Acknowledgment: Original ICFC logo conceived by Ms. Sarina Anand. Redesigned and animated by Mr. Santosh Shail.
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2015 Events (in reverse chronological order)
Sunday, October 18, 2015 (3:00 - 5:00 PM)
at Rockcliffe Park Community Centre Hall, Ottawa

Book Reading
by the Author, Dr. Harsh Dehejia
Book characters enacted by Kamlesh & Aruna Gupta

Book: "Parul: A Love Story"

Parul: A Love StoryDr. harsh Dehejia, Author of "Parul: A Love Story"Book Synopsis: Praful is a Professor, a dyed in the woolacademic and shaped by Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta a life denying philosophy. Parul, on the other hand, is a sensual, earthy woman who believes in the veracity of love and the reality of the many beautiful things of this life. A chance meeting between the two leads not only to a romantic relationship spread over eleven purnimas, but becomes a dialogue between two philosophical systems, the Advaita of Shankara and the Madhurya of the Bhagavata Purana. As romantic moments between the two unfold, it is as it were intellectuality interacts with sensuality, questioning the validity of each, and as Chaitra moves to Magh, a transformation takes place.

As this romantic story unfolds, where meetings by the Parijatak and conversations underneath the Champa, are not only moments of shringara but introspections of the meaning of life, we hear and feel the sensuality of love as it merges seamlessly with the intellectuality of a philosophic discourse. In this heart throbbing and romantic relationship there is the spiritual quest of ultimate reality along with the pleasures of the sound of the wind and the song of a bird. Metaphysical thoughts and tender feelings, evocative colours and resonant sounds, intoxicating aromas and patterned textures, myths and metaphors, intermingle in the hushed conversations of two people in love.

As Parul adorns herself for her romantic rendezvous and the two meet on eleven full moon nights and beautiful moments of togetherness unfold, Parul becomes a mirror for Praful, as he eventually, through the power of her love, discovers his true self.

About the Book Author: Dr. Harsha V. Dehejia is well-known and respected in Ottawa. A double doctorate, one in Medicine and the other in Ancient Indian Culture, both from Mumbai University, he is a Member of the Royal College of Physicians of London and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada.

Dr. Dehejia is a practising Physician and Adjunct Professor of Indian Studies in the College of Humanities at Carleton University. He has 20 books and two documentaries, and has curated many exhibitions.

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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.
Sunday, September 27, 2015 (3:00 - 5:00 PM)
at Palki Cuisine of India, Ottawa
Vishnu Prakash
High Commissioner for India to Canada
TOPIC: Reflections on Prime Minister Narender Modi’s April 2015 Visit to Canada

Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi’s three day visit to Canada in April took the country by storm with Prime Minister Harper spending 55 hours with him.

Was this a result of his personality or was it to do with the country he leads?

Similarities between the two countries are striking, and yet there are many striking differences. The changes, both in India and Canada over the last few years, which enabled the two nations to gradually gravitate towards each other will be discussed along with how India is different now than it was ten years ago. The future relationship between the two countries will be examined to see if the two countries could drift part again or if the relationship is on autopilot

About the Speaker: High Commissioner Vishnu Prakash, a Gold Medalist in Law joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1981. After postings in Moscow, New Delhi and New York, he was appointed Consul General of India in Vladivostok in 1992, becoming the first head of Post in the world to set shop in the hitherto closed port city of far-eastern Russia.

Between 1994 and 1997, he served as Director in the Ministry of External Affairs looking after Nepal and Bhutan. During this period he also did a three-month sabbatical with the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii. His fascination for East Asia took him to Tokyo in 1997, and he returned to the region in 2006 as Consul General of India in Shanghai, after completing an assignment as Counsellor in Islamabad and another as Minister in Cairo.

Vishnu moved back to New Delhi in 2008, to serve as the Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, and travelled with India’s Prime Minister on all overseas visits as well as being responsible for media related aspects of high-level incoming visits.

He returned to East Asia the third time in 2012 as the Ambassador of India to Seoul, Korea and in August 2013 received an honorary Doctoral Degree in Business Administration from the Tongmyong University in Busan. Another honour followed in January 2015 when he became the Ambassador of the Year, 2014 award from the Asia Society Korea Center.

