Archive | April, 2015

Owning glitzy restaurant didn’t come easy – Siva, owner of Italian restaurant

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin


I was recently directed to a Globe and Mail article that discussed the phenomenon of visible minorities working in Toronto restaurant kitchens. Interestingly, the Sri Lankan Tamil community was cited as staffing almost a third of these kitchens. However, few visible minorities, including Tamils, have found success in the “front of the house” as restaurateurs or culinary chefs.

Given an interest in the heavy concentration of Tamils working in Toronto restaurants — and with a personal connection as many of my father’s friends make a living in this industry — I recently connected with a man who exemplifies a kitchen success story. As the owner of an Italian restaurant located in the heart of ritzy Yorkville, it was clear that owning a restaurant in this area was a marker of success.

I felt a bit out of place given the wealthy Torontonians who frequent the area. Located in a district known for its celebrity sightings, highbrow fashion and for once hosting the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), I nervously walked into the lobby of the restaurant. I was quickly put at ease, however, when a smiling waitress ushered me in and introduced me to the restaurant owner Siva.

From the onset of our conversation, Siva made it clear that owning his glitzy restaurant did not come easy. He described the struggles he faced upon moving to Canada from Sri Lanka. Siva recounted his first job as a dishwasher at a restaurant not too far from the place he owned today. When asked why he decided to take on his first job in Canada, he stated “kitchen work was a job that had multiple postings in restaurant windows in Toronto 30 years ago.” With no resume or advanced skill set required, Siva found a job that gave him the immediate cash needed to build a new life in a new country. However, he quickly realized that working as a dishwasher had its constraints and would not be enough to provide for his family.

When explaining this next phase in his life, Siva discussed an assortment of jobs and business ventures he took up after leaving his job as a dishwasher. Eventually, he became a kitchen manager and then left the restaurant industry altogether to start his own set of small businesses (a Sri Lankan grocery store, a textile store and a hair salon). Siva leaned back in his chair and smiled as he reminisced about his past. Listening to him speak, I was taken by his bravery to embark on businesses on his own and to admit their respective victories and failures.

During an economic recession in the 1990s, Siva described how a number of his businesses took a hit. Siva found himself returning to the restaurant industry as a dishwasher. I could sense the emotion in his voice as he described this point of his life. Sitting across the table from me in an upscale restaurant he owned, I wondered if the Siva then had any idea how his life would change.

Through a mix of determination, hard work and fate, Siva went for an interview in a restaurant named Toni Bulloni in prestigious Yorkville. He was immediately hired as a second chef and worked at several restaurants owned by the people behind Toni Bulloni.

Upon taking a year off to go back to school, Siva described how the owners repeatedly asked him to come back. The regular customers loved him and would ask where he was or why he wasn’t there. Siva described with great fondness that he had formed an attachment to the customers and loved the restaurant environment. So, caving into the constant appeals for his return, Siva agreed to stop by a couple of times a week to help out and entertain the regular customers.

When business started declining a few years ago, the owners wanted to sell and turned to Siva to take over. “They trusted me and I loved it here,” Siva said while smiling from ear to ear. Looking at him after he told me this part of his story, I saw that he was genuinely happy with where he now was in his life.

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Be generous: Here’s how you can help earthquake victims in Nepal

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal with devastating force Saturday, April 25th killing thousands of people. As the rescue and recovery efforts get underway, many charities and NGOs are sending teams, essential aid and medical assistance. Here are some of the organizations that you can assist.

The Nepal Red Cross Society is the epicenter of the relief efforts and is a direct way to help the people of Nepal.

CARE is on the ground and preparing to provide temporary shelter, ready-to-eat meals and water purification and latrine construction. You can learn more about their relief plans here or go directly to their donation page to help.

Global Giving has created a Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund to immediately help both local Nepalese nonprofits and international aid organizations. Supporters can donate online or text GIVE NEPAL to 80088 to donate $10.

Handicap International has been in Nepal since 2000 and the 47-person team is safe. They are providing wheelchairs and assistance to the local hospitals which they report are overwhelmed. You can go online to directly support their Nepal Earthquake Response.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is preparing an emergency response operation and is prepping resources from its hubs in New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. The federation is releasing funds from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support the initial emergency response, and you can further support their efforts by donating here.

