Global Indian award for Sam Pitroda
The Canada-India Foundation (CIF) has decided to honour Indian Knowledge Commission chairman Sam Pitroda with the first annual Global Indian Award for pioneering the telecom revolution in India.
Called the CIF Chanchlani Global Indian Award, it carries $50,000 in cash and a trophy.
The award will be conferred on Pitroda by former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam at a gala dinner here April 18.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier David McGuinty are likely to be among about 400 attendees at the event.
CIF co-founder and local Indo-Canadian businessman Vasudev Chanchlani has sponsored the award and pledged $1 million to create a fund for it.
It will presented annually to "an outstanding Indian who has demonstrated global leadership, vision and personal excellence, which has made all of us of Indian origin extremely proud of our heritage".
Addressing a press conference here Wednesday, foundation convener Ajit Someshwar said: "The CIF aims to promote interests of Indo-Canadians in political and public life here. We will support secular, qualified Indo-Canadians who want to serve in politics, public life, parliament, and other important Canadian institutions.
"As well, the foundation will lobby for India in Canada, and for Canada in India. We will advocate a better relationship between India and Canada, and work to make Canadians more aware about India's potential."
He said since its inception last year, the foundation has interacted with top political and business leaders from the two countries, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers, Minister for Overseas Indians Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president Tarun Das to make them aware of the CIF mission.
Chanchlani, who runs the Sigma Group of companies here, said: "Our focus will be to change the minds of top Canadian leaders, ministers and business people about India. We will invite federal ministers to dinners and events to discuss issues impacting Canada-India relations."
The foundation also plans to work for free trade and strategic partnership agreements between the two countries, opening of Canadian visa offices in Mumbai and Chennai and restarting Canadian engagement with Gujarat that was `blacklisted' by Ottawa after the 2002 riots.