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Indian PM Modi to meet with pension funds, banks during visit to Canada

  KIM MACKRAEL
OTTAWA - The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Apr. 07 2015, 5:00 AM EDT

  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with the heads of pension funds, banks and other financial leaders when he visits Canada next week in an effort to boost investments in his country's infrastructure sector.

  Mr. Modi will arrive next Tuesday for a three-day tour that is expected to include a speech to Indo-Canadians at Toronto's Ricoh Coliseum and a state dinner with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Vancouver. The visit is an important opportunity for Mr. Harper's Conservative government, which is keen to build economic and political ties to India and appeal to the country's large and well-organized diaspora ahead of a Canadian election later this year.

  Mr. Modi's popularity and rock star-like status will make him a huge draw during his visit to Canada, where he is expected to attract throngs of boisterous admirers hoping for an opportunity to meet - or simply catch a glimpse of - India's famous Prime Minister. Protesters are also planning to shadow him at public events in Toronto and Vancouver, further adding to the spectacle.

  Mr. Modi, who was elected as India's leader last May, has promised reforms to promote economic growth and make India more friendly to foreign investors.

  Schedules for Mr. Modi's visit are still being drawn up, but he is expected to travel with a large delegation of business leaders and political officials, and will meet with representatives of small and medium enterprises, banks and other institutional investors.

  Vishnu Prakash, India's High Commissioner to Canada, said Mr. Modi is interested in encouraging Canadian investors - including the heads of major pension plans - to look closely at India's burgeoning infrastructure sector. As India's economy expands and more people move to cities, Mr. Prakash said, infrastructure will need to be improved. And India's relative stability and strong growth rates make it a good choice for medium- to long-term investments, he said.

  "If they are going to make an investment in any country, they would have certain expectations. So it's a two-way street," Mr. Prakash said in an interview on Monday. "And therefore we would very much like to have a dialogue where they can fully appreciate what is on offer in India and the Prime Minister can hear from business leaders themselves about their expectations."

  Ron Mock, CEO of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, intends to participate in a roundtable meeting with Mr. Modi, a spokesperson for the pension plan said.

  In a sign of the importance the Conservative government places on the trip, Mr. Harper is expected to participate in events in all three of the cities Mr. Modi will visit.

  Mr. Modi is scheduled to meet with Mr. Harper in Ottawa on the morning of April 15 before travelling to Toronto to deliver an evening speech to nearly 10,000 people at Ricoh Coliseum.

  Azad Kumar Kaushik, who chairs the organizing committee for the Ricoh event in Toronto and is president of the National Alliance of Indo Canadians, said the group hopes Mr. Harper will speak before Mr. Modi's address.

  On April 16, Mr. Modi is expected to hold roundtable meetings with business leaders and investors in Toronto before visiting a memorial in Etobicoke to the victims of the 1985 Air India disaster. He will then fly to Vancouver, where he will visit the KhalsaDiwan Society's Ross Street gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, and the Laxmi Narayan mandir, a Hindu temple in Surrey.

  He is also expected to attend a state dinner with Mr. Harper in Vancouver on April 16.

  Vinay Sharma, vice-president of the Vedic Hindu Cultural Society in Surrey, B.C., said the temple Mr. Modi will visit was overwhelmed with demand for the event. "We opened [registration] Wednesday and closed it Friday. In three days, 5,000 people signed up," he said.

  Protesters are also likely at many of Mr. Modi's public events. Jatinder Singh, a director for a group called Sikhs for Justice, said he expects people to protest against religious riots that took place in Gujarat when Mr. Modi was the state's chief minister. Protesters will also use Mr. Modi's visit to call for a referendum on independence in Punjab state, he said.

  The Prime Minister's Office would not confirm Mr. Harper's attendance at the Ricoh speech or the state dinner in Vancouver.

  With reports from Jacqueline Nelson and David Berman in Toronto and Mark Hume in Vancouver

  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/indian-pm-modi-to-meet-with-pension-funds-banks-during-visit-to-canada/article23818565/

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