India’s High Commissioner to Canada, H.E. Ajay Bisaria was accorded a warm send off by members and friends of Canada India Foundation as he ends his assignment in Canada at the end of June 2022. Bisaria, age 60, is set to retire with no announcement about his future plans.
An enthusiastic group of admirers gathered at the Albany Club, downtown Toronto, to meet with the popular diplomat and bid him a fond farewell.
CIF Chair, Satish Thakkar, spoke of the tremendous progress Canada and India have made under Bisaria’s watch. He also thanked him for being a mentor to CIF over the past two years. He noted, “During his time, Canada India relationship grew from lukewarm to warm. What we all remember is the way his office facilitated the transfer from India of vaccines, critically needed by Canada, and the equally urgent need for PPE and other equipment that Canada supplied to India. During this short stint, HC has been an effective and firm voice on behalf of India and held the course even when faced with provocation. He has been a tireless advocate on behalf of India’s growth story. He does not miss a single opportunity to spread the message of what India holds out for the world today. Even during the worst part of the pandemic, confidence in India by Canadian investors held firm, and a major role was played by his unique ability to communicate with conviction and instill confidence.”
Thakkar added, “A special note of appreciation goes to his life partner, Bharati Chaturvedi, a woman of substance and courage, on a humanitarian mission herself, to transform India’s urban poor into urban middleclass. While we will miss them both, we also look forward to working with the incoming representative of India, to advance the Canada-India engagement even further.”
Describing Bisaria as a ‘superstar’ among diplomats for his achievements, David Agnew, President, Seneca College said his departure was a “bittersweet moment for all of in this room who are keenly interested in a strong and healthy Indo-Canadian relationship which has benefited from his presence.”
“On behalf of all my colleagues in Canada’s universities, colleges, polytechnics, I want to pay tribute to the HC for his particular interest and attention to the issue of higher education. And for the extraordinary service the HC and the Consuls have given to us. In his tenure, our student enrolment from India exceeded the pre-pandemic levels. At Seneca, we have tripled our numbers in the last two years. Despite the pandemic, the HC travelled to every corner of the country to address issues of concern to the students.
We are grateful, and as you go, be proud of your lasting contribution toward building Canada India relationship.”
Attending the farewell were members of the Ontario Provincial Parliament, and heads of various Indo Canadian organizations and others.
Hon. Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, stated, “On behalf of Ontario premier, Doug Ford, and the entire caucus I want to thank you for diligently working to bring investment and trade to Ontario from India. As a proud descendant of India, I look forward to doing even more in our collaboration and make sure that Ontario and India relationship becomes an example to the world in how to learn from each other to increase trade and investment.”
Laurie Scott, former Minister of Infrastructure and MPP, Deepak Anand, MPP and newly elected MPP from Brampton East, Hardeep Grewal also spoke briefly on HC Ajay Bisaria’s contributions.
The Consul General of India in Toronto, Ms. Apoorva Srivastava, revealed that HC Bisaria was always someone that the younger officers looked up to. “It has been a great learning experience working with you. The coordination between HC in Toronto and CGI in Toronto has never been better.”
Ajay Bisaria responded to the tributes by thanking his colleagues across Canada and all the stakeholders like CIF, working toward strengthening the India Canada relationship. Speaking on a lighter note, Bisaria said, “I am also happy with the send off I am getting here because in the last send off I got, I was given 72 hours to leave Islamabad! So, thank you for making this a pleasant one.”
Bisaria recapped India’s journey through history to the point where today it occupies a key position in world affairs. “I want to take a moment to reflect on India’s journey, 75 years of Independence and its 5000-year-old civilization. It’s been an incredible journey and for me, the highlight has been our commitment to democracy and diversity despite all the huge challenges. It’s due to the commitment of successive generations to bring prosperity to 1.4 billion Indian citizens while celebrating their diversity of thought and custom. Today’s India is the world’s fastest growing major economy, driven by the energy and innovation of its very youthful business sector.”
While thanking CIF for the work they do to strengthen the bilateral, Bisaria said, “I think the most important factor that turbocharges this partnership is the Indo-Canadian community represented in this room. You are the natural ambassadors of India’s heritage. We will come and go, but this is the kind of partnership we want to create and turn each of you into ambassadors.”
Ritesh Malik, National Convener, CIF, proposed the vote of thanks and recalled for the gathering the “iconic picture of HC Bisaria and Canada’s then Minister of Public Procurement, Anita Anand, together at the airport receiving the first batch of Covid 19 vaccines from India.” “That was such a reassuring image we were sure that your work would help reset the relationship. And it did.”
Malik thanked the members of the media, Rajinder Saini of Pravasi Group and Yudhvir Jaiswal of Ymedia and others for taking the message of CIF to their audiences.
CIF National Co-convener, Ms. Sunita Vyas guided the evening program expertly in her role as the emcee.