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India-Canada Bilateral Relations

Posted on 11 August 2010 by .

India established diplomatic relations with Canada in 1947. India and Canada have longstanding bilateral relationship based on shared democratic values, the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of two societies and strong people-to-people contacts. In recent years, both countries have been working to enhance bilateral cooperation in a number of areas of mutual importance.

Canada is endowed with vast natural reserves in potash, uranium, coal, oil and gas, diamonds, forest products, etc. and offers good opportunities for investments or joint ventures for India. Canada with its advanced technological base can become India’s natural partner in energy, agriculture, food processing, education, science and technology, innovation, environment, cleaner technologies, etc. India would welcome investment from Canada in sectors such as infrastructure, energy, mining, health, education, communication, food processing, information technology, etc.

At the invitation of the Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, Canadian PM Mr. Stephen Harper paid his first official visit to India from 15-18 November 2009. The two Prime Ministers reviewed bilateral relations and discussed regional and global issues of shared interest including G-20, counter-terrorism, etc. and agreed on initiatives to strengthen and diversify bilateral relations. Both the leaders recognized education as an area of new momentum, the need to facilitate mutually beneficial linkages in science, technology and innovation as well as to build synergies between institutions of higher learning in India and Canada.

The two leaders set a trade target of $ 15 billion annually in the next five years. It was also announced that the Year of India will be celebrated in locations across Canada in 2011. Two important MoUs were signed, namely, MoU for Cooperation in the area of Energy and the MoU for the setting up of a Joint Study Group that will explore the possibility of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between India and Canada.

2009 also witnessed visit of 11 Canadian ministers to India both at federal and provincial levels including high level official visits. In 2009, a number of important agreements were concluded, namely, MoU on Agriculture Cooperation and MoU for Cooperation in Geospatial Information. Other agreements under preparation are: Social Security Agreement, MoU on Cultural Cooperation, MoU on Cooperation in Combating Drug Trafficking, Agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation, MoU for Cooperation in the Mining Sector, Transfer of Prisoners Agreement, etc.

Bilateral relations are pursued through the mechanism of annual Foreign Office Consultations, Trade Policy Consultations, Strategic Dialogue, meetings of S&T Committee, Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism, Environment Forum Committee, Joint Working Groups on Pulses, Plant Protection, Health, Agriculture and SPS issues.

India and Canada have also signed the Air Services Agreement, Extradition Treaty, Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, Agreement on Patents, Agreement on Agriculture, S&T Agreement, MoU on Energy, etc. In the education field, the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI) was founded in 1968 to promote academic relations mainly through funding research and linking academic institutions in the two countries; as of today, 50 universities from India and 38 from Canada are members of the Institute. SICI broadly meets its objective by promoting Canadian Studies in India and Indian Studies in Canada.


[Figures in billion Canadian Dollars]

Details 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

India’s Exports

to Canada

1.786 1.919 1.980 2.202 2.002

India’s Imports

from Canada

1,087 1.675 1.792 2.418 2.144

Total 2.873 or

US$ 2.371 bn

3.594 or

US$ 3.169 bn

3.772 or

US$ 3.508 bn

4.620 or

US$ 4.330 bn

4.146 or

US$ 3.630 bn

[Source: Statistics Canada]

Major Items of Indian Exports are: Garments, diamonds, chemicals, gems and jewellery, made-up, sea food, engineering goods, auto parts, marble and granite, knitted garments, rice, electric equipment, carpets, etc. Major items of Canada’s export to India are: Pulses, fertilizers, newsprint, ores and concentrates, wheat, communication equipment, wood pulp, nickel, ferrous waste, asbestos, laboratory equipment, worn clothing, aviation equipment, diamond, silver, etc.


Canadian investors are present in the Indian banking, insurance and financial services sectors, as also in engineering and consultancy services. Canadian investment in India has targeted telecommunications, environment, energy and mining. Indian investment in Canada has increased steadily in the recent years, especially in the information technology and software sectors. The two-way investment data for the period 2004-2008 is as under:

[Figures in million Canadian dollars]

Details 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

India’s investments in Canada 92 171 211 430 1022

Canada’s investments in India 214 319 806 644 801

[Source: Statistics Canada]

Indian community

Canada is home to 962,670 people of Indian origin (2006 Census). Out of this population, 50% are Sikhs, 39% are Hindus, and the remainder are Muslim, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, etc. Majority of them live in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary. There is also a presence of ethnic media, both print and electronic, in different regions of Canada. There are currently 9 Indo-Canadian MPs in the House of Commons and two in the Senate. There are approximately 7,300 Indian students studying in various Canadian universities/colleges.

