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India-Canada Relations UPSC NOTE

 

India-Canada Relations

  • India established diplomatic relations with Canada in 1947.

Commercial relations:

  • An annualised Trade Ministers dialogue has been institutionalised to review trade and economic relations. 

  • Both sides are engaged in technical negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) including trade in goods, services, investment, trade facilitation etc.

  • Major Indian Exports - Medicines, Garments, diamonds, chemicals, gems and jewellery, petroleum oils, made-up, sea food, engineering goods, marble and granite, knitted garments, rice, electric equipment, plastic products, etc.

  • Major Imports to India - Pulses, fertilizers, newsprint, aircrafts & aviation equipment, copper ores and concentrates, bituminous coal etc.

Nuclear Cooperation:

  • Canada was among the first countries associated with India’s nuclear programme, but the relationship ruptured after India’s nuclear tests in 1974.

  • In 2010, a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) with Canada was signed and came into force in September 2013. 

  • The Appropriate Arrangement (AA)  for the NCA was signed in 2013, under which a Joint Committee on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was constituted.

Science and Technology:

  • Promoting Industrial R&D

  • Under IC-IMPACTS program - joint research  projects in health care, agri-biotech and waste management.

  • The Department of Earth Science and Polar Canada has started a programme for the exchange of knowledge and scientific research on Cold Climate (Arctic) Studies.

Education:

  • Recently India became the top source of foreign students studying in Canada.

People-to-People ties:

  • Canada hosts one of the largest Indian diasporas in the world, numbering 1.6 million  (PIOs and NRIs) which account for more than 4% of its total population.

  • Recently in February 2023, Canada announced its new Indo-Pacific Strategy that marked out China as an “increasingly disruptive global power”, while referring to India as a “critical partner” with shared traditions of democracy and pluralism.

Challenges

Khalistani separatism:

  • Sikhs constitute a significant proportion of the Indian diaspora, they make up less than one percent (a little over 500,000) of Canada’s total population. 

  • The issue of Sikh separatist groups operating in Canada has become a growing source of tension between India and Canada.

  • While Sikh militancy has largely died down in India, concerns remain about the revival of the Khalistan movement.

Recently in news

  • India rejected the Canadian allegation of involvement by the Government of India in the killing of a prominent Khalistani separatist leader “on Canadian soil”.

  • It was in June that Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar was gunned down by unidentified assailants in the Surrey city of Canada.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of being behind the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, terming the June incident an “unacceptable violation”.

  • In a tough statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said allegations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau diverted attention from the activities of Khalistan operatives in Canada, and called for effective action against them. 

  • “Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The inaction of the Canadian government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern,” the MEA’s statement declared.

  • In a tit-for-tat move, India expelled a senior Canadian diplomat after Canada expelled a diplomat from the Indian High Commission in Ottawa.

  • The official remark expressed concern over the use of Canadian soil by “anti-India elements” and urged Ottawa to “take prompt and effective legal action” targeting them.

How it affects India-Canada relations?

  • It is worth remembering that Canada is a part of the western NATO alliance, and home to Indians and Indian-origin Canadians, and the impact of the rupture will be felt wider.

  • For Mr. Trudeau, the priority must be to publicly prove his very serious allegations, or admit he is unable to. 

  • India’s assertions over Canadian safe havens for anti-India, separatist violent Khalistani groups have already been proven by many incidents, beginning from the early 1980s to more recent targeting of Indian diplomats and Indian community centres. 

  • That Nijjar, chief of the “Khalistan Tiger Force” — he was wanted in India, accused of being behind terror operations in Punjab in the 1990s, and had an Interpol red corner notice — was a Canadian citizen speaks for itself. 

  • New Delhi must also consider how it wishes to proceed on its ties with Canada. 

  • The government had hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada in 2015, the first bilateral visit by an Indian PM since 1973, with the assumption that decades of mistrust over the Khalistan issue could be brushed aside.

  • Earlier this year, India and Canada attempted another reset, with visits by Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, and fast-tracking free trade talks. 

  • However, after the acrimonious Trudeau-Modi meeting on the sidelines of the G-20, and the latest allegations by Mr. Trudeau, diplomatic niceties are clearly at an end, while the FTA talks have been put on pause.

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