Archive | January, 2016

Aishwarya performs crucial scene for ‘Sarbjit’ without cuts

Posted on 28 January 2016 by admin

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who is shooting for ‘Sarbjit’ biopic based on Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, performed a crucial scene of the movie without cuts.

In the Omung Kumar-directed ‘Sarbjit’, the 42-year-old actress plays the role of Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur, while actor Randeep Hooda will be seen in the titular role.

“Aishwarya pulled off a two mins (minutes) performance oriented scene so gracefully in one take, with no cuts and retakes, it was more like a real moment than a scene being filmed,” producer Sandeep Singh said in a statement here.

The film is slated to release on May 20.

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Marathi lessons for Nargis Fakhri

Posted on 28 January 2016 by admin

Now, Hindi is a language that’s still quite a bit alien to Nargis Fakhri, but now she has to contend with Marathi.

The Yankee sexy siren has been shooting with Riteish Deshmukh for Marathi filmmaker Ravi Jadhav’s Bollywood debut, ‘Banjo’.

As most of the unit hands are Maharashtrians, Nargis is now hearing words like ho, nahi, bhaat and bhajee.

Jadhav known for his Marathi films like ‘Time Pass’ and ‘Balak Palak’ is showcasing Maharashtrian culture in the film and Nargis is on a new learning curve.

 

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Whether we work together or not, I’ll be Aamir’s fan: Sunny Leone

Posted on 28 January 2016 by admin

SUNNy Leone says that whether or not she gets to work with Aamir Khan in a film or not, she will always remain a fan of the superstar, who has recently come out in support of the actress.

Sunny, in fact, is grateful that a string of Bollywood celebrities, especially Aamir, took her side following a controversial interview, which was condemned by many for being “sexist”.

The “Jism 2″ actress has herself said the interview was “not right”.

Asked about how she felt about the support of Aamir, who has said that he will be happy to work with her, Sunny told IANS: “I’m still digesting what he said… I’m still in shock. Whether we work together or not I’ll still always watch his film and I will always be a fan.”

After Sunny’s interview on a news channel, where an anchor asked her that while she may want to work with Aamir, would he like to work with her, the “Taare Zameen Par” star praised the Indo-Canadian adult film star for tackling it all with “grace and dignity”.

“And yes Sunny, I will be happy to work with you. I have absolutely no problems with your ‘past’, as the interviewer puts it. Stay blessed.

Cheers. Aamir,” he had tweeted.

It left Sunny quite thrilled.

Also, garnering support from various other celebrities like Rishi Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Vir Das and Sushant Singh Rajput, made her feel “good”.

“I think what people saw in that video was (reflective) of what I might have been feeling… of the manner in which the interview was taken.”

She added: “I did feel it (the interview) wasn’t right and was wrong… But I did not know how people are going to react. They have been so nice and so kind that they (celebrities) are all on your side,” she said.

The interview was done with CNN IBN anchor Bhupendra Chaubey, who posed uncomfortable questions to Sunny about her past.

She is currently busy promoting her film “Mastizaade”, a sex comedy, which is directed by Milap Zaveri and is slated to hit the screens on January 29.

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Meet DJ Brownsoul, Internationally Acclaimed Talent

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

KAAVIA 

Theepan (a.k.a. DJ Brownsoul) is a very well known name in the Toronto South Asian community. Theepan came to Canada at a young age and started to DJ at the age of 10. He collected reggae vinyl records (sized at 45” and 12”) and remixed songs using software such as Acid Pro.

Theepan’s greatest inspirations have changed over the course of time. Between ages 10-14, it was Troyton Rami who produced songs including Give Me the Light by Sean Paul and Turn Me On by Kevin Lyttle. Troyton’s artistic excellence in his production inspired Theepan to work just like him. From the age of 15 until 20, Theepan was influenced by A.R Rahman’s work in the 90s. And since age 21, he is greatly inspired by Diplo, MIA, Lean On and Major Lazer, who works with musical genres including EDM, Moombahton, Fusion of House and Reggaeton.

Certain DJs stick to DJing for their gigs and to entertain people. However, Theepan produces music. Earlier this year, Theepan performed as a DJ at Kardinal Offishall’s New Year’s Eve concert. Keep an ear out for Kardinal Offishall’s newest song as Theepan is one of many artists who collaborated to produce it. Theepan has several more artist collaboration works in progress that will be released on his various social media platforms.

