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Policies geared to help highly qualified newcomers to Canada succeed


Sandeep Agrawal examines policies to help transnational entrepreneurs succeed

Sandeep Agrawal has many research interests. At the heart of all of them, though, is a desire to help communities reach their full potential.

For instance, the professor of urban and regional planning studies municipal infrastructure, the factors that prompt individuals to immigrate and the role that governments play in enhancing people’s lives.

In addition to being cross-appointed to the Ted Rogers School of Management and serving as Director of the master’s program in urban development, Agrawal is the Ryerson visiting scholar for 2012-13 at the University of Toronto’s Massey College.

Starting this year, he has also undertaken an India Studies Fellowship through the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI). Funded by the governments of India and Canada, the organization promotes understanding between the two countries through academic activities and exchanges.

The fellowship enables Agrawal to examine a paradox in India: the existence of rural, high-density regions.

“They have populations similar to that of Markham, Ontario – about 1,700 to 1,800 people live within each square kilometre – but these agricultural regions don’t have the same amenities or diverse economies as urban centres,” says Agrawal, who, as part of this one-of-a-kind research project, has also been appointed a visiting scholar at the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee and the Institute of Human Development in Delhi (both organizations are involved in the SICI).

High-density, rural regions present unique planning challenges. And ultimately, Agrawal hopes his work will prompt the Indian government to change how it defines rural and urban areas. The current classification, for example, puts highly populated, rural areas at a disadvantage; they must depend on private companies (not the public sector) to provide infrastructure, such as roads, and power, transportation and sanitation systems.
The SICI project, however, isn’t the only initiative that Agrawal has on the go. Nor is it the only one of his projects that may allow Ryerson students and faculty to participate in international exchanges, internships and research partnerships.

Earlier this year, Agrawal also became a senior research fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (AFPC), an independent, not-for-profit think-tank on Canada’s relations with Asia. In particular, he is working on the AFPC’s Canada-China Human Capital Dialogue (CCHCD) project, a two-year initiative that also involves the following Chinese think tanks: the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, the Center for China and Globalization, and the China Society for Research on Exchanges and Development of International Professionals.

Chinese immigrants form the largest immigrant group in Canada, according to Agrawal. On that note, through the CCHCD project, he will explore the key factors influencing the flow of highly qualified professionals between the two countries. Transnational entrepreneurs are part of that group. These well-educated, highly connected immigrants want to preserve their links with Chinese companies and venture capitalists, as well as contribute to the Canadian economy.

Through research papers and conferences, Agrawal hopes to recommend policy changes that will better equip governments to support the movement – and harness the potential – of highly qualified professionals. Those newcomers include Chinese immigrants to Canada, and Chinese-born Canadians who return home to take advantage of China’s booming economy.
“In order to help highly qualified immigrants succeed, we need to tie our immigration policies to international relations, trade and economics,” says Agrawal.

– Dana Yates

Posted: Oct 31, 2012

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