Sunday, February 25, 2018

Justin Trudeau’s discovery of India

Rajiv Bhatia,

Image from article, with caption: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family arrived in INdia February 17th for a week-long visit.

While mutual interests can drive India-Canada ties, there needs to be greater sensitivity shown to India’s core concerns

At age 11, Mr. Trudeau first visited India in 1983, accompanying his father, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. On his India mission last week, Justin Trudeau received valuable help from his family. From the moment their plane landed in Delhi on February 17, with the Trudeau couple and their three beautiful children giving a perfect ‘Namaste, India’ shot, until their departure, the Indian public saw more of them than any other foreign VIPs in recent years. Enhancement of awareness among Indians about Canada through creative public diplomacy is no small achievement.

The Trudeaus wore ethnic Indian costumes with grace and rare ease. Many liked it, others did not. But, the motivation of Canada’s first family was good. By doing this, they proclaimed their love for India, and showed respect for its diversity and recognition of the significant role the Indian diaspora plays in Canada’s economy and public life.

Central controversy

The Canadian delegation should have avoided the controversy concerning the Khalistan movement, but it was self-inflicted. It stemmed from the ruling Liberal Party’s soft approach on extremist and separatist activities in Canada. In its quest for votes of sections of the Sikh community in Canada, India’s basic interests were surprisingly given short shrift by the Liberals. The silver lining now is that Mr. Trudeau returns home amply enlightened and chastened about India’s red lines. Deeper friendship is possible when Canada reins in anti-India elements.

From the Indian viewpoint, the most important agreement signed during the visit is the “Framework for Cooperation between India and Canada on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism”. It commits the two nations to combating this phenomenon in all its “forms and manifestations”, and to facilitate “effective cooperation” on security, finance, justice, law enforcement and operations. ...

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