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Mayor Crombie Hosts Second Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast and Empowers Young Women to Press for Progress

Posted on 15 March 2018 by admin

 “On behalf of the City of Mississauga and Members of Council, I would like to welcome the young women from Mississauga secondary schools who joined us today at City Hall for our second annual International Women’s Day (IWD) Young Women’s Empowerment Breakfast,” Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said today.

The Mayor was joined by special guest the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario. Since becoming the first female Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne has worked tirelessly to advance the status and improve the lives of women across the province.

“Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, a day not only for celebration, but for reflection and most importantly, action.” Mayor Crombie added. “With this year’s theme being Press for Progress, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward to achieve gender parity in Canada and across the world. Movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp are uniting women around the world and helping advance women’s equality, however, we know that more needs to be done to help push the needle forward. I am confident that Mississauga’s remarkable young women are up to the task.”

Over 150 female students from 34 Mississauga secondary schools took part in this morning’s mentoring opportunity.

As part of the breakfast, students participated in breakout sessions to discuss what actions can be taken to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive. Students put forward their ideas and recommendations to the Premier of Ontario, Councillors, trustees and senior staff from the City of Mississauga, local school boards, post-secondary institutions, and Peel Regional Police who were all in attendance.

Recommendations brought forward from the students include:

•         Improve access to education, embed gender equality early within the education system and increase representation in textbooks and learning materials

•         Increased attention to and support for mentorship programs that connect young women to women in leadership positions

•         Undertake new initiatives to end violence against women

•         Encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and;

•         Create greater awareness and appreciation for Aboriginal and indigenous communities

 Mayor Crombie concluded “On International Women’s Day, let us always work to build a strong sense of community that rewards, respects and guarantees that women – of all ages – are mentored and encouraged to pursue their dreams.”


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Latest mehndi designs to celebrate this Eid

Posted on 07 July 2016 by admin

The Eid season is in full swing, and the preparation for that day is high among the people of all ages around the globe. Mehndi is an art which has been a part of fashion that never ends, though fashion changes and fades away, but the fashion of Mehndi has always been there. It has become an exquisite part of the happy celebration and festivities. No matter whatever the age of woman or what is the occasion, no one can actually deny the importance of Mehndi.

Eid has been considered incomplete without Mehndi on women’s hands. Mehndi and Eid have a close relationship with each other. Take a look at the latest Mehndi designs for this Eid.


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International Yoga Day Canada

Posted on 23 June 2016 by admin

International Yoga Day Canada ( celebrated the 2nd Annual International Day of Yoga at the Port Credit Memorial Park in Mississauga, Ontario with the support of Consulate General of India and in partnership with The Mississauga Waterfront Festival ( from 9 am till Noon.

United Nations declared June 21st of each year (the summer solstice) was going to be celebrated as the Day of Yoga. Over 180 countries are participating in the event this year. Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, was instrumental in obtaining this recognition for Yoga.

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This Ramadan, Let’s Call For An End To The Global Refugee Crisis

Posted on 02 June 2016 by admin

Zaid Al-Rawni

CEO of Islamic Relief Canada

The holy month of Ramadan is upon us. This is a time when Muslims all around the world abstain from all food, drink and sexual pleasure during daylight hours. To Muslims, Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking; it is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-discipline and sacrifice.

It is also a time when Muslims remember those less fortunate around the world by giving a portion of their wealth to charitable causes. Every Ramadan, here at Islamic Relief Canada, we pick a global issue that we campaign and fundraise on; and this month we’re calling for more action towards ending the global refugee crisis. It’s a topic that’s on the top of the agenda at the World Humanitarian Summit and one that the Canadian government has recognized and acted upon with the welcoming of Syrian refugees.

From Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia — war, conflict and persecution have forced over 60 million people worldwide to flee their homes. As one of the world’s leading Muslim NGOs, each year we’re finding a greater need for us to respond to the refugee crises. The effects of global climate change and wars in the middle east are destroying lives and forcing people from their homes.

