Archive | June, 2013

Uttarakhand floods: Death toll may cross 1,000

Posted on 27 June 2013 by admin

Indian Army gets kudos for rescue operations

Divya Kaeley

Racing against time in the face of predicted adverse weather, over 10,000 people were on Saturday evacuated from various upper reaches of flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, including the worst-affected Kedarnath, as the death toll may touch 1,000. In all, 70,000 stranded people have been brought to safety in the mammoth ongoing multi-agency operations and more than 22,000 remain to be evacuated, according to information given by the Centre and the state government. Rescue operations were stepped-up in the state after predictions of heavy rains on Monday.

 The Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed its recently inducted C-130J Super Hercules medium-lift transport aircraft to fly out 244 people stranded in Uttarakhand after last week’s devastating floods in three trips Saturday, officials said. In the first trip, an aircraft brought back 40 people from Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun to the Hindon air base here. Of the 40, 11 were stranded people hailing from Delhi and adjoining areas while the remainining 29 were personnel of the National Disaster Management Authority and doctors.

Amid predictions of heavy rainfall in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand by the weather department, Army evacuated the entire Gangotri region on Saturday. Meanwhile, the rescue operations are being carried out on war footing in other affected areas here by different agencies as the death toll from flash floods and landslides may rise. While showing extraordinary courage the Indian Air Force (IAF) virtually established an aviation fuel supply bridge at Dharasu in Uttarkashi to give greater impetus to rescue operations that have been severely restricted due to non-availability of aviation fuel in the upper reaches of Uttarakhand.

Pushing the party machinery into the relief work for Uttarakhand flood victims, Congress President Sonia Gandhi flagged off relief material from AICC headquarters here on Monday while two senior leaders will be sent to oversee relief work in Dehradun on Sunday.

“Party treasurer Motilal Vora and AICC general secretary and incharge of Congress President’s Office Ambika Soni are visting Congress Control Room in Uttarakhand to oversee relief operations and coordinate with PCC sending relief materials,” party’s Communication Department in-charge Ajay Maken said.

Oxfam India, a rights-based organization, on Saturday announced humanitarian assistance in the form of dry food and blankets for flood-affected and shelter-less victims of the flood in Uttarakhand.
The organization will provide fleece blankets as well as dry food rations to the victims. It is also coordinating its efforts with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and through its partners in the affected areas, a statement released by Oxfam India said today.

The BJP on Saturday asked the government to declare the Uttarakhand flood tragedy as a national calamity or at least as “rarest of the rare” calamity. It rejected the government’s contention that there are no provisions to declare tragedies as a national calamity.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of BJP’s drive to mobilise funds for flood victims, party general secretary M Venkaiah Naidu said, “The state alone cannot face the situation” and Central and state governments could join hands and take up relief, rescue and rehabilitation works.

Politics came into play over the Uttarakhand floods as Narendra Modi ignored suggestions given by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde that Chief Ministers should not visit the flood-hit region as it hampers rescue operations. The Gujarat Chief Minister today went around the flood- ravaged to conduct an aerial survey of the damaged caused by the floods.

Congress on Saturday sought to dismiss questions about Rahul Gandhi’s absence from the country as well as his silence at a time when heavy rains have wrecked havoc in Uttarakhand. “Some political parties are raising this question. In our party, there is a fixed responsibility on each office bearer. The in-charges of states look after the regions under their charge. The Congress president is herself monitoring the entire relief work in Uttarakhand, and no one should take pains to ask who is doing what,” party spokesman Raj Babbar said.

Meanwhile, troops of paramilitary forces CRPF and CISF have decided to donate their one-day salary totalling about Rs 28 crore for the victims of Uttarakhand floods. The forces, rendering internal security duties in the country, will deposit the money in the Prime Ministers Relief Fund by the next week. According to Indian media reports, the survivors of the Himalayan Tsunami which has left a trail of destruction in Uttarakhand are all praise for the Army, which they say has given them a second life.

