Irrespective of the party’s reduced numbers from 39 to 24, Jagmeet Singh’s led New Democratic Party is going to have more clout in the governing politics and policies of Canada.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won 157 seats compared to 177 in the 2015 election. Short of 170-mark, the ruling party needs NDP’s backing for its second term to rule as a minority government.
The 24-seat NDP win, in fact, has halted the surge of the Conservative Party that raised its strength from 95 to 121. Throughout the election campaign, the poll numbers gave the Tories some percentage point lead over the Liberals.
The loss of the Liberal seats did not result in the gain for the Tories. Come, Jagmeet Singh, the NDP did not let Canada’s political Right to takeover the loosely linked Left-of-the-centre and the Left political turf.
In the election juggernaut, the NDP leader led an impressive and clean campaign that earned him the distinction of as the most admirable and likable leader compared to Trudeau and Andrew Sheer of the right-wing Conservative Party. Jagmeeet Singh’s popularity was rated at 59 percent compared to around 30 percent each for Trudeau and Sheer.
In fact, the proud turbaned leader emerged as the real hero in the electoral fights throughout the campaigns, where besides campaigning, he was seeking acceptance of his ethnic identity as well.
An interesting interaction took place on October 2 when a fellow Canadian in Quebec asked New Democratic Leader to “cut off” his turban to look “like a Canadian.” In a poised and cool manner, which is the image he has created for himself, Jagmeet Singh responded: “I think Canadians look like all sorts of people.”
The man tried another approach: “in Rome, you do as the Romans do.” A polite response from Mr. Singh: “But this is Canada, you can do whatever you like.” In agreement, the man nodded, “I hope you win.”
Jagmeet Singh came to federal politics only in 2017, and it has been a challenging task to introduce himself in an outfit not much seen before. But he dared to do so without compromising with his Sikh identity. Even many among the Indo-Canadian community have been uneasy with his round style of “pagg.”
Ethnic identity representation is part of the Canadian mosaic. Jagmeet Singh contributes to this aspect of Canadian multiculturalism both in his personal and political life.
Besides being a symbol of Canada’s multiculturalism, Jagmeet Singh, as leader of the Left-leaning NDP, now has some control steering the direction Canada moves domestically and globally.
In the upcoming minority government, he and his party, in partnership with the Liberal Party, are expected to resume the progressive agenda that made Canada a global symbol in the worldwide struggle against the rise of authoritarianism, populism, and white nationalism.
The Trudeau government was marked by compassionate policies to welcome thousands of refugees in the last few years, increased immigration quotas, a record number of ethnic and women ministers in his cabinet, and emotional apologies for the serious wrongs past Canadian governments committed on indigenous peoples and visible minorities.
But lately, there has been a conspicuous erosion of his progressive platform that relates to environmental issues, human rights, and continuing sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, notorious for its human rights violations and crimes.
The Liberal-NDP combine will get Canada back to its liberal, humanist, and compassionate image in the world left with a few rules-based, progressive, and true democracies.
(Promod Puri is a writer, journalist, and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)
Computer screen and our eyes don’t see eye to eye with each other. But we can’t avoid their working relationship. We know, prolong staring rather than looking at the screen is damaging to our eyes. Staring means reduced or no blinking of eyes, while looking involves frequent blinking. The ideal is 12 blinks per minute while on the computer. Ophthalmologists suggest a “20-20-20” formula to avoid tired or dry eyes. That means taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes, and to look at something 20 feet in distance. This eye break allows both relaxation and plenty of blinks.
It was the early ‘50s, and I still remember going to the Hari Theatre in Jammu. There we were four or five us excited to see the Dilip Kumar starring blockbuster Aan.
The songs of the film still reverberate in my nostalgic moods. Dilip Kumar, teasing actress Nadira and rocking with “maan mera ehsan” number, was the scene I can vividly recall. In that early teenage stage, it was indeed a bundle of joy to occasionally go for a movie and blow about it the next day in the school.
Aan was a thriller where the hero (Dilip Kumar) dominated the screen, singing, romancing, and fighting the bad guy (Premnath). The story, the dialogues, and the rest of the details I don’t remember, but I do know it was a package of entertainment including the refreshments at the film interval break.
After reveling in uninterrupted three hours of enjoyment, we came out of the theatre in spirited feelings of joy.
But as we stepped on to the main bazaar on our way home, the scene was frightening and of complete silence. Shopkeepers downed the shutters, and we could not see the regular hustle and bustle of the city’s downtown area. There were the police all over the main bazaar. We were told not to walk there, and if we dared to do so, we could be arrested.
This was a curfew, a very strict one, suddenly ordered by the authorities without any previous warning.
