Acknowledgment: Original ICFC logo conceived by Ms. Sarina Anand. Redesigned and animated by Mr. Santosh Shail.
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2010 Events (in reverse chronological order)

Nov 7, 2010
Speaker: Dr. Stephen Inglis

Executive Director, CREE Cultural Institute, Montreal

Topic
Maharaja: The Arts of India’s Royal Courts

Stephen Inglis

About the Speaker: Dr. Stephen Inglis is an anthropologist and art historian who specialises in the artistic traditions of India. He is the Canadian curator for the Maharaja exhibition at the AGO. He has also recently curated an exhibition on world religions ”Dieux”, opening at the Musée de la Civilization in Quebec City in November. Dr. Inglis is currently Executive Director of the Cree Cultural Institute, which is building a museum in Northern Quebec.

Synopsis of Dr. Stephen Inglis' talk on "Maharaja: The Arts of India's Royal Courts": In mid November, the Art Gallery of Ontario introduces an extraordinary exhibition as the only Canadian venue on a three-stop North American tour. “Maharaja” originated at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London but has been revised, redesigned, and creatively adapted for the Canadian audience. It includes many of the most important works of art that exist related to the Indian courts between the early 18th century and the mid 20th century.

This talk introduces some of the exceptional objects that will be displayed and takes the audience “behind the scenes” of the preparation of this unique event.

Patiala Nechlace

Patiala Necklace

Sept 12, 2010
Speaker: Mrs. Madhu Verma

Chair, Asian Heritage Society of New Brunswick

Topic: Honoring the History and Contributions of Asian Canadians

Madhu VermaAbout the Speaker (synopsis of her talk): Madhu Verma is a community and social activist.  She is founding Chair of the Asian Heritage Society of New Brunswick (AHSNB) and Vice Chair of the National Indo-Canadian Council (NICC). She is a founding board member of the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada (NOIVMWC), a board member of the National Anti-Racism Council, and a member of the National Pan Asian Advisory Council and the New Brunswick Multicultural Council.

As a young girl, Madhu was displaced during the 1947 India-Pakistan Partition, and spent her childhood as a refugee in India. She arrived in Canada as a Non-Resident Indian bride in 1962. Her experience as one of the few Asian immigrants in the entire province of New Brunswick inspired her to begin what would become a lifetime commitment to multicultural education and activism.

Since 1963, Madhu has worked passionately on initiatives to promote cultural exchange and understanding, organizing numerous cultural showcases and anti-racism workshops and forums. She has served on several committees and boards pertaining to diversity and multiculturalism education, and was integrally involved in the formation of the Indo-Canadian Association of Fredericton in 1972, and the Multicultural Association of Fredericton (MCAF) in 1974. She served on the board at MCAF for thirty years and participated in several forum sessions on multiculturalism policy, multicultural and human rights education, and immigrants’ language training and settlement issues. She also played an active role in initiatives and programs to help refugees and new immigrants get settled in New Brunswick.

Madhu has presented  briefs and discussion papers on issues relating to immigration and refugee policy, employment  equity and foreign credentials, human rights, immigrant women, international arranged marriages,  art and culture policy, the Multicultural Act, and multiculturalism education in schools. She has also written and presented on workplace diversity training and adult literacy programs for deaf immigrants. She has participated in several government-organized consultation sessions on some of the aforementioned issues.

In 2002, Madhu was founding Chair of the Asian Heritage Month Committee, which was later incorporated and renamed the Asian Heritage Society of New Brunswick (AHSNB). The AHSNB plans and coordinates the annual Asian Heritage Month celebrations in May, and works throughout the year to enhance understanding of the history and contributions of diverse Asian Canadian communities. Madhu’s work with the AHSNB has included advancing the research on Asian Canadian history and culture, sharing Asian heritage with the public through galas, exhibits and other cultural events, and organizing a number of workshops and symposiums on anti-racism and multiculturalism education.

Madhu is recipient of the Governor General’s Medal and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the National Citations for Citizenship Award, and the New Brunswick Human Rights Award. She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Multicultural Association of Fredericton and the New Brunswick Multicultural Council.

Synopsis of the talk on "Honoring the History and Contributions of Asian Canadians": In 2002, the Government of Canada declared May as Asian Heritage Month (AHM). The federal objectives of AHM include official recognition of the longstanding history of Asian Canadians, and a celebration of their contributions to the prosperity of our nation. 

Following on the heels of the federal government, the Asian Heritage Month Committee, later renamed the Asian Heritage Society of New Brunswick (AHSNB), was established by founding Chair Madhu Verma in the same year. Since then, the AHSNB has been committed to fostering public understanding of the crucial role that Asian Canadians have and continue to play in shaping the social, cultural, political and economic fabric of Canada and our province. 

Asian heritage is pluralistic and refers to all those with ancestry from the continent of Asia, spanning many countries and diverse linguistic, cultural and religious traditions.  In keeping with our commitment to multiculturalism education, much of the resource materials we develop are sent to our regional school districts to be displayed to students and educators across the province.

Currently, one of our major projects is a book that commemorates the history of South Asian immigration to Atlantic Canada. Our work on this initiative has entailed collecting the personal histories and narratives of members of the South Asian community through a series of questionnaires and interviews.

