Sunday February 18, 2018
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Canada’s new PM urged to fast-track free trade agreement with India

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Toronto: Welcoming the incoming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whose Liberal Party was swept to power yesterday, major Indo-Canadian organizations have urged him to fast-track the long-pending free trade agreement with India.

Ajit Someshawar, chairman of the Canada-India Foundation (CIF), urged Trudeau to make a state visit to India as one of his foreign policy priorities and conclude the long-pending Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and the Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) between the Canada and India.

Canada and India have agreed to triple their trade to $15 billion, but the progress has been tardy even as the visit by Modi – the first by any Indian PM in 42 years – here in April and two trips to India by his Canadian counterpart have reinforced this pledge.

“The growth in bilateral trade between the two countries has still not reached its full potential and even the modest goal of $15 billion annually is still far away,” said the chairman of the Canada-India Foundation which has honoured many great Indians such as former President APJ Abdul Kalam, Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy and Deepak Chopra with its annual CIF Chanchlani Global Indian Award of $50,000 since its inception in 2008.

Someshawar also urged the Canada’s new PM to reinforce the Canada-India Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group to bring parliamentarians of the two countries together.He also welcomed the new Family Class Reunification plan announced by the incoming government as it will help the 1.2-million-strong Indo-Canadian community to bring their dependents into Canada quickly.

Canada-India Business Council (C-IBC) vice-chairman Kam Rathee also urged the new Canadian Prime Minister to conclude the long-pending free trade agreement with India on a priority basis.

“The new prime minister should also set in motion a process to develop trade investment and services so that non-profit associations and organizations that promote Canada-India business get financial support,” added Rathee.

Ramesh Chotai, whose Bromed Pharmaceuticals is the biggest Canadian importer of pharmaceutical raw material from India, echoed similar views.

He also said, “Mr. Trudeau’s elevation to become the next Prime Minister of Canada brought back sweet memories for me. I came to Canada as refugee from Idi Amin’s Uganda, thanks to the policy decisions made by Mr. Trudeau’s father and former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I am eternally grateful to the senior Mr. Trudeau, whose forward thinking immigration and refugee policies have made Canada the great country it is, now reflected in the diversity of the newly elected House of Commons (which now has 19 Indo-Canadians).”

(Gurmukh Singh, IANS)

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Modi to lay foundation stone for Abu Dhabi’s first Indian temple

The temple compound will include a visitors' centre, prayer halls, exhibition centre, learning areas, sports area for children and youths, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, books and gift shop and other facilities

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will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons
will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons
  • This is Modi’s second visit to the UAE after August 2015
  • Modi was scheduled to arrive here in the evening
  • The temple’s construction will be completed by 2020, and open to people of all religious backgrounds

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday laid the foundation stone for the first Hindu temple in the United Arab Emirates’ capital, which is home to a huge Indian diaspora.

This is Modi’s second visit to the UAE after August 2015. He was scheduled to arrive here in the evening.

“The first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi will come up on 55,000 square metres of land and the groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday will be a historic event,” said Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri.

The Indian leader will be laying the foundation stone for the temple from the Dubai Opera House via video conferencing. He will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community.

“The occasion is going to be historic… because it will also see the commencement of the first Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi. We are very pleased that we have received 55,000 square metres of land near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway,” said Suri.

The temple’s construction will be completed by 2020, and open to people of all religious backgrounds.

It will be the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East, said a spokesperson from the BAPS Swaminarayanan Sanstha that is entrusted with the design, construction and management of the temple.

Also Read: Kerala Tourism to organise promotion event in Abu Dhabi to attract cash-rich Arab travellers

The temple will be hand-carved by Indian temple artisans and assembled in the UAE, said the BAPS spokesperson.

The UAE has two Hindu temples which are located in Dubai. Devotees from Abu Dhabi and other emirates have to drive to Dubai for prayers and offerings.

The temple compound will include a visitors’ centre, prayer halls, exhibition centre, learning areas, sports area for children and youths, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, books and gift shop and other facilities.

Sadhu Brahmaviharidas, the chief spokesperson of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, said the generous gift of land for a Hindu temple by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, “was a strong and sound message to the world that cultural and spiritual inclusiveness is the way forward for global harmony”.

It will replicate the BAPS temple in New Delhi and the one under construction in New Jersey, a trust member told the Khaleej Times.

BAPS manages 1,200 temples in India, UK, the US, Australia, Canada and Africa.

Also Read: Abu Dhabi keeps the Smart City dream alive

Meanwhile, the UAE’s iconic buildings like the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Frame, Adnoc building and the Emirates Palace were lit up in colours of India’s flag ahead of Modi’s visit to the country.

Modi’s high-level engagements here include bilateral meetings with top UAE leaders and a keynote address at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday, in which India is the guest country.

Earlier in the day, Modi was in Ramallah where he received a rousing welcome on the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Palestine. (IANS)