Air India and Jet Airways have regular flights to Canada from India. State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Government of India Tourist Office, Air India and Jet Airways have offices in Canada. Many renowned Indian companies have presence in Canada such as Tata, Aditya Birla, Reliance, Essar, etc. and reputed Indian IT companies have opened branches in Canada.

Canada has established Trade Offices in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi. Reputed Canadian companies such as Bombardier, SNC Lavalin, CAE, Inc., etc. have a presence in India for the past several years.


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Janam Din Mubarakh!

Posted on 11 August 2010 by .

The two giants of South Asia will celebrate the birth of their nations this month. Both India and Pakistan will turn 63 years old in August, but it’s clear they have been on the path of social, economic and cultural domination long before their independence from colonial Britain in 1947.

Their birth came from a bloody beginning – the partition of India and Pakistan created the world’s largest migration of people between two neighbouring borders. I can’t imagine walking away from my ancestral home and moving across the border to start life again in a newly-carved out nation. But that was a reality to millions of people.

After 63 years, both countries have shown their strength and determination to be considered a player on the global stage. Western countries, including Canada, are eager to open up markets and strike bilateral trade agreements.

My riding of Toronto-Danforth is one of the most multicultural and diverse. It has a large South Asian population and is home to the world-famous Gerrard India Bazaar where you can find gems from the entire subcontinent of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and more – all running thriving businesses in the heart of Toronto for decades. It’s the definition of multiculturalism at its best and what makes Canada an example in the world. I’m looking forward to celebrating the Independence Days of Pakistan and India on Gerrard Street with the local business owners and community members.

I also have the distinct pleasure of representing the Gerrard India Bazaar in the House of Commons, as it is in my riding. The rare treasures one can find on Gerrard Street – from beautiful fashions and jewellery, to music and groceries, to the most amazing restaurants our city has to offer, is indeed a treasure we cherish. The street signs on Gerrard are labelled “Toronto’s Discovery District” – I encourage all Canadians to take advantage and discover it for themselves.

But these independence days aren’t just an opportunity to celebrate the birth of these nations – it’s an opportunity to celebrate their achievements. Both Indians and Pakistanis have contributed to Canada in numerous ways. For over 100 years, the South Asian and Indo-Canadian communities have been contributing to the strength of our country. From being successful Members of Parliament to CEOs of banks, from talented writers to gifted artists, from amazing athletes to innovative entrepreneurs – the South Asian community is a leader in so many ways.

During the recent G8 and G20 summits in Toronto, I had a chance to meet with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. I was impressed with his presence and leadership. I look forward to working with him in the future and building a similar rapport and relationship with the Pakistani government.

During my meetings and interaction with the South Asian youth across the country, I’m amazed at the pride they show for both cultures – their homeland in the East and their birthplace in the West. Straddling both must be difficult, but that’s the beauty of multiculturalism in Canada – all Canadians are encouraged to hold onto the ties of the familial.

So as you celebrate 63 years, I wish you all the best. Happy Birthday India. Happy Birthday Pakistan.

On a personal note, I am saddened to hear of the deaths and destruction in Pakistan due to the flooding. Many people of Pakistani-descent live in my riding and my heart and support goes to their families during this tragedy.

Jack Layton is the leader of National Democratic Party. He represents Toronto—Danforth at the House of Commons.

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Loosen Up the Indo-Pak Border

Posted on 11 August 2010 by .

I was at an event organized by InterNations, when a newly arrived real estate agent from India walked up to me. We started talking. After a few seconds, as we spoke in a mixture of English, Hindi and Urdu, she asked, “Where’re you from originally?” I responded “Pakistan.” She put her arm behind my back and cheerfully said, “That’s great. We’re neighbours.” And we went back to discuss her experiences as a new immigrant and talked about difficulties for South Asian youth and young adults in finding jobs and so on.

The sentiment that we’re South Asians in Canada is a dominant one. During the course of my work for Generation Next, I’ve met many young adults who have visited India and Pakistan during their summers or at some cousin’s wedding, however these youth are on very good terms with one another. They go to each other’s homes, eat at their places and enjoy Eid and Diwali and Baiskahi and Navratri at the same time.

But this is about the youth. What about the adults? One of my colleagues told me how a Sikh friend had come over to her home for a stay. While this friend referred to Baba Ji when saying her thank you prayers, her mom got quite annoyed and said that everything happens with the will of Allah.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah once firmly believed in Hindu-Muslim unity, Mahatama Gandhi was a strong proponent of non-violence and living together of people of subcontinent, yet Indians and Pakistanis have fought wars, have nuclear warheads on the go-mode at a moments disagreement. It’s hard to believe, how all the good will gestures are forgotten in a heartbeat and the worst lingers on for so long, casting its malicious pangs in the relationship.