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Divya Dutta plans to turn director

Posted on 27 June 2013 by admin

Divya Dutta, who has proved herself as an actor with movies like “Veer-Zaara” and “Delhi-6″, says she now wants to try her hands at film direction. “I would love to direct films and it’s certainly on the cards,” Divya told. However, there’s still some time before she dons the director’s hat.

“I am lucky that I have worked with some wonderful directors so far — Madhur Bhandarkar and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, among others. I am planning to direct films in the future, but nothing right now,” she added. Divya believes assisting a director before taking up the task single-handedly is not necessary.

“You don’t need to assist anybody to become director,” said Divya, who is busy writing her first book in the meantime. “Writing is something I am doing right now. I was always passionate about writing. I am writing a novel right now. Writing comes naturally to me like acting,”

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‘Policegiri’ item girl hails Ganesh Acharya

Posted on 27 June 2013 by admin

Actress Kavitta Verma admits she has been fortunate to groove to the “Hai ishq Krishna ki leela”, an item number from forthcoming film “Policegiri”, under ace choreographer Ganesh Acharya’s guidance.

Mincing no words in praising Acharya, she said: “I feel fortunate that I did my first song with Ganesh Acharya, who choreographed the song. He pulls out the talent within you.”

A trained Kathak dancer, Kavitta said she learnt how to belly dance for the number. “He blended both these dance forms and has presented it very beautifully, ” she added. Recently, Kavitta was caught up in a controversy regarding her scant dressing and for sporting a rosary on her body and the Holy Cross on her belly in the item song. But she apologised for it.

Directed by K.S. Ravikumar and produced by T.P. Aggarwal and his son Rahul Aggarwal, “Policegiri”, starring Sanjay Dutt and Prachi Desai, releases July 5.

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About books that bridge cultures…

Posted on 19 June 2013 by admin

‘I firmly believe that what connects us is more profound and powerful than any of our differences.’

DIVYA KAELEY

Rachna Gilmore is a Governor General’s Award-winning author of numerous best-selling children’s books with multiple honours and awards. She came to Canada from London, England in the mid seventies. Having lived there for six years, completed high school and her Bachelors degree, she didn’t want to stay there because “it felt quite racist”. Canada appealed in part because it seemed so “open and full of possibilities”. As she says, “I’d seen Prime Minister Trudeau on TV, skating, wearing a rawhide jacket, and had been intrigued by his informality and energy. I decided I’d go there for a visit, and since my favourite books when I was a child were L.M. Montgomery’s Anne books, I chose to go to P.E.I. I loved it there and it’s there that I met the wonderful man I married.”

In conversation with Generation Next, Rachna walks us through her journey to becoming one of the most critically-acclaimed writers.

1. Tell us something about your journey to being a children’s writer in Canada.

I think I had more guts than experience. I had always wanted to write – as a child I’d wanted to either be a writer or a doctor – but kept putting it off, in part because it’s easier to dream of success rather than attempt it and face failure. When I turned thirty, the fear of not even trying overcame the fear of failure so I started to apply myself steadily to my writing. Children’s stories were a natural starting point because I had young children, and so my inner being was soaked in the stories I read to them. I gained basic information from organizations such as CANSCAIP and The Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and took what courses I could through writers’ organizations and universities, but as I was living in P.E.I. at the time, there weren’t many at hand. Mostly, I learned from writing. And that’s the best advice I can give other writers – just write. When I felt ready to submit – probably far sooner than I should have, given the dreadful nature of my writing back then – I sent out multiple submissions and received multiple rejections. I could have papered my walls with my rejections. But finally, one story hit the right publisher, and Ragweed Press in P.E.I. accepted My Mother is Weird which was published in 1988.

2. “I knew Medicine was not right for me, but being already set in the path of the sciences, I stumbled into a biology degree… The thought of rushing into a PhD in some area of biology, as most of my friends were, was unbearable.” – How easy was the transition from sciences to writing?