International Medical Corps is on the ground coordinating their response and sending additional staff and resources to support relief efforts. You can support the Nepal Earthquake Response online, or by texting MED to 80888 to give $10.

Mercy Corps has launched the Nepal Earthquake Response fund to help provide food, water and temporary shelter in the aftermath of this disaster.

Oxfam International is working to help provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food for those affected by this disaster.

Save the Children is working to protect vulnerable children and provide relief to families. You can donate online to directly support the Nepal Children’s Emergency Relief Fund.

UNICEF is working with the government and other partners to meet children’s immediate needs in water and sanitation, protection, health and nutrition.

The World Food Programme is also responding, providing food to those in need.

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Bill Blair launches political career at Sikh celebration

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Bill Blair

Former police chief marks his first day as an aspiring federal Liberal candidate at a Sikh community celebration, the Khalsa Day parade.

Dressed in a plain black suit, blue shirt and striped tie, retired Toronto police chief Bill Blair stepped outside his comfort zone Sunday on his first day as a civilian and aspiring federal Liberal candidate.

“Public safety was easy. Locking up the bad guys is a piece of cake,” he quipped after greeting several dozen Sikh police officers at the CNE before Sunday’s Khalsa Day parade.

“This other thing is hard.”

Blair is entering federal politics and seeking the Liberal nomination in Scarborough Southwest, a community where he has lived most of his life.

Former CTV anchor Tim Weber is also running for the Liberal nomination in anticipation of next fall’s federal election. The riding is currently held by New Democrat Dan Harris.

Blair’s 10-year tenure as chief officially ended Saturday night. But Toronto’s former top cop said he couldn’t miss the annual Khalsa Day celebration, which marks the Sikh New Year. The parade drew an estimated 100,000 people to downtown streets Sunday.

“I have a very special relationship with this community. I have been coming to this event for 25 years,” said Blair. Over his suit, he wore an orange scarf he received several years ago during a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a holy Sikh site in Punjab, India.

“Although I no longer wear the uniform of the Toronto Police Service . . . I wanted to be here with these people today because it is an incredibly important day for our Sikh community and the city of Toronto,” he told reporters after addressing several thousand gathered in the CNE’s Better Living Building.

As he posed for photos and mingled with the friendly crowd, talk quickly turned to his political aspirations

“We are looking forward to seeing you in Ottawa,” said event organizer Gobinder Randhawa, founder of Scarborough’s first Sikh temple in 1985.

“We should talk,” Blair responded, as the group laughed.

“I have to tell you, for most of my life, I have run from politicians, not for politics,” he said. “But I want to continue to serve.”

In an interview later, Randhawa said he hopes Blair wins the nomination and the election.

“The quality in politics has to be improved,” he said. “I think we need men like him at every level of government.”

Many police officers at the event seemed pleased their old boss is making the leap into federal politics.

Staff Supt. Rick Stubbings said the retired chief has been “a real bridge” to the Sikh community and predicted he will make a good politician.

“He really is authentic. He cares about people,” added Stubbings, a member of Blair’s senior management team for 10 years and the senior officer at the event.

Auxiliary Const. Anmol Lal, who has served for four years and hopes to join the force full time, said Blair is popular in the Sikh community and among the police rank and file.

“It’s a great thing. He was an amazing chief,” said Lal, one of several who wore turbans with their uniforms.

Speaking to reporters, Blair said he is seeking political office because he wants to continue to serve the public.

“I know the issues that confront our citizens. I know a lot about public safety and national security, issues of drug policy and a lot of things about social justice, because that’s what it means to be a public servant in the city of Toronto,” he said.

Although Blair said he had “respectful conversations with everybody,” he chose the Liberals because the party’s “values most closely fit with my own.”

He said he hopes to bring what he has learned from almost 40 years on the police service “to a national discussion of how we can keep all communities safe, livable, respectful and inclusive.”

But Blair is taking nothing for granted.

“I’m going to have to earn that nomination and try to convince them that I am the best person to represent them (in Ottawa),” he said.



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Jonathan Vance Named Canada’s Next Defence Chief

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Jonathan Vance

On July 3, 2009 the Canadian military came within a heartbeat of losing its future leader.

