New Canadian Media
Monday, 26 February 2018 09:53

India’s Double Standards Let Trudeau Down

By: Devanshu Narang in Toronto, ON

If I was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I would not forgive Indian politicians and the country's media for a long time. Perhaps Mr. Trudeau will forgive, but as a Canadian with Indian roots, I definitely will not. Ever.

But mark my words, Trudeau's India visit will turn out to be a long-term relationship disaster for India and not for Canada. As an honest, liberal, positive and a truly warm Canadian, the prime minister does not need to re-invent himself. On the other hand, Indians could do some re-thinking themselves. 

True, Mr. Trudeau went overboard, as he sometimes does. Those heavily embroidered and garish Indian tops called 'Kurtas' were an eyesore even to most Indians. We never wear such fancy attire, except special occasions when it is considered chic to have an "Indian look". Perhaps he was either misguided by his coterie of South Asians who love their Bollywood movies or by the huge applause he gets when he wears such costumes at cultural events in Canada. After all, it is a pleasure for the South Asians to see a white leader wear ethnic attire and dance to Indian tunes. Here in Canada it is genuinely considered a mark of respect to the community and a desire to accept their culture.

Unfortunately, India mistook this for Mr. Trudeau's weakness and showed its boorish side. 

In fact, it was evident right from the start that the Indian political elite which hates the liberal agenda and which has turned markedly right-wing and conservative in recent years would not take to the Canadian prime minister. They not only sent a junior minister to officially welcome him, but also ensured that the media coverage he received was low and negative. Slowly the plan was put into effect: his clothing became the object of derision, the motives of his trip questioned, his comments called into question, his guest lists scrutinized, and lo and behold, we had a feel-good trip turned into a PR nightmare.

Treating guests in India

I will not go into the details of how he was treated by Indian and thereafter Canadian and foreign media. How he was made to look like a fool when he was just being a warm human being. I would rather focus on what I think will happen following this trip and let Indians know about the blunder they have just committed.

Here was a guest, who in keeping with Indian traditions was to be treated like a God, who arrived in all humility – always bowing to local traditions, even dressed in their attire to please the locals, showing due respect all all the shrines and institutions revered and loved by Indians, who took his family along and persuaded them to dress the Indian way. Who could ever imagine that he would face ridicule at home, especially from the political opponents baying for blood ready to portray him as a weakling. 

But, more importantly, what is wrong with India? How many times have we had world leaders come to India and respect Indian ways? How happy you've been when they occasionally wear Indian attire for an event and grooved with you? How many times have you hoped that they genuinely like your cuisine, your culture, your music and your own self?  And when a man, a nation's leader, whole-heartedly opens up his soul and gives you a warm hug, you pull back?

So what if he went overboard. Is it wrong to try too hard? 

Canada - India relations

Mr. Trudeau will recover from all this. After all, he did nothing wrong. But chances are India will experience the famous Canadian chill for decades to come.

The relationship between Canada and India may go into cold storage. Not just Canadians, but countries the world over, especially in the Western world, would be less trusting of India, especially if their political views differ. Other world leaders will definitely be more reserved during their Indian visits and never again would any Western leader open up as much as Mr. Trudeau did to Indian traditions and culture. 

As for the invitation extended to a convicted would-be assassin for a Trudeau event, let us review the facts there too. First, the guest lists and invitees are not put together by Mr. Trudeau or any political leader himself. Second, if facts serve me right, Jaspal Atwal was convicted as a terrorist and served his sentence for close to two decades and has gone on record saying after his release saying that he regrets his action. He has already faced punishment for his crime and now walks free in Canada and has all the rights as any other Canadian.

He was visiting India because India too removed his name from the blacklist and granted him a visa. So, how long would you keep crucifying a person for an act in the past? Using the same logic, a lot of political leaders in India who were anti-state at one time should also be blacklisted for life. If anyone is to blame, it is India's double standards.

