep around to get ahead in life! The lewdness in dialogues and scenes puts you off. Veena Malik is confident. The role offers her huge scope to pout, swear profusely and show off her body.

She does it wholeheartedly, thus doing complete justice to her role. Supriya Kumar gets a meatier role and she enacts it well. Riya Sen has nothing much to do. Rajpal Yadav is wasted. toh Se Naina, a song sung by Rekha Bharadwaj is beautiful and probably the only good thing about the movie.

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HERSH SEHDEV: Championing in community health

Posted on 22 May 2013 by admin

‘Health is not just absence of illness…’

‘Health is about the ability to reach your full potential. Domestic violence too is considered a health issue, because it is something that impacts the body.”

 

DIVYA KAELEY

 Hersh Sehdev was all of 22 and just married when she arrived in Canada in 1977. A protected childhood spent in Kolkata and Delhi, with a convent education at institutions like Loreto and Lady Irwin, Hersh braced for a new life ahead in Canada with a supportive and an encouraging husband.

The executive director of Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC), Hersh Sehdev is today responsible for community building and providing care to the disadvantaged populations in Kingston, Nappanee and surrounding area. Community building came naturally to her, as she gained experience from South Riverdale CHC, the United Way of Greater Toronto, Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre, YWCA Toronto and Unicef India. With several research publications under her belt, Hersh is a veteran in the field of multiculturalism and health care, counseling, community building and health care planning.

“I would describe my 36 years of journey as interesting,” says Hersh smilingly. After her initial equivalency from Ryerson, a stint as a dietician, Hersh went to University of Toronto to study Masters in community health. “I think I was the only non-white person in my class,” she reflects. “The environment outside was different. Toronto was much more ‘white’ those days; and there were incidents of racism.” But in spite of that, “I met people who looked beyond my skin colour. They met someone who had a degree here and could speak English.”

But after doing her Masters, Hersh went through the same travails of finding a job. “It wasn’t easy to get a job here, because I didn’t have any Canadian experience.” She decided that she just didn’t want to be “that Indian girl”. “I didn’t want any labels on me. I just didn’t want to stick to my Indian community.” While doing her Masters, she started volunteering at different places. “I had a small child to take care of but I went beyond the family pressures and was out and about. There was a hunger in me to learn and grow. May be this was my spirituality, I wanted to do my best and wanted to be myself,” she tells us.

In 1981-82, Hersh landed with a research project on health and eventually wrote a book on multiculturalism and community health. The book was published in 1985. Hersh became the first director of Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Center and came across cases of domestic violence on an everyday basis. As she points out, “For women to flourish, they have to be economically independent.” Health is a broadly defined term – “it’s not just absence of illness in the body. Health is about the ability to reach your potential.” In her opinion, violence too is considered a health issue. As a health care organization, “violence is something that impacts the body”. Besides this, South Asian community has huge health issues – they have problems with cardiovascular diseases and they lack exercise. “But the bigger issue is how we see ourselves as members of a larger community. The question is: how do we raise our children, and what expectations do we have from ourselves?”

Hersh sits on the Association of Ontario Health Centres’ Strategy Group and Performance Management Committee. In the past, she has been a part of the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty, the Planning Advisory of the Ontario Early Year’s Centres and a board member of the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto to name a few. She is a recipient of the International Women’s Day Award (2011) and the Ontario Medical Association’s Community Services Award (2012).

Hersh and her family are followers of Sikhism; her husband and sons wear turbans but, as she points out “we are very modern in our approach”. There are children of immigrants who lead a dual life. “Children of immigrants face a tougher time than immigrants themselves. Our children are always struggling with their identities.” In some cases, there is a rapport among family members and so people talk. In some cases there isn’t. “We need to be with our children. We need to face challenges of parenting our children in a dual-culture society,” she says.

Coming to Canada and settling here all over again can be quite a challenging task for many. “You need to be prepared once you come here, especially if one is immigrating in his 30s or 40s,” says Hersh, citing the story of her brother who faced a hard time settling here. It, therefore, becomes important “to get out and mingle with people outside your community, getting your language right and learning all the soft skills for employment purposes”. Indians are smart people, she says. “But sometimes we get sucked into our comfort zone – I too need my Indian parties, my visits to the gurdwara, but I also need to be out there in the community. I’ve chosen my Canada as my home, so I push myself out a little bit.”

Hersh’s decribes her journey as “bumpy in the start, but smooth later”. Climbing to the top wasn’t an easy ride either she faced her share of discrimination. “I’ve been called a Paki b***h on the streets and several other things.” But she ultimately met some excellent people who saw beyond her race. “You just need that one break for things to start rolling.”

Hersh feels blessed to have children who share a brilliant relationship with their parents; it’s a “democratic household”. She advises on the importance of children expressing themselves, albeit respectfully.