Canadians of South Asian descent have been integral in advancing the prosperity of our region through their contributions in medicine, science and technology, business and investment, education, and much more. We aim to create a public record of this history and to document the many ways that South Asian Canadians have contributed their knowledge, education and skills to enriching our nation.  A principal goal of the project is to distribute this material to schools and policymakers in the provincial Department of Education.

July 25, 2010
Speaker: Mr. Niraj Bhargava

Chairman and CEO, Energate Inc.

Topic: Smart Energy around the world– Will India leap ahead?

About the speaker

Niraj Bhargava is Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Energate Inc, a company specializing in home energy management solutions. Previously, Niraj was President and CEO of Enerstat Limited, the company that first commercialized the electronic programmable thermostat. After Enerstat, Niraj became a faculty member in Entrepreneurship at Queen’s University, CEO of Queen’s Centre for Enterprise Development, and then Dean of the Business School at Royal Roads University.

Earlier in his career, Niraj practiced engineering at Bell-Northern Research, marketing and business development at Northern Telecom and General Electric, and was General Manager of GE Energy Management. Niraj has a BASc from University of Waterloo and an MBA from Ivey Business School, including an International Business Certificate from Stockholm School of Economics.

Ottawa-based Energate is all about connecting conservation with comfort. As out-of-control energy demand and costs become increasingly critical issues, Energate has developed home energy management solutions that let consumers and utilities manage energy use and reduce peak demand without sacrificing comfort and convenience. Energate’s technologies including its leading Smart Thermostats are a key part of Smart Grid and Smart Meter roll-outs for utilities throughout North America. Energate is a privately held company in Ottawa, Ontario.

Synopsis of the talk: North America’s 2003 blackout was a wake-up call to utilities and governments that our insatiable thirst for energy had to be quenched. However, combined with the need were realities of growing debt, environmental regulation, energy-related terrorism, and technology. North America’s free energy ride was over; thus a fast-growing “Smart Grid” and alternative energy industry was born. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, China and India were claiming their turn to prosper. While the environmental imperative was respected, they were not about to miss their turn by paying for North America’s sins. North America is investing in technology to manage energy demand. India is investing in sources of energy supply.

Ottawa-headquartered Energate is a Smart Grid company currently servicing the North America market. Recently its CEO, Niraj Bhargava, joined Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Clean Technology mission to India. Niraj came away concluding that India’s market has an even greater need than North America; for example, black-outs are daily occurrences in India. Niraj will lead a discussion on who may win the race for clean energy technology using Smart Grid as a specific industry example. Niraj doesn’t believe that India’s residents need to miss the value of energy while remaining supportive of sustainable development.

June 6, 2010
Rabindranath Tagore: The Voice of All Mankind

Nandita Bhatnagar Jharna Chatterjee

Mrs. Nandita Bhatnagar

"Rabindranath Tagore - the pioneering spirit and a contemporary thinker"

Dr. Jharna Chatterjee

"Rabindranath Tagore - on 'Love and separation'"

Tagore is known primarily for his poetic creations and spiritual thinking, for which he was awarded the Nobel prize. But his revolutionary ideas regarding humanism, education, personal freedom, rural development, co-operative farming and many other aspects, are not known to the world. Even in India, these ideas are ignored. Reason for that is, his works have not been translated properly. Writings of the last ten years of his life are so modern, so radical, which truly makes Tagore a Man for all seasons.

This presentation will explore these unknown ideas of Tagore, which he constantly tried to implement  throughout his lifetime. 

Rabindranath Thakur's influence still permeates the Bengali cultural arena more than hundred years after he passed away in 1941.

This presentation will focus on one aspect of his work - the universal concept of love - together with its companion concept 'separation or loss,' as they appear in many of Rabindranath's writings.

Separation, loss, and sorrow are inextricably bound with love. Rabindranath, the voice of all human beings, felt this pain not only in his own life, but also for all humanity, even for this entire mundane world and expressed this pain in simple but powerful words that resonate in our hearts for ever. Yet, the philosopher-poet found meaning in this separation and loss as well. He said that it is through separation that love renews itself; it is through loss that we appreciate how love has enriched us; that if we comprehend the nature of the infinite, we would know that nothing is ever lost.

April 18, 2010
Speaker: Dr. David Van Praagh
Journalist, Author and Professor

India: New Challenges in the 21st Century

Dr David van PraaghDavid Van Praagh is a journalist and author who has been engaged with Asia, particularly India, for more than 50 years. He first visited India in 1958. He was the South Asia and Southeast Asia correspondent of The Globe and Mail for seven years, based first in New Delhi and then in Singapore, covering India's politics, the Vietnam war and Afghanistan. Starting with Nehru, he has interviewed five of India's prime ministers.

He is the author of 'The Greater Game: India's Race with Destiny and China,' and 'Thailand's Struggle for Democracy.' Since 1972 he has been a professor in the Carleton University School of Journalism, teaching international reporting and continuing to travel to Asia. For nearly three decades he was the international-affairs analyst for CTV Ottawa. He continues to write for Canadian and U. S. newspapers, notably in recent years The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star and The Ottawa Citizen.

"India: New Challenges in the 21st Century" will focus on India's changing politics at home with the growth of a number of political parties instead of one dominant party, and on India's changing role in Asia and an increasingly dangerous world as a nuclear power, a strategic ally of the United States and a key member of a prospective alliance for democracy.