True, the "Khalistan movement" is dead in India, as it should be. It also does not ignite the minds of a majority of Indo-Canadians any more. But, the fact still remains, that a large part of the Punjabi community that resides in Canada came here in the 1980s and early 1990s after witnessing various atrocities committed to their near and dear ones at different times. The wounds have healed, but the scars still remain for children who grew up without fathers, or men and women who suffered in their youth. These can only be healed by love and acceptance and not by hate and segregation.

By turning your back on Mr. Atwal, who has already paid for his crime, you alienate many other Indo-Canadians and rub fresh salt on old wounds. Alas, one should have expected that out from a newly militant India and its biased media. 

Put this behind you

I only hope that Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal Party does not take the criticism to heart in the context of Canadian diversity. The party's welcome to immigrants, working towards enabling equality, justice and acceptance in Canadian communities, and enabling greater respect for all humans should continue. Mr. Trudeau's evident love for the Indo-Canadian community must not diminished due to unfair coverage by Indian media, which appears semi-controlled by right-wing Indian politicians.

As an Indo-Canadian, I am ashamed about the way India treated our Prime Minister. My advice: please forget this and move on. Thank you for opening your heart.

And, yes, the next time at Diwali or Gurupurb, please bring out those Bhangra dance moves again. 


Devanshu Narang is a contributor for New Canadian Media and other publications such as The Times of India. He is also a member of the NCM Collective

Published in Commentary
Sunday, 22 November 2015 15:30

Defeat? No Way, I Still Have Two Feet!

by Devanshu Narang in Toronto

“What is your motivation in life?"

My talkative, confident frame, turned silent. The interview is going good so far – similar to many other interviews I had in the last 15 days for positions like cashier, sales associate, produce associatecall centre adviser and the like.

The interviewer lookback at my now pale face with a glow in her youthful eyes, staring at this fat, old, beaten man trying to compete with boys and girls just out of school (or a few other losers like me) for the job of a second shift stocker.

What motivates you?” she repeats.

My tongue is frozen and my lips dry. I am shell-shocked.

Earlier she had asked me about how I handled difficult customers, how I managed change and how I managed a job where I was provided limited resources.

I had spoken confidently about my lifes journey.

I cannot think of any motivation left in my life.

How after completing my mechanical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, one of the top engineering institutions back home in India, I had run factories, businesses and corporations in various managerial capacities including CEO/business head over a rich career spanning 26 years.

How I had turned around a sick unit losing a million dollars a year and made it one of the most modern and profitable textile millin northern India.

How adapting new technologies, sustainability and the like were strategies that I effectively used at the workplace to develop and lead teams ranging in size from six to 6,000.

And how even in a cold, hostile nation like Canada, which brings doctors, engineers, architects and lawyers from foreign nations to their feet, I had created my own path of success and had built a business and a name that resulted in Canada recognizing me as being amongst the top 75 immigrants in 2013.

I had so much to speak to her about up until this moment, but now my mind is blank.

Devanshu, is there any problem? Dont you have a motivation in life?

I am speechless, numb, taken aback.

I cannot think of any motivation left in my life.

[W]hen you are considered a dinosaur best suited to be kept in a museum displaying past glory, then what could motivate you?

Finding motivation

When you reach a dead end in your professional life and your education and experience is considered useless in the workplace, or when you are considered a dinosaur best suited to be kept in a museum displaying past glory, then how do you answer that question?

What could motivate me?

MoneyA minimum wage, minimum skill job would actually remind me every day of where I have brought myself with the risks that I had taken.

Respect, job satisfaction, creativityThe less said, the better. 

My eyes are hurting by now and the pain inside is trying to pour out in small droplets.

And then the smiling face of my daughter hugging me hard, shouting Pappu Narang upon returning for a short break, from her campus in the U.S. comes to mind.

Following that, the memory of my son explaining to hundreds and hundreds of Niagara Falls residents at his graduation ceremony how proud he was of his old man.  

And finally a thought of my wife smiling and telling me to forget our loss of thousands and thousands of dollars brought on by a wrong investment decision of mine.

I wipe my eyes clean, moisten my lips and bare the best smile I can on my weary, but now shining, face. 

