? India Canada Friendship Circle
ICFC Mission

ICFC encourages dialogue on India in a harmonious environment. The words "friendship" and "circle" in its name, convey an explicit desire to forge and maintain close ties among Canadians with an interest in India. The primary objective of ICFC is to enhance the profile of India in Canada through prominent speakers who articulate and interpret from their perspective the many facets of India's history, philosophy, scholarship, culture, industry, economy, arts and sciences.

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Sunday, October 21, 2018 (3:00 - 5:00 PM)

(Registration begins at 2:45pm)

at Rockcliffe Park Community Centre Hall
380 Springfield Road, Ottawa [at the intersection of Buena Vista Dr]

Balancing Multiculturalism and Gender Equality: Muslim Women's Rights and the Debate over the Uniform Civil Code in India
by Dr. Gopika Solanki

Event Poster (PDF)

Synopsis: Debates rage in India and in other multicultural societies over the question of whether states should adopt uniform laws to govern the family or recognize religious family laws. These questions shape relations between majority and minority ethno-religious groups and impact gender equality. These contestations have been particularly sharp around the question of the recognition of Muslim personal law in India. Many feminists and liberals belonging to majority and minority religious groups in India have argued Muslim religious family laws violate Muslim women's right to freedom and equality within the family. In contrast, conservatives, minority religious bodies, and some liberal Muslims argue that religious freedom guaranteed under the Indian constitution legitimises the policy of recognition of religious family laws, and some feminists support this claim. The BJP and its affiliates support the enactment of the uniform civil code, while the Congress Party, the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and the left parties oppose such a code. These issues have occupied the political centre stage since the Indian Supreme Court placed an injunction against triple talaq, a form of Islamic divorce, in India in 2017. This presentation traces the historical and contemporary aspects of the contentious debate over the governance of triple talaq.

About the Speaker: Gopika Solanki is Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University in Canada. Her research interests include multiculturalism and legal pluralism, indigeneity and the law, and feminist theory. She is the author of Adjudication in Religious Family Laws: Cultural Accommodation, Legal Pluralism, and Gender Equality in India (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Her co-authored book, Journey from Violence to Crime: A Study of Domestic Violence in the City of Mumbai (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, 2001), contributed to the drafting of the law criminalizing domestic violence in India, namely, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, and has been widely used as a resource for legal literacy campaigns, police manuals and training, and in higher education materials in India. She has taught at universities in both India and Canada, and has been a visiting fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford. Currently, she is working on a book project on indigenous politics, The Split Personality of Law: Political Decentralization, Gender, and Adivasi Legal Mobilization in India, which is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She is part of an inter-disciplinary research team studying the spatial dimension of urban religions, titled "Dwelling and Crossing: The Socio-Cultural Dynamics of Religious Spaces in Mumbai."

Register for this event

Sunday, September 09, 2018 (3:00 - 5:00 PM)

(Registration begins at 2:45pm)

at a Special Venue:
Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre (Workshop #5),

300 Des Peres-Blancs, Ottawa

Dance and Music in the Vaishnava Monasteries of 16th century Assam
by Dr. Arshiya Sethi

Event Poster (PDF)

Synopsis: In the West, our idea of monastic ritual involves prayer and quiet reflection. But there are monasteries in Assam, in the far reaches of northeastern India, where prayer has always been, and continues to be, expressed through dance. Srimanta Sankardev was a 15th-16th century Assamese polymath: a saint-scholar, poet, playwright, social-religious reformer and a figure of importance in the cultural and religious history of Assam, India. In the 16th century, Sankardev brought a new type of Vaishnavism (a major tradition within Hinduism) to Assam. It was based on the Bhagavata Purana (sacred texts) and expressed through dance and music. Sattriya, as this dance form is known, became one of the eight official classical dance forms of India only in 2000 - since then, its visibility has grown beyond the monastery walls. A growing number of monks have begun to teach Sattriya in Assamese towns and cities, and perform and teach live outside the monastry as far as Delhi and North America. The dances depict male/female characters, are graceful and incantatory, without the strong, rhythmic footfalls that characterize other Indian dance forms like Bharatanatyam or Kathak. The musical accompaniment in Sattriyas consists of drums, cymbals, flute, voice, violin or harmonium. Dr. Sethi, who has a doctorate in the politics and religion of 16th century Assam, will give an illustrated talk on the arts of the Sattra. Dr. Sethi is a dancer and an independent scholar and brings many years of scholarship to this interesting talk which will appeal to all ages.

About the Speaker: Independent scholar, Dr. Arshiya Sethi, twice a recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship, writes and speaks on cultural issues, in India and internationally. After three decades as Consultant, building tangible and intangible cultural equities, being dance critic, commentator on Dance and Music on Doordarshan's archival National programme of Dance and Music for more than three decades, and then advisor on India's national arts channel, she established and runs the Kri Foundation, which promotes different ways of looking at the Arts, especially 'Artivism'- Art directed at Activism. Her doctoral research has been on the dances of the Vaishnav monasteries of Assam called Sattras from which has emerged the eighth classical dance style of India, Sattriya. Her current scholarly research focuses on diasporic constituencies of dance, and through a multi-disciplinary lens, on cultural ecology at the intersection of politics and society, studying the ways in which artistic practices, especially dance, links with governance, gender, environment, cultural rights, identity issues and beyond, and social justice paradigms. She has just concluded a yearlong Post Doc attachment under the Fulbright fellowship at the University of Minnesota.