 Coming to Canada at such a young age, who has helped you the most with your journey? 
Theepan: I went through some hardship growing up. My parents were in Sri Lanka while I was here in Canada. The one thing I am thankful for is the friends that have become my family and supported me with my trade since day one.

 So what is going on with you and Major Lazer? 
Theepan: I am currently working on a song and will be hosting a concert in 2016.

 For the upcoming young DJs, what software do you use to produce and mix your music? 
Theepan: I use Serato, CDJ 2000, Technics 1200 MK2 and Rane 68. To produce music I use Logic Pro and Ableton Live.

Not only does Theepan work in Toronto, he also hosts destination weddings and gigs. He often gets requests from Europe as well. Theepan’s high demand is due to the fact he shares all his productions on SoundCloud. His account has a large following, and as a follower I can attest that these mixes are awesome! His style of music and how he delivers an epic night for any gathering is what attracts him so much business.

One of Theepan’s greatest accomplishments is creating a name in Canada and being known internationally both within the Tamil community and outside it. He hosts his own concert called Flashback, which is an awesome concert to go to (I can attest as a first hand witness).

The greatest challenge in Theepan’s career is that individuals tend to not appreciate the music and creativity he throws into every mix, gig and wedding reception. There were several people who didn’t believe in him and thought a DJ was not something worth paying for, so you can image how many times he has been asked for “free gigs”. But with the hard work he has thrown into his passion over the years, Theepan was able to overcome many obstacles and build himself the reputation he has today.

Theepan has been signed under Major Lazer’s Mad Decent label and will be working on his own personal project with Jamaican artists. In three year’s time, Theepan envisions hosting large scale concerts and collaborating with big name artists.

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Canada’s economy needs a jump-start: Editorial

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

With Canada’s economy facing a harder uphill climb than even three months ago, it only makes sense to change gears. Additional and immediate traction is necessary light of the slipping loonie, shaky stock market, skidding oil prices, and a worrying downturn in the value of other commodities.

A faster, bigger investment in much-needed infrastructure might well provide the push the country needs to power through hard times. With that in mind, Canadians should welcome news that the Liberal government is “actively considering” speeding up its promised spending on infrastructure projects.

This would almost certainly result in a higher-than-anticipated deficit next year, but demanding times require bold measures. And there’s no doubt Canada’s prospects are difficult indeed.

Still struggling to cope with a steady erosion of manufacturing jobs in Ontario, the economy has seen oil prices plunge lower than they’ve been in more than a decade. That’s been especially damaging for Alberta, but the effects are spreading across the country.

Other commodities have lost value too, driving down the loonie. It sank below 69 cents U.S. on Friday for the first time since 2003. The stock market is stumbling as well.

A big reason for all this grief is economic turmoil in China, a huge market for Canada’s raw materials. That instability is unlikely to end anytime soon, and it’s impossible for any government in Ottawa to fix.

Federal officials can, however, do more to stimulate economic activity and job creation. That’s where judicious use of infrastructure spending could be particularly useful.

A huge increase in that kind of spending was the main plank in the Liberal campaign platform. But it was meant more as a long-term commitment to address chronic needs than as a speedy response to deteriorating economic conditions.

About $60 billion is to be spent on infrastructure projects over the coming decade. But only about $17.4 billion of that, not even one-third, is planned for the next four years. And stimulus is needed now.

Trudeau is sending promising signals. “We’re going to do this right, we’re going to do this responsibly,” he assured Canadians during his visit to Toronto this week.

There’s certainly no shortage of projects that deserve support. Public transit expansion hasn’t kept pace with rider demand, leading to worsening gridlock in big cities. There’s a crushing shortage of affordable housing. Additional seniors’ facilities are especially required. And municipalities of all sizes are desperate to fix their cracked roads, crumbling sewers, rusting bridges and aging water treatment plants.

Given all this pent-up need, there should be projects on the books that could be quickly launched as soon as money is available.

These should be a priority in such difficult economic times. Provinces and municipalities would be wise to bring such initiatives to federal attention. And Ottawa should respond with a speedy review and an open wallet.

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Kevin O’Leary Unfit To Be Tory Leader, Says Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

He may want to be the next Conservative leader, but the welcome mat out is not out for television personality Kevin O’Leary, says one of the party’s longest-serving MPs.