Mr. Prakash assumed the office of High Commissioner of India in Ottawa on the 8th of March, 2015. He is married with two children. His wife, Neelam Prakash, has a Master's degree in Economics and is a keen practitioner of Yoga and loves golf. His son, Abhimanyu Prakash, is in the financial sector in New York, and his daughter, Katya Prakash, is a medical doctor in San Diego, California.

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Saturday, August 8, 2015 (2:00 - 4:00 PM)
at the FESTIVAL OF INDIA, at Marion Dewar Plaza, Ottawa City Hall, Ottawa

Panel Discussion - Panelistss
Ann Witteveen and Dr. Noel Salmond
(Moderator: Dr. Nanduri Rao)

TOPIC: Building a Global Community - Prospects & Problems: Nepal - A Case Study

Panel Discussion: The panel will discuss the impact of the recent earthquake in Nepal and the global response with a focus on Oxfams’ recovery efforts and their work with local organizations to help build a sustainable future and ongoing relationships. There will also be a Gandhian perspective to the topic.

About the Panelists/Speakers:

Chandrima ChakrabortyAnn Witteveen – Ann, who holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry and an M.A. in International Development, has worked on International Development and Emergency Relief in Asia and Africa since 1991. Before joining Oxfam Canada in 2012, Ann worked for Oxfam GB in the Southern Africa region, as the Deputy Regional Director (covering Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa) and prior to that as the Country Director for Zambia. Ann’s humanitarian experience is mainly in the food security sector where she worked as a technical expert in food aid, cash transfer and emergency livelihood programming Sudan, South Sudan and Southern Africa for Oxfam, Save the Children and the UN. At Oxfam Canada Ann manages the Humanitarian Unit which currently has active projects in Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, Vanuatu, Tanzania, West Africa (Ebola), Lebanon (Syrian refugee crisis), Mozambique, The Philippines and Nepal.

Dr. Jose SanchezDr. Noel Salmond - Educated at Upper Canada College, Bishop’s University, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Dr. Noel Salmond has done an M.A. in the History and Philosophy of Religion from Concordia in Montreal. He studied Christian theology and then Sanskrit at McGill University obtaining doctorate in Asian religions in 1999. Noel also studied South Asian art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and held an internship in the Department of Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum.

Dr. Salmond has been a faculty research fellow with the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute in India and a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. His research interests include Religion & Visual Culture, Modernist Movements in Hinduism and Buddhism, Religion and discourses on the environment and Theories of Religion.

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[Festival of India Poster]

Sunday, May 31, 2015 (3:00 - 5:00 PM)
at Rockcliffe Park Community Centre Hall, 380 Springfield Road, Ottawa

Dr. Chandrima Chakraborty and Dr. José Sánchez

TOPIC: Bollywood: in the West and amongst the Indian Diaspora
Chandrima Chakraborty

About the Speakers: Dr. Chandrima Chakraborty is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Cultural Studies and Co-Chair of the Asian Research Working Group at McMaster University, Hamilton. She specializes in the literatures and cultures of South Asia and its diaspora. Publications include, Masculinity, Asceticism, Hinduism: Past and Present Imaginings of India (2011), Mapping South Asian Masculinities: Men and Political Crises (2015), and The Art of Public Mourning: Remembering Air India (forthcoming). She teaches courses on South Asian literature and culture, colonialism and migration, and Bollywood. Her current research is on the 1985 Air India bombing for which she is conducting interviews with those who lost loved ones on AI Flight 182, and collaborating with creative artists working on remembrances of the Air India bombing.

Dr. Jose SanchezBorn in Barcelona, Spain, Dr. José Sánchez was a teacher in elementary and intermediate schools until he moved to Canada in 1995. He graduated from Carleton University with a MA in Film Studies and continued his Doctorate in Film at the University of Ottawa while involved in different roles with the arts and film communities in Ottawa as well as nationally and internationally. While currently working full time as a public servant for the Federal Government, José has maintained his passion for education by teaching Film Studies part-time at Carleton for the last 15 years. His interest in Bollywood began more than a decade ago and since then, he has delved into past and present films to learn and better understand Indian culture. His interests focus on spectatorship, gender representation, representation of the trauma of partition and the globalization of Bollywood. He has taught an Introduction to Bollywood course at Carleton on various occasions.

