Justin Trudeau’s visit to India: Appeasement of Sikh voters back home

Justin Trudeau’s visit to India

Justin Trudeau’s visit to India

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in India for the first time. The Prime Minister has generally received an overwhelming response wherever he has travelled upon, but contrastingly for the “Liberal” leader, the visit to India turned out to be a lukewarm affair. The Canadian leader has been portrayed as the messiah of liberal politics with the man openly supporting gay rights’ while having a Cabinet with 50 percent seats held by women. Justin Trudeau has swooned the world over with his prince charming looks and his liberal aura. The Prime Minister landed on Indian shores wearing traditional Indian attire along with his family. Prime Minister Trudeau and his family, who were on an 8-day visit to the country, were welcomed at the airport by an agricultural minister instead of Prime Minister Modi, who usually welcomes such high profile dignitaries with his ‘Bear Hug’.

Experiencing the ‘Incredible India’

Ever since Justin Trudeau and his family arrived in India, they have been on the go. They travelled to different parts of the country to experience the richness of Indian culture and heritage while visiting holy shrines of Muslims, Hindu, Christian, and Sikhs from Jama Masjid in Delhi to Golden Temple in Amritsar. The whole family wore a traditional Indian outfit for such occasions while paying his respect towards the Indian culture. The Trudeau family travelled to Agra to visit Shahjahan’s love memorial Taj Mahal, followed by a visit to Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar as it was the first time that a Canadian PM has visited the state of Gujarat. From there on the Canadian PM and his family travelled to Mumbai and met high profile Industry leaders and Bollywood stars dressed in a glittery Sherwani, while the celebrities and other guests were all suited up in formals to greet the Canadian Prime Minister. Amritsar was the last stop before Delhi, as Justin Trudeau met Punjab CM Capt. Amrinder Singh. Both the leaders talked about issues that are important for better co-operation between the state and Canada, while PM Justin Trudeau paid the visit to The Golden Temple, a Sikh holy shrine. The Prime Minister showcased his ‘Bhangra’ skills at an event matching every move with the music and even tried his hands in Cricket, as he tried to make the most out of his India visit.

Reactions and controversies of the India Visit

Although PM Justin Trudeau looked amicably good there have been few criticisms aimed at Prime Minister’s choices of attire throughout India visit, as some sections felt it was more of cultural appropriation rather than respecting the Indian culture. Some Indians, as well as media houses, vented out their frustration, claiming that Indians and even the Bollywood celebrities don’t wear such traditional dresses on a day to day basis, even though some section felt that PM Justin Trudeau wearing traditional Indian attires during his India visit was his way of paying respect towards Indian culture. One of the major controversies occurred when the news broke out that Trudeau’s India visit team had Jaspal Atwal, a convicted assassin and a former Pro-Khalistan terrorist, as a part of the entourage, although the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that it was a “mistake”. The Canadian Government asserted that the invitation was rescinded but it was of no help for Trudeau, the damage had been done as Atwal was in India and was even photographed with Sophie Trudeau at the dinner event in Mumbai. During the meeting with Punjab CM Capt. Amrinder Singh, Trudeau claimed that his government does not associate with any radical outfits and believes in united India, contrary to that the Canadian Prime Minister attended and addressed the gathering of Sikh Community during Khalsa Parade last year in May, where Pro-Khalistani militants were glorified.

Trudeau-Modi meet

There was a lack of media hype surrounding Trudeau’s visit to India, as the country was facing a domestic issue in the form of Nirav Modi-PNB scam. The Central Government was busy tackling questions from the media, questioning government’s role regarding the scam of  11,000 crore rupees. The defining moment of Trudeau’s India Visit was his arrival, as the world was waiting to see whether Narendra Modi will be there to welcome Trudeau and his family with his symbolic ‘Bear Hug’, as he had done to the previous Head of the States while welcoming them to the country. Sadly, a Minister of State for Agriculture was sent to receive the Canadian Prime Minister and his family, clearly showed the differences between both the countries. Interestingly, the leaders were not scheduled to meet before Day 6th of Trudeau’s India Visit, when the leader arrived back to Delhi from his Amritsar’s visit. Later on, both leaders shared the podium and read out the bilateral agreements signed between India-Canada in the field of defence, climate change, trade, security, measures to curb terror, co-operation on civil nuclear energy, and expecting both the countries to take measure to “strengthen and deepen” the bilateral ties between India and Canada. Both the governments played safe as Narendra Modi and Justin Trudeau will soon be facing the electorate, thus Trudeau is looking to appease the 1.4% Sikh population of Canada, even BJP government is wary that any wrong move before the 2019 General Elections, can act as a catalyst for the party.

A shining ray for a bright future?

Trudeau’s visit to India concluded with Trudeau’s speech at UN Changemakers Conclave in Delhi, addressing a gathering of 5000 students on the role of youth in today’s world and how they are the flag-bearer of a changed future, a future with technological development moving together with a better environment, a future where there’s fresh air to breathe, safe water to drink, and above all a world where compassion will be greater than greed. Certainly, leaving a mark on the minds of 5000 students that were present at the gathering and making them realize the role they play in having a better future than the present.