That was the day a powerful Taliban roadside bomb detonated beneath the light armoured vehicle behind the one carryingthen-Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance.

Vance was standing in the rear air sentry hatch and saw, as the debris and dust cleared, the lifeless body of a member of his personal detail, Cpl. Nick Bulger, in the other vehicle.

It was a touchstone event for Vance, now a lieutenant-general, who was formally named on Monday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the country’s next top military commander.

He rarely speaks about the event, but sat down with The Canadian Press for an in-depth profile interview in 2011.

“The toughest moment (of the war) was holding Nick Bulger dead in my arms after the IED strike,” said Vance.

In the Balkans as a young officer and peacekeeper, he oversaw the grisly exchange of bodies between warring factions and the removal of mines from churches and holy sites.

Not only does Vance understand the business of war on a gut level, but he knows the cost in terms of destruction and lives, said retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie.

He described Vance as blunt and known for speaking truth to power, which could make him a popular choice for a military struggling to redefine itself following the Afghanistan mission.

“I am feeling old because I worked for Jon Vance’s dad,” said MacKenzie, referring to retired lieutenant-general Jack Vance, who served as vice chief of defence staff in the 1980s and passed away in 2013.

The day his father retired as the vice chief of defence staff, Vance was a captain serving with the 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, which was stationed in Germany at the time.

The advice that stuck with him wasn’t necessarily restricted to soldiering.

“Be yourself, is what he told me,” Vance said of his father. “He had all sorts of other sayings, family sayings, but the one that I’ve applied to my military life and throughout my life is: Be yourself, which I took as don’t be contrived; don’t put on airs. And he always taught me to have the courage of my convictions, as long as they were thought through.”

He grew up an army brat and said he also took inspiration from the sergeants and warrant officers who were his hockey coaches.

Later this year Vance will replace the soon-to-retire Gen. Tom Lawson, a former fighter pilot, who announced last winter that he would step down after 2 1/2 years in the job.

He takes over at an important time, with Canada helping battle extremists in Iraq and Syria and as measures are being taken to reassure eastern European allies in the face of Russian aggression, Harper said Monday.

“I’m sure Gen. Vance will do a tremendous job for this vital national institution,” said the prime minister, noting that the transition would not take place for a couple of months.

NDP defence critic Jack Harris said he’s concerned about the amount of time that will pass before there is a change of command.

There’s been an open invitation for Lawson to appear before the Commons defence committee, and Harris said he’d like to hear from Vance about his vision for the future of the military and expectations for the mission in Iraq and Syria before Parliament breaks in advance of the fall election.

“I think it would be good for the public to know what Gen. Vance’s views are and whether he has any particular concerns,” said Harris.

Vance twice led the army’s task force in Kandahar during the Afghan war. He was commander in 2009, but returned for a second stint when his successor, Brig-Gen. Dan Menard was relieved for misconduct.

Currently, Vance serves as the country’s joint operations commander and has been the face of high-profile public briefings on the combat mission against the militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

He’s also served in other key posts, including head of the strategic joint staff, the military’s nerve centre in Ottawa and was also deputy commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples.

Vance also takes over at a time when the military is juggling multiple deployments on a reduced budget, something that’s likely to weigh on the new defence chief, MacKenzie added.

“It won’t be a lot of fun,” said MacKenzie. “I’ve always said you have to be a bit of a masochist to take that job these days. There’s no doubt about it. Naturally, there is the other side of it where you have achieved the ultimate (career) appointment, but it’s not going to be the most enjoyable one.”

Aside from field experience, Vance brings a robust academic record to the job with a master’s degree in war studies, and he was one of the principal authors of the army’s counter-insurgency manual, which was adopted during the Kandahar campaign.


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Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin


Dr. Hasan Askari


 Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Islamabad on April 21-22, 2015 was projected as a big affair by the Pakistan Government. He was accorded an enthusiastic welcome; the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan and three Military chiefs welcomed him at the Islamabad Airport.

 The Chinese President gave a very strong message of diplomatic, military and economic support to Pakistan. His address to the joint session of the parliament and his other statements expressed strong support for Pakistan. He also appreciated Pakistan’s diplomatic support to China at a time when the United States and other western countries had virtually isolated China at the international level.

