Toronto: At least one parliamentary constituency in Canada is fielding all Indian-Canadian candidates as the country goes to vote in the general elections on Monday.
According to Election Canada website, in the Surrey-Newton constituency, all the four candidates are of Indian origin.
Some 40 Indian-origin candidates are in the fray in the elections to Canada’s 338-member parliament being held on Monday.
In many other constituencies too, such as Brampton, Calgary and Edmonton, which have huge Indo-Canadian populations, Indian-origin candidates are contesting.
According to the Elections Canada website, in Surrey-Newton constituency heavyweights like New Democratic Party’s Jinny Sims and Liberal Party of Canada candidate Sukh Dhaliwal will square off against Green Party of Canada candidate Pamela Sangha and Harpreet Singh from the Conservative Party of Canada.
Dhaliwal and Singh immigrated from India in 1984 and 2002 respectively. Sims was born in India, raised in England, and immigrated to Canada in 1975 while Sangha was born and brought up in Surrey.
All the four candidates are pitching against rising incidence of crime in the area and offering various solutions to tackle the problem of high-profile, gang-related shootings that have left the community worrying.
Puncturing holes in the Conservatives’ claim of being “tough on crime”, Sims questioned their commitment to keep Surrey’s streets safe.
Liberal Party’s Dhaliwal also attacked the Conservatives, saying “tougher sentencing may have filled prisons, but has not made Surrey safer”.
“Irrespective of which party we (represent), we have to work together, because when it comes to crime, or youth getting involved in these gangs, it is not about party politics. It is about family,” Dhaliwal said.
Conservative candidate Harpreet Singh, a former journalist, vowed to find solutions to the community’s problems if he gets elected.
According to a report in Toronto Sun, Singh said he would hold town hall meetings every two months, alternating between four quarters of the riding as a constituency is called in Canada.
Apart from crime in the constituency, Green Party candidate Pamela Sangha is pushing clean energy as a tool to garner votes.
“I get that there is a spree of crime and gun violence here and that kids are being shot at. But we are also big in clean-tech energy and… a vibrant, beautiful community,” she said.
Numbering about 1.2 million, Indian-Canadians make up over three percent of Canada’s population of about 35 million and have become a significant political force.
According to the 2011 National Household Survey, of all electoral district in Canada, Surrey-Newton has the highest proportion — 31 percent — residents born in India.
India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution
The sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991
India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world
For the most part of human history, the change was glacial in pace. It was quite safe to assume that the world at the time of your death would look pretty much similar to the one at the time of your birth. That is no longer the case, and the pace of change seems to be growing exponentially. Futurist Ray Kurzweil put it succinctly when he wrote in 2001: “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).” Since the time of his writing, a lot has changed, especially with the advent of the internet.
India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution. The country’s hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. In fact, according to Reserve Bank of India data, the sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991, growing by over 10 percent. On the other hand, no other sector has had a productivity growth of above five percent during the same period. It is no wonder that it has also been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Indian economy, growing at over seven percent in the last decade itself.
Such an unprecedented pace of growth has been brought about the precise levels of change that Kurzweil was so enthusiastic about. Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Meanwhile, India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world, which has hit rock bottom after the entry of Reliance Jio. This has ensured access to those even at the bottom of the pyramid.
Even though consumers have come to be accustomed to fast-paced changes within the telecom sector, the entry of Jio altered the face of the industry like never before by changing the very basis of competition. Data became the focal point of competition for an industry that derived over 75 percent of its revenue from voice. It was quite obvious that there would be immediate economic effects due to it. Now that we’re nearing a year of Jio’s paid operations, during which time it has even become profitable, we saw it fit to quantify its socio-economic impact on the country. Three broad takeaways need to be highlighted.
First, the most evident effect has been the rise in affordability of calling and data services. Voice services have become practically costless while data prices have dropped from an average of Rs 152 per GB to lower than Rs 10 per GB. Such a drastic reduction in data prices has not only brought the internet within the reach of a larger proportion of the Indian population but has also allowed newer segments of society to use and experience it for the first time. Since the monthly saving of an average internet user came out to be Rs 142 per month (taking a conservative estimate that the consumer is still using 1 GB of data each month) and there are about 350 million mobile internet users in the country (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data), the yearly financial savings for the entire country comes out to be Rs 60,000 crore.
To put things in perspective, this amount is more than four times the entire GDP of Bhutan. Therefore, mere savings by the consumer on data has been at astonishing proportions.
Now, this data has been used for services that have brought to life a thriving app economy within the country. So, the second level of impact has been in the redressal of a variety of consumer needs — ranging from education, health and entertainment to banking. For instance, students in remote areas can now access online courseware and small businesses can access newer markets. Information asymmetry has been considerably reduced.
Third, a rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. These effects arise not merely from the creation of an internet economy, but also due to the synergy effects it generates. Information becomes more accessible and communication a lot easier. Businesses find it easier to operate and access consumers. Labour working in cities has to make less frequent trips home and becomes more productive as a result. Education and health services become available in inaccessible locations. Multiple avenues open up for knowledge and skill enhancement.
An econometric analysis for the Indian economy showed that the 15 percent increase in internet penetration due to Jio and the spill-over effects it creates will raise the per capita levels of the country’s GDP by 5.85 percent, provided all else remains constant.
Thus, India’s telecom sector will continue to drive the economy forward, at least in the short run, and hopefully catapult India into 20,000 years of progress within this century, as Kurzweil postulated. The best approach for the state would be to ensure the environment of unfettered competition within the industry. Maybe other sectors of the economy ought to take a leaf out of the telecom growth story. The Indian banking sector comes to mind. However, that is a topic for another day. (IANS)
(Amit Kapoor is Chair, Institute for Competitiveness, India. He can be contacted at Amit. Kapoor@competitiveness.in and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav, a senior researcher at the institute, has contributed to the article.)