India-Canada ties to see boost in 2011

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Monday, December 27, 2010

TORONTO - It will be a big year for India in Canada in 2011.

A nuclear deal signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit here in June, smoothening out the last kink in their bilateral ties, is set to see the India-Canadian relationship reach new heights in 2011.

A year-long Festival of India will be held across Canada and the prestigious IIFA film awards event will be held in Toronto from June 16 to 19.

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the festival here in June, he said, “To foster close cultural bonds between India and Canada… we will organize a year-long festival of India in Canada in 2011. This will showcase India’s rich cultural and art heritage and promote greater tourism and travel.”

The festival aims not only to showcase India’s rising economic power but also its rich and vibrant soft power through cultural, musical and dance shows.

“All kinds of things will be held to showcase our culture, traditions, heritage, music, dance and cuisine to Canadians,” according to Indian consul general Preeti Saran.

The cultural ties between the two countries will receive a further boost by the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards to be held in Toronto during June 16-19.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who is instrumental in getting the Bollywood awards show to Toronto, said at the Diwali celebrations in the provincial assembly here last month that he was eagerly looking forward to the star-filled extravaganza.

With the two countries pledging to double their bilateral trade from $5 billion in the next five years, ministerial visits from here are also likely to begin in January as about a dozen Canadian ministers and state premiers have visited India this year.

“Though there is no official word on who goes to India and when, we are definitely heading to India in January with a minister,” said a top Indo-Canadian businessman who is often part of high-level trips to India.

From India, Manmohan Singh became the first prime minister to officially visit Canada this year in almost three decades. Among top-level Indian leaders to visit Canada were Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Mines Minister B.K. Handique, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and former minister of state for foreign affairs Shashi Tharoor.

Interestingly, Toronto also received a record 50,000 tourists from India last year. “These numbers will go up at least 20 percent this year,” according to Toronto Tourism vice president Andrew Weir. The trend will only speed up in 2011.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at

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