Archive | January, 2014

Mahie Gill’s spooky experience

Posted on 30 January 2014 by admin

Mahie Gill had a weird experience while shooting for her upcoming film, ‘Gangs of Ghost’. Director Satish Kaushik was shooting outdoors in what is apparently a haunted house in Mumbai.

While shooting, Mahie felt that there were negative sprits in the house. And then she claims to have heard some eerie sounds at 2 am which gave her the heebie-jeebies. Brrrr…

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Tisca’s ‘Acting mart’ for film buffs?

Posted on 30 January 2014 by admin

Actress tisca Chopra, who is globetrotting for her critically acclaimed film “Qissa”, is also gearing up to launch her debut book “Acting Smart”. the book is said to be for cinegoers and for those who are venturing into the movie industry.

The “taare Zameen Par” actress, who also impressed tV buffs with her act in “24”, has been indulging in some serious writing for the past few months and she is now geared to launch her book, which is said to have interesting episodes and anecdotes.

“The book is for young aspiring actors and it is full of information about how to make it in the business and it has many interesting trivia from industry experts like Imtiaz Ali, Rajkumar Hirani, Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani,” said a source.

Tisca was recently spotted at the screening of “Qissa”, which opened the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).

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OMG! Poonam’s Website Hacked

Posted on 30 January 2014 by admin

On Monday morning Poonam Pandey woke up to the shock of her life when her team informed her that her website had been hacked. The vandalism would not have been so worrisome had the hackers not left pro-Pakistan messages on her hacked website. The slogans which had been overnight plastered on her website included , ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘Rise(sic.) a voice for justice of (sic) Kashmir.’ Poonam feels these messages are from militants.

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Speak up for the sake of your future generations

Posted on 23 January 2014 by admin

Ranjit Khatkur, Founder of E-Race

Inclusion and diversity are often used by Caucasians to appease people of colour by suggesting that they are accepting and attempting to address issues that clearly have been shelved and placed at the bottom of the priority list.

I am retired, I want my grand-children to be able to have an equal opportunity and aim for the top executive jobs and not be held back because they don’t fit in. They shouldn’t have to socialize, play golf, drink wine and be forced to do so in order to be in the running for opportunities that they should be entitled to regardless.

Evidence of systemic racism is entrenched in every aspect from the workplace e.g. signs, pictures, posters, staff, books, resources, policies, procedures, hiring, retention, promotion, professional development, food at meetings, socials and understanding of accommodations, celebrations, holidays etc.

E-Race Discrimination Ontario has been founded by Ranjit Khatkur, a former Vice-Principal with the Peel District School Board who recently settled a high profile Human Rights claim. Because of confidentiality laws, she cannot share her experience or the details of the settlement.

www.E-Race.ca is a resource of information about racialized discrimination including articles, a speakers resource of experts with stories and experience to share, and information about training opportunities for youths, states E-Race.

It is an anti-racist/anti-oppressive Human Rights multi-sectoral collective of South Asian activists and allies that are committed to developing inclusive and diverse communities and workforce communities, free of racialized systemic discrimination in Peel institutions and being a “voice” for primarily diverse South Asians.

Members of E-Race demand accountability from public institutions through the identification and elimination of barriers. These barriers include hiring and selection; retention, promotion, professional development and career advancement. This is essential to ensure that the workforce in Peel is equitably well represented by skilled South Asians at all levels.

In an interview with Generation Next, the founder E-Race expressed her disappointment with Peel’s lack of commitment to Inclusion and Diversity.

She stated that “the Regional Diversity Roundtable appears to be a smoke screen to appease people of colour and has failed to develop timelines, targets and action plans with the help and support of victims of Peel. Planning for The Mississauga Summit was shelved for months and the Peel Region’s so-called commitment since January 2011 to the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism that had gone no-where when asked in a conversation in March 2013. The GTA Summit was shocking to be representing all the public institutions but only a dozen or so people of colour attended. This is not a sign of hope, but a sign that translates in to the NEED for our community to ask questions and know what is happening.”

The rest of our interview with Ms. Ranjit Khatkur is as follows:

Why was it important for you to launch e-Race.ca? What is it that you hope to accomplish?

