Elections in India are always an affair to remember. With over 900 million eligible voters, the world’s largest democratic exercise in adult franchise, as always, is a fascinating potpourri of political parties, candidates, issues, entertainment, controversies, challenges, colourful campaigns and attires, food and culture and ideologies. While caste, religion, law and order with economic welfare as defined by middle class aspirations and social issues continue to dominate the poll rhetoric, it is interesting to see nationalism, security, governance, development, jobs and welfare taking their rightful space in the consciousness of voters who thanks to the extensive and powerful media outreach have begun to judge candidates and parties on these yardsticks.
It is amidst this fascinating electoral crosscurrents that I had the opportunity to meet with Hon. Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and Government House Leader, Government of Ontario at an “Interactive Breakfast Roundtable” organised by the Indo Canadian Business Chamber on 30th April. With India-Canada relations already well set to travel to higher orbits, it seemed quite in sync with the times to host Minister Todd Smith for an engagement with Indian businesses and investors across sectors like infrastructure, information technology and education and explore synergies for collaboration. Minister Smith was in India to promote Ontario as a premier trade and investment destination and treated us to an indepth presentation of Ontario’s attractiveness as the economic engine of Canada — accounting for about 40 per cent of the country’s economic activity. As home to one of the most highly skilled workforces and one of the world’s top technology clusters, Ontario offers big opportunities in education, skill development, innovation as well as in areas like healthcare and housing. It is indeed reassuring to hear from him that India is a priority market for the Government of Ontario which wants to grow that relationship even further.
As part of ICBC endeavour to build on the India-Canada bilateral momentum, I will be leading a multi-sectoral business delegation to various cities in Canada in partnership with other leading organisations both in the Canadian and Indian business communities. The delegation will have prominent trade and industry heads and representatives across the focus sectors like advanced manufacturing, information and communication technology (ICT), higher education and healthcare, apart from other areas such as product and service export and import that demonstrate a high degree of trade and investment potential. On the agenda are extensive business-to-business (B2B) meetings, briefing and networking sessions on a wide range of themes and potential business and investment opportunities.
I am looking forward to more bilateral exchanges, collaborations and exploring untapped potential in the India-Canada business relationship.
Chief Executive Officer