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Has Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau been snubbed by the Government of India? Prime Minister Narendra Modi isn't shy of hugging world leaders and has, in the past, broken protocols to personally receive a visiting head of state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, Canadian PM Trudeau has reportedly received a less-than-warm welcome on his visit to India, at least according to some sections of the media. However, the Indian government sources have strongly rejected the speculation.
The Canadian media is upset that their prime minister, currently on a week-long visit to India, has been snubbed by the Narendra Modi government.
Here are the top 10 developments around Canadian PM Trudeau's visit to India:
1) Modi govt rejects 'snub' speculation: PM Modi not receiving his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau at the airport, a courtesy he extended to some world leaders in the past, has triggered speculation in Canada that it was a snub to him for the rising Sikh radicalism in that country. However, government sources have strongly rejected the speculation and have insisted that normal diplomatic protocol has been extended to Trudeau.
2) Unusual schedule: Indian government sources have also expressed surprise over the Canadian side preferring to schedule Trudeau's official engagements in Delhi at the fag end of the tour, as against the normal practice of having bilateral meetings during the first part of such visits. The sources said it is quite unusual for a visiting dignitary to slot important talks towards the end of a visit, besides setting aside little time for official engagements.
PM Trudeau will hold bilateral talks with PM Modi on Friday, a day before he wraps up his tour.
3) Canadian media not pleased: A section of the Canadian media has also talked about PM Modi's absence during Trudeau's visit to his home state, Gujarat.
"We have (our) own set of parametres for measuring importance," an Indian official said while calling the criticism by the Canadian media "unfounded". The sources said there was no "substantive content" in Trudeau's programme in Gujarat for which the Prime Minister's presence was required.
Referring to PM Modi accompanying Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the latter's visit to Gujarat in September last year, the sources said the visit was "very high" in content, which included laying the foundation stone for India's first high-speed bullet train project, besides other components.
4) Reception by 'low-ranking' official irks Canadians: Usually, the Ministry of External Affairs holds a curtain-raiser press briefing on such a visit. There has been none yet in the case of the Canadian PM. Trudeau, along with his wife and three children, landed in New Delhi on Saturday. Trudeau was received at the airport by junior agriculture minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
Commentators in the Canadian media highlighted that Shekhawat received Trudeau at the Delhi airport and contrasted this against PM Modi himself receiving several world leaders at the airport. "On official state visits to India, PM Modi personally greets and welcomes the Israeli PM, UAE Crown Prince, and US President. For PM Trudeau, he sends a low-ranking official. 'Canada is back'," tweeted Canadian author and columnist Candice Malcolm.
On official state visits to India, PM Modi personally greets and welcomes the Israeli PM, UAE Crown Prince and US President. For PM Trudeau, he sends a low-ranking official. “Canada is back” pic.twitter.com/ezsMtFTPzr— Candice Malcolm (@CandiceMalcolm) February 17, 2018
5) Khalistan issue to blame: Neither the Prime Minister nor External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted a welcome message for the visiting dignitary. Trudeau and family were in Agra on Sunday. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had welcomed Netanyahu to Agra; but he wasn't there for Trudeau. The frostiness has reportedly much to do with Harjit Sajjan and Amarjit Sohi, two Sikh ministers in Trudeau's Cabinet, who have been issuing statements in support of Khalistani elements in Canada.
There were stories in the Canadian media that Trudeau's perceived support for Sikh separatists might be the reason for the "snub". The Sikhs in Canada wield significant political clout and Trudeau's Cabinet has four Sikh members.
6) Alleged 'snub' appears to be bi-partisan: Even the Congress, which does not see eye to eye with the Modi government and the Bharatiya Janata Party on most issues, has supported the Centre for its subdued reception of the Canadian PM. On Monday, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the Canadian PM was an honoured guest, but there was also the issue of sensitivities in Punjab. He said that "between 1980 and 1995 thousands of innocent people lost their lives in a wave of terror and those or some of those who are responsible for perpetrating that terror still find shelter in the country which he (Trudeau) has the honour of leading".
Tewari is a victim of militancy himself. V N Tewari, his father, was killed by Sikh militants in 1984.
7) Trudeau agrees to meet Amarinder in Amritsar: In the past, Trudeau had reportedly refused to meet Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. However, officials said Trudeau will have a one-on-one meeting with the Punjab CM. Trudeau will meet Amarinder Singh after a visit to the Golden Temple.
The Punjab CM tweeted on Monday evening: "Look forward to meeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Amritsar on Wednesday. I'm hopeful that this meeting will help strengthen the close Indo-Canadian business ties as well as the deep-rooted people-to-people relations between our two countries.”
Look forward to meeting Canadian Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau in Amritsar on Wednesday. I’m hopeful that this meeting will help strengthen the close Indo-Canadian business ties as well as the deep-rooted people-to-people relations between our two countries.— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) February 19, 2018
8) Trudeau and family visit Sabarmati in Gujarat: Canadian PM Trudeau, his wife and three children visited PM Modi's home state of Gujarat for a day-long visit on Monday. The visiting prime minister and his family were received at the Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport by Gujarat Minister Ganpat Vasava and State Chief Secretary. The first engagement of the Trudeau family, dressed in shades of festive yellow and red, was a visit to the Sabarmati Ashram. After paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, the Canadian Prime Minister tried his hand at the spinning wheel.
Writing in the visitor's book at the Sabarmati Ashram, Trudeau said: "A beautiful place of peace, humanity and truth that is as needed today as ever."
He then proceeded to the Akshardham Temple in the state capital Gandhinagar and spent about 40 minutes there.
9) Trudeau holds townhall meet at IIM-A: His last destination on Monday was the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad), for a townhall where he had a lively session with the students, taking questions and replying in great detail.
Trudeau said Canada was open to immigration and trade. On the trade front, the Prime Minister said that current bilateral trade of $8 billion in goods and $2 billion in services had potential to grow. "When you think of natural connections between India and Canada, especially in field of agriculture or pulses, where we have slight challenges. We are discussing potential of growth in pulses."
Referring to the issue of immigration, especially in the context of most of the countries globally looking inwards and raising barriers, Trudeau said that he and Canada firmly believed that the new reality for the 21st century was going to be heterogeneous societies. "India has done fairly well and Canada, too, has done fairly well to see that differences can become source of strength and not weakness... As you get more pluralistic, language, religion, ethnicity, ideology should be anchored in shared values that society subscribes to."
Trudeau again summoned the name of Mahatma Gandhi to be his inspiration. "He should be an inspiration to all. Idea of extraordinary strength in compassion, peace, and non-violence... It takes tremendous amount of strength to be strong, without having to be aggressive, without having to pick fights, instead looking to better understand each other, to better question yourself."
10) PM Modi has received 5 world leaders at the airport: Sources said the prime minister received around five leaders at the airport during the past three-and-half years which included the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Barack Obama, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan twice.
With agency inputs