 E-Race brings all the talents in the South Asian community to one location, so that institutes can no longer pretend that there are no South Asians with experience in certain areas. That is why we need as many South Asians from EVERY career available to our children, community, institutions, work places. When workplaces always use Caucasians for professional development lets check this resource and recommend someone from the E-Race site. They will have been evaluated and selected for their skills in communication and expertise in their professional area and of course their willingness to make a difference.

Is e-race specifically for South Asians. If it is, why is it not including other visible minorities as they may be victims of the same sort of systemic and racial discrimination as South Asians are?

   I am one of the founding members of the Asian Canadian Educators Network and there definitely is a need to unite as partners and then share resources as the opportunities arise. At this point it was the South Asian experiences that brought us together and perhaps the common issues will unite us to other parties. I have approached many non-profit agencies/organisations and there appears to be a fear of Peel institutions withholding funding from them because we are challenging the status quo. I believe that as institutions see our purpose and have a clear understanding of the resources, expertise and training we are able to provide they will see the benefits and want to join us with our work that will move us towards a better, inclusive and harmonious Peel.

Can you please share with our readers examples of systemic discrimination. In other words what constitutes of systemic discrimination?

Evidence of systemic racism is entrenched in every aspect from the workplace e.g. signs, pictures, posters, staff, books, resources, policies, procedures, hiring, retention, promotion, professional development, food at meetings, socials and understanding of accommodations, celebrations, holidays etc.

What is the most common misperception about systemic and racial discrimination in the South Asian community?

That it is only about derogatory or racist remarks.

In Canada we speak a lot about multiculturalism and inclusiveness yet there is such little representation of visible minorities in so many professions such as education, law, police and so on. Isn’t this hypocritical?

Absolutely! Inclusion and diversity are often used by Caucasians to appease people of colour by suggesting that they are accepting and attempting to address issues that clearly have been shelved and placed at the bottom of the priority list. These are terms that are frequently used to claim efforts are being made but the language is meaningless without acknowledgement of the harm that has been caused by the racialized systemic discrimination, involving the victims in dialogue, ensuring there are consequences for those who have been named as respondents in human rights claims, and then change can begin with collection of data, action plans, timelines, concrete goals and the commitment for change that honours the experiences of all.

Do you think Quebec’s Charter of Values can be taken up by other provinces and territories of Canada?

Absolutely NOT, if we claim to be a country of multi-faith and honour, we need to reflect that in every work place and it won’t change by attrition or time, it has to calculated and driven for the need to honour diversity and change so that nepotism and cronyism are removed in society.

Why is it important for South Asian professionals to raise voice against systemic and racial discrimination?

 In order for equity to exist and all Canadians to be treated equally there has to be an understanding and speaking out for change to happen so that our children have opportunities that have been afforded Caucasians by their colour.

Do you think one important step that the visible minorities have to take is to not be biased against one another to get rid of discrimination?

 I believe all folks have a capacity to discriminate but its how we curb our approach towards change through understanding and not discrimination that makes for a harmonious community that respects and gives dignity to all. However, non of this can begin without acceptance of what is happening and action against the perpetrators and then movement to repair the harm that has been caused.

Won’t it take decades to end systemic discrimination?

It could take centuries if we allow it, are we prepared to sit back and wait? I am retired, I want my grand-children to be able to have an equal opportunity and aim for the top executive jobs and not be held back because they don’t fit in. They shouldn’t have to socialize, play golf, drink wine and be forced to do so in order to be in the running for opportunities that they should be entitled to regardless.

What kind of demands can the South Asian community put on its school board trustees, councillors, MPPs and MPs to expedite the end of systemic discrimination?

 Our community should be looking at all the indicators of systemic racism (mentioned above) and questioning the powers that be. There needs to be fiscal accountability where institutions declare how much money is spent on terminating contracts/dismissal of people of colour, paying off or reaching agreements in human rights claims. Also they need to ask who the named respondents are, so the respondents are not allowed to move forward with promotions once they have been named in human rights incidents. There are many applicants who have shared their journeys and while the applicants are living in pain throughout this journey, the named respondents are not known, named or suffer any consequence for their actions.