 The Chinese President made the biggest ever foreign assistance offer to Pakistan. Additionally, his diplomatic support to Pakistan gave a clear message to the international community that China intends to become the major donor to Pakistan in order to stabilize its internal situation.

 Traditionally the United States and international financial institutions have been the main source of economic assistance to Pakistan. However, if the current Chinese offer of economic assistance is fully implemented, China will surpass the United States in offering economic assistance.

  Since 1962-63, China has provided significant support to Pakistan for civilian and military industrial development. No other country helped so much to build Pakistan’s defense industry which also includes joint aircraft production. Tank production in Pakistan is also due to Chinese cooperation. Pakistan will not only get naval ships from China but China will also transfer its technology. An important aspect of Pakistan-Chia cooperation in defense production is the Chinese transfer of technology. China has also helped Pakistan’s nuclear program. This also includes the setting up of nuclear reactors for production of electricity. Two Chinese nuclear reactors are working in Chasma, Punjab or production of electricity. Two new reactors will be installed there. There is a proposal to install two nuclear reactors outside of Karachi for power generation. No Western country is willing to provide nuclear reactor and the related technical support to Pakistan for electricity generation.

  China’s economic assistance in the past and its new proposals are very important for Pakistan because not many countries are willing to offer such a large scale financial and diplomatic support to Pakistan. If the offers of economic support to Pakistan given during the latest visit of China’s President materialize, China will become the principal source of economic support to Pakistan.

 China’s basic interest is to ensure Pakistan’s economic development to ensure internal harmony and stability which it views as important for regional peace and stability.

 China views Pakistan as a reliable partner in the future as it China expands its regional and global role. Pakistan’s viewed as a stable friend if China’s regional and global interests clash with India. There are hardly any chances of a clash between the interests of Pakistan and China because Pakistan (unlike India) is not a contender for global and regional status.

 From China’s point-of-view Pakistan is relevant for the economic development of its Western province. Pakistan is also relevant to Chinese desire to expand its influence in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean area. Pakistan provides a land route to China to the Middle East.

 There are additional reasons for the increased Chinese support to Pakistan for overcoming its socio-economic problems. For China’s Western province (Xin-Jiang province) Pakistani ports of Karachi and Gwadar are closer in distance from its own ports in South China Sea. Western China is a Muslim majority region and it faces separatist and hardline Islamic movement that engages in violence against the Chinese state and ordinary people.

  On the one hand the Chinese government uses force against these hardline Islamic groups to crush them. On the other hand China is pursuing economic development of these areas to win over the common people and isolate the groups that promote religious extremism and violence. Pakistan is relevant for Western region of China for two reasons. First, some of the hard line Islamic-Chinese groups have been linked with the Taliban based in Pakistani tribal areas and Afghanistan. China supports Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts. Its confidence in Pakistan has increased because of the on-going security operation in North Waziristan by the Pakistan military. China thinks that Pakistan’s strong control of the tribal areas will make it difficult for Chinese extremist groups to take refuge in the tribal areas or in Afghanistan.

 Second, China wants to use Pakistani sea ports and roads for international trade for its Western region which will help its economic development. China wants to build Gwadar as an international sea port and link it through roads and train-service with Western region of China. It is in this context that the notion of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor becomes relevant.

 Pakistan and China are also working closely to support the Kabul government led by President Asharaf Ghani for economic development and control of Afghan Taliban. If internal trouble in Afghanistan is brought under control, it will benefit both Pakistan and China. It is for this reason that China is taking more active interest in Afghanistan’s economic rehabilitation and reconstruction. It also supports the current efforts of Pakistan and Afghanistan to coordinate their efforts to control terrorism in the region and especially control the cross-border movement of the Taliban and other militant Islamic groups on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. China is encouraging Pakistan to facilitate a dialogue between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.

  Cooperation between China and Pakistan is expected to expand after the latest visit of China’s President to Pakistan. One major project of economic cooperation that got highlighted during the Chinese President’s visit is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which proposes a road network between Kashgar and Gwadar but also the construction of a number of industrial and electricity generation projects along the proposed economic corridor. We will discuss the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor in the next article.


