New Canadian Media
Friday, 10 April 2015 10:14

Security Ramped Up for Indian PM's Visit

By A Special Correspondent

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks set for a major outreach towards the powerful Sikh community in Canada but that is not going to stop certain groups with strident agendas to stage rallies and protests next week.

The RCMP’s Protective Policing Services is also planning to deploy a high-level security plan akin to those reserved for the president of the United States, the Queen of England or the Pope.

This will include air support, alternative motorcade routes and last minute unannounced changes.

Modi’s Special Protection Group (SPG) and India’s spy agency commonly known as RAW or Research and Analysis Wing have been in Canada working with the Mounties and the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office on security details.

Modi’s itinerary includes visits to Ottawa, Toronto And Vancouver, where he is expected to go to the Ross Street Sikh Gurdwara, a Hindu temple in Surrey and attend a State Banquet hosted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Observers feel the Modi government’s outreach towards the Sikh community in Canada will significantly strengthen the moderates and will also seek to reassure the Sikh community abroad that India will always stand with it to protect its interests.

So far, Canadian Sikhs under the banners of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and Canada unit of Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar (Mann) are reportedly gearing-up to protest against Modi’s upcoming visit to Canada. 

Protests planned

The organizers of proposed protests say that Modi has a track record of severe human rights violation and he is leading a government run by Hindu extremist organizations, which indulge in attacks on religious minorities, particularly Christians and Muslims.

Before he became Prime Minister of India and as chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi was denied a visa to Canada as a suspected human rights abusers. In 2002, Modi was in power in Gujarat during religious riots in which 1,000 people were killed, mostly Muslims. He was eventually cleared of any wrong doing by the Supreme but his fervent Hindu nationalism had poisoned his foreign relations and several other Western countries shunned him, including the United States.

In a recent update, Sikhs For Justice alleged that “Indian diplomats in Canada led by High Commissioner Vishnu Prakash have embarked upon a fierce campaign of intimidation and coercion against the members of the Sikh community, particularly media, to ensure their silence on the issue of PM Modi's involvement in the 2002 massacre of Muslims in the state of Gujarat.”

The group criticized Indian diplomats in Canada for exceeding their legitimate limits and claimed the activities of the Indian diplomatic officials posted in Canada violate provisions of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.

“The Indian High Commission in Canada has set up a 'state within a state' and is openly challenging the sovereignty of Canada, violating Canadian and international law and thus defying the autonomy of the host Government,” said Sikhs for Justice.

Tussle within community

Indian media reporting on the upcoming visit said Canada has been witness to a fierce intra-community tussle between the moderate Sikhs, who are soft on India, and the pro-Khalistani hardliners who leave no stone unturned to target India on its human rights record.

In fact, in the decade that followed Operation Bluestar in 1984, when Punjab was wracked by militancy, pro-Khalistan Sikhs in Canada were at the forefront of fund mobilization for the secessionist movement, said the Deccan Herald.

Observers feel the Modi government’s outreach towards the Sikh community in Canada will significantly strengthen the moderates and will also seek to reassure the Sikh community abroad that India will always stand with it to protect its interests. Hate-crimes against Sikhs have increased in the West, and India has taken up the issue strongly with the concerned governments.

The Prime Minister will visit Canada from April 14, on the third and final leg of his forthcoming foreign tour after visiting France and Germany. He is also expected to visit a Hindu temple in Canada, which could be the Laxmi Narayan Temple in Surrey.

The organizers of proposed protests say that Modi has a track record of severe human rights violation and he is leading a government run by Hindu extremist organizations, which indulge in attacks on religious minorities, particularly Christians and Muslims.

Apart from the capital city of Ottawa, the Prime Minister will also travel to Toronto where a New York Madison Square-like event is planned by the Indian diaspora at the Ricoh Coliseum in the city.

The Madison Square event during Modi’s US visit last September had been a huge success and the Indian diaspora in Canada is aiming to make it a bigger event than the one in New York.

Modi’s foreign visit starts on April 9 and he will hold talks with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian PM Stephen Harper during his eight-day tour, which is part of India’s “Link-West” policy.

Next month, Modi will visit China. He is also likely to visit Mongolia and South Korea after that as part of India’s “Act East” policy. During his China visit, Mr Modi is likely to visit Xian, the hometown of President Xi Jinping.