What hampers the community’s response once they know they are the victims of systemic discrimination or racism instead?

 Most people of colour fear reprisal, they worry for their children, their family and job. Frequently parents in the community fail to speak up because somehow they fear it will impact their children. Bringing these issues to the attention of public institutions has to come from a place of courage. Otherwise, share your stories with E-Race and we’ll com pile them into the ‘Voice of Silence’ which is a documentary we are currently making.

If someone wants to keep his/her identity private, can they still share their experiences with e-race?

  Absolutely, we can keep the victims anonymous. We can compile the stories and share them with media, use them for research, create case studies for our training and/or use the narratives for presentations etc. It will be entirely up to the victim to determine how their narrative is used.

 How do you protect the identity of these individuals?

  None of the personal information will be used in any publications if that is the way the victim prefers. There are many individuals who have filed Human Rights cases and are bound by their agreements, others fear reprisal, others are retired and are able to share their stories but not name their institutions, others have had / witnessed systemic racism and did not file any claims but are now willing to share their stories and be named.

When and at what platform do you intend to release this documentary?

 The ‘Voice of Silence’ is at the initial stages of development, the aim is to have it ready for the launch on March 21st. However, the story is becoming complex and perhaps needs more time.

What can minority communities such as South Asian community do to get rid of discrimination and racism in our institutions?

Participate, speak up, E-Race is able to share your stories, help you file HR claims, seek support and follow a direction that is meaningful and will bring about change. Also be a part of the resources we are developing and if you can’t speak publicly perhaps you know folks with expertise who can help develop a direction and strength that will demand change that is needed in Peel.

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Change cannot be stopped

Posted on 23 January 2014 by admin

In this week’s edition of Generation Next you will read about the launch of E-Race, a website that encourages South Asian professionals to share their experiences, and raise their voice against systemic and racial discrimination that they may have encountered at their workplace.

Many of these South Asian professionals are busy in their professional and personal lives raising families, paying off mortgages and so on. These professionals know or at least suspect when they are victims of systemic and racial discrimination, yet they move on with their lives. These professionals do not want to lose their jobs or have bad recommendations, hoping against hope that they will one day get the much deserved promotion.

These hardworking men and women of South Asian origin have a deep rooted mistrust of the system in Canada where South Asian community has mushroomed quite a bit.

South Asian professionals express their concern on not getting raises or rising up the hierarchy as fast as their Caucasian peers. Their concern is clearly tainted against those in power and they completely disregard any committees or workshops that supposedly talk about multiculturalism or inclusion. They are cynical about Inclusion and Roundtable conferences and can name the people planning them and speakers (even South Asians) without much knowledge of the actual events. More often than not, they are right.

Which brings us to our point that the authorities in all public institutions must change their attitude. May times we have been told that to reach at the top echelons of hierarchy generally requires 25 to 30 years’ of service in a public institution, and that the South Asian professionals have not served for these many years in a public arena to be at the top. Many South Asian professionals consider this an excuse by status quo given the fact that many South Asians have been living in Canada since 70s and 80s and have indeed served for a number of years.

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Minister Tim Uppal concludes a successful mission to Pakistan and India

Posted on 23 January 2014 by admin

The Honourable Tim Uppal, Minister of State for Multiculturalism, recently concluded a successful mission to Pakistan and India. While in Pakistan, Minister Uppal met with vaccinators, doctors and UNICEF staff to announce Canada’s latest contribution in the fight to eradicate polio in Pakistan and around the world. Minister Uppal also visited the Badshahi mosque, Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, and Joseph colony (a Christian community in Lahore); and met with federal and provincial Pakistani government ministers.

“Canada is leading the fight to eradicate polio globally. In Pakistan, Canada was the first donor to tackle the conditions that allow polio to continue to keep a foothold, something of which we can all be proud,” said Minister of State Uppal. “Canada’s continued support will increase the number of children immunized, improve access for vaccinators by increasing community acceptance and increase the effectiveness of the vaccine by decreasing vulnerability to polio from malnutrition and illness.”

