Toronto, December 29
Nav Bhatia, the official ‘Superfan’ of the current NBA champions Toronto Raptors and Canada’s known Indo-Canadian face, has turned down the $50,000 Global Indian Award a day after accepting it.
The Canada-India Foundation had conferred the award on Bhatia at its virtual gala here on Sunday.
Accepting the award, Bhatia said in his pre-recorded speech that he was greatly honoured to join the company of previous awardees – Ratan Tata, Deepak Chopra, Narayana Murthy, and Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
As each past honouree donated the award money to charities, Bhatia too pledged it to his ‘Daughters of India Initiative’ to build school washrooms for rural girls in Punjab and Rajasthan.
But a day later, Bhatia refused to accept the award, ostensibly in support of the farmers’ agitation in India.
Bhatia said, “On Sunday evening I watched my pre-recorded acceptance speech and the show for the first time like many. The past 24 hours were supposed to be a celebration for all those little girls in Rajasthan but it has been far from that. I was made privy at this point to a lot of new information…I even visited the CIF (Canada India Foundation) offices to understand their exact stance on many issues.”
He said, “I stay away from politics to be honest. But I am a proud Sikh. And that is first and foremost. As a result, my heart cannot accept this award at this time. Not while my brothers and sisters across India are in pain. I stand with all of the farmers of India. I pray for a safe and peaceful resolve.”
The Canada-India Foundation, the Toronto-based Indo-Canadian advocacy group, has honoured an outstanding Indian face each year with its Global Indian Award since 2009.
Bhatia said if the Canada India Foundation “would like to continue with their donation then great, if not then I will personally donate the $50,000 needed to begin phase IV”, of his project in Alwar. IANS