FOR an international visitor, the sights and sounds of India can be overwhelming, not to forget the traffic. But for someone who has experienced India as a backpacker almost three decades ago, there is a sense of familiarity. For Wade MacLauchlan, the Premier of Prince Edward Island (PEI), a Canadian province, it was a happy walk down memory lane as he arrived in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
MacLauchlan, together with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, is leading a delegation of business and education representatives on a mission to deepen relationships with India.
“My first trip to India was in 1978 as a backpacker. I started my journey in Kerala on a budget of two Canadian dollars a day. I travelled by train too and ended my journey in Amritsar. I still have vivid memories of my trip,” reminisced MacLauchlan.
Life’s come a full circle and while he has arrived with an entourage of ministers, the Premier of Canada’s smallest province was greeted with the same warm hugs and smiles. “The warmth of the people, especially in Punjab, is very endearing. I am also aware of the entrepreneurial zeal that people have here and we are pleased to partner with Ontario to tell Prince Edward Island’s story to a fast-growing and vitally important market,” the Premier said.
Incidentally, the two premiers began their journey to India on January 31 and till February 6, they will meet key ministers and Chief Ministers in New Delhi, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. A MoU signing function was also held at Taj Chandigarh on Wednesday morning. The aim is to pursue markets in India for companies and institutions while also promoting Prince Edward Island as a place for Indian companies to expand into North America.
“This mission is part of ongoing efforts to promote goods, services, and expertise from PEI in India and other emerging markets,” said MacLauchlan, who also met with Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar during his visit.
“When I met the Haryana Chief Minister, I told him we shared a common political biography. He is also a first-time MLA and so was I before I took over as Premier in February last year,” remarked the PEI Premier who has been keeping a close watch on Indian politics over the years. Prior to entering provincial politics, Wade served as the President of University of Prince Edward Island from 1999 to 2011. Earlier to this, he was Dean of Law at the University of New Brunswick and a professor of law at Dalhousie University.
“My trip to India this time is also special as I along with the Premier of Ontario got to visit (Mahatma) Gandhi’s memorial in Delhi. It was surreal and the experience of the tranquillity is something I will take back home with me,” said MacLauchlan, who also got to taste a variety of Indian fare on his visit.
Speaking of home, while PEI is on the list of must-visit places on the planet for its picturesque landscape, it is also home to Anne of Green Gables, one of most popular books for children around the world, written by Lucy Maud Montgomery. “The book’s fans have made the trip to PEI and discovered the land that captivated Anne in Montgomery’s stories. There are Anne-related attractions all over the Island,” mentioned the Premier, before he headed to Delhi for a proposed meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.