Curfews were a common occurrence in Jammu in those days. It was due to the often-violent demonstrations by the regional political party called Praja Parishad.
Discrimination by the government, dominated by Kashmiri politicians, including its prime minister Bakshi Gulam Mahammad, was the main complaint of the Praja Parishad outfit. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has always been controlled by Kashmiri leaders since 1947 after the Dogra Raj. Whereas Kashmir has been seeking “Azadi” from India, Jammu is seeking “Azadi” from Kashmir.
The Praja Parishad was at the forefront seeking equal opportunities for the Jammu region. The party always had violent confrontations with the government. As a result, Jammu frequently remained under curfew orders.
It was one of those curfews which were part of regular scenes while growing up in the ever turmoil state of Jammu and Kashmir. But life went on as we ventured out to see the movie, Aan.
Despite the risks involved, we managed to reach our homes, playing hide and seek with the police forces. It was frightening, but an experience fresh in my mind till now.
How other moviegoers reached their homes, ended up being arrested, being shot, or just stayed on in the theatre hall to see the movie again, are the questions revealing the ever-tense situation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
I’m often bewildered if the flood of climate campaigns and protests worldwide is proceeding in the pertinent direction, hitting the key target causing the environmental damage.
In fact, that overlooked and evading target is me, along with most of us. Seriously!
I’m the one, despite being aware of the deteriorating environment, is contributing significantly to its global degeneration. Rather I’m the root cause. I’m the one who is creating demand for goods and services; cheap and in abundance.
But I blame big businesses, manufacturers, and industrialists in the capitalist community for their greed and irresponsible practices causing the escalating global catastrophe.
I’m the one shouting at the world leaders that they are not taking responsibility. I’m the one telling the conservative folks that they are ignorant and don’t understand the science of the environment.
I’m part of the worldwide cry that enough is not being done.
That is the image I have, or I’m creating for myself, that environment is my greatest concern. But privately, I indulge myself in everything which generates the cause but doesn’t accept the consequence. Both the cause and the consequence apply to “we human beings.” But not me.
I also realize my collective responsibility towards a cleaner environment.
Personally, I do everything contributing to environmental deterioration. I have a firm mindset. What I’m doing is just a drop, and that it does not matter.
My eating habits, my buying habits, my social habits remain intact. But while out on the street and on social media, I’m an environmentalist.
I do know that earth is warming up, seas are rising, and glaciers are melting. As a result, some island countries are soon going to be submerged in their surrounding oceans. The coastlines are being eroded.
Although I do not understand what the guarantees in the business of carbon reduction mean, how does it work, and how it is traded or manipulated. But I do support net-zero carbon-emissions goals.
I’m quite aware of the fact that the international political community has been producing, year after year, tons of environmental accords that do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But at the same time, these lofty resolutions and goals are non-binding. They are easy to get in and easy to get out. And I notice all these conventional wrangles at the global climate actions summits.
In my socialist outfit, I demand zero economic growth where we could stop our economy from growing endlessly, we could stop endless increases in our consumption of resources, and we could take some of the pressure off the environment.
My social attachments and lifestyle conflict with my environmental responsibilities and accountabilities. In a culture of accumulation where the choices galore, the shopping spree is an indulgence. The closets are overflowing, the kitchen cabinets, the refrigerators are loaded, the garage is a big storage container. Getting bargains is a pride achievement of shopping loot.
In this environment of amassment for every need or no need, the industry is ready to flood the market with goods. Otherwise, who would care to buy a banana hanger?
I move on to creating my own environmental footprints. At the same time, I’m kicking those who pollute the planet earth. I do realize environmental cleaning has to start from where it begins.
An interesting interaction took place October 2 when a fellow Canadian in Quebec asked New Democratic Leader Jagmeet Singh to “cut off” his turban to look “like a Canadian.”
In a poised and cool manner, which is the image he has created for himself, Jagmeet Singh responded: “I think Canadians look like all sorts of people.”The man tried another approach: “in Rome, you do as the Romans do,.” A polite response from Mr. Singh: “But this is Canada, you can do whatever you like.”
In agreement, the man nodded, “I hope you win.” The encounter between the two Canadians with different cultural backgrounds, the antiquated proverb “in Rome, you do as the Romans do” has a broader meaning from the Canadian perspective.
The question is ‘what is Canada’s culture’?
The simple and clear answer lies in its multicultural fundamentals, where “Canadians look like all sorts of people.” Canada is not a monolithic society and was never like that since its inception. The culture of multi-culture is an ever-evolving and a developing phenomenon of this nation.
In a contemporary cosmopolitan society “in Canada, you do as Canadians do” is much more contemporary than “in Rome, you do as the Romans do.”