O’Leary is bad news and an undesirable candidate to replace Stephen Harper as leader, Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai said.

Obhrai, who was first elected in 1997, is the dean of the Conservative caucus. He said his party was built on grassroot support and has gone through a tremendous amount of rebuilding since the Reform party split from the Progressive Conservatives, the Canadian Alliance was formed and then merged with the PCs to form the current Conservative party in 2003.

“I never saw this guy [O’Leary] anywhere. Anywhere. At any of these functions. As a matter of fact, I haven’t heard from him in those 18 years, and now we have a celebrity trying to run. Well, he doesn’t have the foggiest idea what this party is all about,” Obhrai said.

Last week, O’Leary mused publicly about running for the Tory leadership. He talked to current interim leader Rona Ambrose about a potential bid. Monday, a new poll among likely Tory supporters had him neck-and-neck against former longtime MP and Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay as the preferred candidate. MacKay left politics before the last election, saying he wanted to spend more time with his young family. He has yet to state officially whether he plans to run.

’Leary has economic expertise “because he is a rich businessman,” but more is required in a leader, Obhrai said. “It’s also about health care and senior issues and other important issues, such as foreign affairs.

“This guy doesn’t have any of those things. We do not want another celebrity running around for our party.”

Obhrai compared O’Leary’s possible run to that of former Ontario MP Belinda Stronach, the daughter of billionaire Frank Stronach who lost her bid for the Tory leadership, became an MP, and eventually joined the Liberals when prime minister Paul Martin offered her a cabinet seat to help save his minority government.

“Belinda is a good example of someone coming from outside, look what the consequences were. She crossed the floor.”

Obhrai suggested there is no groundswell of support for O’Leary and that longstanding Conservatives have a better sense of how the party should position itself in the future than the celebrity capitalist.

“He talks nonsense.”

Last week, O’Leary made headlines after telling a radio program he was ready to invest a million dollars in Alberta’s oil patch if NDP Premier Rachel Notley resigned and handed the province over to someone he deemed more qualified to lead the province’s troubled economy.

“He forgot one thing,” Obhrai noted. “Rachel Notley was democratically elected by the people of Alberta.” He suggested that O’Leary believed Albertans could be bought for a million bucks. “He doesn’t respect the democratic will of the people. What the hell? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t go well with us.”

 “He is welcome to run – nobody can stop him from running – but he’s not right,” Obhrai added, declaring that O’Leary is too divisive and doesn’t even speak French.

Obhrai said he also thinks former Toronto city councillor and mayoral candidate Doug Ford is “the wrong candidate.”

He tweeted that Ford, who also let his name float as a potential candidate was not suitable for the Conservative Party of Canada.

“I’m leader of the Conservative caucus, and I’m speaking my mind. I’ve been in this party for 18 years, and I have been through a lot of leadership races,” Obhrai told HuffPost.

“I want to see a candidate who is intelligent, who is thoughtful and who has the ability to attract a majority of Conservative Canadians from coast to coast.”

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Rona Ambrose Suggests It’s Better For Canada To Be Rich Than ‘Hip’

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose kicked off a cross-Canada tour Monday by taking aim at the Liberal government’s grasp on the economy, and mocking the American media’s keen interest in the prime minister.

Addressing a luncheon crowd in Toronto, Ambrose referenced a recent New York Times article titled, “With the Rise of Justin Trudeau, Canada Is Suddenly … Hip?” — using the feature to make a point that having a cool prime minister doesn’t keep debt at bay.

“And not just that we’re hip,” she said, alluding to the Times piece. “We want to hip, but we don’t want to be broke.”

Ambrose added that she has reached out to Trudeau to meet and discuss the “rapidly deteriorating economic situation,” saying the Liberal cabinet ministers are a “very new and untested group” of people at the helm.

“We need a plan. We really need a plan on the economy,” Ambrose said.

She also took a swipe at the prime minister for the tabloid coverage surrounding his family trip to a small Caribbean island over the Christmas holidays.

“I mentioned at the beginning it’s exciting times in politics, but that’s not just because Justin Trudeau’s on TMZ.”

The speech comes amid a tanking Canadian dollar and sliding oil prices — trends Ambrose used to blast the Liberals’ campaign promise to limit deficits to a “modest” $10 billion annually.

In November, the Liberals were scrutinized by opposing parties and accused of breaking an election promise after Finance Minister Bill Morneau forecasted a $3-billion deficit by the end of 2015 — after the previous Conservative government predicted a $2.3-billion surplus.