Today she is the CEO of KCHC, but she still wants to push the envelope – she wants to do more writing, spend time with her grand children and take up issues of women and the South Asian elderly. “Our elderly are suffering. I want to do something in that direction,” she signs off.

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Pakistan’s election – Freedom or Fragmentation?

Posted on 22 May 2013 by admin

The concerns raised prior to the election about vote rigging and electoral fraud appear to have been validated by evidence of widespread vote rigging. These elections were by no means “free and fair”. Although disappointing, this was not unexpected. However what was different this time was that the media was on hand to capture images of blatant rigging and transmit them worldwide. This has led to a huge debate about electoral fraud and although international observers estimate rigging to have affected 10% of the vote, the actual figure is probably significantly higher. 

The judiciary has been woefully silent on this issue and the Election Commission of Pakistan has not acted as swiftly and comprehensively as it ought to have done. However, what is refreshing is the debate and scrutiny which is being applied by the media and in particular the courage of journalists in revealing what went on in spite of open threats to their safety. This is something which could never have happened previously. The public reaction to this has been surprising too. Whereas in the past, people did not dare to question the results, we now have people taking to the streets peacefully to demand that action is taken against the fraud and re-counting is underway is some areas. 

Though not widely reported in the international media, there are huge demonstrations and sit-ins going on in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and many other cities where many people feel their votes were stolen. Moreover, when one looks at those demonstrating, it is not the poor but rather middle and upper-middle class men, women and children who have come out in droves to fight not only for their rights but more so for the rights of the downtrodden, poorer classes who are seldom if ever heard. This is something which I have not previously seen in Pakistan and did not expect. This compassion and empathy is a positive sign for the future social cohesion and wellbeing of the country.

The challenges that lie ahead for the in-coming government are huge; crippling energy shortages, corruption, poverty, law and order breakdown, a broken health system, a rapidly growing gap between rich and poor, debt, terrorism, growing unemployment, sectarianism, attacks against minorities, and foreign policy issues such as the US drone strikes. Yet, in spite of the rigging, violence, intimidation and usual chaos which seem to be part and parcel of Pakistan’s precarious political situation, what is emerging is a greater awareness and willingness to act amongst the public and to no longer be subjugated.

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thecolumnists/2013/05/shazia-ovaisi-pakistans-election-freedom-or-fragmentation.html

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Kenney: Getting Ready to Tackle Citizenship Application Delays

Posted on 22 May 2013 by admin

By Staff Writer

The next big item on Mr. Kenney’s agenda is to improve the process of citizenship for permanent residents who have applied for citizenship, said Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism in an interview with Generation Next.

Currently it takes about 23 months for a citizenship application to be processed.

Minister Kenney said “it’s a next big problem I have to tackle .. It is a problem I recognize that.”

On South Asian radio channels, immigration consultants routinely claim that almost 90 per cent of citizenship applicants in the community are being given out residence questionnaires (RQ), delaying the process of getting Canadian citizenship even further. Residence questionnaires are being given to people where CIC officers may have concerns about an applicant’s residency in Canada.

Minister Kenney explains that “ 12 per cent citizenship applicants are being given a residence questionnaire .. [it’s] Not based on region and country people come from but their individual circumstances.”

Applicants’ individual circumstances make it difficult for CIC to give processing times in cases where a residence questionnaire has been given.

Nonetheless Minister Kenney rejects that one community gets more RQs than the other.

“What the consultant said is complete rubbish,” the Minister stated.

The inadequacy of Foreign Worker Program (FWP) has been apparent after Royal Bank of Canada’s debacle. In Canada, economists suggest that for every one job, there are six unemployed Canadians, yet unemployment rate is high especially among college and university graduates. In addition to this Canada has to prepare for labour shortages as baby boomers retire in the next few years.

Given the aging population and economic needs of our country, how challenging is it to strike just the right balance, we asked Minister of Immigration.

“It’s a huge challenge” Minister Kenney says. He says that Canada has to have a certain demographics that contributes to the economy, new immigrants have to be connected with the jobs they have come to Canada for and “ then there are political pressures.”

In addition to this, diverse communities of Canada require different things from Canada’s immigration system. Minister Kenney shares that in Italian community, for example, greater emphasis is on young Italians to be able to come to Canada and work given the very high unemployment rate in Italy. This community does not care so much about parental and grandparental sponsorship. However the South Asian community is very focused on parental sponsorshipsand not so much on skilled worker program.

In the aftermath of arrest of two terror suspects who planned to kill thousands of Canadians travelling via VIA trains, the Canadian government was unable to deport one of the suspects who was in an out of the system because he was ‘stateless.’

Raed Jaser was allegedly working illegally under several aliases when he was arrested in August, 2004, on an outstanding immigration warrant. CIC officials wanted to deport him because he had a string of criminal convictions but were ordered to set him free after two days.

