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What is Komagata Maru incidence?

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By Shruti Pandey

Komagata Maru

Komagata Maru word created a buzz this week.

This week, an assurance came from the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after 102 years of an incident for which he proposed to offer an apology to the victims of Komagata Maru in the House of Commons. He was in the capital city Ottawa on Monday (April 11,2016), for the Baisakhi celebration, and he made an announcement in this regard.

“It was in the House of Commons that the law that prevented the passengers from disembarking was first passed and so it is fitting that the government should apologize there on behalf of all Canadians,” Trudeau said. “That is why next month, on May 18th, I will stand in the House of Commons and offer a full apology for the Komagata Maru incident.”

Calling on reminiscence, he enunciated “We mark the 102nd anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident where 376 passengers, mostly of whom were Sikh dissents arrived in Vancouver and were refused to stay in Canada due to the discriminatory laws of that time. The Komagata Maru’s passengers were seeking refuge and better lives, like millions of immigrants to Canada since. With so much to contribute to their new home, they chose Canada. And we failed them utterly.”

Let’s look at the incidence.

What was Komagata Maru?

A ship that was launched by Charles Connell and Company of Scotstoun on 13 August 1890. She was subsequently acquired by the Shinyei Kisen Goshi Kaisha Company in 1913. The company was owned by four or five individuals who possessed one other ship. She was renamed the Komagata Maru. The following year, she surpassed an incident an Vancouver, Canada that came to be known as “Komagata Maru incident”. In 1924, the ship was renamed Heian Maru. She was wrecked on Cape Soyidmar(Japanese:-{添泊岬}-), Hokkaidō, Japan on 11 February 1926.

When and what happened?

 The ship took off with 376 passengers from Hong Kong and arrived at Vancouver Harbour on May 23, 1914, and the people onboard- 340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims and 12 Hindus were all denied for an entry.

Amidst the 376 passengers, 24 British subjects, who hailed from Punjab, were admitted to Canada and the remaining were made to stand on the harbour for two long maonths. After two months of stand-off, they were sent back. Komagata Maru eventually arrived at the Baj Baj Ghat near Calcutta, where about 19 people were killed following an altercation with British soldiers for being members of the Ghadar party. Rests of them were put in jail.

Why was the discrimination done?

An order was passed in 1908 that required all Asiatic migrants to pay 200 dollars each as the immigration fee. Following the order, another immigration act was passed in 1910 that allowed the immigrants to enter Canada only via a continuous journey with no halts in between. Gurdit singh chartered the Japanese ship that sailed on May 23, 1914. The payment of 200 dollars was not done as the passengers on board argued that they belonged to a British colony. Some skirmishes involved ill treatment of Vanocouver cops are they tried to escort out the passengers. The ship was finally sailed back to India.

The gallantry act of the Prime Minister is appreciable. Although it cannot reimburse the lost lives but it surely relieves the grief of Sikhs who form a significant portion of Canadian population.

Shruti Pandey is studying  B.tech. from HBTI, kanpur. An ardent fan of football, Indian culture and history and aspires to color the world with words. Twitter: @srt_kaka

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An Indian Origin Woman Minister in the Government of British Columbia

As member of the British Columbia legislative assembly, she is a minister representing the Liberal Party in the government headed by Premier John Horgan.

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British Columbia, the Canadian province that is a leader in technology and has one of the fastest growing tech ecosystems in the world
British Columbian Flag.Wikimedia commons

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.

The 65-year-old mother of two, who now heads the Ministry of Citizens' Services of British Columbia, is quite passionate about her job.
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. Pixabay

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.

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The identity cards issued by her government for accessing citizens’ services have high-security features and cannot be breached for extracting personal details.

“Our ID cards, personal details are never shared with anyone. There is nothing that goes out from our portal,” she noted.

Asked if she was aware of the controversy surrounding the Aadhaar card in India, the minister said, “a little bit”. (IANS)