Republished in partnership with South Asian Post

Published in National

by Richard M. Landau

Why is it that some new Canadian communities appear to achieve prominence, stature and wealth in the fabric of the national community – more readily than others?

Research indicates that how well immigrant communities grow and emerge is dependent upon a variety of factors, including: higher education levels, a willingness to patronize/economically support their own communities and the length of time or number of generations which a group has been in Canada. 

Educational Attainment

There is a growing body of evidence that typically educational attainment levels in Canada are higher among the children of some immigrant and ethno-cultural communities: for example, Chinese, Iranian, Jewish, South Asian and some East Asian people. 

It’s indisputable that communities that keep education as a number one priority provide succeeding generations with an economic and social head start.

Having worked on the federal stay in school campaign in the 1990s, I was privy to the facts about the significant difference in lifelong earnings between those who graduate high school, or higher education, and those who don’t. It’s indisputable that communities that keep education as a number one priority provide succeeding generations with an economic and social head start.

Economic Self-empowerment

There was a landmark social study conducted in Miami a few years ago reported on PBS’s Tony Brown’s Journal. It showed that the ethnic communities that had by and large prospered and “emerged” fastest – Jews, Cubans, Nicaraguans – were all characterized by one economic fact:  the members of all three groups on average spent more than 80 cents of every disposable dollar purchasing goods and services from businesses owned by people of their own ethnic group. By contrast, the poorest communities – African-Americans and Haitians – were found to spend significantly less within their own ethnic communities, and would sometimes even avoid that practice. The point of the study is: a community can prosper when it economically empowers itself.

Longevity & Social Engagement

Clearly, some communities have woven themselves into the fabric of Canada by virtue of their longevity. Recent immigrant communities may, out of necessity, be more concerned with subsistence than they are with making a broad social contribution. It may take a generation or two before a community emerges economically and politically. However, longevity in Canada is probably the least important determinant of whether a community will grow and prosper. 

On St. Patrick’s Day – though it wasn’t always this way – everyone purports to be Irish. Those of Irish heritage willingly tolerate that from the rest of us. However, some communities choose to keep their own counsel and live in closely-knit enclaves – for now.

Not all communities are equally willing to share their heritage and culture with the wider populace. On St. Patrick’s Day – though it wasn’t always this way – everyone purports to be Irish. Those of Irish heritage willingly tolerate that from the rest of us. However, some communities choose to keep their own counsel and live in closely-knit enclaves – for now.   

Political Involvement

All of which brings me to the matter of political representation, because it is the most obvious measure of the engagement and empowerment of any community.

Some communities punch far above their weight. For example, if we use political representation as one yardstick, Canada has nearly 500,000 Sikhs (about one and a half per cent) and yet with six MPs, nearly two per cent representation in Parliament. According to the World Sikh Organization of Canada, there are currently 17 elected Sikhs at the provincial and federal levels.

Meanwhile, the close to 1.2 million Muslims in Canada, are vastly under-represented and currently can count amongst themselves only three elected members at the provincial and federal levels along with the Mayor of Calgary.

“Sikhs have been more successful because they tend to concentrate geographically. They are more cohesive as compared to others, especially Muslims. This is not to say there are no internal differences between them.” - Mohammed Ayub Khan

Mohammed Ayub Khan, PhD candidate in the department of political science at McMaster University says Muslims must contend with an immense national linguistic diversity and a lack of effective electoral education in the community. As a result, voting percentages continue to remain low among Muslims.

“Sikhs have been more successful because they tend to concentrate geographically,” Khan says. “They are more cohesive as compared to others, especially Muslims. This is not to say there are no internal differences between them.”

Khan goes on to add that this is exacerbated by an absence of professional media, which can highlight and discuss what the issues are within the Muslim faith community. He also points to negative attitudes, if not outright hostility, from the larger population. He says that while Sikhs come second in terms of unfavourable attitudes, they are able to overcome this due to their geographic concentration.

When a community embraces educational attainment, economic self-empowerment, and to a lesser degree, social engagement with the broad mosaic, it can indeed give itself appropriate representation and a prominent voice in the life of the nation.


