Mr Herb Dhaliwal, who scripted history by becoming the first Canadian of Punjabi origin to sit in House of Commons in 1993 and become a Federal Minister in 1997, thinks that among the best Indian Prime Ministers he worked with were Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr Inder Kumar Gujral.
Almost 50 years in public life, including 11 years as a Member of Parliament in Canada, Herb Dhaliwal continues in public service. This time he is working to improve life in villages in Punjab.
When asked why relations between India and Canada have gone sour, he says there are views that are not realistic, they are exaggerated. Sometimes they do not have the right information and the communication has to be better. People are coming and going. It is not true that there is a movement against India in Canada.
“My one heart beats for Punjab,” he says, “maintaining that people in rural Punjab deserve better life conditions. The problem of underground sewerage and waste water disposal need to be tackled. You have to improve life in villages and create more job opportunities.
“Even education infrastructure, especially schools in rural areas, need to be renovated and upgraded,” he says, disclosing that he is giving financial grants to a couple of villages in Jalandhar. “I met Sarpanches of some villages, including of Chahheru and wanted to know what they need on priority.”
Herb Dhaliwal has come to Punjab after a long gap of seven years. Accompanying him on this visit are his parents, both in their early 90s.
He talked about various issues, including bilateral relations between India and Canada, regular outflow of Indian students in general and Punjabis in particular to Canada, improving trade relations, including possible supply of clean natural gas to India and end to bitterness, if any, by negotiations.
“When I was in Canadian politics, we had the best of relations with India. Unfortunately, Canada’s two of the strongest economic powers, India and China
He is credited with bringing the Canadian Consulate office to Chandigarh. He has worked with some of Indian Prime Ministers, including Dr Manmohan Singh, and Mr Inder Kunar Gujral. He is a great supporter of revival of warm and friendly relations India and Canada enjoyed when he was Canadian Parliamentarian. He represented the Liberals and British Columbia in the House of Commons.
There is a huge opportunity in energy security. He is currently on a visit to India. He was in Chandigarh when I buttonholed him for an exclusive interview. He answered a variety of questions , including deterioration in relations between India and Canada, issue of large scale migration of Indian students in general and Punjabi students in particular to Canada, accusation by India that Canada is serving as support base for anti-India activates and also efforts being made by overseas Punjabis in improving living conditions in Rural Punjab. He intends to meet Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann and others during the visit. He has come to Punjab after a gap of seven years. Also accompanying him are his parents who are in their early 90s. He talks of Punjab then and now.