As an aid worker, I’ve travelled to many countries during time of war and conflict and I’ve witnessed the compassion that local communities have shown refugees in places like Pakistan, Jordan and Lebanon. We’ve also seen action from world leaders and millions of people around the world.

Sadly as the number mounts and scale of the crisis increases for the first time, we are seeing global antipathy toward refugees. While countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Germany and Canada have opened their doors, others countries are turning to far right politicians hoping to stem the flow of people seeking refugee and settle as their neighbours. For many of us around the world, we’ve been desensitised to images of refugees walking hundreds of miles, drowning in the Mediterranean Sea and living in refugee camps for their entire life.

We are too caught up in high level political discourse on ways to end conflicts and wars, that we’ve forgotten the impact seeking refugee has on the ordinary people who seen their lives decimated.

For Muslims around the world, Islam specifically outlines specific rules and responsibilities with regards to refugees. This is shown through the example of the Prophet Muhammad when he urged his followers to flee persecution and to seek refuge in the Christian community of Abyssinia. There’s a powerful quote in the prophetic traditions which says:

“You cannot be a real believer unless you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”

This is an issue that all of us here at Islamic Relief Canada feel passionate about. This Ramadan we’ve partnered up with leading Canadian NGOs, under the umbrella body of the Humanitarian Coalition to commemorate World Refugee Day. We want to remind the world that we have a responsibility to respond to this refugee crisis.

As a British-Yemeni living in Canada, I’ve been amazed at the generosity of Canadians from all races, religions and backgrounds who have come together to welcome Syrian refugees.

The world can learn from Canada’s example. No one wants to be a refugee. This is a crisis that isn’t going away anytime soon and we must act now for a solution.

Zaid Al-Rawni is the CEO of Islamic Relief Canada

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Nutritious Fasting Practices during Ramadan

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

By: Huda Rashid, Registered Dietitian

When we prepare for the month of Ramadan, we think of it as a time of reflection, doing good deeds and most importantly fasting. The word ‘fasting’ is often associated with the following words: ‘weight loss,’ ‘dehydration’ and ‘malnutrition.’ Did you know that it is possible to fast during this month and still meet your energy needs? Did you also know that while fasting during Ramadan, many Muslims actually end up gaining rather than losing weight? Fasting and meeting your nutritional needs may sound contradictory, but it can in fact be achieved by eating the proper foods during the morning and evening meals. You can also control weight gain during the month by not overindulging in high caloric foods after a long day of fasting! Here is some information on how to plan your meals for Ramadan.

This year Ramadan is in June and there will be long days of fasting so it is important to maintain optimal nutrition by eating nutrient dense foods & consuming the proper amounts of liquids during the suhoor and iftar meals. Fasting during Ramadan slows down metabolism in the body which means certain foods should be eaten to maintain your normal weight.

Many Muslims see no change in their weight and others may even gain weight. This weight gain is often caused by eating excessive amounts of high-fat fried foods such as pakoras & samosas, or high-fat high-sugar mithai (sweets).

It is very important to plan your meals carefully to ensure you are eating the right foods to get the nutrients your body needs to function properly.


The suhoor meal should be a nutritious meal consisting of complex carbohydrates containing fibre, since this will help to release energy into the body slowly, keeping you full throughout the day. Complex carbohydrates are found in grains and seeds, like wheat, bulgur, oats, quinoa, brown rice, beans & lentils. Avoid foods that are high in sugar such as breads made with white flour or white rice because these will be digested quickly and will not keep you full for long.

Your body will adjust to fasting in a couple of days but it will help to eat a well-balanced meal at suhoor. Do not binge in order to be full the entire day! A well balanced meal should include a plate divided into three portions. One third of your plate should be a source of protein such as large omega-3 eggs, PC® Plain 0% M.F. Greek Yogurt, nuts, seeds or peanut butter. One third of your plate should contain a source of complex carbohydrates; these are often foods containing whole grains such as the ones listed above. The last portion of your plate should consist of a fruit source such as a medium sized apple, banana, ½ cup of frozen mango chunks or ½ cup of berries. Don’t forget that frozen fruit is just as nutritious as fresh! Be sure to drink plenty of water at the suhoor meal and limit caffeine in drinks such as tea, coffee and pop since these cause faster water loss through urination. It is especially important to stay hydrated during the hot and lengthy summer days!


