Native Village/ Country, Parent Background
I am a HARD CORE DELHI-ITE, born and brought up in New Delhi. My father was in technical position with THE TIMES OF INDIA and mother used to work in Garment Export Business.
Your Early Education
I am a product of Salwan Public School, New Delhi and Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. After doing my graduation, I was pursuing C. A. (Chartered Accountant) program when suddenly, in an interesting event, my life took an about turn and I was selected for Indian Military Academy, Dehradun to become an Officer in Indian Armed Forces. Thereafter, it was all “Blood and Steel” and “Guts n Glory”.
When and why did you come to Canada?
Coming to Canada was never on my radar. Serving in the Armed Forces was a pride. I was in Infantry (THE PUNJAB REGIMENT) and have served in Kashmir, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and all those sensitive places for 12 years. Frequent change of locations of postings was negatively impacting preparatory education for my son and then my daughter in later years. The movements to non-family stations, remote areas with minimal administrative infrastructure, was detrimental to their academic awareness and success. So we decided to take a hugh leap and gamble to immigrate to Canada. We arrived in Canada in February 1997 Lock, Stock & Barrel!!
What did you do for initial survival?
I picked up a job within 3 days as a Pizza Delivery Driver. It was interesting though as it was a challenge negotiating streets of a brand new city in a different continent, but my Army training skills and instincts came in handy to do it successfully. Later I worked as a Shipper for a Satellite communication Company in Edmonton for a year.
Your Career advancement and Present Occupation
From 2000 to 2005, I worked for the City of Edmonton (Driving DATS Wheelchair Bus). I was presented the City of Edmonton’s Mayor’s Award for excellence in Customer Service for working compassionately and doing “above and beyond” while dealing with physically and mentally challenged customers. It was a job and a hugh responsibility in one!
In 2005 I applied for an opening with Canada Post Corporation as a Supervisor for Plant Operations. I was selected over a period of 6 months. Canada Post is a hugh corporation and an absolute nonpartisan or non-discriminatory organization. In 2 years, I was the Shift Superintendent, Shift Manager and then in 5 years I was Process Manager for Alberta. Later, I moved to Winnipeg for 2 years in Western Canada Service & Quality Team and now I am in Class “A” Vancouver Plant as Officer Regional Service & Quality for Western Canada. I look after all Plants and Distributions network in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia to resolve their performance issues in all product lines.
Your regret in Life
I do not have a regret in life. My 16 years in Armed Forced were adequate for me to be decisive, execute and take responsibility of one’s decisions. I don’t regret, BUT I MAKE IT WORK!!
Pick Anyone of your Best Achievements
I had afair share of honors and Awards right from school days when I was a National Athlete and won the National Award for Track & Field. Later I topped All India Higher Secondary and received a Gold Medal for highest marks in Maths. I earned many laurels while doing graduation YET the one I can always hold with pride is the Mayor Award from the City of Edmonton for providing Service Excellence to fellow Canadians who are mentally and physically challenged. That is one award which is my inspiration and I will always cherish that.
Were you ever discriminated?
In late 1990s, there were still some ignorant white Canadians who thought my presence was an invasion in their land and community. I have heard comments like “Brown Ass” and “go back to your country” etc. All this was to my amusement!!!
What you miss in Canada?
Personally, I miss my Army lifestyle but then that is just ME.
We Indians had a close knit family circle and everyone is willing to be just THERE for everyone. That bondage, those sentiments and social etiquettes are missing here. The society is objective, abrupt and emotionless and that deters a new immigrant.
Although there is no comparison between India and Canada on social, cultural and moral fabric and a lot of water has gone under the bridge to facilitate immigration. Canada is an objective social setup. Here every person is on its own. This makes it difficult for new immigrants and TFWs to adapt to its multi-cultural environment. There is a requirement to have bridging programmes to enable new immigrants merge successfully in this society and uphold its norms. The immediate family life is better, the opportunities for young adults are ample.
Are you Happy in Canada?
Happiness is a state of emotion and it varies. On the whole, I am glad we made the right decision to migrate when we could but then once gas prices, electricity prices, city usage fees, house taxes, political corruption(both subjective and objective) as growing sense of entitlement is witnessed, the happiness takes a back seat.
Overall, I am happy to be in a great Country like Canada who values A LIFE (Whether it be Plant, Bird, Insect, Animal or Human)
Canada is still a land of opportunities. There is so much scope for self-development and explore business opportunities. The country judiciously performs its international responsibility to resettle refugees. It attracts large immigrant numbers of skilled workers. The country treats you fairly, whether you are a man, woman, Trans or a person from LGTB community. The social structure supports all irrespective of your backgrounds and traits. The judiciary is so forgiving that they actually expect you to learn from your mistakes and become better humans. The expanse of Land, the MOST Fresh Water Lakes in the WORLD, The greatest champion of Human Rights. A government so inclusive with Canadians, ample tolerance for all religions and cultures. Where else do you find such cultural and social structure?
Any Comments on Canada’s weather?
I love it! Being in Vancouver I miss the extremities but by God! What a great weather!
Any Comments on Canadian Culture
Canada is fairly diversified. Its social structure is based on mutually co-existing humans of various faiths and religions, all peacefully co-existing. Freedoms of human behaviours and existence are already guaranteed under the Charter. It is for those who come here, need to learn to cohabit OUTSIDE their SANDBOX, to accept others faiths and religions around them, to dump what political, social or material pollution they have witnessed from the lands they have come from and to believe that this country is unique in its perspective of a human being. Respect that, follow that and be a productive CANADIAN
What brought you success in Canada?
Success in Canada is a very subjective term. Success is always team work and mature team members choose the person they want to succeed. Yet my success (so called) was enabled by the exemplary support of my wife Bhavna Ashta and my two lovely Children Nishchay Ashta and Deeksha Ashta. Their unflinching emotional and moral support, their belief in my initiatives and purpose, their love and affection, ALL made it happen for me! But the buck doesn’t stop here. Although my current position is consolidated, yet there are many more citadels to conquer before I consider myself successful. Or a layman…. U can say that it “Work in Progress”
Are you willing to help new immigrants?
Absolutely yes, if needed!
Well! Knowledge is POWER. It control the access to opportunity and advancement. There are a lot of questions of personal, professional and administrative nature in the head of a person who moves to a brand new country. I am more than willing to share that knowledge I acquired and expertise I gained, with them to enable them have a seamless transition.
Your message for South Asians of Canada
My brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and sons & daughters! We all are blessed to be in this part of the globe in a wonderful country like Canada. This is a land of opportunities! Shed your inhibitions, be humane, shed your negative thoughts and be professionally responsible. Stop using “jugaad” and short cuts, Stop taking the system for a ride just because there is a loophole. Be productive and fell happy!
Get involved with your family because at the end of the day when all these structures we built, the big houses, the big cars and transportations, the numbers in the bank account and other materialistic accruements fail, It is the one and only FAMILY, who always stand by you, in your up and downs, cheering for you! Cut the rat race and GO, GROW & GLOW!!Cheers!