Tory starts the 10-day trip March 15. The city is paying for him, two city councillors and four city staff, while about 20 delegates from Toronto’s business and academic communities will pay their own way.
A draft itinerary lists three dozen meetings in cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad — India has the world’s fastest growing major economy and strong ties to Indo-Canadians in the GTA — and Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The mayor will try to lure offices and jobs to Toronto and promote trade between local firms and South Asian companies, with a focus on film, education, finance and innovation.
Tory is scheduled to discuss “plans to expand in Canada” with officials from drug and life sciences firm Jubilant Bhartia Group in Delhi; pitch Toronto as a North American head office location to auto part maker Hero Industries; and meet with officials from Tata, India’s biggest conglomerate, to discuss “expansion plans.”
One delegate on the trip, Delhi-raised and Toronto-based Paytm Labs chief executive Harinder Takhar, said Canada’s biggest city is “very undiscovered” internationally despite its wealth of financial tech talent.
The amount of venture capital investment in India has exploded, he said, while many of the country’s 1.2 billion-plus residents are buying cheap mobile phones with data as a first real personal computing experience.
“India is going through the revolution that Google and other companies brought about in North America 15 years ago,” said Takhar, whose firm provides data, machine learning, analytics and artificial intelligence services for an India-based parent company that processes 7 million mobile commerce transactions per day.
“Toronto is such a high-tech place, with so much talent, and even I did not know it. We need to tell people that this exists because the opportunities for Toronto are unbelievable.”
Another delegate, filmmaker Roger Nair, whose Lionheart Production House has used Toronto as a Bollywood film location and distributes Indian movies in Canada, also points to talent as a huge asset for this city.
“If India’s film industry wanted another place that they could get the same level of professionalism, it’s Toronto and nowhere else,” he said. “If they need the diaspora, the language, this is the place to be at this time.
“We can have co-ventures with major stars from here and there in the same film, but it’s important for Mayor Tory to go there, show the political will and validate that we want India to shoot with us.”
Tory and renowned Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta will be part of panel discussion on Toronto as a film, TV and digital destination at a major entertainment industry convention.
The itinerary notes Toronto is home to the largest Tamil-speaking population outside of Sri Lanka. Tory, it says, is visiting “to learn more about where the Tamil community is from, why they left Sri Lanka, postwar developments, economic opportunities and to visit places of cultural and community interests for the Tamil community.”
Tory has, since taking office in 2014, led delegations to Austin, Texas; London; Paris; Los Angeles and San Francisco; China and Japan; Israel and the West Bank; and L.A. for a second time. (Colombo Gazette)