I don’t really think of it as a difficult transition. In fact, I think that writing essays for my science degree helped me become a more concise and precise writer. I remember one professor taking the conceit out of me by pointing out that the excesses and extravagances with which I’d peppered my essay – to pad my ignorance, I confess – were pointless and examples of shoddy writing. In writing fiction you learn by doing. A love of it, a love of story, a willingness to learn and stick with it through endless rounds of edits and past all the dead ends and labyrinthine twists and turns of the process, is more important than formal study. You can learn the craft of writing by taking courses, but the art has to come from inside you. One possible danger of taking too many courses is that you lose any natural skill, or lose you’re your own unique voice, and begin to write like your teachers. So I don’t think the process of transition was particularly hard. Or maybe I just don’t know any better!

3. How easy was it to settle in Canada?

In my twenties, I had a sense of bravura that didn’t really recognize the real challenges of settling in. I was so enamoured of my new country that it took a while for the reality to sink in that you don’t just fit because you want to. It took a while for me to accept that the semi-outsider status you have when you haven’t grown up in country – simply because you don’t have a shared history of childhood cultural experiences – is just the way it is. And that it has advantages. Being on the fringes in many ways is useful when you’re a writer because it’s from there that you can best observe. But because I married a Canadian from P.E.I. of Scottish heritage, in some ways I had an “in” through him, a network or family and friends. Also, since English was my main language – I’d grown up in Mumbai – and I’d lived in England for several years, there wasn’t a huge cultural transition. There were jolts, of course, when I encountered ignorance or racism, but it didn’t happen often. One of the biggest adjustments, in some ways, was coming to realize that P.E.I. in the late 70s onwards wasn’t the same as my romantic notions of the P.E.I. of the Anne books, even though there were some familiar strands.

4. “Plark (play, work and lark)” and your “weird and wonder-filled tales” – where do you get your themes from?

I don’t know if I get my themes for my books or if they get me. I think many writers have a sense of curiosity, and it’s this that makes them question what they see and hear. Ideas come from everywhere – sometimes from incidents in my life, or dreams, or something I’ve seen, heard or imagined. It just has to grab me so that I must explore it further.

5. Was it easy establishing as a writer in Canada?

I began to send out manuscripts after I’d been writing for a few years, and I think I had more nerve than knowledge because I didn’t even bother to research carefully where I should send my manuscripts to try and find a good fit (which is what I advise aspiring writers to do), but just sent them out to all publishing houses accepting unsolicited manuscripts. It took a while. I can’t say if it was “easy” or not – that’s such a relative term – but it did take many, many rejections before my first book was accepted. After that it was a little easier. I started with small presses and was with them for years before being published by some of the bigger houses such as HarperCollins Canada. But I would say my career path has been a steady rise rather than mercurial, although the GG really helped raise the profile of my books and made my name more recognizable in Canadian children’s publishing. Perhaps, too, I was fortunate that my writing coincided with the growth of Canadian publishing so publishers were actively seeking material from new writers. That said, I don’t recall anyone thinking back then that it was easy to get published – quite the reverse. Perhaps it’s just in hindsight that we tend to regard past times as being easier to get published in than now, when really, it probably wasn’t the case.

7. Your book ‘Of Customs and Excise’ was a collection of inter-connected stories of women whose lives are woven together in a clash of cultures, class and race. What are some of the themes in Canadian society that inspire you to write for adults?

I’m not sure that themes in Canadian society inspire me to write for adults particularly. I think they inspire me more to write for children. I firmly believe that what connects us is more profound and powerful than any of our differences. Our culture and society has the potential to be a model for peaceful diversity. I’d like my books to be bridges so that readers realize that our commonalities – the human experience, that we all hurt, laugh, rejoice, that we all have the same emotions, and that in the end we all want to be happy – are more significant than superficial or cultural differences. What I hope is that when someone reads my books they identify with the characters, become the character, and realize that underneath our so-called differences, we are the same. Not all my books feature characters with an Indian cultural background, but many do.

8. Your vision for future

I have to say this is a mystery to me right now, both personally and professionally. Haven’t a clue. Trying to take it one day at a time. On the other hand, I do have some delicious ideas simmering for futuristic fictional stories. But I don’t know if I’ll write them….