Richard M. Landau has been responsible for adjudicating disputes and enforcing a television network code of ethics in a religious broadcasting setting since 1992. He is a graduate of Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. A leader in interfaith dialogue, Landau has consulted with the UK Home Office, and the White House Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives. He works closely with leadership in all of the major world religions. He is author of What the World Needs to Know about Interfaith Dialogue.

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

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New Delhi (IANS): The government has constituted a Special Investigation Team “for investigating/re-investigating” the cases of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, said an official statement Thursday.

Indo-Canadian Voice

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JALANDHAR – World’s 6th Multimedia Sikh Museum authored, produced and created by world known encyclopaedist and museologist Dr Raghbir Singh Bains of Canada was inaugurated by Singh Sahib Giani Gurbachan Singh, Jathedar Sri Akal Takhat Sahib in presence of the elite gathering  hailing from different parts of India and different regions of the world.

The building was constructed by Baba Shinder Singh Kar Sewa Fatehgarh Sabhra (Sabhraon). After defeat of the Sikh forces at the battles of Mudki, Pheru Shahar, Aliwal and Baddowal the last and fifth Anglo-Sikh war was fought on February 10, 1846 at Sabhraon where S. Sham Singh Attari sacrificed his life alongwith other Sikh soldiers to protect Khalsa Raj established by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Museum has been dedicated to Shaheed S. Sham Singh Attari to commemorate his priceless martyrdom to protect humanity.

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AMRITSAR – The American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) welcomed US President Barack Obama’s statement on Article 25 of the Indian Constitution that gave freedom of faith and right to propagate one’s religion.

AGPC president JS Hothi and coordinator Pritpal Singh said Obama “rightly warned” India if this provision was not followed in true spirit and substance it would curtail the right to freedom of religion and might lead to splintered society on religious grounds.

AGPC leaders said, “We are extremely thankful to the President for raising the issue of religious freedom on the Indian soil. He is right in saying that India must concentrate on religious freedom, if it wants to stay united.”

They said India had not been following the Constitution in the true spirit and the minorities were under attack in the country. They alleged the Sikhs had been facing the “worst-ever discrimination and their voices were being subdued”.

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VANCOUVER - The World Sikh Organization of Canada has successfully assisted a Sikh student barred from wearing his kirpan into the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

Ishwer Singh Basra, an amritdhari (initiated) Sikh, was scheduled to write the LSAT on September 27, 2014.  Upon arriving at the test centre in Burnaby BC, Ishwer Singh’s kirpan was spotted by a proctor.  Despite being explained its significance, the proctor said the kirpan would not be permitted in the test centre.  The proctor then proceeded to call the Law Society Admission Council (LSAC), the body that administers the LSAT, and said that there was a student carrying a “knife” and insisting it was for religious purposes.  After a brief phone call, the proctor reiterated to Ishwer Singh that his “knife” would not be allowed.

Ishwer Singh was given the option of either removing the kirpan and being allowed to write the test or forfeiting the exam and writing another day in which he would once again be told to remove his kirpan.

The Link

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Published in Education

 THE World Sikh Organization of Canada has successfully assisted a Sikh student barred from wearing his kirpan into the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Ishwer Singh Basra, an amritdhari (initiated) Sikh, was scheduled to write the LSAT on September 27, 2014.  Upon arriving at the test centre in Burnaby, Ishwer Singh’s kirpan was spotted by […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

THANKS to a report by the Globe and Mail newspaper a couple of weeks ago about how the City of Brampton had refused traffic-safety measures for a Sikh private school that was functioning where previously there had been a publicly-funded Catholic school, those common-sense measures are being put back in place. They include a new crosswalk, school zone signs and a crossing guard.

Marilyn Ball, Brampton’s chief planning and infrastructure services officer, told the newspaper that the measures were because this is a pressing public safety issue.

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THE World Sikh Organization of Canada on Friday condemned the racist vandalism of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in south Edmonton.  Two phrases, including “Leave Canada,” were found spray-painted on the outside of the gurdwara on Friday.

The WSO has been in contact with members of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara and offered its support and assistance in dealing with this incident.

Indo-Canadian Voice

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   THE World Sikh Organization of Canada said Wednesday it helped Master Seaman Wanda McDonald become the first Sikh woman to wear the turban while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). McDonald, a Sonar operator based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, joined the RCN in 1997 and became interested in the Sikh faith three […]

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