Canada is a leading supporter of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s goal of eradicating polio by 2018. Canada supports the fight against polio in several critical areas, including sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan and in three primary endemic high-risk areas in Pakistan. January 7′s announcement of $20 million over three years will support the UNICEF Polio Plus initiative in Pakistan which seeks polio eradication by increasing coverage, access and the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Minister Uppal joined the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce’s (ICCC) week-long trade mission to India with stops in Amritsar, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Anandpur Sahib and Jalandhar.

As part of the trade mission, Minister Uppal met with Canadian and Indian businesses, Indian Government Ministers and trade officials to promote greater trade between the two countries.

While in India, he participated in two conferences – the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conference in New Delhi and the Pravasi Punjabi Divas Sammelan conference in Anandpur Sahib and Jalandhar. Both conferences provided Minister Uppal the opportunity to participate in discussions about the Indian Diaspora in Canada and around the world. He also took the opportunity to meet with community leaders and elected officials from many different countries to discuss multiculturalism.

For many years, India has been one of Canada’s top three source countries for immigrants. The Government of Canada expects this trend to continue in the years ahead and for the numbers of Indo-Canadians to continue growing within Canada.

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John McCallum Begins National Tour on Immigration and Citizenship Issues

Posted on 23 January 2014 by admin

John McCallum, the Liberal Critic for Citizenship and Immigration, began his national tour consulting with Canadians on the Immigration system.

“Justin Trudeau appointed me at the Liberal Party’s Citizenship and Immigration Critic last fall and has given me the mandate to consult with Canadians about what they expect from their immigration system.”

The national consultation tour will see Mr. McCallum travel across the country to speak with Canadians and hear firsthand about their experiences with the immigration and visa system.

“What I heard was crystal clear,” continued Mr. McCallum. “Our immigration system is not transparent and is full of delays. Residents of my riding are looking for a system that will respond to the needs of our economy while ensuring that families remain one of our central focuses.”

Delays in visa processing are unfairly separating families during important life events, such as funerals or weddings. These delays also have a negative effect on the tourism industry. Delays in the family reunification system also mean that families are left wondering if they will ever see their parents and grandparents again.

“Day after day, I see cases in my office where families have been unfairly separated by a system that is slow and full of red tape,” concluded Mr. McCallum. “This needs to change. I look forward to hearing fresh ideas from Canadians across this country on how we can do this better.”

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Nepali Community in Toronto Organizes Second Topi (Hat) Event and “BasantaPanchami”

Posted on 23 January 2014 by admin

The definition of civilization can not be complete without the reference of culture. Culture is, something, our way of life which includes our values, beliefs, traditions, cuisine, clothing pattern and so on. The pattern of housing , food and clothing are mostly influenced by climatic topography and geographical region. The wearing of clothing is almost mandatory for all the human beings. But the style, size and quality are dominated by physical stature, social and geographical condition. Many people believe that clothing is not only a necessity but represents culture and social status too. Some pieces of clothing are more than just a protection. Some pieces of clothing remain almost synonyms with culture. Among the different pieces of clothing, hat can be considered symbolic one. Because, in most religions, hat represents either religion or culture. For instance; Sikh people wear turban, Jews people wear Kipa, Muslim people wear Taqiyah/Topi. Besides, hat will protect your head from sun, cold, and minor injury.

In same way, Nepalese people also have tradition of wearing Topi (hat). In terms of religion, Nepal, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is dwelt by Hindu, Buddhist, Muslims and Christians. But regardless of their religion, most male people wear Topi. Nepali Topi is mostly made of special kind of clothe called Dhaka , originated from capital city of Bangladesh. The another famous Topi is called BhadgaunleTopi, which is hand crafted, black in color and originated from the city called Bhadgaun , currently Bhaktapur. It is believed that Dhaka Topi has been using in Nepal since last two hundreds year. Nepali people consider Topi as a source of pride, symbol of luck and much attached to the culture. It is widely worn by government employees and general public. In special occasions people wear Dhaka Topi. In Nepalese context, Topi signifies high as Mt. Everest, bold as the Himalayas, colourful as pheasant and considered as luck to keep on your head. It is also a culture that Topi is taken off when there is family sorrow. All these definition and meaning show that Topiis the symbol of national identity and strengthens the national feeling.

