The night PM Modi electrified Toronto

Pradip Rodrigues


The last time there were such enthusiastic crowds of South Asians was back in 2011 when the modi5IIFA juggernaut rolled into town. PM Narendra Modi blew into town like a one-man Tsunami, his oratorical skills were on full display for over an hour as he swiveled around the stage at Ricoh Coliseum delivering his speech which received thunderous applause at regular intervals.He gave his speech in Hindi and spelled out his vision of India, clearly, precisely and exuded a swaggering confidence of a man with a mission.

He exuded optimism

He dwelt on the Indian workforce which he predicted would be much sought after in an ageing West. There will be a need for nurses, doctors, computer and other professionals as well as the need for labour in different parts of the world. In order to be prepared, skill training is being emphasized across India. Modi said he wanted India’s youth to be job creators not mere job seekers. “I tell you, India has the strength, what is needed is opportunity,” he said.
The crowds lapped up every word he said and clearly PM Modi saved his best for last- the much anticipated decisions on OCI and visas. He acknowledged that getting a visa for India has been challenging and promised that experience would be a thing of the past. The OCI and PIO cards have been merged, OCI cards will be issued for one’s lifetime instead of just 15 years. Ten-year tourist visas will now be issued and Canadians will now be on the list of countries that have Visa on Arrival.

No excuse not to visit India

The need to physically go to immigration offices to settle visa issues or to get visas won’t be necessary going forward. The e-migrate portal has been started to deal with complaints as well as process online applications.
Under the Harper administration, Canada became the first partner country for Vibrant Gujarat in 2011. That decision came soon after the opening of a Canadian trade office in Ahmedabad. At the time PM Modi was Gujarat’s Chief Minister. PM Modi spoke about that partnership and was deeply grateful to Canada. Trade relations between the two countries is expected to grow exponentially in the years to come.

Trade Deals

The decision to buy 3,000 tons of Saskatchewan uranium to power a number of power reactors in India was one of the major deals that has been signed. Besides there are plenty of opportunities for Canada to partner with India on a slew of major infrastructure and development projects, pledges have been made to co-operate in the areas of civil aviation, rail, education, space, social security, child health and skills development.
Indian farmers, said PM Modi needed Canadian potash. Millions of tones of potash is being shipped to India. In 2013 alone, Saskatchewan exported $1 billion in potash exports.

Reverse Migration?

From time to time, Ricoh Coliseum reverberated with the chant, Modi. Modi. Modi. Many of the invitees were visibly moved and suitably impressed. Palvi and Davendra Patel immigrated toCanada 42 years ago at a time when India was a very different place. “With PM Modi we have now a new interest in India. We are especially looking forward to visiting and traveling around the country and are proud of its development,” says Palvi.Arindam, a twentysomething who has lived most of his life here said he would be open to the idea of spending a couple of years atleast in India to work and get to know the country better.“If I get a good job in India, I would not mind working there and even settling there for a long time, there are so many opportunities for young people,” he said.In recent years more South Asians than ever before are investing in Indian banks, the stock exchange and real estate. There are opportunities abounding in all sectors and simplifying the visa process is expected to make the free flow of people give a major boost to trade and tourism.



Pradip Rodrigues started out as a journalist at Society magazine, part of the Magna Group in Mumbai. He wrote extensively on a variety of subjects. He later moved to the Times of India where he was instrumental in starting the now defunct E-times, a television magazine. He conceptualized Bombay Times and became its first assistant editor where he handled features and page three. Since coming to Canada in 2000, he has freelanced for newspapers and magazines in India and written autobiographies for seniors.

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