  • 1 Whole Wheat Pita with 1 tsp of margarine, 1 – 2 large omega-3 egg(s) or 2 Tbsp of peanut butter, one cup of 1% milk and 1 piece of fruit such as an apple or banana
  • 2-3 cups of water or more! Flavour with lemon, mint, lime, cucumber, watermelon or basil for additional flavor. Water helps you stay hydrated and assists with digestion of complex carbohydrates.


For the iftar meal, break this up into two separate meals. When it is time to break the fast, consume three to four dates or figs. These foods help raise blood sugar levels back to normal after a long day of fasting. They also contain fibre, potassium and magnesium; all essential nutrients that your body needs after a day of fasting. Add in a source of protein such as a handful of nuts or seeds which contain protein, fibre, magnesium and healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which can help lower cholesterol.

Include one cup of a mixed fruit salad flavoured with one teaspoon or less of chaat masala powder or dried mango powder and fresh mint. You can also include one cup of broth or soup. Eating fruit or soup and drinking milk or water will help re-hydrate and maintain mineral and water balance.

For the evening meal after prayers, choose foods such as whole grains, vegetables, meal & alternatives, fresh fruits and of course plenty of water! Try to avoid spicy foods when possible because these foods stimulate gastric secretion and may cause an uncomfortable feeling after fasting.

For this evening meal, portion your plate to make half of your plate vegetables, one quarter of your plate whole grains and the other quarter of your plate a source of protein from meat & alternatives. Include a serving of fruit and a serving of milk & alternatives to make it a balanced meal.


Fruits and vegetables should be included in every dinner meal!

  • Include a simple mixed salad such as tabouli, which contains parsley, cucumber, red onion, and tomatoes.
  • Citrus fruits should be eaten to facilitate digestion and provide vitamin C


Protein sources include chicken, lean meat, fish, tofu, beans and lentils. These are a good source of protein, minerals, and vitamins.

  • Limit the sodium in pulses (beans & lentils) by using No Salt Added Dark Red Kidney Beans and Red Lentils


Grains should include whole grain foods such as Suraj Whole Wheat Roti or Arz Whole Wheat Pitas, brown rice or PC® Organics™ Quinoa

  • Look for whole grains because they are high in fibre, check the Nutrition Facts Table on the package for 4 g of fibre or more per serving


Milk and dairy products include milk, yogurt and cheese

  • Choose milk that is skim or 1%, and cheese that is less that 20% milk fat (M.F.) .Try making your own paneer at home using a 1% or 2% milk.


Drink 1-2 cups of water or coconut water to help with re-hydration.

Having balanced meals and adequate water at suhoor, iftar and evening meals will ensure you get the energy your body needs during the month of fasting!

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10 Challenges I’ll Face Every day During Ramadan

Posted on 18 June 2015 by admin


SafiyyaVankalwala = Lawyer, mom, researcher, internet junkie, music lover.

“What? You fast from dawn to sunset? Whoa, how do you do it? No water either, not even a sip!?!”.

Welcome to my world folks, the world of a Muslim during the sacred month of Ramadan. Ramadan is scheduled to commence later this week and I am not looking forward to it. The Islamic calendar is lunar based, so Ramadan shifts by approximately 10 days every year. Fasting during the winter months is easy with dawn being so late and sunset being so early. Fasting during the summer months is brutal — dawn is currently at 3:45 a.m. and sunset is at 9 p.m.

