Foreign Policy Watch: India-Canada

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Canada

[op-ed snap] Canadian bathos: Justin Trudeau’s vote-banks


Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Cold war, G7

Mains level: Sikh separatism issue and role of Canada


Justin Trudeau’s political indulgence of Sikh extremists in Canada

  1. Domestic politics often trumps the enlightened pursuit of national interest abroad
  2. In most countries, especially democracies, the cultivation of narrowly-based domestic constituencies for electoral reasons has its unfortunate consequences for the conduct of foreign policy
  3. Delhi’s perennial focus on elections of one kind or another makes its leaders quite sensitive to the domestic political considerations of India’s foreign interlocutors
  4. Sikhs form a 3 percent of Canadian population and Trudeau is supporting a small section of Sikhs which is hostile to Delhi

Cooling relationship

  1. PM Modi, who is more than eager to serenade visiting leaders in his home state, Gujarat, did not travel to Ahmedabad to be with Trudeau
  2. This underlines the new cooling that is enveloping the relationship
  3. It is entirely possible that Trudeau’s visit, instead of putting aside the Khalistan issue, could end up aggravating the differences with India

Trudeau’s mixed signals

  1. The Canadian PM’s visit is indeed a valuable opportunity to clear the air on Trudeau’s attitude towards Sikh separatism
  2. But still, it is not apparent whether he is ready to affirm a strong commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of India and dissociate himself from the Khalistanis
  3. Canada has seemed reluctant to address India’s concerns related to Sikh separatism

India-Canada relationship

  1. In the early years of the Cold War, India and Canada sought to create political breathing room for middle powers in a fraught bipolar world
  2. Delhi and Ottawa had good bonding on issue of liberal internationalism
  3. At the bilateral level, civil nuclear collaboration between the two countries was a shining example of scientific internationalism during the Cold War
  4. Trudeau’s predecessor, Stephen Harper, had unveiled in 2015 a vision for strategic partnership that was to build on the many shared interests between the two countries

Way forward

  1. It is indeed tragic that India-Canada relations have become a political hostage to the Khalistan question
  2. Delhi, however, has rightly decided it must stay engaged with Trudeau, who leads one of the world’s top economies and is a member of the Group of Seven advanced nations
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments