INDIAN automotive major Mahindra & Mahindra has ended its 2018 partnership with Canadian company Rayson Aerospace. Another Indian company JSW has decided to go slow on its Canadian plans. And that’s just the beginning of the fallout of a reckless remark made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The fact is there are more companies of Canadian origin doing business in India than Indian companies in Canada. That’s 600 and counting, against 30. There are more Canadian diplomats in India than Indian diplomats in Canada. That’s 62, against 21. There are more Indian students in Canada, fuelling its economy, than Canadian students in India; numbers are uncertain. Whichever way one looks at it, there is more at stake for Canada in India, than the other way round. India is, after all, the world’s biggest market and countries across the world profit from it.
Till about a decade back, it was easy to trifle with this giant. Not anymore! Trudeau had probably not figured this when on September 23 he denounced India for the killing of a 45-year old Canadian citizen of Indian origin, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in Canada. That Nijjar was a Khalistani sympathiser, an active member of a group with mostly Sikhs of Indian origin, who for years have been planning and plotting to break away a part of India – Punjab – to create a separate country called ‘Khalistan’, did not matter to Trudeau. In the name of ‘freedom of expression’, people with secessionist tendencies have been thriving on foreign soil, especially in the UK and Canada, for decades.
In the past, India has only suffered. Whether it was losing two prime ministers to terrorist violence, in 1984 and 1991; or the bombing of an aircraft in 1985 or the hijacking of its airplane in 1999, India has weathered this and more with fear and equanimity. But today, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is a nation transformed. It is as capable of giving a sharp reply to an unsubstantiated and biased allegation of a country, that too on a matter which affects its sovereignty and integrity, as it is of teaching the doctrine of ‘Vasudaiva kutumbakam’, i.e., one earth, one family, one future, to the world.
So, it was External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar who said during a recent trip to the US that no attempt should be made to normalise what is happening in Canada or Britain. Provocative statements are being made and protests are being held against Indian missions and diplomats in these two countries. If the same thing had happened to them, they would not have protected it in the name of democracy or freedom of speech, he said.
The tough stand of India has rattled the Trudeau Administration, and today the whole world is denouncing Canada for its mollycoddling of terror. The softening of rhetoric is now evident in Trudeau’s latest statements which call for “private talks” to sort out issues after India gave an ultimatum to 41 Canadian diplomats to leave its shores.
It is important for Canada and its allies to stay connected with India in a constructive and serious way because India is the future and its clout is growing on world stage. Traditionally, the relations between the two countries have been cordial. It is in Canada’s interest to keep things that way and make amends quickly.