Religion is a funny thing and the followers of any given religion range from non-practicing to fanatical weirdos, though I like to think most people fall somewhere in the middle. In the name of faith, we (believers in God) all do things that don’t completely make sense. We argue over silly things. We can be hypocrites. We shift values when necessary. We judge even though we know we should not. But I would be lost without my belief in God and, therefore, regardless if it makes sense to others or not, I am accepting of fasting for over 17 hours.

Initially, my thoughts for this blog were to write about the wonderful aspects of fasting and why Muslims and those from other religions fast. I wanted to write about my faith in God. So I went ahead and wrote a short piece and, as I read it back to myself, I realized how little it included my “true voice.” I always like to give voice to the emotions that people do not like to vocalize.

For example, I have always encouraged moms-to-be to ignore other moms who claim that every moment of motherhood is amazing. In fact, these other moms are more likely than not lying to you or lying to themselves. Motherhood is hard and it perfectly fine to cry, complain and realize you need time to yourself; this does not mean you love your kids any less. Similarly, I would like to talk about the tough aspects about Ramadan and being Muslim.

So why am I not looking forward to fasting? Well, let’s summarize what a day in the life of a fasting Muslim mom could look like this:

1.Get up around 3 a.m., eat something nutritious and drink as much water as your bladder can hold. Dealing with your incredibly grumpy husband at that hour is far from a dream come true;

2. Try to go back to bed before it is time to wake up again;
3. Start your day and hope for least amount of interaction with Muslims who are suffering from tea/coffee and smoking withdrawal;
4. Respond to your kids 100 questions while your throat dries up;
5. Survive a trip to: (a) the zoo where your kids want to stay under the sun instead of go to an indoor pavilion and (b) McDonald’s where your kids happily eat their happy meal while your tummy growls;
6. Deal with clients who want to chat endlessly while you manage your headache;
7. Prepare dinner without tasting the food (this usually results in “oops, I forgot the salt!”);
8. Count down to sunset at least a dozen times;
9. Break your fasts and attempt to drink 8 glasses of water before bedtime;
10. Spend the night going to the bathroom on-and-off until its 3am-ish when you start back at 1) above.

If you think the above sounds easy, I dare you to try a day. Ramadan is around the corner… and I am not ready to starve yet!

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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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Eid-ul-Fitr celebration or burden?

Posted on 23 July 2014 by admin

THE reward men­tioned here in this hadith` by Holy Prophet (PBUH), is Eid-ul-Fitr, a three day festival celebrated by Muslims on the first of Shawwal, after a month of fasting, prayers and abstinence from food and drink from dawn till dusk.

Bestowed upon us as a blessing, Eid-ul-Fitr is the day of elation and exuber­ance. It is the day when one should be jubilant and thank Allah for the numer­ous blessings that He has bestowed upon us.

Various hadiths tell us how to celebrate this occa­sion. Muslims should adorn their best, clean clothes and offer special prayers, visit their relatives and friends, exchange gifts, eat and be merry. It is supposed to be celebrated in a way that dis­tinguishes Muslim Ummah from others.

Sadly we have forgotten the true essence of Eid and transformed it into a scale of judging each other’s financial status. Your best clothes are supposed to be expensive and designed by high-end fashion houses, the food you prepare is expect­ed to be exotic and unique that majority of Pakistanis can barely afford its ingre­dients and to top it all, you have to gift ridiculous sums of money to the young ones in the name of Eidi. Many would argue that this is what we are ordered to do! Wear our best clothes, eat good food, meet people, exchange gifts…then what is all the fuss about?

The problem is that though we are ‘obeying’ all of the Prophet’s (pbuh) orders, the true spirit of celebration has diminished. Eid-ul-Fitr is meant to be celebrated as a community. But by mea­suring our celebration by the amount of money we spend, we create even more divisions amongst us.

In a society where peo­ple are not even able to feed their children three times a day, don’t have a proper roof over their heads and are de­prived of basic necessities of life, how can they feel happy on an occasion where they have to spend the money they never have?

People of lower and mid­dle class start worrying about Eid expenditures as soon as Ramadan starts. They an­ticipate Eid with a feeling of dread instead of happiness like they should, since it is an important religious festival. But can we blame them?