About the topic: Following the liberalization of the Indian economy in 1991, Bollywood cinema emerged as a key ally that could assist the Indian state to court Non-Resident Indian capital. Studies have demonstrated that, from the mid-1990s, Hindi film directors and producers increasingly geared their films toward Indian diasporic audiences. But why and how did Bollywood films (DDLJ, Pardes, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kal Ho Naa Ho, among others) create new notions of national belonging? Why was there a shift in the portrayal of diasporic Indians in 1990s Bollywood? What is the significance of cinematic representations of Indian underdevelopment and the associated call to diasporic audiences to invest in India’s social and economic development? What are the obligations of the diaspora to the land and the people that have been left behind? How do Bollywood films mobilize shame to prompt diasporic audiences to re-evaluate their relations with India? These questions will be discussed using Ashutosh Gowariker’s Swades (2004).

During the last three decades, Indian popular cinema is becoming better known around the globe, especially in the Western hemisphere. Although initially the purpose of the Indian film industry was to attract and court the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) for economic and political reasons, Western audiences are becoming more familiar and interested in this phenomenon called Bollywood. Indian films are playing in suburban cineplexes along with the latest Hollywood blockbusters; Hollywood films add Bollywood-inspired musical numbers; and Bollywood musicals have been developed for Broadway and West-End London theatres. What is the appeal that Bollywood has for Westerners? Are the films and their themes understood in the same ways as Indian and NRI audiences? Is this just another example of the West appropriating the “exotic” or is this something different? We will explore some of these questions by using personal experience as a starting point for an open discussion on how non-Indians may perceive and understand Bollywood in the West.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015 (3:00 - 5:00 PM)
at Palki Cuisine of India, Ottawa

Atul Aggarwal, President & CEO
International Pharmaceutical Generics (IPG) Ltd.

TOPIC: India — A Pharmaceutical Giant. Are Your Medicines Safe?
Atul AggarwalIndia is a global powerhouse in pharmaceuticals and one of the most important links in the global pharmaceutical supply chain. Did you know that almost every medicine, whether it is an over the counter or prescription drug, has a “part of India” in it, if not all active pharmaceutical ingredients from India in the entire pill?

Over 1/3 of all pharmaceuticals are manufactured in India and sold in almost every country, including Canada. Every major generic pharmaceutical company in Canada imports generic drugs and/or ingredients from India.

But are these drugs safe? Recent quality concerns from India have emerged, and recent changes were made to Canada’s Drug regulations. Why is this happening? Is it a situation unique to India, and what does the future hold for pharmaceuticals in India and Canada?

Over 10% of healthcare costs originate from drug products. So all governments, which need to reduce healthcare costs, are promoting and encouraging the use of generic drugs. At the same time, government needs to assure the public that the drugs are safe and effective.

Find out more about the key role India plays in the global pharmaceutical supply chain, and how and why drug products from India are safe.

About the Speaker: Born in India, Atul Aggarwal moved to Canada when he was two months old and grew up in Ottawa. He obtained his B.Math from the University of Waterloo and his MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University, and then became a Chartered Accountant. At the age of 28, Atul co-founded A & A Pharmachem Inc., Canada’s first importer, primarily from India, and distributor of pharmaceutical ingredients. In 2005, Atul founded Canada’s first virtual Generic Drug company – International Pharmaceutical Generics Ltd. (IPG), which exclusively develops and imports generic drugs, primarily from India. In 2012, he founded Marcan Pharmaceutical Inc., which sells generic drugs directly to pharmacies across Canada, including Shopper’s Drug Mart, Pharmasave and Rexall.

Atul has established himself as a leading expert in Canada on the pharmaceutical industry in India, and has been invited to speak on the topic of “Doing business in India” at Queen’s University, the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

He has an insider’s perspective on Health Canada’s concerns and key issues with Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers since IPG has been directly affected by recent changes to Health Canada regulations with respect to quality concerns from foreign manufacturers. Two of their key Indian suppliers are subject to a recent Health Canada import ban.

