Today, I wish Pakistan and India could be more like Canada

Dear Pakistan and India,

Today was a beautiful day in Canada. The sun was shining bright, and it was a warm day in the cold month of November. The temperature in my city was 20 degrees centigrade. Warmer still were the temperatures of hearts in Ottawa where our new handsome Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, whom you loved when he relished biryani in a mosque or performed bhangra with the desi community, was taking the oath of office along with 30 other ministers. Half of these ministers are women.

A 12-year-old boy from the indigenous aboriginal community led Trudeau to the ceremonial hall. The ceremony began by paying tribute to the Algonquin community on whose territory they were standing. Two indigenous ministers were sworn in. Acknowledging the centuries old injustices to the indigenous people, one of them was named minister of justice.

Today was the first time in Canada that a Muslim minister was sworn in, and that too a woman, who came here as a refugee with her widowed mother and sisters after fleeing war-torn Afghanistan.

There are three South Asians taken in as ministers. One of them holds the coveted position of minister of defence. Another was a bus driver before he came into politics. Two individuals with disabilities, one with impaired vision and another on wheel chair also became ministers. Yet another one of the minister’s parents worked as immigrant factory workers all their lives. A doctor became the health minister, and a university scientist became the minister of science. A new portfolio of immigration, citizenship and refugees was created.

An incredible step has been taken towards celebrating diversity today. The world has been watching Justin Trudeau with awe.

And yes, our premier (chief minister) of Ontario is a gay woman who is a grandmother and says family comes first.

But why am I writing this all down for you?

I was 24-years-old when, as an Indian, I married a Pakistani, and embraced my Pakistani-Indian status. I know some people would frown and wonder how that could work, but I have loved every minute of my marriage. It has been 25 years since then. But that’s another conversation.

In contrast to that, I have been a Canadian for only five years, yet I feel safer here than back home.

Sitting here, witnessing diversity unfold its virtues in Canada, my heart weeps for the havoc that has been created by ‘otherising’ and demonising diversity in India and Pakistan.

From the persecution of Ahmadis, to the killings of Shia youth, to burning Christians, to forced conversions of Hindus, to the recurrent Hindu-Muslim communal riots, to the lynching of Muslims for eating beef, to the burning of low caste children, with every new tragedy a little of Pakistani-Indian dies within me.

The unending arguments of how different Indians and Pakistanis are, despite sharing the same history, same geography, same ethnicity and even the same genetic pool, looks more ridiculous when you watch different skin colours and different ethnicities stand together in peace at the swearing in ceremony in Ottawa.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/30132/today-i-wish-pakistan-and-india-could-be-more-like-canada/

Behind the scenes with Justin Trudeau on his 1st day as PM

CBC’s Peter Mansbridge shares unprecedented access as the new prime minister takes office

By Peter Mansbridge, CBC News

In a private moment hours before becoming Canada’s 23rd prime minister, Justin Trudeau was climbing the stairs in an empty Parliament Building, holding his two eldest children by the hands, when he made an unscheduled stop in a hallway holding the portraits of former prime ministers.

“Who is that?” Trudeau asked his son and daughter.

“Grandpapa,” Ella-Grace sings.

“That’s Grandpapa Pierre,” Trudeau told his children. “Today, he’ll be thinking of us and we’ll be thinking of him.”

He quickly raised a hand to caress the frame around his father’s portrait before abruptly announcing, “OK. Let’s go.”

It would have been impossible for Pierre Trudeau not to have played some role in Wednesday’s swearing-in spectacle.

Over the several hours Justin Trudeau spent in front of a camera and tethered to a microphone for a documentary by CBC’s The National, it is clear memories of his father were threaded through his thoughts.

Pierre Trudeau wasn’t just waiting for him in the hallway leading to the House of Commons. The memories of his dad were waiting for him in his new office. They had to be outside of 24 Sussex Drive when Trudeau pulled up in front of the empty executive mansion for the first time in years.
What was Trudeau thinking as the armoured sedan wound around the drive of his old home?

“This is weird,” was all he would offer.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/behind-the-scenes-with-justin-trudeau-on-his-1st-day-as-pm-1.3304860

Live tapeworm pulled from California man’s brain

A California man is recovering after he had a live tapeworm removed from his brain during emergency surgery.