Sunday, May 27, 2018 (3:00 - 5:00 PM)

(Registration begins at 2:45pm)

at Rockcliffe Park Community Centre Hall
380 Springfield Road, Ottawa [at the intersection of Buena Vista Dr]

Common Purpose and the Human Spirit
by Prakash Diar

Event Poster (PDF)

Synopsis: The Indian Diaspora has made significant contributions on a global scale, including those of Prakash Diar, a world-renowned human rights lawyer based in Ottawa. Mr. Diar will talk about his personal experience of life in apartheid South Africa and a little about his experience in Canada. Through his personal experience he will talk about oppression and the human spirit. Not only to survive, but to thrive. Difficult and dangerous times call for commitment, thinking outside the box and action. The lecture is to inspire and remind people that a single person can certainly make a difference but working in alignment and with a common purpose with others can move the proverbial mountain.

About the Speaker: Mr. Diar has practised law in the area of human rights in South Africa and Canada and is internationally known for his defence of the "Sharpeville Six" in apartheid South Africa who were innocent but convicted of murder and sentenced to death. He testified at the UN which passed two Resolutions condemning the apartheid government for the impending execution of six innocent people. He also launched an international campaign which got Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, President Reagan and Chancellor Kohl to personally intervene in an attempt to save the Six. During this period in the mid 1980's, he was detained by the police under the State of Emergency and kept in solitary confinement for a month without being charged. His life was threatened after his release and two people close to him were assassinated. Canada helped Mr. Diar and his family leave South Africa in June 1989. In Canada, he received a Fellowship at the University of Ottawa in the Human Rights Research & Education Centre. Based on his clients' experiences, he authored a book: 'The Sharpeville Six', published by M & S, 1990, Toronto (endorsed by Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu & Nadine Gordimer, all 3 Nobel Laureates). Mr. Diar has also been a Legal Counsel for the Canadian Human Rights Commission and won one of the biggest race discrimination cases in Canada: National Capital Alliance on Race Relations ( NCARR ) v Health Canada, a case driven by Dr. Shiv Chopra. He is currently working with the Minister and DM of Justice on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mandate to renew the Crown's relationship with Indigenous peoples, which includes adopting the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and implementing the Call to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Report.

Sunday, April 29, 2018 (3:00 - 5:00 PM)

(Registration begins at 2:45pm)

at Rockcliffe Park Community Centre Hall
380 Springfield Road, Ottawa [at the intersection of Buena Vista Dr]

Engaging Rural Communities to improve Child Health in India
by Dr. Mira Johri

Event Poster (PDF)

Synopsis: India's aspirations for development require healthy human resources but population health continues to lag, especially in rural areas marked by poverty. Despite improvements, India's under-5 mortality rate (48 deaths per 1,000 live births) remains high, health knowledge is low, poor health behaviours are common, and only 62% of children are fully immunized. Mobile phone ownership is now widespread and offers new opportunities to engage with communities and to promote community partnership in health and health services. We are piloting an interactive, voice-based, mobile platform (Tika Vaani, or "vaccine voice") in rural Hardoi district, Uttar Pradesh, India to improve child health in areas including immunization, nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene. The intervention combines entertaining educational and training capsules broadcast via mobile phone and community mobilisation activities. This presentation will provide the first glimpse of how communities are receiving the intervention.

About the Speaker: Mira Johri, PhD MPH is Professor in the Department of Health Management, Evaluation and Policy at the University of Montreal, and Principal Scientist at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM). Dr. Johri's research focuses on global child health. Mira studied economics, ethics and political philosophy at McGill University, and public health at Yale University. She has served as Consultant in the Department of Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization, Geneva, and currently serves as Independent Expert to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Her research has appeared in high-impact journals such as the Lancet, BMC Medicine, and the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Mira is particularly interested in community-based research and in the potential of community engagement approaches to improve health and development outcomes. Her current work focuses on equitable access to childhood vaccines globally and in India.

The content of, and views expressed in, the lectures and audience discussions are entirely those of the speakers and individual members of the audience.  ICFC has no responsibility or liability for any views expressed and comments made and interpretations thereof.
Please join us for an informative talk and networking over tea and snacks at:

Rockcliffe Park Community Centre Hall
380 Springfield Road, Ottawa
[at the intersection of Springfield Road and Buena Vista Drive]

You are welcome to bring family and friends to this event.
Admission: $10 per person [for non-members]
Annual Members of ICFC have pre-paid for all events.

MEMBERS: We urge you to renew your ICFC membership.

Members pay an annual fee of $45 (single) or $90 (family of 2), and enjoy the entire series of five events for one year. You may renew your membership online, or at an event. We accept both cash and cheque at the door.

Become an Annual Member of ICFC

Summary of 2018 Events
April 29, 2018 Speaker: Dr. Mira Johri Topic: Engaging Rural Communities to improve Child Health in India [Event Poster]
May 27, 2018 Speaker: Prakash Diar Topic: Common Purpse and the Human Spirit [Event Poster]
September 09, 2018 Speaker: Dr. Arshiya Sethi Topic: Dance and Music in the Vaishnava Monasteries of 16th century Assam [Event Poster]
October 21, 2018 Speaker: Dr. Gopika Solanki Topic: Balancing Multiculturalism and Gender Equality: Muslim Women's Rights and the Debate over the Uniform Civil Code in India [Event Poster]