It is understandable if someone belonging to Canada is unaware of Indian culture, politics and history. The end of traditional colonialism has also meant that people of the ‘dominant’ societies have had fewer reasons to visit and understand ‘third world’ countries. This was evident when Canadian PM Justin Trudeau during a visit to India some years ago dressed up as a ‘baraati’ in a Bollywood movie. It was the kind of appropriation that is derided so strongly by present day cancel culture.
However, the sense of entitlement takes on an even uglier form when people of Indian origin who have taken Canadian citizenship should adopt a similar attitude. Their Indian background should provide a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between the two countries. However, going by a statement made by Ujjal Dosanjh, a former Premier of British Columbia, that India’s ‘muscular’ foreign policy is essentially for domestic consumption, it becomes clear that the more recent immigrant is no less arrogant than those who immigrated a century earlier.
Why should India’s foreign policy not be for ‘domestic consumption’? After all, the Government of India is answerable to its people and not to foreign masters. It is possible that, at some time in the past, there may have been obsequiousness in India’s foreign policy towards the west, but national interests have always prevailed. At a time when the world is facing increased threats to security, providing a sane alternative cannot be described as muscular.
Canada believes it has a God given right to post as many diplomats as it likes on Indian soil and offers the Geneva Conventions as justification. It is the ‘domestic compulsion’ of a significant slice of Indian immigrant vote that compelled Trudeau to pick a fight with India in the belief that the ‘inferior’ race would cave in. Having failed to intimidate, it is now holding the millions of Indian origin people as veritable ‘hostages’ with the visa threat. Considering this attitude, the Indian position that Canadian diplomats were ‘interfering’ in the country’s internal affairs seems justified. In the present online world, the old bureaucratic way of dealing with visa approvals, etc., should have been done away with long ago, particularly in the majority cases of those for whom it is just a formality. The present standoff may be an inconvenience for such people but, in the long run, it will bring greater depth to Indo-Canadian relations. Even more so if the Indian immigrant uses her vote in the right way.