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Tribute to the Memory of Dr. Abdul Kalam, organized by CIF and SVBF Canada

Posted in Canada, Community, S. Asia, World

Published on August 10, 2015 with No Comments

Toronto, August 6, 2015: The first of many planned formal tributes by the Indo-Canadian community to the late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India, who passed away on July 27, 2015, was held on August 6 at the SVBF Community Centre, co-organized by Canada India Foundation (CIF) and Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation (SVBF).

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It was only appropriate that Canada India Foundation (CIF) and particularly its immediate Past-Chair, Dr. “Lucky” Lakshmanan took the lead in organizing a tribute to Dr. Kalam. Dr. Kalam’s first two visits to Canada were at the invitation of CIF, facilitated by the personal relationship Dr. Lakshmanan had developed with him. CIF’s inaugural Gala, held in 2008, was a landmark event, featuring Dr. Kalam as well as Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Earlier during that visit, CIF coordinated a meeting between Dr. Kalam and PM Harper, where the topic of civil nuclear agreement between Canada and India was first broached, and subsequently became a reality. Dr. Kalam gained a great number of fans both among Indo-Canadians and others during this visit, through his simplicity, his indefatigable energy and his vision.  He visited Canada again in 2010, again at the invitation of CIF, to be a Keynote Speaker at the Canada India Mining Forum. During this visit, he received an Honorary Doctorate from University of Waterloo and also visited Vancouver. Dr. Kalam was also present, through videolink, delivering addresses at both Canada India Energy Forum in 2009, and Canada India Agriculture and Food Processing Forum in 2012, all the forums organized by CIF. Dr. Kalam visited Canada one last time, in 2012, when he gave the inaugural Dhahan Memorial Lecture at Carleton University in Ottawa and received an Honorary Doctorate from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. During his visits, he spoke to a number of groups, but the ones he looked forward to most were the youth and students. All his talks in Canada were later co-edited as a book by Dr. Lakshmanan and published under Canada India Foundation label.

The tribute event was attended by nearly 250 people, including India’s Consul General, Shri Akhilesh Mishra and Mrs. Mishra, Ontario MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris, and Leader of Ontario Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition, Patrick Brown. Among the participants and speakers were current CIF Chair, Ajit Someshwar and National Convenor, Anil Shah, as well as Dr. Lakshmanan, who is also President of SVBF and SVBF Trustee, S. Thiagarajan. Also present were members from the Indo-Canada Chamber of Chamber of Commerce, led by its President Sanjay Makkar, the IIT Alumni Canada, represented by Vijay Aivalli as well as Canada-India Business Council represented by its CEO, Gary Comerford, and Panorama India, represented by Anu Shrivastava. Long-time friend of India, former Senator Con DiNino was also present.

Against a backdrop of a slideshow featuring highlights of Dr. Kalam’s life as well as his Canadian connection, prepared by the SVBF Youth, dignitaries lit the ceremonial lamp and all attendees placed
flowers in front the portrait of Dr. Kalam. In the context of Dr. Kalam’s birthplace, Rameswaram, songs
in praise of Lord Rama were sung by renowned singers, Shraddha Ganesh and Saswata Sanyal. The
secular personality of Dr. Kalam, who had great respect for all faiths, was reflected in the multi-faith
prayers said by Muslim, Christian and Hindu priests. Speakers recalled their personal and professional
interactions with Dr. Kalam and spoke of his inspirational life and the successes of India’s space
program, attributed to his leadership.

The youth in attendance, as well as many others received a copy of the book of Dr. Kalam’s talks in Canada “Towards Peace and Prosperity”. A guest book, in which attendees left their personal messages, will later be handed over in person to the surviving elder brother of Dr. Kalam in India by Dr. Lakshmanan.


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