New Delhi: Indian-origin former Canadian parliamentarian Ruby Dhalla stands testimony to courage and determination. Ruby, who was recently in Delhi to open a campaign to empower female victims of fraud marriages in Punjab, spoke to IBNLive about her idea of Rahul Gandhi-Narendra Modi political battle and what helped her combat racial discrimination in Canada. Excerpts from an interview...
Going by the recent reports, there has been a spurt in the number of hate crimes against Sikhs settled abroad. Not too long ago a Sikh professor was targeted in New York. Is there a permanent solution to this long-standing problem?
Whether it was the Sikh professor or the 2012 incident in the Gurdwara in Wisconsin in which fire was opened on the congregation, each of these incidents are tragic, horrific, unfortunate and unjust. Hate crimes are the manifestation of ignorance, hate and discrimination. Education is the key to building bridges, public awareness campaigns within communities, and strict legal penalties for the perpetrators committing hate crimes will hopefully help to reduce the number of hate crimes being committed. In addition to specific tracking of anti-Sikh crimes, monitoring and data collection will help to develop effective solutions to stop these unfortunate incidents.
Even Canada has made headlines for being racist. What do you have to say about racial discrimination people in Canada are subjected to?
There is no disputing that ignorance, discrimination and stereotype exist in every corner of the world. However, Canada is a country built on the hopes, ideals, and aspirations of immigrants. From the time of 1914, when 376 Indian passengers aboard the Komgata Maru ship were not allowed to enter Canada or the time when Chinese head tax was imposed, Canada has progressed to a point where the Canadians of Indian origin have made significant in roads into the worlds of business, politics, media, and healthcare. When my mother immigrated to Canada almost 40 years ago, I don't think she ever would have thought that her daughter would serve as a MP in Canadas parliament. This speaks to the type of great country Canada is. You look at one of the largest transactions in recent history in which a Canadian of Indian origin is bidding to buy the blackberry company. Through hardwork and determination the Indo-Canadians have succeeded and achieved in almost every facet of life. There is no denying that more work needs to be done to ensure people of different ethnicities have their voices heard on boards and decision making bodies of Government and corporations. Organizational structures must ensure inclusivity. I believe fighting varying degrees of racism is a continuous battle.
You have proved your detractors wrong with your political growth. Have you ever been subjected to racial discrimination?
Whenever you are breaking new ground there are always challenges, struggles and sacrifices. There have been many. Everybody who told me it couldn't be done, inspired me to work harder to prove them wrong. Results are always the greatest reward. I believe that persistence, determination, passion and focus are vital to achieve goals and growth.
Many find Narendra Modi as a more fitting PM candidate than Rahul Gandhi. Do you agree?
The voice of the people is always most powerful. I'm sure the people of India will make their choice in 2014.
A lot has been said about Rahul-Modi political battle. What do you make of it?
An opportunity for great debate, ideas and solutions.
Every politician puts himself across as the arbiter of change. Even though they seem to be resolute about changing the system, their promises remain unfulfilled. Is there a way by which commoners can elect their political leader?
Your vote is your voice... make sure it's heard! Be the change you want to see. Work with your elected officials, political leaders, and political organizations before, after and during your elections. It's very easy to talk about the problems be apart of the solution.
Do you think India's elections in 2014 will bring solutions to country's long-standing problems?
Every election provides the opportunity for debate and ideas. Competition breeds success so hopefully with the influx of new talent, leadership, and vision the next election will result in the development of solutions to help ensure progress, opportunity and growth for ALL Indians regardless of origin, caste, color, creed, gender or socio-economic backgrounds.
You have often been referred to as the most glamorous female politicos in the world. Do you think women politicians are still judged more for their looks than political accomplishments?
Only if they could see me at the gym... ha ha. Politics or not... people always have some comment on how a woman looks or dresses. Everyone has a stereotype of what a politician should look like... it's great to be able to break that perception! Hopefully, anyone commenting on my looks will also pay attention to the serious issues I'm speaking about.
A lot has been written about Raghuram Rajan's sex appeal. Do you agree with the excitement that his appearance has generated?
Beauty and brains is what someone would say if he was a woman so perhaps being handsome and smart would be most fitting, but most importantly his efforts and initiatives to stabilize the rupee and India's economic growth should be the cause for the greatest excitement.
What's been the response to Ruby Red Fashion Collection?
It has been both tremendous and overwhelming. When people saw the unveiling of Ruby Red at the launch they were excited about Ruby Red because it is so unique and the clothes exquisite and glamorous. Any woman buying the Ruby Red evening gowns, dresses, resort wear, kaftans, and kurtas has the opportunity to be empowered with the inspirational sayings and has the opportunity to empower and make a difference in the lives of others as a portion of the proceeds will go to helping women who are victims of fraud marriages. Ruby Red is about looking hot and feeling good!