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India urges its wealthy temples to bolster the economy with gold

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Government plans to use riches donated by religious devotees to protect nation’s foreign exchange reserves


The Indian government wants wealthy Hindu temples to deposit their gold reserves in banks in order to boost the economy. Photograph: Rama Lakshmi/Washington Post

Workers for the centuries-old Shree Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai spent hours unpacking gold coins, heavy wedding necklaces and lustrous pendants from a closely guarded “strong room”. By the time gold-buyers began mingling with worshippers at the sweltering sanctuary last month, the jewellery auctioneers were ready.

“This is not a regular gold coin that you would buy from a gold shop – it contains the Lord’s blessing,” a temple board member said, holding up a tiny coin, probably left by a devotee years ago. It eventually sold for four times its face value.

Wealthy Hindu temples such as this one are repositories for much of the $1 trillion worth of privately held gold in India – about 22,000 tonnes, according to an estimate from the World Gold Council. In 2011, one temple in south India was found to have more than $22bn in gold hidden away in locked rooms rumoured to be filled with snakes. Another has enough gold to rival the riches stashed at the Vatican, experts said.

But little of it is contributing to the Indian economy, and now prime minister Narendra Modi’s government is looking to monetise India’s vast hidden wealth. In coming weeks, the government plans to begin a programme that will allow temples to deposit their gold into banks to earn interest and circulate in the economy, rather than sit idle in musty vaults. The gold, officials said, would be melted down and sold to jewellers.

India is one of the largest consumers of gold in the world, importing almost 1,000 tonnes each year. The nation’s leaders have tried in vain to curb the nation’s insatiable appetite. But now the government hopes to coax temples into parting with some of their gold to address the country’s trade imbalance and protect its foreign exchange reserves.

Most of this temple gold is neither traded nor monetised, finance minister Arun Jaitley said in a budget speech in February. By contrast, the Indian government’s gold reserves amount to only about 550 tonnes.

 “Our hunger for gold had led to a severe current account deficit a couple of years ago because gold was the number two imported item after oil,” said Gnanasekar Thiagarajan, director of Mumbai-based commodities consultancy Commtrendz. “Gold has consistently given good returns even as stock market and land prices have fallen, and has been the chosen mode of investing wealth among Indians.”

Among the young and upwardly mobile urban professionals, he said, there has been a shift to what is called “paper gold” or gold mutual funds, instead of real gold. About $2.5bn is invested in paper gold.

“But if the temples start allowing the government to melt the gold jewellery donated by devotees, will it hurt their religious sentiments?” Thiagarajan asked. “Will gold offerings slow down in the future?”

Many traditionalists, including the boards of many of the country’s leading temples, prefer to have their gold locked up rather than circulating in the economy.

“The jewellery belongs to God. Why should the government melt it?” asked Chandan Male, 42, a businessman and devotee at the Siddhivinayak Temple. “By auctioning it, the jewellery is only circulating among the devotees.”

Indians’ love of gold dates back centuries, stemming from gold-giving rituals and gold-buying festivals. Brides are draped with gold, and gold-laden dowries are a traditional gesture that costs a life savings for many poorer families.

During a dramatic court battle in 2011 over the riches in the 16th-century Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in the southern state of Kerala, a supreme court team discovered $22bn worth of gold.

This huge treasure trove – sacks of coins, diamonds and other jewellery, gem-encrusted ceremonial garb and solid gold idols lying in cavernous cellars – was revealed after the court ordered the vaults opened in response to a petition accusing temple officials of mismanaging the wealth.

Much of the gold had been deposited by the local royal family. A popular belief that the gold lay wrapped with dozens of venomous snakes underground kept robbers away. The image of a snake engraved on the wall fuelled the popular lore.

“The myth kept the gold safe for centuries,” said Ravi Varma Raja, 74, who was appointed by the royal family as the custodian of the vault keys until the court intervened.

“I am certain that 99% of the people would not like it to be melted,” Raja added, reflecting how unlikely it will be for the temple to accept the government’s plan.

A few temples already have deposited small portions of their gold in banks. In the past four years, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, one of India’s richest temples in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, has deposited more than five tonnes in a state-run bank in a “gold for gold” programme where the goods are melted down and held and the interest is paid back to the temple in gold.