“We have to worry about the amount of debt we leave to the next generation,” Ambrose told the Toronto crowd.

The interim leader is scheduled to speak in Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Calgary later this week.

Trudeau confident about Liberal budget

Speaking in New Brunswick Monday, Trudeau ducked questions about the possibility of the country’s deficit exceeding the aforementioned $10 billion during his first year in office.

“I have instructed Bill (Morneau) to put forward a strong budget that reflects the needs of Canadians and the needs of the Canadian economy, focused on growth while remaining fiscally responsible,” the prime minister said, adding he has “every confidence in the world that’s exactly what [the government is] going to deliver.”

Trudeau made the comments at a seaside resort where he’s meeting his cabinet for a three-day retreat to discuss Canada’s current economy, as well as its short and long-term trajectory.

Earlier in the day, Ambrose released an open letter to Trudeau, citing “great concern” over the country’s economy.

“… There is no clarity on the limit of spending being considered by your government as it prepares to bring in a budget,” she wrote.

Ambrose extended an offer to the prime minister to work with his government, ending the letter with the hope Trudeau will “consider this request in the spirit in which it is made.”

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CHINA-PAKISTAN ROAD LINK AND PAKISTANI POLITICIANS

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari     

  The political leaders in Pakistan are currently debating the planned construction of road-corridor from Kasghar in Western China to Gwadar Seaport. The Chinese government has offered to spend 46 billion American dollars on construction of three units of this China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. These are a modern seaport in Gwardar; international standard road link between Gwadar and Kashgar; and energy and industrial projects along the road corridor. This project will take 10 to 12 years to complete. Initial work on road construction has already started.

 All political parties in Pakistan are in favor of this project. They see this as a major economic opportunity for Pakistan. However, the political leaders are engaged in a political fight to get maximum advantage out of the project for their province. The major conflict is between the federal government and the provincial government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

 The PMLN government at the federal level is not committing itself on the location of energy and industrial projects. The K-P government has two set of complaints. It wants that the western corridor that links K-P Balochistan via a road from Dera-Ismail Khan to Zhob, Quetta and Gwadar should be given priority. It thinks that either the federal government is not interested in this route or it wants to build an ordinary road system and spend more resources for the road link through Punjab (Islamabad-Lahore-Sukkur-Balochistan or Lahore-Karachi-the Coastal highway to Gwadar. The other K-P complaint pertains the building of industrial and energy projects along the corridor in the K-P. The Balochistan government also wants identification of energy or industrial projects under this projects for Balochistan. Similarly, no project appears to have been identified for Gilgit-Baltistan. However, as the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan belongs to the PMLN, he is not publicly criticizing the federal government. The Chief Minister of Balochistan also belongs to PMLN. He is somewhat quiet on this issue but other political parties supporting the Balochistan government and others want a fair deal for the province for allocation of industrial units and jobs for the local people. The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khurshid Shah, also criticized the federal government on handing the Corridor issue in a manner that has created doubts in the provinces.

 The major controversy developed between the K-P government and the federal government. The activists of the two sides accused each other of politicizing the issue. The K-P leaders accused the federal government of assigning priority to the Punjab in the project. The PMLN leaders blamed the K-P government and the Pakistan Tehrik-Insaf for raising unnecessary controversies and undermining the corridor project.

  When this controversy heated up in the media, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called a meeting of the senior leaders of all political parties and all chief ministers in Islamabad on January 15. All sides outlined their concerns about the corridor projects. The Prime Minister agreed to construction of the western road link, as advocated by K-P on a priority basis. It will have two lanes in each direction and will be completed by July 2018.

 A review committee headed by the prime minister was established which included 5 chief ministers of four provinces and Gilgit-Baltisian. It also included five federal ministers. The committee would meet once every three months to review the progress of the project and deal with the complaints, if any. A special unit has been established at the federal level with representation of the Ministry of Planning and Development and officials from some other ministries.

  The leaders attending the meeting expressed satisfaction with the outcome. However, the controversies are likely to resurface soon because the federal government is not keen about giving the details of the projects and their location under the Corridor system. The transparency in this respect will remove doubts but the federal government does not make a categorical statement about the projects.