In order to show case this very culture ,Toronto Nepali Literary Society recently organized Second Nepali TopiEvent along with BasantaPanchami celebration and poetry recital in Toronto. Addressing the program, Prof. Dr. Khagendra Prasad Luintel of Tribhuvan University, Nepal, who travelled all the way from Nepal, lauded the contribution made by Nepalese residing in Canada towards the enrichment of Nepali literature. Prof. Dr. Luintel was honoured by the organizer for his matchless contribution to Nepalese literature. It is noteworthy that Prof. Dr. Luintel is Special Course Advisor (M.A. Nepali faculty) of Gauhati University, Assam, India.

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Debates over immigration are often toxic. Not in Canada

Posted on 23 January 2014 by admin

WHEN the government of the French-speaking province of Quebec introduced a bill in November to stop public servants from wearing religious symbols, it gave a community hospital in neighbouring Ontario a chance to grab some new recruits. Lakeridge Health ran an advertisement in a Quebec medical-school newspaper showing a woman wearing a hijab and stethoscope over the caption: “We don’t care what’s on your head, we care what’s in it.” Applications doubled, says Kevin Empey, the hospital’s boss.

The Quebec government’s proposed ban and the Ontario hospital’s welcome illustrate the poles in the Canadian debate on multiculturalism. Public hearings on the law began on January 14th. Supporters say that the ban is needed to enshrine state secularism; opponents that it is a cynical appeal to xenophobia by the minority provincial government of the Parti Québécois (PQ). Either way, the prediction of Jean-François Lisée, a PQ minister, that the Quebec battle could be the last stand in Canada’s multicultural experiment does not stand up to close scrutiny.

Immigration itself is not in question. Canadians, even in Quebec, overwhelmingly back mass immigration, which adds an average of 250,000 newcomers (roughly 0.8% of the population) each year. First-generation immigrants make up a bigger share of Toronto’s and Vancouver’s populations than in many of the world’s great cosmopolitan cities.

Unlike many Europeans, Canadians believe that immigrants create jobs rather than steal them, says Jeffrey Reitz, a sociologist who has surveyed attitudes in Europe and Canada. This view is partly based on history. Modern Canada was built by successive waves of immigrants, first from Europe and more recently from Asia.

It is also a result of policies that since the 1970s have focused on admitting the most employable people. The government constantly tweaks its system of awarding points to prospective immigrants for languages, education and skills, in order to match them with labour-market gaps. Younger applicants currently have an edge. An array of programmes, many of them focused on the ability to speak languages, help immigrants to settle in.

The Quebec dispute is not over numbers of immigrants, but how to accommodate them. In the 1970s Canada officially adopted the creed of “multiculturalism”, a murky concept that celebrates cultural differences at the same time as pushing newcomers to integrate. English-speaking Canadians see multiculturalism as central to their national identity, ranking below universal health care and the Canadian flag in a recent survey by Environics, a research firm, but above ice hockey, the Mounties and the Queen.

The governing Conservatives are blunter than opposition parties about the obligation on newcomers to integrate and about cultural practices, such as genital mutilation, that are unacceptable. But their support for multiculturalism is not in question. After the latest federal cabinet reshuffle there was even a tussle over who was the senior multiculturalism minister.

By contrast, French-speaking Quebeckers have long been more tepid about the subject. Many think it undermines their role as one of modern Canada’s founding cultures. The government in Quebec prefers the doctrine of “interculturalism”, which emphasises assimilation into the dominant culture. This is popular in rural areas, where immigrants are few and PQ support is strong, but extremely unpopular in Montreal, where most of the province’s newcomers live.

Canada’s multiculturalism is not perfect. There have been rows over whether a Sikh Mountie can wear a turban or whether Muslim women can cover their faces in court. A Toronto university student sparked a furore this month by asking to be excused from group work with female students for religious reasons. The hearings in Quebec threaten to be long and acrimonious. But Canada has largely drawn the sting of a poisonous subject.