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Corrupt Politicians

Posted on 19 June 2013 by admin

It’s an old saying that you deserve the leaders you get.

 So do we, the Canadians, really deserve the leaders such as we have in the Senate who have billed the taxpayers’ with no regard to public money for personal and campaign expenses. Some light has been shed on these expenses, for others, a full audit of the Senate could reveal more spending irregularities.

 Are we really disengaged enough from people we elect to see billions of dollars go to waste in things like e-health, ORNGE and gas power plant cancellations? The gas power plant cancellations in Mississauga and Oakville cost millions of dollars to taxpayers. As if this was not enough, the Liberal government had to delete emails to cover it up.

 In the last few weeks we have seen a photograph and read what feels like countless stories about Mayor Rob Ford’s smoking crack cocaine. The extent of the story is so broad that Toronto police was aware of an alleged video that appeared to capture Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine during the force’s sweeping investigation into a network of accused drug dealers and gun runners – before the alleged video was revealed in the media.

Then in Montreal, Montreal’s mayor had to resign in crisis last fall. Michael Applebaum was, then, tapped by city councillors to guide Quebec’s largest city through the choppy waters of corruption until the municipal election in November 2013.

But just seven months after taking on the post Applebaum has been charged with 14 counts of fraud, conspiracy and corruption related to two suspicious real estate deals in the west-end borough of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

 Do residents of great cities such Toronto or Montreal deserve to have mayors who are allegedly involved in drugs and briberies?

 Has the conflict of interest in public life so narrowly defined that these politicians are ignorant of that even after years of ‘service.’

 We, as voters, have to take a hard look at who we are electing and why. Are they there to be career politicians or are they there for the public good? We cannot and should not be manipulated so easily as to allow those we elect to serve to waste our money and leave our trust in shambles.

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Lower Internal Barriers Will Increase Trade And Create Jobs for Canadians,” – MP Parm Gill

Posted on 19 June 2013 by admin

Brampton Member of Parliament Parm Gill praised the Government of Canada’s announcement of its ambitious vision for its year as Chair of the Committee on Internal Trade (CIT). The CIT is a national committee comprised of representatives from the Provincial, Territorial and Federal Governments, which aims to reduce and eliminate barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services and investments across Canada.

“Internal trade barriers, such as differences in regulation and restrictions on certain product categories, cost our economy billions every year,” said MP Gill.

“Our Government has launched the most ambitious trade agenda in this country’s history, and we are committed to making progress on ensuring consistency between international and domestic trade rules.”

The Government of Canada outlined its plan to use its year as chair to focus on four key elements to improving interprovincial trade; regulatory reform, simplified business registration & reporting, consistency between international & internal trade rules, and removal of barriers that federal rules create unilaterally.

It has also pledged to use this opportunity as Chair to launch a public dialogue about meaningful, long-term and ambitious goals that would result in real improvements for businesses.

“Borders within Canada should be at least as open and efficient as our borders with other countries,” said MP Gill.

The Agreement on Internal Trade, which governs interprovincial trade, came into effect in 1995. The CIT meets annually to review progress on reducing or eliminating barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility.

Since 2007, progress has been made on issues such as labour mobility for regulated occupations, freer trade of agricultural products and transparency in government procurement. The outcomes from this symposium will be used to inform the CIT’s next annual meeting, chaired by the federal government and scheduled for fall 2013. er�\ m�F� T�theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-ansi-language: EN-US’>

  • Increasing the Ontario Child Benefit’s annual maximum payment by up to $210 over the next two years;
  • Taking steps to transform social assistance to help more recipients find jobs and improve their financial security;
  • Reducing auto insurance rates by 15 per cent on average for nine million drivers;
  • Investing an additional $260 million this year in home and community care;
  • Proposing new rules for wireless contracts and services;
  • Strengthening the rights of consumers in the areas of door-to-door sales, debt settlement services and real estate transactions.

