New Canadian Media

Ottawa: Narendra Modi making the first visit this week, April 14-16, by a sitting Indian Prime Minister to Canada in forty-two years, lost no time as he sealed and inked a bouquet of trade deals and agreements between the two countries. Among the most significant of them is the $350-million uranium sale deal struck up […]

The Weekly Voice

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Published in National

INDIAN Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted a farewell message on his Facebook as he left Canada on Thursday night. He wrote: “I leave Canada with immense satisfaction. This visit will further enhance India-Canada ties. A big thanks to the people of Canada. “A special thanks to PM Stephen Harper – a fine host, a wonderful […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

Police in Vancouver have corralled a group of protesters on a road near a Sikh temple ahead of Modi’s arrival.
VANCOUVER – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to Vancouver has touched down at the YVR with a warm welcome by his supporters and local politicians but he has a hordes [...]

The Link

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Published in National

Toronto (IANS): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday visited the memorial here for the victims of Air India Flight 182 that was bombed in 1985. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen accompanied Modi to pay their respects to the Air India and Narita Airport victims. They participated in the wreath-laying ceremony. Air India Flight […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

PRIME Minister Stephen Harper and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday welcomed 16 commercial agreements and announcements by Canadian and Indian companies and organizations, which will help create jobs in both countries. The commercial agreements and announcements have a combined value of over $1.6 billion. The announcements cover a wide range of sectors, including […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Economy

by Toronto Editor Ranjit Bhaskar (@ranjit17)

The Canadian urge to do better than folks south of the border seems to have rubbed off on the country’s more recent immigrants. Indo-Canadians set out to outdo the reception Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi got at New York’s Madison Square Gardens during his visit to the United States and looks like they came very close to it at the smaller Ricoh Coliseum venue in Toronto this Wednesday.
 
The lavish cultural show put up at the event set the tone for the evening with its unabashed patriotic celebration of India and its diversity. It was India condensed for the initiated and Bollywood live for the rest. The organizers wanted to put up a befitting welcome for their “rock-star” and they did a fairly good job working up the crowd, which had a large group of partisan supporters of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party, of which Modi is a leader.  
 
Looking to channel that support for his own party was Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who flew in with his wife Laureen in Modi’s Air India plane from Ottawa.
 
“We extended to Modi a hand of friendship long before others did.” - Stephen Harper
 
In the nation's capital the two leaders had finalized a slew of initiatives, including a deal to supply over seven million pounds of uranium concentrate to India over the next five years for nuclear power generation.
 
“Canada and India have a longstanding and mutual interest in expanding our trade relationship, particularly in the area of energy cooperation,” said Harper in an official press statement. “This contract is a clear signal that our countries are open for expanding business partnerships together.”
 
What was also signalled at the Toronto event was the “special relationship” the Conservative Party leadership has forged over the last decade with Modi. “We extended to Modi a hand of friendship long before others did,” said Harper, who was also enthusiastically cheered by the crowd.
 
Canada Ahead of the Pack   
 
True, at a time when Modi was shunned by much of the West over his alleged culpability in the 2002 inter-communal riots in Gujarat state when he was its new chief minister, Canada was among the few countries that did not ignore him.
 
“Canada is that country which had the foresight to partner with Gujarat when I was an unknown man.” - Narendra Modi
 
While the fact that Modi was eventually cleared of wrongdoing by India's Supreme Court and the Gujarat High Court, was useful for the rest of the Western world to court him once he became the prime minister in 2014, Canada was way ahead in the race.
 
It established a trade office in Gujarat in 2009 and engaged with a business-friendly chief minister who was transforming his state into one of India’s most prosperous. Bombardier and McCain Foods have invested in the state and Canada is a regular partner in the bi-annual Vibrant Gujarat business convention that has been dubbed as a mini-Davos.
 
“Canada is that country which had the foresight to partner with Gujarat when I was an unknown man,” said Modi, in his impromptu speech in Hindi. “It was not an insignificant decision to take at that time. And Canada has stood by me and Gujarat ever since.”
 
This new-found special relationship between India and Canada, “where over 250,000 Indians became new Canadians under Conservative Party rule,” as Jason Kenney, Canada's Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism said was evident throughout the event.
 
For Modi it was a chance to strengthen his party’s connection with the diaspora and give it a much more elevated role in affairs back home. For Harper it was the assurance of support from “one of the largest, successful diasporas anywhere on earth,” as he himself put it.
 
Kenney, ever the astute politician, greeted the crowd in multiple Indian languages and kept his Gujarati greetings of “kemchoo” to the very end for a roaring approval only to be supplanted by the visible fervour when the national anthems of India and Canada were sung. Again, as Kenney said it was a confluence of two of the world’s greatest democracies, comfortable with the idea of unity in diversity and pluralism.
 
Acknowledging the cold relations between the two countries for decades, Modi said his is the first bilateral visit by an Indian PM in 42 years. “We cooperate in space [missions], but bicker on earth,” he quipped.
 
Easing of Travel and Visa Restrictions
 
Modi’s speech touched all the right buttons for the diaspora. It was a report card of the changes being brought about in India by his administration and the speed and transparency with which it is being done. He also announced easing of travel and visa restrictions for the diaspora and Canadians.
 
Modi said he has fulfilled the pledge he had made at his Madison Square Gardens appearance to merge the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) travel papers system for the diaspora.
 