The Economist

 

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THE MUSHARRAF TRIAL AND DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN

Posted on 23 January 2014 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

Lahore  

   Pakistan’s federal government has initiated the trial of former President General (retired) Pervez Musharraf in December 2013 under article 6 of the Constitution before a special tribunal for suspending some provisions of the Constitution and declaring emergency as the Army Chief on November 3, 2007. The federal government and the top leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz are confident that they can get Pervez Musharraf convicted which will deter other generals to threaten and undermine democracy in the future.

 However, the developments regarding this case in the first one month show that it will not be an easy task for the federal government to contain its political impact and keep it as a purely legal and constitutional issue to get only one person, Musharraf, convicted. It is going to be long drawn legal battle that is expected to spread out to include other people and the earlier attempts to overthrow the civilian governments, especially the October 1999 coup.

The trial will have profound political impact because it is expected to continue for up to two years with the appeal process and, above all, one should not disregard its possible impact on the federal government’s relations with the military. The federal government already faces several problems in the domestic political, economic and security contexts with uncertain regional security situation as the U.S./NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan. This trial will add to its problems.

 The federal government and the ruling PMLN are arguing that they have nothing to do with this case. It is a constitutional and legal matter and should be decided in that manner. They want this case to be limited to Pervez Musharraf and not to include others. Similarly, the federal government wants to prosecute Musharraf only for the November 3, 2007 action but does not want to talk about the 1999 military take-over and Nawaz Sharif’s departure to Saudi Arabia in December 2000 under an arrangement with the military government of Musharraf. The federal government is confident that it will have no adverse impact on civil-military relations.

 The experience of other countries where military commanders assumed power provides two important lessons that need to be remembered in Pakistan. First, there are only a couple of examples of prosecution of ex-military rulers by civilian governments on charge of overthrowing civilian governments. Some ex-military rulers were put on trial by another set of military rulers. In some cases, civilian governments tried them on other charges, i.e. corruption, misuse of power, human rights violations including deaths and disappearance of people without due process of law.

 Second, the success of democracy in the post-military rule period does not depend on taking punitive action against ex-military rulers. Much depends on the performance of the civilian government as an alternative to military rule.

Can the democratic government deliver services to the people and keep their voluntary support of civilians who elected them?

Therefore, any civilian government that replaces a military ruler needs to prove by action that it is more successful in addressing the problems of the people, especially economic issues and internal security. How far the major section of population feel that the civilian leadership has reduced their economic pressures and made their life and property secure against state institutions and powerful societal groups or individuals? This becomes a challenging task for a civilian government like that of Pakistan where non-state armed groups and criminal elements can engage in violence to make life insecure and threaten the state-run economy.

 The ultimate basis of authority of a military ruler is the organization and coercive power of the military. The civilian leaders derive their legitimacy from the support of the people and political and societal groups. This support cannot be built and sustained over time without a civilian government performing satisfactorily in state and societal affairs.

 The current AKP government in Turkey is a useful example of the dealings of civilian government with the military that has a long tradition of political role. The AKP came to power after winning the elections in November 2002 and it won two more general elections in July 2007 and June 2011. It devoted initial attention to improving internal economic and political situation and strengthening Turkey’s role in regional politics. It initiated controversial trails of a number of serving and retired military officers, civilian leaders and the media people in 2008 for their involvement in an alleged plan to dislodge the AKP government in 2003. The first set of convictions of this trial took place in December 2012 and August 2013. Another trial with reference to the 1980 military take-over was initiated in January 2012. The case is pending. In the first case, the appeal stage is still to be dealt with.  With AKP government’s new political problems in December 2013 and January 2014, it is not clear if the Turkish government will be able to push forward these cases with the initial enthusiasm.

 The moral of the Turkish experience is that Pakistan’s federal government should assign a high priority to addressing the problems of economy, especially the energy crisis, inflation and price hike and internal terrorism and religious extremism that have hit all sections of population. The Musharraf trial is expected to linger on for over a year or so that will increase political controversies in Pakistan.

  There is a need to make a dispassionate analysis of the possible implications of this trial on civil-military relations which are critical to political stability in Pakistan. The federal government should fix its priorities and conserve its energy for putting its economic and political house in order. This will secure democracy and sustain the PMLN in power. Even if Musharraf is finally convicted, there is no guarantee that democracy will become safer than ever.

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