Context: The Indo-Pacific strategy announced by Canada uses blunt language against China and sees closer engagement with India as critical to its success.
About India – Canada relations:
- India established diplomatic relations with Canada in 1947.
- Prime Minister of India’s visit to Canada in April 2015 elevated the bilateral relation to a strategic partnership.
- In recent years, both countries have been working to enhance bilateral cooperation in a number of areas of mutual importance.
- Indo-Canadian relations deteriorated in the wake of India’s Smiling Buddha nuclear test of May 1974 when the Canadian government severed bilateral nuclear cooperation with both India and Pakistan.
- However, in June 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 March 2013, under which a Joint Committee on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was constituted.
- 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.
Science and Technology:
- Indo-Canadian Science and Technology cooperation has been primarily focussed on promoting Industrial R and D which has potential for application through the development of new IP, processes, prototypes or products.
- Canada was a partner country for the Technology Summit 2017.
Security and Defence:
- India and Canada collaborate closely in international fora, particularly through the UN, Commonwealth and G-20.
- Defence ties have been expanding with mutual ship visits.
- There is robust cooperation on counter-terrorism issues, particularly through the framework of the JWG on Counter-Terrorism.
- India and Canada have been pursuing successful cooperative and commercial relations in the field of Space since the 1990s mainly on space science, earth observation, satellite launch services and ground support for space missions.
- ISRO and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) signed two MOUs in the field of exploration and utilisation of outer space in October 1996 and March 2003.
- ANTRIX, the Commercial arm of ISRO, has launched several nanosatellites from Canada.
- ISRO in its 100th Satellite PSLV launched in 2018, also flew the Canadian first LEO satellite, from the Indian spaceport Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
- The bilateral MoU on agriculture cooperation was signed at the federal level in 2009.
- The first meeting of the JWG set under this MoU was held in New Delhi in 2010, which led to the creation of three sub-groups
- on knowledge exchange in emerging technologies;
- animal development and
- agricultural marketing.
- A Joint Working Group for Pulses has been set up separately.
- 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.
- The diaspora has done commendably well in every sector in Canada.
- In the field of politics, in particular, the present House of Commons (total strength of 338) has 22 Members of Parliament of Indian origin.
- Canada was the Country of Focus at the 48th International Film Festival of India held in Goa in November 2017.
- There is also an India – Canada Coproduction Agreement in films.
- Diwali has been celebrated on Parliament Hill for the last 18
Challenges in India-Canada ties:
- Khalistan separatism issue:
- There is resurgence of Khalistan separatism and calls for a “referendum” amid the Sikh community in Canada.
- There are also incidents of vandalism and violence targeting the Indian community in Canada.
- Canadian pronouncements on developments in India:
- Canadian pronouncements on developments in India, including on rights and freedoms can always set off diplomatic landmines.
- India’s structural impediments:
- India still has to overcome structural impediments such as complex labour laws, market protectionism, and bureaucratic regulations.
- Inadequate trade:
- While India–Canada economic relations have made some progress, Canada remains an insignificant trading partner for India.
Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which says India’s strategic importance can only increase as its economy grows and it becomes the world’s most populous country, offers a wider staging ground for the two to come together to work for the mutual benefits.
There could also be a defence and security component with Canada’s resolve to participate more in maritime security and exercises in the Indo-Pacific, and deeper counter-terrorism cooperation than exists now.
Source: Indian Express
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