• Governor General in India

    Film, Finance and Education in Mumbai

    From February 22 to March 2, 2014, Barj was a member of the Governor General’s delegation to India. These are stories from his trip.

    Feb. 27 – March 1:

    Mumbai is India’s financial, commercial and entertainment capital and naturally its richest and most populous city. It is home to many of India’s leading financial institutions and corporations including those with the largest investments in Canada such as the Tatas, Birlas and Essar groups. Mumbai also has the country’s two national stock exchanges, the Diamond Bourse, largest port, and the leading engineering institute – IIT Mumbai.

    We toured Film City which has a cluster of production studios. The Governor General and the delegation participated in a round table on the multi-media production opportunities between Canada and India at the Whistling Woods International Studio. Quite a facility here! Canada and India also signed a co-production and multi-media bi-lateral agreement during the visit.

    The slums are home to a vibrant and diverse civil society catering to the needs of the disadvantaged. This morning some of us accompanied her Excellency to a small skills training centre for girls and women predominantly from the Muslim community. The women are eager to get out of their small and crowded homes and learn skills like sewing and stitching and data entry. Some are able to find work some don’t. I saw a mixture of despair and hope on many of their faces…young girls with big bright eyes and white teeth in sad faces…. Her Excellency led the women in some yoga type exercises and told them that being physically well is important.

    Yesterday we spent the morning at the Bombay Stock exchange. The Governor General spoke at the Exchange and then rang the bell to signal the opening  of the trading day. This was followed by a panel discussion on how to build an innovation ecosystem in India. The discussion was held in a newly opened innovation incubator involving the Stock exchange, Ryerson University and Simon Fraser University. Three entrepreneurs pitched their start-ups.

    In the afternoon we held a round table at the John Wilson College (founded by an Scotish missionary nearly 200 years ago with the goal of providing education to boys and girls) on India’s education future and how Canada can help to improve India’s education system. I participated in this and gave the closing remarks and vote of thanks after the Governor General shared his thoughts.

    We concluded the day with a talk given by the Governor General at the Institute of Technology, Bombay on “The Next Generaton of Leaders: Driving Economic Growth Through Innovation.” It was another signature presentation by the Governor General with anecdotes and lively stories, which  his wife says she has heard too many times.

    The official visit culminated on the final evening with a Friends of Canada reception on the terrace of the historic Taj Hotel in Mumbai. The Terrace has beautiful views of the Gateway to India overlooking the Arabian Sea. The Taj Hotel was the site of the horrific terrorist attack of 2008 and the Governor General paid respect to the victims, survivors and responders by signing the book of remembrances.

    In 2010, Canada India Foundation conferred the CIF Chanchlani Global Indian Award to Mr. Rattan Tata for his decisive response to support the families of the hotel and first responders who died.

    Here tonight I met Mr. Tushar Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Tushar is the Founder President of the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, India, whose mandate is to promote the teachings of non-violence and the way of “Satya Graha”. Truth, non-violence  and love always triumph!

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