My family and their smiles motivate me, I say. I want to go to work to ensure that I can enjoy the small pleasures of our lives and grow old with them and see my children shine … I want to let them know that I will not give up and will fight till the very end and will rise every time I fall.

"I want to let them know that I will not give up and will fight till the very end and will rise every time I fall.”

Continuing on the journey

My fellow travellers, and perhaps losers of today, of whom I hope there are few, life can be a roller coaster and this could be our low point, but we will rise.

And these instances of nothingness have been a great time too.

After all, small things make me happy.

Like cleaning the utensils and preparing a small meal and seeing the smile on my wife’s face when she comes back tired from work.

Like being able to do my little acting gigs from time to time and seeing the smiles on the faces of people when they see this old, bald man acting, singing, dancing and making merry.

Oh, and by the way, I did not get that job. Some young spirit beat me to it, but so what? I will try again.

Every dog has his day and my day will come. Until then, I will keep walking.


Devanshu Narang is a mechanical engineer with 25 years of corporate experience. He has worked in a variety of fields and industries. He is also a filmmaker, writer, and poet.

 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

  

Published in Commentary

by Devanshu Narang (@devanshunarang) in Toronto

From the window of my downtown Toronto apartment, I can see a Canadian flag fluttering, facing the icy winds that are hitting hard on its already weary face. The world has long ago declared the arrival of spring and yet, as expected, the Canadian winter has stayed put.

For the last four months, I have seen my lonely companion fighting this lost battle. It is tired, battered, bruised. The harsh weather and gusty winds have taken their toll. The fabric is worn off and torn. In a few days, when people will notice its end, it will be removed and a new flag will be hoisted. It will flap happily in the summer, not knowing what is destined for it soon again.

With lost eyes I stare at my dying friend.  After facing the winter of my Canadian existence, I too am worn and ragged as this dream, nay, nightmare, is coming to an end. As my story in this country concludes, another new entrant, an English-speaking laborer, which Canada jokingly calls ‘skilled’ immigrant, will take my place. Heard this before? Not quite.

A Wasted Existence

The story does follow the standard script of a skilled middle-aged professional with excellent educational background from his country, coming to Canada thinking that he is the chosen one and will touch the skies of success in the land of his dreams – only to realize within weeks that he will soon live a life of wasted existence here, because he does not possess the right skin colour, nor the right name.

Engineers, doctors, architects, teachers from foreign lands are a dime a dozen and are regularly seen working as security guards, taxi drivers, garbage collectors, gas station attendants or factory workers.

 

Then, as the money saved and brought along starts to dwindle, and the pressures of earning the daily bread for his family breaks his self esteem, fate is accepted and whatever survival jobs are thrown at him are grabbed, and compromises are made, usually for life.

Engineers, doctors, architects, teachers from foreign lands are a dime a dozen and are regularly seen working as security guards, taxi drivers, garbage collectors, gas station attendants or factory workers.

They will talk about their houses, cars and cell phones, all obtained through jobs that pay just over minimum wage. Easy mortgages, loans, and even credit card debts, are used to accumulate that which will take a life time to pay back. They will harp on their Canadian citizenship and its merits in their pseudo accents as phony as the newly rechristened ‘Canadian’ names.

Bhuwanbhai Patel sees a dollar and starts calling himself ‘Bill’. Kashilal Tiwari dreams of the same dollar with wide eyes and starts calling himself ‘Kash’. 

Over the second drink in a party, talks will move away from real estate and cars to the golden days once lived as highflying executives far away. And by the next drink, curses will start coming out towards Canada, its white majority and its system.

But my story does have a twist.

Back To Where You Came From

First the similarities: In 2009, aged 41, I arrived in Canada with the right pedigree – an engineering degree from IIT Bombay, one of the best institutions in all of India and corporate experience from various countries around the world, including from the USA.  But within days I realized that pedigree suits horses and asses, not humans. Past experience carries no value in Canada. Period.

And then I met Buddha, in the form of a government servant. This was a woman who was supposed to be helping immigrants settle down in Canada. In her frustration at not being able to cajole me into accepting the odd job as a cleaner or garbage collector, she told me that if I really felt that I had higher value, I could always go back to where I had come from.