Atul is past Chair of the Young Presidents Organization – Ottawa Chapter, the leading International organization of CEOs around the world, and is also active with various charities and organizations in Ottawa.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015 (3:00 - 5:00 PM)
at Palki Cuisine of India, Ottawa

Panel of Speakers
Jayshree Thakar, Bryan Macdonald & Alexis Ashworth

TOPIC: Habitat for Humanity programs

habitat for humanity

habitat for humanityCanada is recognized globally as one of the best countries to live in, and part of this is due to the high standards of housing and environment that we enjoy. However, it is not immune to the challenges of housing accessibility and affordability faced by lowincome communities such as those living in aboriginal communities and inner-city areas. But difficult as these challenges are, they are even more acute in emerging economies and developing countries like India, where the problems are exacerbated by a large population and increasing imbalance in supply and demand, especially as millions are moving from rural to urban areas in search of livelihoods. In addition, limited access to housing finance (which most Canadians take for granted) makes it even more challenging for lower-income households to meet their housing needs.

Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a national, nonprofit organization working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. With the help of over 63,000 volunteers every year and 58 affiliate organizations from coast to coast, their mission is to mobilize volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means to break the cycle of poverty in Canada and around the world. Habitat for Humanity Canada is a member of Habitat for Humanity International, which has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 1 million houses worldwide, providing better shelter for more than 5 million people. For more information, please visit

Jayshree Thakar, National Manager, Aboriginal Housing Program at Habitat for Humanity Canada, along with her colleague at Habitat; and a long time Global Village supporter will share some of the efforts undertaken by Habitat at home, as well as in the international arena through its Global Village Program. Jay will provide a broad overview of Habitat’s work while Bryan Macdonald, Global Village Team Leader, who has just returned from Goa building a home for a partner family will share some wonderful stories, and Alexis Ashworth, CEO of Habitat Canada National Capital Region, will talk about some of the exciting projects under way in the Ottawa area.

Panel of Speakers:

Jayshree Thakar, National Manager Aboriginal Housing Program, Habitat for Humanity Canada

Jay leads Habitat for Humanity Canada’s Aboriginal Housing Program. Over the last five years, well over 100 Aboriginal families have realized their dream of affordable homeownership. She passionately pursues the cause and envisions that many more Aboriginal families will partner with Habitat in coming years.

Jay retired from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in early 2012. Prior to retirement as Director of Business Development with CMHC’s International Division she promoted the core principles of Canada’s housing and mortgage-finance system globally; and pursued business opportunities for Canada’s housing export industry in foreign markets. CMHC’s work in India enabled introduction of mortgage guaranty in India that helps middle income households realize their dream of affordable homeownership. As an Architect-Planner launched her career in Ottawa in 1978 and worked with Canada’s largest Builders and Developers.

Bryan McDonald, Team Leader (Global Village)

Bryan McDonald lives in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a general contractor who spends his working days renovating older homes. Bryan is married with 2 kids of his own and he and his wife have had numerous foster kids over the past 15 yrs. Since his first Habitat trip to Costa Rica, Bryan has been captivated by the Habitat spirit and
hopes to be able to go on 2 builds per year. India was his 11th Habitat trip, 10th as a leader. He has been to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Jordan three times, Cambodia, Bolivia, Portugal, Nepal and China with Habitat. His wife has recently started going on Habitat builds and is trying to catch up on his number of builds. When he is not working, and weather permitting, Bryan can usually be found pursuing his passion of sailing or riding his motorcycle.

Alexis Ashworth, CEO of Habitat for Humanity National Capital Region

Alexis has been passionate about the organization since 2004 when she became their Executive Director in Halifax. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) and an MBA in International Development Management. Born and raised in Halifax, Alexis has lived and work in various countries around the world. Alexis’ international interest is taking her to Ethiopia for a 2015 Habitat Global Village build.

Alexis’ career has spanned from the investment industry to banking to non-profit. Volunteerism and community involvement has been an important part of her life, having served as a Big Sister with Big Brothers and Sisters, a board member for Fusion Halifax, a Connector for recent immigrants with the Greater Halifax Partnership, and a judge for Youth in Motion’s Top 20 Under 20 awards.

In her time away from work, Alexis is passionate about tennis, yoga, cycling and her pup Samuel Barkett (Sammy).

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