Luis Ortiz was admitted to a hospital in Napa with what he called the worst headache of his life.

In a brain scan, neurosurgeon Soren Singel discovered the larva of a tapeworm and told Mr Ortiz he had about 30 minutes to live.

The tapeworm grew inside a cyst that cut off circulation and water flow to the rest of his brain.

“I stood up and then I threw up,” said Mr Ortiz. “The doctor pulled it out and he said it was still wiggling, and I’m like ‘Ugh, that doesn’t sound too good.'”

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34732010

Kraft Heinz to cut 2,600 jobs as it closes seven plants, including in southwestern Ontario

By National Post Wire Services

Kraft Heinz is closing a plant in southwestern Ontario and six others in the United States over the next two years as part of a downsizing that will eliminate 2,600 jobs, the newly merged food company announced Wednesday.

More than 200 employees will lose their jobs as Kraft Heinz closes its Richardson Foods plant in St. Marys, Ont.

Read more » Financial Post
See more » http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/kraft-heinz-to-cut-2600-jobs-as-it-closes-seven-plants-including-in-southwestern-ontario

Shahrukh lives in India, but his soul is in Pakistan – BJP leader

BJP leader Vijayvargiya attacks Shah Rukh Khan, says his soul in Pakistan

By PTI 

NEW DELHI: Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya on Tuesday attacked Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan over his “extreme intolerance” comment, saying his “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India and also painted him as an “anti-nationalist”.

The comments by Vijayvargiya, a BJP general secretary and a former state minister, came notwithstanding the refrain of top BJP leaders in the recent weeks that insensitive comments should be avoided by partymen. Vijayvargiya is one of the party strategists for the Bihar assembly elections.

READ ALSO:
SRK says there’s “extreme intolerance” in country

“Shah Rukh lives in India, but his soul is in Pakistan. His films make crores here but he still thinks India to be intolerant,” he said in a series of tweets amid mounting concerns over the “climate of intolerance” in the country.

Read more » The Times of India
See more » http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/BJP-leader-Vijayvargiya-attacks-Shah-Rukh-Khan-says-his-soul-in-Pakistan/articleshow/49649200.cms?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=TOI

More » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1217428/

India’s Arundhati Roy returns National Award

BY DAWN.COM

NEW DELHI: Renowned South Asian writer Arundhati Roy on Thursday issued a statement explaining her decision to return the 1989 National Award she received for Best Screenplay, saying, “I want to make it clear that I am not returning this award because I am ‘shocked’ by what is being called the ‘growing intolerance’ being fostered by the present government.”

She goes on to clarify her statement: “‘Intolerance’ is the wrong word to use for the lynching, shooting, burning and mass murder of fellow human beings.

“I cannot claim to be shocked by what has happened after this government was enthusiastically voted into office with an overwhelming majority,” she says.

“These horrific murders are only a symptom of a deeper malaise. Life is hell for the living too. Whole populations ─ millions of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and Christians are being forced to live in terror, unsure of when and from where the assault will come,” Roy says.

The writer says, “When the thugs and apparatchiks of the New Order talk of ‘illegal slaughter’ they mean the imaginary cow that was killed ─ not the real man that was murdered. When they talk of taking ‘evidence for forensic examination’ from the scene of the crime, they mean the food in the fridge, not the body of the lynched man,” ─ an apparent reference to the recent Dadri lynching incident where a Muslim man was killed and his son injured after a mob beat them for keeping ‘beef’ in their fridge.

Roy also touches upon a recent incident of caste-motivated violence: “When Dalits are butchered and their children burned alive, which writer today can freely say, like Babasaheb Ambedkar once did that ‘To the Untouchables, Hinduism is a veritable chamber of horrors,’ (Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Volume 9 pg 296) without getting attacked, lynched, shot or jailed?”

She laments the loss of the right to speak freely: “It doesn’t matter whether we agree or disagree with what is being said. If we do not have the right to speak freely we will turn into a society that suffers from intellectual malnutrition, a nation of fools.”

Roy says New India has “enthusiastically joined” the race to the bottom prevalent across the subcontinent.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1217636