“We receive interest not in cash but in gold. Had the devotees opposed, we would not be able to do this,” said O Balaji, the financial adviser to the temple.

Said Narendra Rane, the chairman of the Mumbai temple board: “I would not say that our gold is sitting idle.” He said the money from the gold auctions funds charity projects. The temple was waiting to see what the government’s interest rates would be before it decided whether to participate, he said.

At the temple in Mumbai, thousands of worshippers waiting to pay homage to the elephant-headed god Ganesh stood in line in the heat watching as the auction unfolded. There were bids on 352 gold items worth about $130,000, and 179 gold jewellery items were sold at the auction, bringing in $82,300 for the temple.

The wall and ceiling of the temple’s inner shrine are plated with pure gold, and the Ganesh idol is adorned with exquisite jewellery. Over the decades, devotees have made generous offerings when their special prayers were answered.


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Khalsa Day Takes Over the Downtown Core

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Khalsa Day

This year’s Khalsa Day celebrations drew a crowd that included vote-seeking politicians and young Sikhs trying to change the menu.

Sikhs from across Southern Ontario gathered downtown on Sunday to celebrate the twin holidays of Vaisakhi and Khalsa Day. The celebrations included a parade (called a Nagar Kirtan) from the CNE to Nathan Phillips Square, as well as a massive feast (in the square) with food donated by Sikh places of worship across the province.

Vaisakhi is a harvest festival, celebrated by people of all faiths across the northern half of the Indian subcontinent. It was on Vaisakhi in 1699 that the final guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh, revealed the Khalsa, or code of conduct, for practicing Sikhs. Khalsa Day marks the anniversary of that event.

The crowd assembled at Nathan Phillips Square listened to speeches from members of the local Sikh community, as well as politicians of all stripes. Liberals, Tories, and New Democrats all thanked the Sikhs for their contributions to Canadian culture, while trying to win Sikh support.

“My favourite thing in the parade was the float that said ‘Sikh Values are Canadian Values,’” said Premier Kathleen Wynne. “We share a value system of compassion, caring for each other, and creating a fair society, and that is what our government is working with you to do.”

Provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath and provincial Conservative leader Tim Hudak said basically the same thing. Two federal leaders—the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair and the Liberal party’s Justin Trudeau—were also on hand for the celebrations.

At least one group of young Sikhs sought to make this year’s celebration a little different. The organizers of Smart Seva distributed healthy snacks along the parade route. (“Seva” refers to the concept of selfless service, a core tenant of Sikhism and one of the reasons groups provide free food on Khalsa Day.) Co-organizer Sarnpal Panesar said the goal was to provide an alternative to the fatty, sugary fare traditionally eaten on the day.

“During this parade, people like to hand out a lot of food and snacks,” he said. “We got some donations from family and friends, and we just went and got water, no-sugar-added juices, fruit, and granola bars, to give out during the parade. All the things you need to keep your energy up during the day. You don’t want to have a greasy sandwich or a samosa at the beginning of a parade and need a nap by the end.”

His colleague Aiksimar Singh said that, beyond promoting the healthy living, his goal is to emphasize the importance of selfless service to his fellow young Sikhs.

“We want to get other people involved, to have the same approach,” said Singh. “We all have companies and businesses, and we could say, ‘This from our business, we sponsored this and that,’ but it’s not about that…We want people to come forward and help out without any ulterior motives.”

The Smart Seva team has also spearheaded efforts to get Toronto’s Khalsa Day celebrations on social media. The group started the @NagarKirtanTO Twitter account. Singh said that, while it didn’t gain huge traction this year, he and his fellow volunteers are hoping to have it be a major part of the celebrations in 2014.

“There’s no dedicated social media for this,” he said. “You can search hashtags, but Nagar Kirtan is the phrase used for all the parades, so we wanted to have something dedicated to Toronto, which is one of the biggest ones in North America.”

“Another part of the idea of Smart Seva is to update with the times and make things a little more relatable for the youth.”

He hopes that, with an improved social media push, Khalsa Day can become as much of a part of the fabric of the city as other parades, like Caribana and Pride.

“We get a lot of people coming up and asking us what’s going on,” he says. “We have similar numbers to these other parades, it’s just a matter of people knowing what it’s about.”


