Toronto (IANS): The current tensions between Canada and India have cast their shadow on this year’s biggest Indo-Canadian awards night at which Sudha Murty, renowned author, philanthropist and wife of Infosys co-founder N. R. Narayana Murty, was presented the $50,000 Global Indian Award by the Canada India Foundation on Saturday night.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford and many Canadian leaders failed to show up at the event even as prominent Indo-Canadian MP Chandra Arya, some Ontario legislators and local mayors were in attendance.
Touching on the current relations between India and Canada, Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma, who was the chief guest, said the political relationship would ultimately be dealt with by the two governments.
But the Indo-Canadian community should keep building the bilateral relationship, he added.
Verma said: “This is the time when the heat is there (in our relations) and we have to cool it down.”
Invoking Indian mythology in this context, Verma said: “I can see a lot of Vishnus around this room who are taking the relationship forward, keeping the relationship alive. Shiva has his benign form … whenever there is heat, Ganga comes out of Shiva. We need Shivas in his benign form and need Ganga to come down and cool the temperature which is there in our current bilateral relations.”
The Indian High Commissioner said, “There would be emotional outbursts because India is an emotional country.”
Urging the Indian diaspora to keep working for better bilateral ties, Verma said, “What I will urge you all to do is: you do business, you do advocacy, you teach people (about India), you grow students into entrepreneurs. These are the areas which aren’t going to be affected (by the current relationship).”
In his welcome speech, Canada India Foundation chairman Satish Thakkar said Canada-India relations should not be “held hostage to local political compulsions”.
Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy can only be successful if its commercial and political ties with India – one of the key partners – are strong, Thakkar said.
He added, “These ties depend on understanding of each other’s national security concerns and willingness to address areas of discord through sustained diplomacy, unencumbered by local political compulsions.”
Each year, the Canada India Foundation honours a prominent Indian with the Global Indian Award for their outstanding contribution in their field.
The past recipients of the award include Sam Pitroda, Ratan Tata, N.R. Narayana Murthy, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, Vedanta founder Anil Agarwal, among others.
“We are so pleased to present the Global Indian Award to Sudha Murty. She has spent her entire career paving the way for future generations to find success in whatever field they choose, and is passionate about giving back to society,” said Thakkar.
Accepting the award from Indian High Commissioner Verma, Sudha Murty said, “It is my honour to get this award from your country.”
Thanking the Canada India Foundation (CIF) for choosing her for this award, Murthy said, “The CIF is like Krishna in the Mahabharata. Krishna is the son of Devki as well as Yashoda. Devki was his biological mother and Yashoda brought him up. You are born in India but settled here – that is Yashoda – and your mother is India. You belong to both mothers.”
Lauding the Indo-Canadian diaspora as a bridge between the two countries, she said, “You are the carriers of Indian culture in a different land. Please keep it up.”
As her husband was also given the same award in 2014, Sudha Murty said amid laughter, “There is a funny thing about this award because Narayana Murty also got it in 2014 and I got it in 2023. So we’re the first couple to get this award.”
She donated the award money to The Field Institute (University of Toronto) which is internationally renowned for strengthening collaboration, innovation, and learning in mathematics and across a broad range of disciplines.
Sudha Murty was accompanied by the parents of her son-in-law and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to the Toronto gala event.