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Toronto, Jun 12 (Canadian-Media): A panel discussion on 'CIF & Seneca Panel Discussion: Public Policy & Good Governance' was organized by Canada India Foundation (CIF) this afternoon at Seneca College, 1750 Finch Avenue East Toronto, Ontario from 2 pm - 4 pm.
This panel discussion on 'Public Policy & Good Governance' is a part of the two-weeks’ training program provided by Seneca College to senior civil servants of the Government of India visiting Canada. Prashant Srivastava, Director, South Asia Seneca International, collaborated with CIF in organizing this event.
This international training is part of a two-year post graduate diploma in Financial Management at the National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), India in which these officers visiting Canada are taught the best practices in Financial Management.
The panelists of this forum were: Mr. Richard Evans, Director General, Industry Statistics Branch Statistics Canada; Dr. Vandana Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India; Mr. Stephen Chait, Director, Economic Growth, Culture & Entrepreneurship, City of Markham, Ontario, Canada.
The panel discussion was moderated by Mr. Vinod Vyas, Founder & Senior Partner, Partho Technologies Inc., Member of CIF's Board of Governors.
From left to right: Richard Evans, Vandana Kumar, Vinod Vyas, Stephen Chait
Vinod Vyas introduced all the three panelists and said in his introductory speech that according to Narendra Modi, the present prime minister of India, good governance is the key to nation’s progress. The factors constituting good governance, said Vyas, are freedom from poverty and freedom from hunger. Vyas added that policy decisions and good governance should be based on impartiality, neutrality, flexibility and growth.
He then invited the first speaker Richard Evans to share his topic of discussion. His topic of discussion was ‘DATA AND AI: Public Policy and Good Governance’. He said policy decisions and good governance should be based on trustworthy data. Evans said for more trustworthy data interpretation and to illuminate continuous challenges faced by digital world, use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in data interpretation should be adopted. Evans highlighted the vast applications of AI and machine learning in almost every field such as medicine, machine learning models, health, education and this has, to a large degree, expanded the border between what is possible and impossible. But there still exists some ethical issues in the use of technology in policy decisions such as data interpretation using AI. For example, the digital presence in our lives such as Facebook, LinkedIn are faced with ethical challenges of privacy, security, ownership of the data and the how and who should use this data. A robust policy framework should be there to protect individual rights, security and privacy.
The next speaker Dr Vandana Kumar highlighted how paradigm shift in governance should be based on three issues: Reform, Perform and Transform. She said that during last five years India had witnessed several reforms such as implementation of GST, liberalisation of several policies, scrapping of several laws, enhanced ease of doing business, digital transformation such as linking innumerable accounts with mobile phones for bank accounts, government’s resolution in decision making and speedy implementation. Another key feature was Aadhaar Card, which is a unique identification number issued to every resident of India. An Aadhaar card is as significant as a PAN card for an Indian citizen and can be used as an identification proof too. She added that there are at present 1.2 billion Aadhar accounts. She also highlighted other key enablers such as several start up projects in India with funding as well as policy support and mentorship, advanced use of industrial information system as a central repository for all industrial information, digital ecosystem etc. All these factors have made India one of the topmost investment destination in the world. She also showed us the photographs of Modi sweeping the streets and Modi himself reviewing all the projects etc.
The next speaker Stephen Chait spoke about how the leaders of both the central and the state level should collaborate to form framework for policy making and good governance. He then gave the example of how his own department was able to build a successful political leadership. Chait said his team is referred to as city builders and their aim is to build a better city. Our mission is to build the city of Markham by fostering and promoting thriving and resilient economy based on creative excellence, innovation and business success through our strategies, partnerships in investments, projects and infrastructure. Stephen added that their core business areas are scheduling of rotating themed exhibitions, art camps in summer, winter and March break, art classes and professional development, McKay Art Centre shows, Public Art Policy and program administration. Other areas of interest are museums and theatres. Chait said that in our governance model is based on transparency and we all report to City Councils. We have set up Charitable Foundation and Advisory Boards. Stephen said that their community was responsible for actively promoting and celebrating the life of the work of Frederick H. Varley and other Canadian artists. They are guided by a 4-year strategy and annual business plan.
A question and answer session between the moderator and the panelists and between the audience and the panelists followed. More than 100 members of the audience were present for the event.
The audience at the event
Richard was asked about the tool used to calculate the national inflation in Canada for the last 10 years to which he replied that the rate of inflation is the main tool. He said that they also collect the data personally from stores and then interpreting the data using AI which adds reliability to the use of data for policy decisions. He said he has a large team of data scientists working with him.
Dr. Vandana was asked to name some of the key features of India. She said they are growing collaboration, expediaton of decisions, resoluteness, federal and state cooperation, competition among states.
Stephen clarified the doubts of the audience regarding the increase of housing market by saying that nothing goes up for ever. He also added that in Canada we follow municipal model and not the national model.
Other questions by the audience were satisfactorily answered by the panelists. Souvenirs were then given to the panelists and other dignitaries.
Souvenirs being presented to the panelists and other dignitaries
This was followed by networking and the event came to an end.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)