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Karamatullah K Ghori, http://expressbuzz.com / Last Updated : 04 Jul 2011 11:40:54 PM IST.
What a dazzling spectacle it was: the glittering IIFA (India International Film Awards) ceremony staged in the heart of Canada’s largest city, Toronto, on June 25. It wasn’t merely the constellation of India’s film idols and goddesses that set Toronto’s otherwise dour scene alight. What set the Toronto show apart from others was the exuberant involvement of the Ontario government in staging the spectacle.Ontario’s commitment — made good to the hilt — to IIFA had been set in motion last year by province premier Dalton McGuinty personally. It was on his watch and direct supervision that Toronto rolled out the red carpet for Bollywood. Fifteen million dollars of Ontario’s funds were spent on staging the event; another 10mn guaranteed fool-proof security for a whole week.This set the minds of Toronto’s large Pakistani diaspora wondering what it is that makes India and its cultural ‘ambassadors’, so very attractive to the leaders of Canada? And what it is that makes Pakistan and its citizens so suspect — virtually pariahs — in the eyes of Canadian authorities that getting a visitor visa for a Pakistani is akin to seeking a flight to the moon?There are myriad answers to this question. But if it were to be reduced to just one, it is the perception in Canada that India is a progressive, open and truly multi-cultural society just as Canada prides itself to be. Canada sees its own dynamic multiculturalism magnified on a larger canvas in India. Writing on Canada Day (July 1), celebrated journalist Rick Salutin, said so in one sentence: Canada is ‘India of the new world’.And why is Pakistan being kept at more than an arm’s length? Because of its perception here (in Canada) as a regressive, undemocratic and oppressive society at war with itself and with its minorities, for whom the room is getting narrower all the time. In a nutshell, Canada, like so many other countries, has a bone to pick with Pakistan’s limited and narrow mindset.
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