Context: India-Canada relations has deteriorated significantly following Canada’s accusations against India regarding the assassination of a Khalistani leader, leading to the expulsion of diplomats from both nations.
A brief Overview of India-Canada Relations
Areas of Cooperation between India and Canada
|Trade and Economy
- India was Canada’s ninth-largest trading partner in 2022.
- Canadian investment account for about 0.5 per cent of the total FDI inflows into India.
- India and Canada are discussing Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and Bilateral Investment Promotion and Partnership Agreement (BIPPA/FIPA).
- A Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) with Canada was signed in June 2010 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.
- In April 2015, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) signed an agreement for supply of uranium ore concentrate to India in 2015-2020.
- Education is a key area of collaboration between the two countries.
- As of 2023, there were 319,130 international students from India enrolled in Canadian institutions.
- Indians have been the dominant student group in Canada since 2018.
- The MOU on Cooperation in Higher Education was signed in June 2010, which covers student and faculty exchange, research and curriculum development etc.
|S&T and Space
- 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.
- ISRO in its 100th Satellite PSLV launched in 2018, also flew the Canadian first LEO satellite.
- S&T cooperation primarily focused on promoting Industrial R&D.
- A Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Information and Communication Technology and Electronics (ICTE) was signed in 2012.
- Department of Biotechnology under IC-IMPACTS program implements joint research projects in health care, Agri-biotech and waste management.
- Department of Earth Science and Polar Canada have started a programme for exchange of knowledge and scientific research on Cold Climate (Arctic) Studies.
- The bilateral MoU on agriculture cooperation was signed at the federal level in 2009. A Joint Working Group has been set up under the MoU.
- The first meeting of the JWG was held in 2010, which led to the creation of three sub-groups on knowledge exchange in emerging technologies; animal development and agricultural marketing.
- A Statement of Intent (SoI) on Cooperation between DRDO and Canada’s Defence Research and Development Council was signed in January 2015.
- An MoU between DRDO and Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) for development of military and defence related technology, infrastructure, training and services was signed in October 2016 which was renewed in 2021.
- The two countries have signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in 1994 (operationalized in 1998) and Extradition Treaty in 1987.
- The Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism was set up in 1997.
- The security cooperation was further enhanced with the Framework for Cooperation between India and Canada on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism signed in February, 2018.
- Canada is home to over 1.2 million Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) who comprise more than 3% of its population.
- Canada is home to the world’s largest Sikh population outside India.
- The highly educated, affluent and industrious PIOs are well integrated with the mainstream and also active politically.
- In the field of politics, in particular, the present House of Commons (total strength of 338) has 19 Members of Parliament of Indian-origin.
- There is an India – Canada Co-production Agreement in films.
- Canada Post and India Post joined hands to issue a commemorative stamp in 2020 and 2021.
- In October 2020, Canada announced the voluntary repatriation of ancient Annapurna statue.
- As part of the series of shipments of the drugs to various countries, India supplied consignment of five million tablets of HCQ to Canada in May 2020.
- India offered to make available its production capacities in diagnostic kits, PPEs, pharmaceutical products and vaccines to Canadian companies in collaboration.
- India and Canada made arrangement to evacuate their respective stranded nationals from each other’s country under Vande Bharat Mission.
- India exported of 2 million Covishield vaccines to Canada under commercial agreement.
Challenges in India-Canada Relations:
- Khalistan Movement: While this movement does not have significant support within India, it finds resonance among some segments of the Sikh diaspora in Canada and other countries. This has led to political tensions and concerns about Canada’s stance on Khalistan supporters operating within its borders.
- Trade Issues: Structural hurdles, including complex labor laws, market protectionism, and bureaucratic regulations, have hindered economic relations between India and Canada.
- Trade agreements like the CEPA and BIPPA have made little progress, and trade disputes, such as India’s imposition of higher duties on imported peas, have arisen.
- Canadian pronouncements on developments in India: Canadian pronouncements on developments in India, including on rights and freedoms can always set off diplomatic landmines.
Understanding the Khalistan Movement
- The Khalistan movement is a Sikh separatist movement seeking to create a homeland for Sikhs by establishing a sovereign state, called Khalistan in the Punjab Region.
- The geographical area of proposed state involve land that currently forms Indian Punjab, Chandigarh and some parts of the neighbouring Indian states, most particularly bordering Punjabi-speaking areas of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
- Over the years, the movement has survived in various forms, in various places and amongst different populations.
- The movement was crushed in India following Operation Blue Star (1984) and Operation Black Thunder (1986 and 1988), but it continues to evoke sympathy and support among sections of the Sikh population, especially in the Sikh diaspora in countries such as Canada, the UK, and Australia.