Foreign Policy Watch: India-Canada

India second-biggest foreign threat to Canadian democracy: report


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Challenges between India and Canada

Why in the news?

A parliamentary committee report in Canada has claimed India as the second-biggest foreign threat to the country’s democracy.

About the Khalistan Movement

  • Origins and Objectives: The Khalistan Movement is a separatist movement seeking to create an independent Sikh state called Khalistan in the Punjab region of India.
  • Activities in Canada: Canada has a significant Sikh population, and some members support the Khalistan Movement. This has led to tensions between Canadian Sikhs and the Indian government.
  • Notable Incident: The murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan ideologue, in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18, 2023, intensified these tensions.

Historical Background

  • Canada and India established diplomatic relations in 1947. The relationship was enhanced by personal ties between Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Canadian Prime Ministers Louis St. Laurent and Lester B. Pearson in the 1940s and 1960s.
  • Canada provided significant aid to India under the “Colombo Plan”, including food aid, project financing, and technical assistance. India has been one of the largest recipients of Canadian bilateral aid, amounting to over $3.8 billion CAD.

Recent Developments

  • India and Canada have seen significant growth in bilateral trade, reaching $8.16 billion in 2023.
  • Canada is home to over 1.2 million people of Indian origin, who are well-integrated into the mainstream and active in politics.
  • The two countries have a strategic partnership underpinned by shared values of democracy and pluralism, with regular high-level interactions and long-standing people-to-people ties.
  • India and Canada have signed several agreements, including the Air Services Agreement, Extradition Treaty, Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, and Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.


  • Interference Allegations: Canada claims that India has expanded its interference efforts beyond countering pro-Khalistani activities to include targeting Canadian politicians, ethnic media, and Indo-Canadian communities.
  • Mutual Suspicion: The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has also accused India of being involved in the election process in Canada, a claim denied by India.
  • Ethnic and Political Dynamics: The presence of a significant pro-Khalistan population in Canada complicates bilateral relations, with domestic politics in both countries influencing diplomatic interactions.

India’s Stand

  • Denial of Allegations: The Indian government has consistently denied allegations of interference in Canadian affairs and the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
  • Counter-Terrorism: India views the Khalistan Movement as a terrorist threat and seeks to counter its activities both domestically and internationally.
  • Diplomatic Responses: In response to accusations from Canada, India has taken measures such as suspending visa services and issuing official statements to refute claims of interference.

Way forward:

  • Regular Consultations: Establish a framework for regular high-level meetings between Indian and Canadian officials to address mutual concerns and prevent misunderstandings.
  • Bilateral Committees: Form joint committees to handle specific issues such as security concerns, immigration, and trade disputes.

Mains question for practice:

Q Discuss the origins and objectives of the Khalistan Movement and analyse the current challenges it poses to bilateral relations between India and Canada. 15M

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