On its 36 th annual Gala and Award night this weekend, Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce members will honour the talents of Indo-Canadians in business, varied professions and philanthropy.
As in previous years, they will recognize 11 outstanding people – entrepreneurs, professionals, achievers in technology and young achievers – at the June 8 event, that is expected to attract 1,200 attendees, including guest of honour Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne; a business delegation from the Indian state of Karnataka; and a veritable who's who from Bay Street.
This year's honorees include Deepak Chopra, president of Canada Post; Raj Kothari, managing partner for Toronto for Pricewaterhouse Cooper and the company's National Assets Management Leader; and young achiever Bilaal Rajan, 16.
Mr. Chopra, who's is to be recognized as "Corporate Executive of the Year," was formerly president of Pitney Bowes. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, he said the award from ICCC "is truly a tribute to numerous unsung heroes who helped shape my thinking along the way… I believe, success is never a random stroke of individual brilliance (as) it is the sum total of influences you have had along your life."
Mr. Chopra calls Canada Post "one of the crown jewels of our nation's economic infrastructure, but when I arrived on the scene [as president of Canada Post] back in 2011, it was facing the onslaught of electronic substitution eating into its revenues and a difficult labour relations environment."
He claims he has since then "clearly articulated our growth strategy by sharpening our focus on physical delivery as well as Digital Delivery networks…We are now fully engaged with Canadians in discussing what type of postal service they would like to have in the future."
Mr. Kothari will be honoured as "Male Professional of the Year." Mr. Kothari said he has "always been focused on how I can make a difference – first in the profession that I work in and second in the community that I live in."
Mr. Kothari himself was president of ICCC from 1996 to 1998, when the organization started getting recognition from Bay Street, Queen's Park, Ottawa and from the Indian diplomats.
In 1998, then Indian Consul-General in Toronto Rajeev Bhatia reached out to the chamber to ask them to host then Prime Minister of India I.K. Gujral during the tumultuous time of discussions on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Mr. Gujral then spoke at the Metro Toronto Convention Center to rationalize why India was unable and unwilling to sign the treaty.
At the 1997 gala, the chamber invited then Finance Minister Paul Martin to share his views, making him the first high-ranking federal politician to appear at the annual event. Since then Prime Minister Stephen Harper has addressed the chamber, as have successive Ontario premiers.
Mr. Rajan is a motivational speaker and the UNICEF has named him as their children ambassador. An environmental and social activist, he was merely four years old when in 2001, the Indian State of Gujarat was hit with an earthquake causing extensive damage. Mr. Rajan raised funds to help the victims by selling oranges.
Mr. Rajan, who plans to attend Stanford university in the fall, said he feels "humbled" by the recognition that he's receiving from the ICCC: "It reaffirms to me that the activism work that I am doing to especially engage others (and primarily youth) is being taken seriously and is having an impact to change the mindsets of society."
To raise awareness about poverty amongst children, Mr. Rajan is organizing a movement that would see young people walking barefoot for a week in June to coincide with the International Children's Day.
Others who will be recognized by the ICCC include – Sarabjit Hans (Female Entrepreneur of the Year); Sujay Shah (Male Entrepreneur of the Ydar); Sadhna Joshi (Female Professional of the Year); Sapna Shah (Young Achiever of the Year); Nilesh Bansal (Technology Achievement of the Year); Chandrasekhar Sankurathri (Humanitarian of the Year); Jananath Wani (Lifetime/Outstanding Achievement).
Special to the Globe and Mail