The merged OCI system will be valid life-long and holders will not have to report to the police regularly like before. “I don’t see any reason not to trust you,” said Modi, adding that the new papers will hold good for four generations who can trace their links to India. “Moreover, we have created ‘Madad’ e-portal to smoothen things out for you.” Canadians can also apply for online tourist visas that will now be valid for 10 years.   
 
Modi assured his supporters that their dreams for a better India will soon come true and requested the diaspora to lend their might towards that goal. Echoing a quote of Swami Vivekananda used by Harper in his speech: “Stop not until the goal is not reached.”  
 
But for now, both the leaders seemed to have achieved what they wanted from the event. For Modi it was a chance to strengthen his party’s connection with the diaspora and give it a much more elevated role in affairs back home. For Harper it was the assurance of support from “one of the largest, successful diasporas anywhere on earth,” as he himself put it.
 
The symbolism of wife Laureen draping herself in a saree in Tory party colour was not lost on anyone. “Eighty per cent of the estimated crowd of 10,000 are also Conservative supporters,” said Ram Chockalingm, a financial advisor and Tory worker who was there at the invitation of his party. The event indeed was a confluence of two national parties separated by distance, but not ideology.
 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

 INDIAN Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Wednesday attended a reception at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum to celebrate the special relationship that exists between Canada and India. Hosted by the National Alliance of Indo-Canadians and attended by parliamentarians, dignitaries and members of Canada’s vast and vibrant Indian diaspora, the event provided Harper […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in India

TORONTO: Excel Funds Management Inc., which is the largest Canadian Mutual Fund geared towards India, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit will give a huge boost to Canadian investment in India.

Indian-origin

News East West

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Published in International
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 09:38

Indian PM's Visit a Boon for Canada

by Douglas Goold

Canada should take full advantage of the visit to Canada by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a political rock star who is arguably the most important Indian leader in a generation.

Modi will be visiting Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver from April 14 to 16 for what is, remarkably, the first bilateral visit of an Indian prime minister since Indira Gandhi's trip in 1973. The 8,000 tickets for an event at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto are expected to be heavily oversubscribed.

The 64-year-old Modi is a complex, charismatic and controversial figure. Last spring, 550 million Indian voters went to the polls in the largest free election in history, and handed him and his BJP party — the longtime opposition party — the country's first majority government in 30 years.

Modi came to prominence as the hugely successful Chief Minister of Gujarat, a state of 63 million northwest of Mumbai on the Arabian Sea and the source of many immigrants to Canada. Modi was widely criticized for the role he played in riots in the state in 2002, which led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslim. Significantly, the United States and Britain have denied Modi a visa, but Canada did not.

After a series of weak, scandal-ridden minority governments, Modi appears to be on his way to restoring India's credibility as a dynamic, fast-growing emerging economy.

The backdrop for the visit is positive. Since the end of the decades-long bilateral chill over the nuclear issue in 2010 with the conclusion of a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, the relationship between the two countries has been strong, bolstered by an influential diaspora of more than a million, largely split between Toronto and Vancouver.

India is a priority market under Canada's Global Markets Action Plan and can look to Canada for much of what it so desperately needs: food security, energy security, infrastructure, and education and skills development. After a series of weak, scandal-ridden minority governments, Modi appears to be on his way to restoring India's credibility as a dynamic, fast-growing emerging economy.

There is no better way to get things done than through the meeting of top leaders, as shown by the example of Modi and President Barack Obama. Last September, Modi visited New York, where he got a rapturous welcome from 18,000 Indo-Americans at Madison Square Garden, and then met the president in Washington.

The Indian PM then boldly invited Obama to be the first president to be the principal guest at the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi in January 2015. As a result of these back-to-back meetings, India and the U.S. are moving ahead on a whole range of issues, including regional security, defence, nuclear power, smart cities, and even climate change.

Time for Harper to Move Things Forward

What can Prime Minister Stephen Harper hope to gain from Narendra Modi? Canada and India have been negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) since 2010, and the 2013 deadline has long passed.

This writer was told in January by a senior official in India's Commerce Ministry that two more sessions — on services and on the troublesome issue of temporary visas for professionals — would probably be enough to lead to an agreement.

A CEPA would send a message to Canadian business that India is a market worth taking seriously. With the ninth round of negotiations recently completed, Harper should press for a rapid conclusion. A CEPA would deliver economic benefits and would have symbolic appeal, and send a message to Canadian business that India is a market worth taking seriously.

India and the U.S. made progress on nuclear co-operation for peaceful purposes, despite the thorny issue of liability, so there is no reason Canada can't do the same.

Ottawa should also press India to ratify the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement the two countries signed in 2009.
Canada would gain from further agreement on energy, given that Canada has so much to offer right across the energy spectrum, from smart grid, to oilfield services to clean energy.

India and the U.S. made progress on nuclear co-operation for peaceful purposes, despite the thorny issue of liability, so there is no reason Canada can't do the same.

For the first time in more than 40 years, Canada is poised to host not only an Indian Prime Minister, but one who is favourably disposed toward Canada and famous for making things happen. Canada should take full advantage of this rare and timely opportunity.


 

 

Douglas Goold is a research consultant for the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. He recently conducted more than 30 interviews in India and Canada for a study on Canadian companies in India, which will soon be published by the Foundation.

Published in partnership with Asian Pacific Post.

Published in Commentary

FEDERAL Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Tuesday welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Canada. Trudeau said: “Canada’s longstanding connection to India is a source of great pride, with both our countries having been shaped by the democratic and pluralistic values that underpin our societies. “India remains an important trading partner, with our bilateral merchandise trade relationship […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

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