CHANDIGARH: Punjab will send a strong and  high- powered delegation to represent the state at the India Calling Conference in Canada from June 14 to 19 this year. The Conference is being organized at Vancouver and Toronto.

The delegation, to be led by a Cabinet Minister, would comprise leading lights from the world of trade, commerce, industry, agriculture, education, literature, healthcare, infrastructure development, NRI welfare and  information technology.

The decision was taken after the Canadian High Commissioner in India, David Malone called on the Punjab Chief Minister  Parkash Singh Badal  here this morning.

Disclosing this on Wednesday, Harcharan Bains, Media Advisor to Punjab Chief Minister said that although this year's Conference would focus on Education, ICT, Alterative Sources of Energy and Life Sciences, Punjab would use this opportunity both to showcase the advances made by the state in various spheres of development as well as to step up the state government's bonding with the Punjabi Diaspora  in Canada.  In addition, the delegation would also seek to attract material and intellectual inputs from different fields to reinforce its own thrust towards achieving global standards for the people of the state, said . Bains.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Secretary, Ramesh Inder Singh has said that the composition of the delegation would also reflect the state government's efforts towards fully implementing the decisions taken at the NRI Sammelan held at Chandigarh and Jalandhar earlier this year. One of the decisions taken at the Sammelan was to hold 'Sangat Darshans' to redress the problems of the NRIs at the places of their settlement.  The state government would tie up with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Northern Region in constitute the delegation, said the Chief Secretary.

 In the morning's meeting, the High Commissioner made a strong plea for increased inter-low of what he called "human synergies" between the people of Punjab and Canada. Malone said that there was a ' a whole world of opportunities in various fields for the people of the two regions for through constructive collaboration.' The High Commissioner was accompanied by Consul General  Helen Economo Amundsn and Trade Commissioner Service Gurbans Sobti of local Consulate General of Canada.

Bains said that the Chief Minister and the High Commissioner saw a lot of merit in the vision offered by the organizers of the Conference who chose the Canadian soil for hosting the Conference as they felt that Canada and India have a lot of common interests. Canada is home for more than one million people of Indian origin, a majority of them Punjabis who have led from the front in the world of politics, business, industry and education.  

The  Chief Minister said that since both Canada and Punjab are strong and growing economies, the two can work together for integrated development, especially as they shared a large number of strengths and weaknesses.  It may be recalled that Canada is a part of NAFTA, a free trade area consisting of more than 450 million people; and it has an internationally competitive tax and fiscal regime. As such, Punjab saw an opportunity in expanding bilateral trade and investment with the entire zone through Canada, said Mr. Bains.

Badal also asked the High Commissioner to set up some mechanism in his country to facilitate tie-ups between educational institutions here and reputed places of learning in Canada, like the University of Saskatchewan and the premier educational institutions of British Columbia and Ontario to impart quality education to our youth.  Mr. Malone said that his stress would be in evolving a mechanism for channeling the Punjabi students to only the accredited and acclaimed places of learning in his country. He also offered to explore the possibility of training courses for the Punjab teachers in disciplines in which Canada was known to be a world leader.  

 Principal Secretary to Chief Minister DS Guru and Commissioner NRI Affairs AS Chhatwal also attended the meeting.