India-Canada Relations


    In Context

    • India’s External Affairs Minister recently held wide-ranging talks with visiting Canadian Foreign minister.


    • Both nations reviewed the progress in bilateral relations, which are anchored in the following:
      • Shared democratic values, 
      • Growing economic linkages, 
      • Security cooperation, 
      • Mobility of students and professionals and 
      • Strong people-to-people ties. 
    • Deepening collaboration & EPTA:
      • Both sides expressed interest in deepening collaboration across domains and looked forward to the Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA).
    • India’s significance for Canada:
      • India’s economic and population growth are driving demand for education, health services, food, critical minerals and green infrastructure. 
      • These are all sectors of Canadian strength and Canada is looking forward to grasping these opportunities.

    India-Canada Bilateral Relations

    • About:
      • India established diplomatic relations with Canada in 1947
      • Prime Minister of India’s visit to Canada in April 2015 elevated the bilateral relation to a strategic partnership. 
      • In recent years, both countries have been working to enhance bilateral cooperation in a number of areas of mutual importance.
      • Bilateral Mechanisms:
        • Both sides pursue bilateral relations through the dialogue mechanisms such as Ministerial level- Strategic, Trade and Energy dialogues; Foreign Office Consultations; and  other sector specific joint working groups (JWG). 
    • Commercial relations:
      • An annualised Trade Ministers dialogue has been institutionalised to review trade and economic relations. 
      • Both sides are engaged in technical negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) including trade in goods, services, investment, trade facilitation etc. 
      • Major Items of Indian Exports are: 
        • Medicines, Garments, diamonds, chemicals, gems and jewellery, petroleum oils, made-up, sea food, engineering goods, marble and granite, knitted garments, rice, electric equipment, plastic products, etc.
      • Major items of Canada’s export to India are: 
        • Pulses, fertilizers, newsprint, aircrafts & aviation equipment, diamonds, copper ores and concentrates, bituminous coal, wood pulp, nickel, unwrought aluminum, asbestos, god, cameras, lumber, ferrous waste, etc.
    • Nuclear Cooperation:
      • Indo-Canadian relations deteriorated in the wake of India’s Smiling Buddha nuclear test of May 1974 when the Canadian government severed bilateral nuclear cooperation with both India and Pakistan.
      • However, in June 2010, a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) with Canada was signed and came into force in September 2013. 
        • The Appropriate Arrangement (AA)  for the NCA was signed in March 2013, under which a Joint Committee on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was constituted.
    • Science and Technology: 
      • Indo-Canadian Science and Technology cooperation has been primarily focussed on  promoting Industrial R&D which has potential for application through development of new IP, processes, prototypes or products. 
        • Canada was a partner country for the Technology  Summit 2017.
      • Department of Biotechnology under IC-IMPACTS program implements joint research  projects in health care, agri-biotech and waste management.
      • The Department of Earth Science and Polar Canada has started a programme for the exchange of knowledge and scientific research on Cold Climate (Arctic) Studies. 
    • Space: 
      • India and Canada have been pursuing successful cooperative and commercial relations in the field of Space since the 1990s mainly on space science, earth observation, satellite launch services and ground support for space missions. 
      • ISRO and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) signed two MOUs in the field of exploration and utilisation of outer space in October 1996 and March 2003. 
      • ANTRIX, the Commercial arm of ISRO, has launched several nanosatellites from Canada. 
      • ISRO in its 100th Satellite PSLV launched on 12 January 2018, also flew the Canadian first LEO satellite, from the Indian spaceport  Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
    • Security and Defence:
      • India and Canada collaborate closely in international fora, particularly through the UN, Commonwealth and G-20
      • Defence ties have been expanding with mutual ship visits. 
      • There is robust cooperation on counter terrorism issues, particularly through the framework of the JWG on Counter-Terrorism. 
    • Agriculture: 
      • The bilateral MoU on agriculture cooperation was signed at the federal level in 2009. 
      • The first meeting of the JWG set under this MoU was held in New Delhi in 2010, which led to the creation of three sub-groups on knowledge exchange in emerging technologies; animal development and agricultural marketing. A Joint Working Group for Pulses has been set up separately. 
    • Education:
      • Education is a key area of mutual interest. Recently India became the top source of foreign students studying in Canada
      • The MoU on Higher Education (2010) with Canada was renewed in February 2018.
    • People-to-People ties:
      • Canada hosts one of the largest Indian diasporas in the world, numbering 1.6 million  (PIOs and NRIs) which account for more than 4% of its total population. The diaspora has done commendably well in every sector in Canada. In the field of politics, in particular,  the present House of Commons (total strength of 338) has 22 Members of Parliament of Indian origin. 
    • Cultural Exchanges: 
      • Canada was the Country of Focus at the 48th International Film  Festival of India held in Goa in November 2017. 
      • There is also an India – Canada Coproduction Agreement in films
        • Diwali has been celebrated on Parliament Hill for the last 18  years.
    • Cooperation in COVID-19 Pandemic:
      • Repatriation flights: Special charter flights were operated by the Canadian High  Commission and facilitated by India to evacuate stranded Canadian nationals from India. 
      • Supply of medicines: Export of a total of 12.34 crore paracetamol tablets, 5 crore  Hydroxychloroquine tablets and 3510 kgs of Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate USP (API); and  10 Million eye shields with face masks were approved and shipped to Canada. 


    • Sikh extemism:
      • Sikhs constitute a significant proportion of the Indian diaspora, they make up less than one percent (a little over 500,000) of Canada’s total population
      • The issue of Sikh separatist groups operating in Canada has become a growing source of tension between India and Canada.
      • While Sikh militancy has largely died down in India, concerns remain about the revival of the Khalistan movement.
      • Despite this, the Sikh diaspora commands a reasonable influence in Canada’s federal politics, specifically in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario.
    • India’s structural impediments: 
      • India still has to overcome structural impediments such as complex labour laws, market protectionism, and bureaucratic regulations
    • Inadequate trade:
      • While India–Canada economic relations have made some progress, Canada remains an insignificant trading partner for India

    Way ahead

    • India-Canada relations have struggled to prosper, despite the two countries sharing various complementarities such as their democratic character and association in the Commonwealth.
    • Even so, India’s economic potential, including the investment opportunities it offers, has led Canada to periodically review the economic dimension of this bilateral relationship in its India policy.
    • India must foster a deeper understanding of Canada and the potential it holds for India. 


    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] Discuss India’s bilateral relations with Canada. What importance does it hold for India with respect to other international forums?