 One way to end the controversy is to provide the list of the planned energy and industrial projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and their location. The information available so far does not show any Corridor related project in K-P and Gilgit-Balitisan. All current projects are located in the Punjab, Sindh and Gwadar Seaport. There are two energy projects in Hub area which is a part of Balochsitan but industrialization here is an extension of the Karachi-based industry.

 The federal government must make sure that the energy and industrial projects are spread in all the provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan so that new job opportunities are created in all provinces. Special attention must be given to the backward and underdeveloped areas so that the people of these areas get an opportunity to improve the quality of life.

  The eastern corridor that goes from K-P to Islamabad Lahore, Sukkur-Balochistan or Lahore-Karachi- Gwadar is mostly developed. It is already in use. The parts of this route require improvement. The work on Lahore-Karachi motorway has already started. All this will be part of the eastern route.

 The western route passes through less developed areas where poverty and underdevelopment is widespread. This route and any industry along this route will create new opportunities for the people of this area.

 Further, Pakistan’s major road link between northern parts and southern parts and Karachi is on the eastern side of river Indus. It is advisable to build a modern road line on the western side of the Indus River to link Pakistan’s northern regions with southern parts, especially Gwadar and Karachi. From the national security perspective, the western route is going to be an asset because it increases road links between north and south of Pakistan.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will provide economic gains to Pakistan and western parts of China. It gives a new sea access to China. It will promote Pakistan’s trade and economic relations with China, Afghanistan and Central Asia.

  The political leaders in Pakistan must work together for completion of this project. The federal government should handle this project in a transparent manner and make sure that all provinces benefit from it.

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Wynne downplays Brown’s India visit as her trade mission looms

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

As Premier Kathleen Wynne gears up for next week’s Ontario trade mission to India, she dismissed Progressive Conservative Patrick Brown’s recent campaign-style visit there as a “winter vacation.”

Brown, who has been to India 16 times and is a friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took four Tory MPPs with him earlier this month, preempting the premier’s larger delegation by a few weeks.

“Here’s the thing, Patrick Brown has travelled as a private citizen to India; I’m going as the premier of Ontario. We are taking business leaders with us. We are doing real business,” Wynne said Monday.

“Patrick Brown can do what he chooses on his winter vacation, but . . . we are doing the business of the province as we go to India,” she said.

Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton), who was on her party’s India mission, took exception, noting on Twitter that Brown “went as leader of the official opposition, not as a private citizen, and was welcomed to PM Modi’s home.”

Indeed, Brown also met with Canada’s high commissioner to India along with numerous Indian politicians and business leaders during his trip.

Wynne’s salvo, which came after a speech to about 40 of the business delegates accompanying her on the Jan. 27-Feb. 7 mission, underscores the political importance of the trip.

With about 700,000 Indo-Canadians in Ontario, the premier appears to be wary of Brown’s deep connections to, and high profile within, the province’s many South-Asian communities.

In her speech, Wynne emphasized that 29 years ago Ontario became the first subnational jurisdiction in the world to open a trade office in India.

“The fact that I haven’t been to India before doesn’t mean Ontario is suddenly discovering the vast potential for our businesses to find opportunities in the Indian economy,” she said.

“Ontario has benefitted enormously from the contributions of our Indo-Canadian community, but it is important to note that it’s a two-way street — India has benefitted too,” said the premier.

“Neither ‘brain-drain’ nor ‘brain-gain’ describes our relationship. When it comes to India, we’re part of the ‘brain-chain,’ because we see the innovation-imperative as a deeply collaborative one between Ontario and India.”

To that end, Wynne hopes that the clean-tech and infrastructure companies, colleges and universities, and others on the mission will find new and mutually beneficial partnerships.

R.K. Perindia, the acting Indian consul general in Toronto, said Ontario is important to his fast-growing country.

“India wants to enhance its trade relations with Ontario, which we know is the financial capital of Canada and which has an edge in the manufacturing of automobiles, life sciences, IT, and many other sectors,” said Perindia.

“We wish to have Ontario as our partner in various economic activities like urban planning, higher education . . . smart cities, green energy, health care, IT . . . innovation, and transport.”

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Teaching Civic Duty At A Young Age Can Make A Real Difference

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

Shujaat Wasty

Practitioner in international affairs and development, RSA fellow, RSF co-founder, OBAT Helpers VP, Leadership Council ISID McGill University

I was nagged by a weighty thought: that which we privileged beings take for granted is an inconceivable luxury elsewhere. It is an oft-repeated mantra, fleetingly shared on social media networks through powerful photos or provocative memes, but seeing is truly believing.

