The India-Canada Diplomatic Standoff
The recent statement by EAM S Jaishanker that this is still a world of double standards at a Ministerial Session titled ‘South Rising: Partnerships, Institutions and Ideas’ hosted by the Observer Research Foundation, a few days after Canada has accused India of killing it’s civilian in Vancouver in June and termed it an attack on their sovereignty and violation of international rule of law, cannot be merely taken coincidental. In a veiled attack he criticized West for its hypocritical approach towards developing world. Terming these allegations “absurd” and “motivated,” New Delhi has reacted by accusing Ottawa of not acting against the Khalistan separatists in Canada and not sharing any specific information on the killing of Nijjar.
This diplomatic escalation has given birth to an immediate crisis in the form of a set of problems faced by the students there; four out of ten international students in Canada are Indians. The truth is that though India is not going to incur losses bilaterally but definitely this issue is potentially strong enough to hurt its emerging image in the landscape of the world, particularly post a successful G 20 declaration in New Delhi.
Estimates suggest that of the about 20 lakh Indian diaspora, only about 8 lakh are Sikhs. Of which, Indian estimates say, only about 1% — 8,000-9,000 people — are pro-Khalistan radicals. But this small population of Khalistanis control 12-15 gurdwaras, where they generate funds and organize political mobilization by voting en bloc for Canadian political candidates. The constituencies in which they have a say are mostly in Brampton in Ontario province, and Vancouver and Surrey in British Columbia. It is reportedly said that Jagmeet Singh a person of Indian origin and NDP leader has been instrumental in influencing Canadian foreign policy in respect to India as his party stands a coalition partner in the otherwise a minority incumbent govt.
As per economic times, India had engaged with certain countries, including Russia, on Jagmeet Singh’s pro-extremist ideologies and Russia has banned Jagmeet’s entry into its territory based on inputs provided by New Delhi. Jagmeet Singh has also been noticed meddling in the pro-Ukraine campaign often targeting Russia, making him unpopular in Moscow.
This India-Canada diplomatic row has brought the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance into the spotlight. A top US diplomat said last week it was “shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners” that prompted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to publicly allege last Monday that “Indian agents” were involved in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil. It is pertinent to mention here that when the five-nation alliance took final shape, the US was fighting the Cold War with the Soviet Union. According to a report that appeared in the Financial Times, several members of the Five Eyes Alliance had already raised the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar through their leaders with Modi at the G 20 meet.
It is obviously evident that mentioning of this issue at such a crucial juncture has not occurred without an oblique purpose – to mount pressure on India so as to disrupt the meeting and discourage it in evolving a concensusially reached declaration particularly on Ukraine war and desirably effecting it in their favour.
The question here arises as to why Canada accused India publicly without a conclusive evidence on table. What are the circumstances and pressures that compelled it to take such an extreme step without having made available a concrete evidence to the corresponding Indian authorities and perusal of the issue bilaterally?
The ongoing conundrum between India and Canada is in actuality reflection of diplomatic failure and the resultant outburst of West backed by US who could not digest the Delhi Declaration particularly on account of Ukraine Problem and acceptance and articulation of the concept of global south. Praised by one and all, Russia welcomed it within an hour and China looks it as a positive signal for the whole world. The west along with US and Canada mainly constituting global north have rightly gauged it as the beginning of the downfall of their hegemony and they will leave no stone unturned to make it unsuccessful in turning out the bedrock in this direction. They are looking forward that India avoids its collaborative relation with Russia. Well it will be interesting to see how India handles this pressure tactics and balances its interests in its neutrally looking independent foreign policy in the backchannel talks between New Delhi and Ottawa that are being explored via Washington DC as expected.
This issue seems more a manifestation of the North-South divide and the East-West polarization having locus in Russia Ukraine war than appearing to be merely driven and motivated by a Khalistani cause or a country’s vote bank.