According to Sustain­able Development Policy In­stitute (SDPI), one-third of Pakistan’s population (58.7 million people) lives below poverty line. And the situa­tion is getting worse. As per a report of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the inflation rate in Pakistan was 8.22 percent in June, 2014.

Islam directs us to do­nate and help people who cannot fend for themselves, but most of us ignore these instructions. We tend to for­get that Zakah and Sadaqa-tul-fitr are very important aspects of this sacred occa­sion. For us, Eid is a national holiday, where people are more concerned about show­ing off their new clothes, women are focused on pre­paring multiple dishes and children are simply worried about receiving less Eidi than their friends.

Majority of the public spend the first day of Eid in a slumber, meanwhile, the nights are dedicated to parties and get-togethers, which con­tinue for many days following the actual festival. Even edu­cational institutions hold Eid-Milan parties where children are asked to bring various food items and wear their Eid clothes to school.

Now, I’m not saying that this custom is wrong, but schools should teach their stu­dents to wear simpler clothes to Eid parties so that kids be­longing to lower income fam­ilies don’t feel inferior.

We practice tolerance and simplicity the entire month of Ramadan, and then completely forget about this practice with the sighting of Shawwal’s crescent. It seems like we have twisted this celebration into some­thing entirely opposite to what it really is. The ending of Ramadan doesn’t mean we should forget what is ad­missible what is prohibited in our religion.

Even Quran and hadiths ask us to celebrate Eid in our own capacity, keeping our budget and financial condition in mind. Those who can afford to buy de­signer dresses should do so but refrain from judg­ing those who can’t. Those who cannot shouldn’t beat themselves up on being un­able to acquire the same thing. People should real­ize that what you wear and what you eat, doesn’t de­fine who you are.

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View from Silicon Valley: With dysfunctional Congress, America’s loss is India’s gain

Posted on 04 December 2013 by admin

By Vivek Wadhwa

Last week, President Obama made a startling concession to the Republican Party: that he would accept a piecemeal approach to overhauling America’s immigration system. “If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like,” Obama said.

This is startling because, for the past few years, Democratic Party leaders have insisted on an all-or-nothing approach to immigration. They would not agree to increase the numbers of visas for skilled workers unless the Republicans agreed to legalize the more than 10 million immigrants who are in the country without documentation. The Republicans refused to provide “amnesty” to the unskilled, so the Democrats let the skilled immigrants — and US competitiveness — suffer. This is no different from the juvenile behaviour you see in the Indian Parliament.

The President realizes the political reality and is trying to get whatever he can through the system. But it is unlikely that he will have any success on immigration, because House leaders are still reeling from their loss on the fiscal shutdown and will not hand the President any kind of political victory.

This is bad for the US but is good news for India. That’s because the US has been giving India, China, and many other countries an unintended gift: highly educated and skilled workers with experience in US markets. It has been sending would-be immigrants back home; exporting its competitive edge.
Skilled immigrants made America into a technology superpower. Wave after wave came to America’s shores and brought with them their education, knowledge of global markets, and determination to achieve success. They made the natives think smarter and work harder and contributed to practically all of its technology breakthroughs.

My research team at Duke, Harvard, and UC-Berkeley documented that from 1995 to 2005, immigrants founded 52% of Silicon Valley startups, and 25% of startups nationwide. They contributed to 72% of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) patents filed by Qualcomm, 65% of those by Merck, 64% of General Electric, and 60% of Cisco Systems. Indians also co-author 13.7% of America’s global patents. Indians have founded 33.2% of Silicon Valley’s immigrant-founded startups — more than immigrants from any other ten countries combined have, including China, the UK, Canada, Germany, Israel, and Russia.

Despite this amazing contribution, the US is allowing itself to bleed competitiveness. It admits hundreds of thousands of students and workers on H1-B visas, but doesn’t provide enough permanent-resident visas to let these skilled foreigners make the US their new home. The result is that there are more than a million skilled immigrants and their families stuck in “immigration limbo”.