Minister Kenney is looking to change the citizenship law in a way that serious criminals and terrorists cannot obtain the privilege of Canadian citizenship, he told Generation Next.

MP Devinder Shory has introduced a Private Member’s Bill that if passed will allow the Government to revoke citizenship of those who are guilty of terrorism and serious crimes.

In case of Raed Jaser, the Government was “ unable to get travel documents. This is a difficult problem.” for which CIC is seeking legal solutions. Minister Kenney is aware that if the plot was successful “thousands of Canadians won’t accept me mumbling about legal issues,” and “ the Government’s highest priority is public safety.”

In response to Minister Kenney’s reopening of family class program, the Opposition is claiming that the Government is trying to keep families apart.

“Over 20% of Canadians were born abroad. For these Canadians, Conservatives are making family reunification a more distant dream than ever,” said NDP Critic for Citizenship and Immigration Jinny Sims (Newton – North Delta). “Minister Kenney’s harmful proposal means it would cost you more to even apply to reunite with your parents or grandparents – and two decades of full financial responsibility for their care if they come. And that’s only if you happen to be one of the lucky 5,000 whose applications will be accepted next year. Families deserve better.”

Nonetheless,Minister Kenney stresses that if the Government hadn’t taken the step of pausing the process temporarily, the backlog for sponsoring parents and grandparents would have increased to 2.5 million applications. He says there are only two ways to reduce the backlog and the Government adopted those measures to reunite families in a timely manner. He also notes that Canadian taxpayers should not have had to pay for elderly parents’ and grandparents’ subsidized housing or welfare costs if sponsoring families were unable to do so.

Kenney’s new rules will increase the minimum income requirement for sponsoring a parent or grandparent by 30%, double the sponsorship undertaking period from ten to twenty years, and reduce the maximum age of a dependent to 18.

“The Conservatives think family reunification should be a luxury only for those who can afford it,” said NDP’s Deputy Critic for Citizenship and Immigration Sadia Groguhé. “We don’t trust this Minister – who has already seriously mismanaged the temporary foreign worker program – to act in the best interests of Canadian families. This surprise move is further proof that Canadians shouldn’t trust the minister, either.”

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Harper Government Continues to Deepen Canada-India Partnership

Posted on 22 May 2013 by admin

A Canada-India trade agreement would create new jobs and opportunities for workers and small and medium-sized businesses

May 17, 2013 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport), met today in Brampton, Ontario, with members of the Indo-Canadian business community to highlight the benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of an ambitious Canada-India comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA). The event’s hosts were the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce and the Brampton Board of Trade.

“With SMEs accounting for more than 99 percent of companies in Canada, our government understands the crucial role that these businesses play in generating jobs, growth and prosperity in every region of our country,” said Minister Fast. “That’s why we continue to work hard to open new markets for our exporters in the largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the world, including India.”

To date, the Canada-India trade negotiations have undergone seven official rounds. A CEPA would benefit Canadian workers and SMEs by eliminating or reducing tariffs on goods, cutting red tape and facilitating trade in services. Canada has identified core economic opportunities in India in the energy, agriculture, infrastructure and education sectors.

“Further fuelling Canada’s growing trade with India are our strong people-to-people ties,” said Minister Gosal. “Nearly one million Canadians of Indian descent enrich our communities in cities and towns across Canada, and our government is committed to utilizing these strong links to build a partnership that will lead to new opportunities and new sources of prosperity in both countries.”

In less than six years, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In addition to India, Canada is engaged in negotiations with large, dynamic and fast-growing markets such as the European Union, Japan and the countries that comprise the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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What Canadians Can Learn from Pakistani Voters?

Posted on 22 May 2013 by admin

Hopefully, we as Canadians can further appreciate our privileges and rights upon looking at what Pakistanis have gone through over the past few weeks.

Badri Murali

Toronto

Pakistan has just undergone a major election in the past week. The country voted to elect members to the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakthunkhwa, and saw an unprecedented interest from young Pakistanis. Former cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan, of the Pakistan Tehrek-I-Insaf Party had a message of justice and change to the political system. Khan was challenging the rule of the Muslim National League, headed by Nawaz Sharif, as well as the Pakistan People’s Party co-chaired by Asif Ali Zardari and his son, Bilawl Zardari.

Mohsin Ali Syed, a young Pakistani who worked at a polling station in Karachi, spoke about the election and the role youth played.

“We are more than aware of our country’s problems, just like the entire world seems to be. Now, we as the next generation of Pakistanis are looking forward to the Naya [new] Pakistan, one that will hopefully be rid of the evils present now,” Syed said.

