India’s Independence Day Gala Hosted by Senator Asha Seth
By A Correspondent
Senator Asha Seth organized a first of its kind celebration of India’s Independence and Canada-India relations on August 18. The gala event welcomed three hundred leading members of various communities across Canada at the Grand Victorian Convention Centre in Mississauga to mark the 66th anniversary of India’s independence and to honor the democratic principles that bind Canada with its south-Asian cousin.
On August 15, 1947, the Indian national flag was raised for the first time over Delhi and a new nation was born after centuries of struggle. Since that time, India has come into its own as a vibrant democracy and an emerging economic superpower, predicted to be the world’s third-largest economy by 2050. To commemorate India’s example as a democratic partner in the south-Asian region, Senator Seth welcomed dignitaries from Canada and abroad, including veterans of the Indian army who participated in the Independence struggles of India in 1947.
In her welcoming speech Senator Asha Seth remarked on the meaning of the occasion, “tonight we are gathering members of the parliament, international dignitaries, and leaders of the community to celebrate the day of independence and the longstanding commitment to freedom and democracy that both Canada and India share. Events like this one highlight the values of liberty represented by the Independence Day of India and are important to educating people, teaching tolerance, and instilling pride in our Indo-Canadian heritage”
The night featured traditional performances, music, cuisine, the screening of a touching educational film and special guest speakers including the Hon. Chris Alexander (C), the Hon. Bal Gosal (C), Indian Consul Ms. Charandasi Dantu, the Hon. John McCallum (L), the Hon. Harinder Takhar (L), the Hon. Bidhu Jha (NDP), and SICI President Dr. Shanthi Johnson.
"Our relations with India have blossomed in recent years with visitors, students and newcomers flocking to Canada in record numbers. This abiding friendship is taking our partnership in all fields to new levels," said newly appointed Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Mr. Chris Alexander.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while not present, offered his wishes for a successful event; “I am pleased to extend my warmest greetings to everyone attending the dinner and reception hosted by the Honourable Dr. Asha Seth –Canada’s first female Indo-Canadian Senator- in celebration of the 66th anniversary of India’s Independence. Canada stands ready to deepen our significant partnership with India in order to advance our common interests and promote new opportunities for economic development and international trade for the benefit of both our peoples. On behalf of the government of Canada, I offer you my very best wishes for a memorable celebration.”
Representatives from various governments and corporations were present including Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China Mr. Fang Li, Consul General of Kazakhstan Mr. Murat Seitov, Honourary Council General of Nepal Mr. Kunjar Sharma, Senator Salma Ataullahjan, Senator Nicole Eaton, Senator Tobias Enverga, Senator Vim Kochhar, MP Mark Adler, MP Harold Albrecht, MP Brad Butt, MP Coneliu Chisu, MP Joe Daniel, MP Chungsen Leung, MP John McCallum, MP Costas Menegakis, MP Ted Opitz, MP Bernard Trottier, Canada Post CEO Mr. Deepak Chopra, CEO and President of ICICI Bank Mr. Sriram Iyer, among others.
Senator Asha Seth brought the night to close with a heartfelt closing speech. “It brings me great pride to promote the values of democracy and freedom for which India fought for 66 years ago and for which we stand strong today here in Canada. The day of independence is a celebration of the shared values that form the foundation of Canada and India relations.”