For the last two-and-a-half weeks India and Canada have been engaged in an unseemly spat after the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, made some “credible allegations” that Indian agents had a hand in the killing of a Canadian Sikh called Hardeep Singh Nijjar who India has designated as a terrorist and Canada as a human rights activist. Meanwhile, there were rumours that cocaine had been found on Trudeau’s plane when he was in Delhi for the G20 meeting three weeks ago. In both cases it’s probably a matter of each side holding its cards close to its chest.
Trudeau’s allegation apparently riled Canada’s closest cousin, the United States whose top officials jumped to Trudeau’s rescue but without much conviction because the US has the worst record in killing people it labels as terrorists. So when India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met his US counterpart Anthony Blinken, and a statement came forth, there was no mention of Canada. Trudeau too, has made conciliatory noises. With that it would seem the quarrel has ended but the bad blood Trudeau generated will remain for a long time. India has had the moral advantage of decorum and reasonableness throughout. So well played, India.
That said, it is urgently necessary that Canada’s Anglo-Saxon cousins in the US, UK and Australia are told to bring their citizens to heel on matters pertaining to interference in the internal affairs of India. For, a basic fact which always overlooked, remains: in all four countries the troublemakers are mostly their own citizens, never mind their origin in India. It is absolutely ridiculous that in the name of freedom of speech and some strange interpretation of democracy and human rights, these countries should allow subversive activities targeting other countries, most notably India. The rude term for this is hypocrisy because these countries are always lecturing India on morality in government conduct. Canada, in particular, is a real oddball. This is perfectly illustrated by its attitude to the bombing, by its own Sikh citizens, of the Air India 747 in June 1985 which killed 329 people. As many as 268 were Canadians and only 26 were Indians of whom 22 were crew. Canada treated the whole matter with a callousness that is fully recorded but still hard to believe.
Since then the political demography of Canada has changed and with it the balance of domestic political power. Trudeau’s Liberal Party government is being propped up by a large number of Sikh supporters. According to reports, Canada has about 1.5 million Persons of Indian Origin, with 700,000 NRIs, many of them Sikhs. So Trudeau’s compulsion in pointing a finger at India is well understood globally. Whether it is trade, investment, India’s market or geo-political realities, the new truth is that Canada needs India more than India needs Canada. This is also well understood globally.