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Dear Medical Post, Your Racist Article Is Insulting to Muslim Physicians

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin


Dear Editors of the Medical Post and its publisher, Rogers Digital Media:

I am deeply disappointed at the racism embedded within “Physicians Famous for their Religious Leanings,” the article published in the April 7, 2015 edition of the Medical Post.

The article discusses the professional work of specific physicians in the context of their faith. The article recognizes Pope John XXI who was a practicing physician and teacher. Dr. Schwitzer was an author of a biography on Sebastian Bach and a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1952. Dr. Damadian was credited with contributions that led to the invention of the MRI.

The article also recognizes Ayman Al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda leader and an architect of the 9/11 attacks, as a Muslim physician noted for his faith.

Among those named in the article, three of four physicians are of various Christian faiths. Each of those three are noted for their contributions to humanity. Al-Zawahiri is the only one on the list who one who is identified as Muslim and is an undeniable criminal.

Accomplished Muslims physicians, past or present, are not difficult to identify. A Google search for “famous Muslim physicians” leads to long lists of them. Avicenna (980-1037) was known as the father of modern medicine. Mansur ibn Ilyas was a Persian physician born in the late 14th century and created the first coloured atlas of the human body.

If you want a modern day example, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor is a 42-year-old Malaysian orthopedic surgeon, space researcher, and astronaut. If you do not think he fits the article’s headline, “Physicians Famous for their Religious Leanings,” then you should watch the YouTube video of him praying in space.

Al-Zawahiri’s politics, tactics, or religious beliefs are not representative of Muslim physicians. By citing Al-Zawahiri and comparing him to positive, non-Muslim examples, the Medical Post implicitly suggests that there is something inherently wrong with being Muslim and providing medical care.

The framing of the article perpetuates stereotypes of Muslims as terrorists. The article is ultimately disrespectful and hurtful to Muslim physicians.

I request that Medical Post and Rogers Digital Media publicly withdraw the article and publish an apology that will be available both in the digital and print versions of the Medical Post. I expect that the Medical Post and Rogers Digital Media will take this opportunity to internally reflect about their values and publicly outline how the incident will change their internal processes.


Dr. Amina Jabbar BSW, MSc, MD

Senior Resident
Department of Internal Medicine
University of Toronto

Update: Since Amina first published this post on her Facebook page and Twitter, the Medical Post has apologized publicly


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Few Canadian businesses ready for next wave of tech change, study says

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Few Canadian businesses ready for next wave of tech change, study says

A new study by consulting firm Deloitte suggests most Canadian companies aren’t prepared for major advances in technology like robotics and artificial intelligence. Deloitte says only 13 per cent of the 700 companies in its study scored well, while 87 per cent were partially or completely unprepared for the magnitude and speed of change that’s on the horizon. In fact, just over one-third of the companies studied scored poorly on each of four key measures – awareness, innovation, agility and the ability to channel resources. Study co-author Terry Stuart says the findings are consistent with other Deloitte research on Canadian companies. He says companies are generally adverse to risk and that shows up as a reluctance to invest the time and money needed to understand the next wave of technology. Deloitte predicts the economy is about to be changed by new technology like industrial robots, 3D printers and sensor devices that are connected by networks and monitored by computing systems with artificial intelligence.

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Evelyn ‘obsessed’ with Ram’s ‘Dil Ki Baatein’

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin


Actress Evelyn Sharma, who will be seen portraying an aspiring rockstar Naina in comedy caper film “Kuch Kuch Locha Hai”,

says she is hooked to co-star Ram Kapoor’s ongoing TV show “Dil Ki Baatein”. The 28-year-old, who has

appeared in films like “Yaariyan” and “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani”, doesn’t watch many Hindi shows, but she

feels Ram is doing an “outstanding job” in the Sony Entertainment Television show.

“Right now I am obsessed with the show ‘Dil Ki Baatein’. I think Ram Kapoor has done an outstanding job in it. I am totally hooked to the story,”

Evelyn said in a statement about the show, about a woman’s battle with cancer and how her family deals with it. Directed by Devang Dholakia, “Kuch Kuch Locha Hai ” , which also stars Sunny Leone and

debutant Navdeep Chhabra, is slated to release on May 8.

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