That thought stuck with me.

I left my job search, used whatever money I had brought along to buy a gas bar and a convenience store in Guelph, and later a motel in Niagara Falls. My wife, with a doctorate in economics, worked with me, hand in hand. Together we built our lives and provided for our family. Later we sold the gas bar and bought two more motels, larger ones. Amongst family and friends, we were rated a success story.

Even Canada recognized our success and within three years of arriving here, Canada’s leading immigrant magazine rated me as one of the ‘Top 75 immigrants’ for 2013. Seriously? Amongst the best success stories of Canada.

This was all a scam. I was cheated. I applied for Canadian immigration under the skilled category and was selected based on a point system, which gave higher credence to my Indian education and work experience, both of which were rejected here.

And while living this ‘successful’ Canadian life, selling cigarettes and groceries, renting or cleaning rooms, doing laundry, removing garbage or plowing snow in the gas station or motel, facing racial slurs on a regular basis from customers who visited our small businesses, this soul was waiting for the moment when it could follow the Buddha’s mantra, “If you want, you can always go back.”

I do not have anything against manual labor or doing the jobs that I did. Throughout my entire life, I have given as much respect to the janitors, the workers, the clerks in our factories, as to the general managers. We simply wanted to do our best, and offer our best to our patrons.

But this was all a scam. I was cheated. I applied for Canadian immigration under the skilled category and was selected based on a point system, which gave higher credence to my Indian education and work experience, both of which were rejected here.

I did not come to Canada to be a gas station attendant. Or a front office receptionist. Or a cleaner. I was an engineer and an experienced professional, and I expected opportunities where my expertise could have been used – even a supervisory role. I was never even short-listed for a job interview. Not even one.

Returning Home: Reborn as a Professional

After running my businesses for five years and relieved of some family responsibilities, the time had arrived to break free and ‘do’ what I was trained to do. But before that, just one last time, I wanted to try out Canada.

I sold my businesses and with my five years of ‘Canadian work experience’, started looking for jobs once more. Result? Again, a big zero, other than those offering positions at minimum wage.

I did at least develop a friendship with the Canadian flag, as we talked and scraped through the Canadian winter. The flag fought the forces of nature while I fought the very system that it stood for.

By calling us outsiders and making us feel unwanted because of our skin colour, our names and our religion and by neglecting our professional background, you are becoming a mediocre ghetto and a place as cold and frigid as its weather.

 

I now end my life as a non-descript entity in Canada and am reborn as a professional, while going back to the lands that trust my skills, my expertise and have called me back with open arms, entrusting me the responsibilities of managing companies and providing leadership to skilled people.

Vicious lady, my living Buddha, I am grateful and delighted today to follow your advice.  Just to help you, on your behalf, I shout loudly to anyone who in his middle age still maintains a Canadian dream – do not come here if you genuinely value yourself.

Oh Canada, I cry for thee! In wasting lives of your adopted children you lose the very skills that they brought along. While throwing cold water over our dreams, you also end the warmth of belonging towards you that once ignited our loving hearts.

By calling us outsiders and making us feel unwanted because of our skin colour, our names and our religion and by neglecting our professional background, you are becoming a mediocre ghetto and a place as cold and frigid as its weather.

Good-bye, my adopted land and I may be gone for long and may just come back in the winter of my life. Perhaps in my heart, there is still some love left. I am not taking everything away. While leaving, I give you my biggest gift, my most beautiful creation for keeps. My children - the fruit of my life’s labour.

Accept them. Treat them as your own and not as the stepchild like you treated me. Love them as much as they love you.

My friend, our flag, fluttering, dying on that building there, is shedding one last tear together with me, for thee. I pray that for once, our tears melt your frozen heart and you open your arms and accept my children as yours and build a Canada of the future, a Canada of their dreams.


Devanshu Narang is a mechanical engineer with 25 years of corporate experience. He has worked in a variety of fields and industries. He is also a filmmaker, writer, and poet.

This article first appeared in Guelph Mercury News

 

 

Published in Commentary

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