 I explained the reverse brain drain that is in progress and the consequences of this in my book The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent. In a nutshell, because of improving opportunities in countries such India, China, and Brazil — and out of frustration with the delay in visa processing — the tide has turned. Skilled workers are returning home in record numbers. In research that my group at Stanford completed recently, we found that the proportion of companies founded in Silicon Valley from 2006 to 2012 that had been founded by immigrants had fallen to 44%. This was not because immigrants had become less entrepreneurial, but because they could not get the visas necessary for starting companies.

America’s loss has been a huge gain for other countries. If you visit any top Chinese research lab, you will find returnees from the US at their helm. The tech centres of both India and China are growing rapidly with the infusion of Silicon Valley-trained talent. These returnees are bringing America’s best practices and entrepreneurial culture back home with them.

American leaders are well aware of the damage that the brain drain is doing to US competitiveness. The President has cited my research in his speeches, and I have been asked to testify to both the House and Senate. The problem is that in addition to the issue of amnesty, there is also a xenophobic element in the US that wants to keep foreigners out. And there are technology workers prevented from getting jobs by their location, age, or skills. They are all rallying against immigrants and complicating the factional battles in Congress. This is creating the stalemate.

So India may be suffering from its own political quagmires, but it is benefiting from America’s.

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Mr. Jinnah’s presidential address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (August 11, 1947)

Posted on 07 August 2013 by admin

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I cordially thank you, with the utmost sincerity, for the honour you have conferred upon me – the greatest honour that is possible to confer – by electing me as your first President. I also thank those leaders who have spoken in appreciation of my services and their personal references to me. I sincerely hope that with your support and your co-operation we shall make this Constituent Assembly an example to the world. The Constituent Assembly has got two main functions to perform. The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing the future constitution of Pakistan and the second of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan…

Dealing with our first function in this Assembly, I cannot make any well-considered pronouncement at this moment, but I shall say a few things as they occur to me. The first and the foremost thing that I would like to emphasize is this: remember that you are now a sovereign legislative body and you have got all the powers. It, therefore, places on you the gravest responsibility as to how you should take your decisions. The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.

The second thing that occurs to me is this: One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering – I do not say that other countries are free from it, but, I think our condition is much worse – is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand and I hope that you will take adequate measures as soon as it is possible for this Assembly to do so.

Black-marketing is another curse. Well, I know that blackmarketeers are frequently caught and punished. Judicial sentences are passed or sometimes fines only are imposed. Now you have to tackle this monster, which today is a colossal crime against society, in our distressed conditions, when we constantly face shortage of food and other essential commodities of life. A citizen who does black-marketing commits, I think, a greater crime than the biggest and most grievous of crimes. These blackmarketeers are really knowing, intelligent and ordinarily responsible people, and when they indulge in black-marketing, I think they ought to be very severely punished, because the entire system of control and regulation of foodstuffs and essential commodities, and cause wholesale starvation and want and even death.

The next thing that strikes me is this: Here again it is a legacy which has been passed on to us. Along with many other things, good and bad, has arrived this great evil, the evil of nepotism and jobbery. I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any any influence directly of indirectly brought to bear upon me. Whenever I will find that such a practice is in vogue or is continuing anywhere, low or high, I shall certainly not countenance it.

I know there are people who do not quite agree with the division of India and the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. Much has been said against it, but now that it has been accepted, it is the duty of everyone of us to loyally abide by it and honourably act according to the agreement which is now final and binding on all…

I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on, will vanish … You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan … We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.

Well, gentlemen, I do not wish to take up any more of your time and thank you again for the honour you have done to me. I shall always be guided by the principles of justice and fairplay without any, as is put in the political language, prejudice or ill-will, in other words, partiality or favouritism. My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and co-operation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest nations of the world.

Source: Dawn, Independence Day Supplement, August 14, 1999.

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