During the spring session, the government also introduced legislation that, if passed, would help make Ontario a safer, healthier place for everyone by:

  • Prohibiting the sale of tanning services to people under 18 to protect young people from skin cancer;
  • Providing job protection for caregivers who take leave to care for sick or injured loved ones or to cope with the illness or loss of a child;
  • Making it easier for municipalities to collect unpaid fines from Ontario drivers;
  • Making more local food available in stores, schools and restaurants across the province;

Requiring producers to take responsibility for recycling the products they sell and turning more waste into new products.

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A Prosperous Economy, A Fair Society

Posted on 19 June 2013 by admin

The spring session of the Ontario Legislature wrapped up last week with the passing of the 2013 Budget.

Since the session began in February, Premier Kathleen Wynne and her team moved forward on a number of measures to grow the economy and help people in their everyday lives.

In the 2013 Budget, the government unveiled new initiatives to create jobs, including:

  • A new Youth Jobs Strategy that will create about 30,000 job and mentorship opportunities for young people and support their entrepreneurial efforts;
  • A plan to invest more than $35 billion in infrastructure across Ontario over the next three years that will support more than 100,000 jobs on average each year;
  • A proposed increase to the Employer Health Tax exemption that would provide greater tax relief for small employers and help them hire more people.

Premier Wynne and her team are also helping people in their everyday lives through measures that include:

  • Increasing the Ontario Child Benefit’s annual maximum payment by up to $210 over the next two years;
  • Taking steps to transform social assistance to help more recipients find jobs and improve their financial security;
  • Reducing auto insurance rates by 15 per cent on average for nine million drivers;
  • Investing an additional $260 million this year in home and community care;
  • Proposing new rules for wireless contracts and services;
  • Strengthening the rights of consumers in the areas of door-to-door sales, debt settlement services and real estate transactions.

During the spring session, the government also introduced legislation that, if passed, would help make Ontario a safer, healthier place for everyone by:

  • Prohibiting the sale of tanning services to people under 18 to protect young people from skin cancer;
  • Providing job protection for caregivers who take leave to care for sick or injured loved ones or to cope with the illness or loss of a child;
  • Making it easier for municipalities to collect unpaid fines from Ontario drivers;
  • Making more local food available in stores, schools and restaurants across the province;

Requiring producers to take responsibility for recycling the products they sell and turning more waste into new products.

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Controversial Inspection Measures Proposed for Foreign Worker Program

Posted on 19 June 2013 by admin

Enhanced inspection regulations for Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) were announced on Saturday, June 8th. When the proposed regulations take effect, immigration officials will have the right to enter Canadian places of employment without first obtaining a search warrant.

The inspection regulations have been proposed in the midst of a nation-wide controversy surrounding Canada’s use of temporary foreign workers. Specifically, two highly publicized casesbrought to light what may be widespread abuses of the TFWP. In response to public criticism, the government has announced a number of new measures to demonstrate its tough policy towards Canadian employers who refuse to comply with program standards.

New Inspection Rules

Usually, when Canadian employers wish to hire a foreign national, they must first successfully apply for and receive a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO). As part of an LMO application, employers must comply with Federal and Provincial labour standards for wages, benefits, and working conditions.

The new rules will allow Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), and in some cases Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), to enter workplaces in order to seek proof of employer compliance with these and other issues. There are three circumstances when HRSDC or CIC will be able to enter a place of employment:

  • It is suspected that an employer is not complying or has not complied with TFWP conditions;
  • An employer is known to have not complied in the past; or
  • An employer is chosen at random for compliance verification.

The regulations, published in the Canada Gazette, stated that officials would “have the authority to enter and inspect any premises or place in which a [temporary foreign worker] performs work”, noting that a warrant will be needed only if the place of work is a private residence. This authority lasts for “any time during and up to six years after the employment of a [foreign worker]”, meaning that even if a worker has left, the government may years later choose to conduct an inspection.

Employers could be found non-compliant if they fail to meet any of the conditions imposed by the LMO. If deemed non-compliant, an employer would be stripped of the ability to use the TFWP for two years and would have their name added to a public list of ineligible businesses that will be posted on CIC’s website. They would also be banned from providing offers of employment in support of Federal Skilled Trades or Federal Skilled Worker applications.

