New Delhi Snubs Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau´s weeklong official visit to India, started February 17, 2018, is yet to meet any important dignitary of Prime Minister Modi´s government. (Reports CNN, February 20, 2018). The sojourn is considered a total disaster in Indian political circles. All the excitement and lustre for the trip to TajMahal or Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram, turned into a ´no love lost’´situation.
The warm hunky-dory relations the two countries enjoyed back in fifties onward gave independent India a way forward especially in the fields of Atomic Research in Mining and Energy, nuclear power plants and smart cities projects. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) acquired the name after Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the pioneer laying the foundation stone for Indian nuclear program.
Sale of Uranium, business deals with Canadian Mining and Energy Corporation and Canada-India Reactor of 1960 facility developed a newly bonded relationship between the two countries; also enjoying joint workshop on nuclear security or collaboration in smart cities projects. Canadian education and private sector offered India help in college system and further economic growth as well. The two governments have also a Memorandum of Understanding for cleaning up the Ganga River.
The history tells us that Indian economic relations saw removal of penalties imposed on India in seventies when Canadian uranium offered for peaceful purposes was used in an Indian nuclear weapons test in breach of the agreement signed between the two countries. Nearly after four decades of active political disconnect, Canada is back in business selling uranium to India. India and Canada had signed a nuclear agreement in the year 2010.
Canada’s Kashmir support
Historically Canada has always supported Kashmir right from the days of General McNaughton backing proposals of UNSC and the Resolutions adopted on August 13, 1948 and January 05, 1949. McNaughton´s proposals contemplated an agreed program of progressive demilitarization on either side of the cease-fire line. Army withdrawal, disbandment and disarmament in such stages as not to cause fear to populace at any point.
Governments of India and Pakistan was to reach an agreement by January 31, 1950 on progressive steps taken in reducing and redistributing the forces to the minimum level complete with the maintenance of security and of local law and order. India turned a deaf ear to all these efforts made on international level.
The erstwhile Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially issued statement that Kashmir is an unresolved issue, considering intensification of systematic human rights violations against civilians a matter of concern. The agencies in India went into a panic mode and a smear campaign ensued to tarnish Kashmir’s freedom struggle.
On a usual course of stone-pelting incident, fights between Indian army and Kashmiri populace, a stray stone hit Canadian High Commissioner’s car who with his family was on holiday visiting ski-resort Gulmarg in Kashmir. Grabbing the opportunity, the incident was blown out of proportion to discredit Kashmir uprising though the intended target of the stone was not the Canadian High Commissioner. The High Commission official later stated, it would be misreporting facts if someone said it was an attack on the Canadian envoy as such.
In the recent past Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited India receiving the famous symbolic Modi bear hug upon landing in New Delhi. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau also on an official visit was made to look a low-key affair attaching almost no importance. It is also reported that Donald Trump Jr., the son of US President Trump, who is in India on a private visit to promote real estate deals attracts more attention though he does not hold any position in the US government. However, according to an official statement released by the Indian government Prime Minister Trudeau is due to meet with Modi on Friday February 23, 2018) in Delhi.
While Canada is part of the US led coalition carrying out air-strikes against the ISIS, India has not joined this group. But the Indian government is believed to be looking out for those who are joining the ISIS or are trying to get in touch with the terror group to offer its help.
There are few factors responsible for India to show indifference to visiting Canadian dignitary. Prime Minister Modi´s apparent cold shouldering of Trudeau was significant as it is widely known in Indian circles that Trudeau administration is sympathetic to Khalistan political movement.
It so happened that an Indian CRPF police officer T S Dhillon was refused entry to Canada (May 18, 2017) on the grounds that he had served an organisation engaged in terrorism and gross human rights violation. The action prompted a huge reaction in India saying "such characterisation is completely unacceptable".
Canada has 1.4 percent of Sikh population (468,000), a small but very influential number of people who support the idea of Khalistan, a separate state for Indian Sikhs. Indian army soldiers stormed into the holiest Sikh site Golden Temple Complex in 1984 to crush rebellion by Sikhs demanding creation of Khalistan (A homeland for Sikhs). In retaliation a Sikh security guard assassinated Prime Minister Indira Gandhi spilling violence over into Canada when an Air-India plane carrying 329 people aboard was hijacked and bombed.
The National Defence Minister of the Crown Harjit Singh Sajjan, a Sikh by faith, is the Canadian politician responsible for the management and direction of all matters relating to the national defence of Canada. The Queen of Canada is the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces and has final authority. Minister Sajjan derives his political strength from the Sikh vote bank in his political constituency leading to hold the prestigious Defence Portfolio.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper´s Foreign Minister John Baird´s Kashmir comment that Kashmir problem needs a solution. The pro-Khalistan movement in Canada gaining strength day by day as a small minority of Sikhs have managed to reach out to other communities with the dynamism, hard work and political acumen.
Jagmeet Singh, a criminal defence lawyer by profession, the incumbent New Democratic Party elect Canada´s first non-white political party leader, a practising Sikh, is set to lead left-wing opposition against PM Justin Trudeau´s Liberals in 2019 federal election on permanent basis. Sikhs in general are impacting the political scenario of Canada across the board. The main political strength derived from Sikh electorate makes it impossible for a Sikh leader to avoid or ignore the wholehearted support for Khalistan.
To draw a comparison maintaining the balance of trade; India´s top exports to Canada in the list are Medicaments, Crustaceans: Fish frozen, chilled or fresh, Iron & non-alloy steel, Vegetable saps and extracts, heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom(s) only, -compounds containing an unfused pyrazole ring (whether or not hydrogenated) in the structure, furnishing articles like bedspreads, Cast iron & steel, Rice, T-shirts & other vests, bed & table linen.
Imports, on the contrary from Canada to India include Gold, Solid fuels manufactured from coal, Petroleum oils, Minerals, chemical fertilisers, Newsprint, Diamonds, Iron Ore and Chemical wood pulp.
Hindu Business Line reported (April 19, 2017) that Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan hinted at strengthening defence ties between Canada and India. Canadian arms-makers are looking to expand in India and as Minister Singh stated that Warship HMCS Winnipeg frigate will soon be coming to India.