People of subcontinent have lived together to nurture a civilization that inspires awe and admiration. At times, it’s hard to tell whether a woman wearing shalwar kameez walking down the streets of Toronto is from India or Pakistan. And if you routinely go to Bollywood shows that are held throughout the summer in the GTA, you’d be surprised to see how we are all there, regardless of whether we are Gujrati, Punjabi, Sindhis, Pathans and so on. The music and the culture and the dances bring us all on to one platform where the differences are forgotten. On these occasions even our parents who have imported the prejudices of their generation lay them down to have fun.

Nonetheless, it is North America that has brought all of us together. We may still have our biases or prejudices, but we have checked them to be united for common goals. We live in a country that stands for democracy and individual’s rights. We’ve gone to schools and colleges here and we have developed a culture that is in transition of integrating the past with the future.

Canada-America relationship is a beacon of hope in our lives. In a global world that we live in, showing your ID at the border can take you to another country, for you to enjoy Niagara Falls from both sides of the border. Yes, we have our issues here in North America too, but those issues have not come in the way of progress in trade and developing man-to-man relationship.

If South Asians in Canada can as easily cross the border between the US and Canada, doesn’t it sound unreasonable that people of Pakistan be denied the visit to Shimla and Nanital, and Amritsar. By the same token why can’t people of India visit Lahore and Kalam and Kaghan.

It’s heartbreaking to know that cattle can wander off freely between India and Pakistan, but human beings don’t have the same privilege. Once in a while when poor fishermen cross the border without knowing that they have left their country, they are arrested and subjected to years’ of humiliation and torture.

When we look back at 63 years of independence of the two largest countries of South Asia: India and Pakistan, we have to look at what these countries have accomplished at a human level. Do they respect the rights of women and individuals? Are people living above the poverty line? Are there jobs for the youth? Is enough money allocated to education sector? Is the focus on growth of IT and energy related sectors.  It’s interesting how people of India and Pakistan agree that on-the-surface inflammatory remarks are only politicians’ way of attracting headlines in the media, yet when elected these politicians put aside the broader vision to achieve short sighted goals.

North America has taught South Asians to live together. However, the burden to have the same fortune for Indians and Pakistanis lies with South Asian youth in North America. This society has made us conscientious of not to be biased and to accept each other and to be tolerant of our views. We are the ones who can advocate loosening up the borders so that as we see the Falls, we can cross Wagha border too.

Author: Asma Amanat

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Greetings from the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism

Posted on 11 August 2010 by .

On behalf of the Government of Canada and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I am delighted to extend my best wishes for independence day celebrations to all Canadians of Indian and Pakistani descent.

Canada enjoys strong relationships with both India and Pakistan that are rooted in the almost one million Canadians of Indian origin and the nearly 125,000 Canadians of Pakistani heritage. India and Pakistan continue to be among the top source countries for newcomers to our country.

People of Indian and Pakistani descent have enriched Canada with their skills, their knowledge and their talent. They have played an important role in building our society, while taking great pride in their culture, heritage and traditions, and they will continue to help shape our national story.

The recent appointments to the Senate of Vim Kochhar and Salma Attaullahjan – the first Indian-born Canadian senator and the first senator of Pakistani descent, respectively – are a reflection of their communities’ full and active engagement in all areas of Canadian life.

We are truly fortunate to live in a country of great success and even greater potential, a country that embraces diversity and finds strength, stability and unity in the coming together of the many cultures and faiths of the world.

As we look to the future, we should not take for granted the success of Canada’s pluralism. We must continue to help communities build bridges with each other and focus on what unites us as Canadians – namely our shared citizenship based on civic pride and memory, and adherence to the core Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Canadians of Indian and Pakistani descent have built bridges of friendship and understanding between, and beyond, their two communities.

This is, in large part, a testament to the leadership of South Asian community organizations and media outlets, including Generation Next, who have served as champions of intercultural understanding and strengthened the ties of friendship and cooperation that bind our countries and peoples together.

As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I extend my warmest wishes for a very happy India’s Independence Day and Pakistan Independence Day to the readers of Generation Next and to everyone in Canada’s Indian and Pakistani communities.

The Honourable Jason Kenney, PC, MP is the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

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Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) Indian political and spiritual leader

Posted on 11 August 2010 by .

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