Response to New Rules

Canada’s welcoming attitude towards temporary foreign workers has resulted in over 200,000 new foreign workers arriving in Canada each year. Some stakeholders have argued that with such a large number, the government has not been doing enough to ensure that the interests of both Canadians and foreigners are safeguarded, and have called for greater oversight of the program.

“While more oversight is definitely a good thing, I and many others are wary of the recently announced inspection measures,” said immigration attorney David Cohen. “Giving government officials the mandate to enter Canadian workplaces without first securing a warrant is, in my opinion, a slippery slope that could result in the erosion of our right to privacy.”

The inspection rules are not the only proposed changes to the TFWP. Recent months have seen a slew of programming changes, some of which have already been put in place and others which have been proposed and are awaiting ratification.

Attorney Cohen added that “many further rule changes have been proposed, including extending mandatory recruitment periods for employers and instituting fees for LMO applications. The process is becoming more complicated. Canadians who plan to hire foreign workers should pay close attention to the changing landscape.”

http://www.cicnews.com

 

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How to stop overeating Overcoming Overeating

Posted on 19 June 2013 by admin

Experts say there are things you can do to make yourself more likely to stop eating when you are comfortable. They include:

  • Eat slowly. This isn’t a new concept; remember all those familiar dieting tips like “sip water between bites” and “chew thoroughly before swallowing”? These were all aimed at slowing us down when we eat. Research led by Mark Gold, MD, at the University of Florida at Gainesville has shown it takes 12 or more minutes for food satisfaction signals to reach the brain of a thin person, but 20 or more minutes for an obese person. Eating slowly ensures that these important messages have time to reach the brain.
  • Be aware. ”Be more attentive about the whole eating experience; don’t eat when you are driving or at the computer,” advises Bacon. When we’re distracted or hurried the food (and calories) we eat tend not to register well in our brains. Jean Kristeller, PhD, a psychologist and Indiana State University researcher, suggests a brief premeal meditation to get centered before eating so you can more easily derive pleasure from your food, give the meal your full attention, and notice when you’ve had enough.
  • Make the first bites count. Bacon believes that maximum food enjoyment comes in the initial bites. “After a few bites, taste buds start to lose their sensitivity to the chemicals in food that make it taste good,” she explains. Satisfying your taste buds by really savoring those first few bites may help you stop eating when you’re physically comfortable.
  • Keep up appearances. Using a smaller plate and paying attention to the presentation of a meal can increase your awareness of the food in front of you and help you stop eating when you are comfortable. “The brain looks at the plate and decides if the portion is adequate,” says Gold. “It takes some time, but the smaller the plate, the smaller the portion.”
  • Choose satisfying foods. Steer away from foods that give you a lot of calories for very little volume, such as milk shakes, cheese, and chocolate, Gold recommends. The higher the fiber, protein, and/or water content of a food or meal, the more likely it is to be satisfying in your stomach without going overboard on calories. (More on this below.)

http://www.webmd.com/

 

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CAPO to run “K-2″ program

Posted on 19 June 2013 by admin

A reception was held on Sunday, the 16th of June 2013 by the community welfare attaché of the Consulate General of Pakistan; Sayed Akbar Adil shah. The dinner was hosted in the honor of the Federal Secretary of Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis. Along with the guest honor, quite a few dignitaries were present at the event that shared their thoughts and perspectives about their homeland country Pakistan and emphasized on the agenda of alleviating poverty through the means of education.

Notable individuals such as Senator Salma Atuallah Jan, Maqsood Khan, Aftab Rizvi and Colonel Nazar shared a few words with the community and welcomed the visiting Federal Secretary on behalf of the local Pakistani community. The event was also organized to honor, thank and appreciate the positive response from the community that has been received, regarding a 100% free (Tuition & Residence) scholarship program. “K-2” is a vision perceived about merit scholarship and is a brainchild of Sayed Akbar Adil Shah. This project will be run, administered managed and funded by the Canadians of Pakistani Origin.

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