Amritsar, Nov.16 (ANI): British Columbia Premier Christy Clark accompanied by the Canadian province's health minister Mike de Jong and other officials, visited the Golden Temple here today.
Dressed in typical Punjabi attire-a turquoise suit and glass bangles-Clark paid obeisance in the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine.
She expressed a keen interest in the history of shrine and the city , and was particularly impressed by the Langar Sewa or community kitchen.
Later, the Premier and her colleagues were presented with robes of honour (Siropa), models of the Golden Temple and some religious books as per the sikh tradition by the SGPC authorities.
The Secretary of the SGPC, Dalmeg Singh and SGPC member Kiranjot Kaur were among the prominent personalities present on the occasion.lark, in turn, presented a portrait of a gurudwara in British Columbia to the SGPC.
Talking to media, Clark said the purpose of her visit to India was to increase economic and social connections between both British Columbia and India.
She said there are many people from Punjab who live in Vancouver, Surrey and British Columbia, and therefore, strengthening relations with their motherland would enhance understanding.
She added that her visit should be seen as an expression of the deep friendshipbetween British Columbia and India.
Praising Indians for contributing a lot to the building of British Columbia, Clark said that now Canadians would support India in its bid to take its place on the world stage.
"I am so proud of the contribution that our countries have to made each other," Clark said.
Questioned about the difficulties in obtaining a Canadian visa, Clark said the Canadian Government is conscious of it and the talks are on with federal officials to facilitate as much exchange as possible between India, especially Punjab, and British Columbia.
"We recognize that India has maximum youngest population of the world with more people under 25 years than any society has ever had. India needs education, and we think, that we can help provide that education to the Indian people. We want to grow the number of international students in British Columbia by 50 percent in the next four years and hope that many of them come from Punjab and we can build the long lasting, life long connection with Punjab and India and every single person that comes to our province to study."
Replying to another question on families conencting with migrant Indians in Canada, Clark said: "We recognize that there are many families living in both the countries who want to be connected. So, we are much focused in trying to increase the tourism exchange and student exchange as well. We are working on a major marketing programme and are trying to attract a carrier that will establish non-stop flights between Delhi and Vancouver."
She added: "We are trying to make it easy in terms of visa, immigrations and air travel.
Premier said that during her visit to India, her team had met representatives of many air carriers and was trying to persuade them to open up more connections between New Delhi and Vancouver so that people can move more freely between the two countries.
On the possibility of British Columbia and Punjab having "sister state relations", Clark said that it should be thought about, and added that after the elections in Punjab this could be discussed further. By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)