She stood there, both hands clasping her face, weeping profusely. The tears were tinged with more than sadness: they flowed as a sign of overwhelmed relief and even disbelief. Minutes before, young Anila was telling me about her challenges as a poor orphan living in a slum, how her elder brothers worked menial jobs so the three could survive and she could go to school, but could not afford it any longer.

Evidently a bright girl, her lofty aim was to eventually complete her doctoral studies and make a difference, yet at the moment she was unable to pay for college entrance exams, let alone her tuition fees. Touched by the young girl’s ability to dream despite the apparent impossibility, I expressed my resolve to support her education, which drew heartfelt sobs as a response.

It wasn’t the first time I had encountered this type of reaction, and it likely won’t be the last. And often it is impossible not to reciprocate their tears out of empathy.

I recall meeting another orphan, Suhana, who cared for her two young brothers by herself at a displaced population camp. She earned paltry sums working as a housemaid in deplorable conditions.

Initially reserved, as if gauging whether I could earn her trust, she finally opened up and tearfully recounted some of her daily struggles, how her makeshift shelter was damaged and caused her to fall twice into open sewage.

I made my way to her shelter and found it to be worse than what I had imagined. The single-room hut was hot, decrepit and cramped, and at the moment had a gaping hole as part of the wall had caved in. Even worse, it was located in the outskirts of the camp, leaving Suhana and her brothers completely vulnerable to any intruder. Sure enough, she mentioned that some miscreants had tried to harass her the night before.

Amid these already concerning circumstances, I glanced over at the meal she had prepared for herself and her brothers: a small bowl of plain boiled rice with a slice of tomato and some withered strands of onion. That’s it. I would have found it difficult to eat ,much less have my fill, and yet it was their only meal of the day.

As I made arrangements to improve their situation, I was nagged by a weighty thought: that which we privileged beings take for granted is an inconceivable luxury elsewhere. It is an oft-repeated mantra, fleetingly shared on social media networks through powerful photos or provocative memes, but seeing is truly believing.

And for an outsider looking into the sobering world of the millions of Anilas and Suhanas around the world, it can be a struggle to put things in perspective, especially after returning to the relatively comfortable confines of our own realities.

From a very young age, my parents taught my siblings and I, through instruction and example, that doing even a little can lead to a lot. It was difficult at times to wholly understand why we were to keep aside a portion of our weekly allowance to give to charity (perhaps they could have withheld it at the source and introduced us to income taxation instead). And having my mother effectively force me to spend countless hours volunteering in a local food bank and with elderly patients at a nearby hospital was a damper during summer vacations.

But what initially felt like a pointless, mind-numbing activity became a valuable exercise in developing understanding and empathy. Packing food and handing over boxes exposed me to shocking poverty subtly hidden in a generally well-to-do Canadian suburb. Yet the experience wasn’t as painful as building a rapport with elderly patients at a local hospital, for whom our time together was a refuge from their otherwise loneliness, only to return days later and be informed that they were no more.

At those moments of vulnerability, having caring parents to turn to was an invaluable gift. They provided emotional strength and drove my motivation to continue engaging in such causes.

Now, having volunteered for close to a decade in different humanitarian contexts, my interactions with the poorest of the poor — orphans, widows, displaced persons, victims of violence — have allowed me to appreciate the stories reported in the news, and more so those that fail to make the headlines.

The daunting numbers of those in need globally are more than just statistics — each is a person, an individual with likes and dislikes, with hopes and aspirations for love, happiness and a better life for themselves and their family. It is a matter of human dignity and respect.

If we can gain this appreciation sooner as a society and each do our part as individuals to help make a fellow human’s life better, we can actively contribute more positivity to our world. Promoting activities that address this early on can be a catalyst to produce engaged, conscientious human beings. At some point, it has to be an integral part of our civic duty and our parental responsibilities.

If we can breed the sense of regularly taking a step away from our occupations to make life better for another, it would be a significant collective step forward. Neil Armstrong’s famous words after landing on the moon, “One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind,” hold true for each of us right here on our beautiful planet.

Small steps that we incorporate in our lives will inevitably yield giant leaps for all of humanity. It’s just a matter of seizing the opportunity to do so.

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