Even though there were high hopes with this election, there were many problems apparent. In Karachi especially, there have been widespread reports of stuffing ballot boxes, intimidation by thugs, and other discrepancies. Syed says that there should have been a lot more done by the government and armed forces to prevent the errors from taking place.

“We were told ahead of voting day that the army would be stationed outside each polling station to ensure that the job would be done honestly and efficiently, but they were not there at all. Many media don’t want to report this, but everyone in Karachi knows that the MQM, headed by Adnan Hussein, has a stranglehold of the city. They know that many people are tired of them, and would vote for something different. They sent out thugs to terrorize voters and workers like me,” Syed said.

Despite all of this, Syed was clear that Pakistanis would take to the streets again and again to make it known that what happened was not right.

“If we don’t speak out, who else will? To sit at home as an entire population and not do anything is a collective wrong, and that is the worst possible thing to do. If we want change and a better future, we have no choice but to take these kinds of risks,” Syed said.

Khan was the first to address youth heavily in his speeches and online forums, but he was not the only one to do so. While Khan’s message was the loudest in a crowded political stage, Sharif also emphasized his party’s achievements; however, Sharif and the PMLN, focused on youth in Punjab by addressing families and what was needed for families to sustain themselves, managing to secure the majority of votes there.

Asad Sayeed, a politics expert and a member of the Karachi based think tank Collective for Social Science Research, explains why even though Khan was popular with youth, it was Sharif who ultimately bested him.

“Yes, a lot of urban middle class youth support Khan, but those from poorer families voted who they felt would best deliver their platform. Khan’s platform was very anti-elitist, and almost anti-political, for someone entering politics, and he might have gotten caught in that,” Sayeed said.

“I hope that youth in other parts of the world can learn from our problems. Yes, we have more problems than solutions, but in order to change, we have no choice but to look at the solution. Never waste the rights you are entitled to, because you never know when they can be taken away” Syed said.

Although the PTI did not perform as they had hoped to, a message was definitely sent out to the Pakistan Muslim League, headed by Nawab Sharif (the victor). In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI won most of the seats in that assembly, and have promised to “make it a model for the entire nation to follow”.

In Canada, where apathy is prevalent amongst a large amount of citizens (especially youth), it is important to look at a country like Pakistan and look at the impact of their young citizens. If their youth can be so optimistic about their future in a country with so many problems, why can’t we? Are we getting threatened if we go out to vote? Do we have to wait in scorching heat for hours, to cast a vote that may or may not get tampered with later on? Hopefully, we as Canadians can further appreciate our privileges and rights upon looking at what Pakistanis have gone through over the past few weeks.

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Highest number of Indian-origins in Canada

Posted on 22 May 2013 by admin

At nearly 4% of its population, Canada hosts the highest percentage of residents of Indian origin in the Western world, according to data published on Wednesday by Statistics Canada based on the country’s 2011 National Household Survey. Significantly, for the first time, those who identified themselves as being of East Indian origin crossed the one million mark, with the number reaching 11,65,145. This is an increase of over 21% in the category compared to figures for the 2006 Census. However, even those numbers do not completely reflect the total population of Indian origin in Canada since several respondents chose categories like Bengali, Tamil, Gujarati, Goan and Punjabi, which would mostly be considered of Indian origin. Estimates based on the data place the percentage of people of Indian origin at approximately 3.7% of Canada’s total population of just over 35 million. The report, Immigration and Ethno cultural Diversity in Canada, said: “A total of 15,67,400 individuals identified themselves as South Asian, the largest group. They accounted for one-quarter of the total visible minority population and 4.8% of Canada’s total population.” Of the South Asian population, over three-quarters has roots in India. The report underscored the growing diversity of Canada. More than 20% of the population in 2011 was foreign born, which the release claimed was “the highest proportion among the G8 countries.”

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Criminal probe sought against Indo-Canadian politician

Posted on 22 May 2013 by admin

Toronto, May 18 (IANS), A criminal investigation has been sought against an Indo-Canadian member of legislative assembly (MLA) of the ruling Progressive Conservatives party in the Canadian province of Alberta in a case of ethics violation.

Leader of the opposition Wildrose party, Danielle Smith, has requested the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to conduct a criminal investigation into the actions of Edmonton-Manning MLA Peter Sandhu following reports that he owned a home-building company that was being pursued by creditors for not paying debts, CBC reported Friday.

According to Smith, Sandhu should be charged with perjury as he had lied in court by saying that he was out of Canada when, in fact, he was present in Calgary.

“With the significant discrepancies between evidence in the courts and the legislative assembly Office, we believe it is of utmost importance to ensure that this matter is investigated thoroughly – to not only maintain the integrity of our legislative process, but to ensure the confidence of Albertans,” the report quoted Smith as saying in a statement.

Sandhu, who earlier this week resigned from the Conservative caucus following the allegations, is also being investigated by Alberta’s ethic commissioner.

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