Amritsar, April 20, 2017: Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan offered prayers at the holiest of Sikh shrines ‘Harmandir Sahib’ here in Punjab on Thursday morning.
Sajjan arrived at the Golden Temple complex and was received by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Kirpal Singh Badungar and other members.
The Minister offered prayers inside the sanctum sanctorum and listened to hymns. He also took a ‘parikrama’ (went around the shrine) and sat there awhile.
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The first Sikh to become the Defence Minister of a western nation, Sajjan, 46, was later honoured by the SGPC at the shrine complex with a ‘siropa’ (traditional honour) and presented a replica of the Golden Temple and a sword.
Sajjan arrived in the Sikh holy city on Wednesday evening amid controversy over him being labelled as a “Khalistani sympathiser” by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
He was received at the airport by the district administration officers. Members of some radical groups were also present outside the Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport with banners to welcome Sajjan.
The Minister’s family hails from Bambeli village, 15 km from Hoshiarpur. His family had migrated to Canada in mid-1970s, when Sajjan was around five years old.
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He is likely to visit his native village and then arrive in Chandigarh.
Amarinder Singh had stirred a controversy last week when he said that he would not meet the visiting Canadian Minister due to his (Sajjan’s) links to radical elements who demand for a separate Sikh state, Khalistan.
In New Delhi, Sajjan sought to play down the controversy on Tuesday saying that he did not want the break-up of any country.
The Shiromani Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have welcomed Sajjan to Punjab and have condemned Amarinder Singh for his stand on the Canadian Minister. (IANS)
From Canada, that boasts of a first Indian-origin Defence Minister in Harjit Singh Sajjan, here is the story of another Indian-origin woman migrant who has risen to become a minister in the government of the British Columbia — the Western-most province of the country known for its tech prowess globally.
Meet Jinny Jogindera Sims, who was born in Jalandhar in Punjab and migrated at age nine to England where she got a B.Ed degree at the University of Manchester.
Then, Sims and her husband moved to Canada in 1976. The first woman President of British Columbia’s largest teachers’ union, she was elected to the Canadian Parliament in 2011.
The 65-year-old mother of two, who now heads the Ministry of Citizens’ Services of British Columbia, is quite passionate about her job.
In a conversation with IANS, when asked about Canada’s inclusive nature and how emigrants like her can make it to the top in different fields including political power, pat came her reply: “If you ask me is there more we can do, my answer will be absolutely. We need to do more on aboriginals and the nations’ ethnic communities”.
“We need to do more. Inclusivism and racism is not a one-time issue. We need to do more for their education and other issues. We need to do it all the time”.
Asked about Indians and attracting the talent in the growing tech sector of British Columbia, Sims said Indians have made a name for themselves in the tech and other sectors and are in the forefront.
“I have been to India as an MP to various cities, including Bengaluru and Kolkata. Looking at the skills and talent and amazing companies, India is important in the tech sector. We are looking at new cooperation with Indian tech companies,” she emphasised.
As member of the British Columbia legislative assembly, she is a minister representing the Liberal Party in the government headed by Premier John Horgan.
Asked about her ministry’s work, Sims said her department has gone more digital in delivering services to citizens and that has brought its own problems.
Cyber crime, fake news and other related problems faced by the countries across the world are also her main problems.
“Digital economy is growing. More and more people are getting sophisticated and trying to commit cyber crimes. We are engaged more with businesses that are worried that more people are trying to get information online through Internet bandits.
“We are telling businesses to build extra layers of security. It is like when we construct a home, we have doors and windows which we close for security. Likewise, businesses have to build layers of security like Next-Gen anti-virus solutions and firewalls,” the minister stressed.
She said her ministry is very agile on cyber security and has become smarter with time.
“They (cyber-criminals) have got technology and are, all the time, trying to get into our systems. Nearly 300,000 systems were affected which is mind-boggling. It also shows we have to be extra-cautious, building firewalls and constantly monitoring them,” Sims said.
Asked about the problem of data stealing and stalking over social media platforms, Sims said the government’s role in this is limited.
As a mother and a grandmother, she would only advise that schools and parents have to tell children on the newer risks arising from the use of Internet.
“Parents can limit the children from accessing Internet. We can teach and guide them on cyber security. Businesses also have a responsibility,” Sims added.