Rebuilding Canada-India Relations

Rebuilding Canada-India Relations
Posted on 22-09-2023

Rebuilding Canada-India Relations: Focusing on Diplomacy, not Diaspora Politics

The recent strain in Canada-India relations, triggered by Canadian Prime Minister's allegations of Indian involvement in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistani figure, highlights the need for a serious and open political dialogue. This dialogue should delve into the role of Canada's Indian diaspora, its politicization, and its impact on bilateral relations. To move forward, it's essential to understand recent events and the historical context of these relations.

Recent Events Leading to the Current Stand-off

The killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a wanted figure by the Indian government, outside a gurdwara in Surrey, Canada, raised tensions. In 2022, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) announced a reward for his capture due to his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to kill a Hindu priest in Punjab, India.

During the G20 Summit in Delhi, the Canadian and Indian Prime Ministers discussed Khalistani extremism. Canada's PM raised concerns about foreign interference in Nijjar's murder and sought cooperation in the investigation. In response, the Indian PM expressed deep concerns about anti-India activities in Canada.

Canada's PM later accused "agents of the Indian government" in Nijjar's killing, leading to the expulsion of diplomats from both countries.

A Timeline of Ups and Downs in Canada-India Relations

Canada and India had a positive relationship during the Cold War, but differences arose over various global issues. The relationship was later revived, with trade and investment becoming central. However, certain diaspora elements in Canada have strained the relationship due to their anti-India sentiments.

How Canada is Responsible for Deteriorating India-Canada Relations?

Canada's reluctance to act against anti-India activities within its borders and its sympathetic stance towards Khalistani groups have contributed to the deterioration of relations. Some individuals and groups in Canada have engaged in activities harmful to Indian interests and have even vandalized places of worship. Canadian leaders have sometimes prioritized the concerns of Khalistani activists over those they have harmed.

Importance and Challenges of Diaspora Engagement for India

Engaging with the Indian diaspora has economic and strategic benefits, including remittances and support for national projects. However, challenges arise when diaspora groups espouse separatist politics or criticize India's treatment of ethnic minorities, which can impact India's foreign policy.

How India Should Recalibrate its Diaspora Engagement?

In the age of social media, diaspora groups can amplify their views and activities, creating challenges for India's foreign policy. India must be cautious and not assume that all diaspora groups will serve its interests. Some actively work against the Indian state.

Ways to Mend India-Canada Relations

To improve relations, Canada should focus on engaging with India directly rather than becoming entangled in diaspora politics. It is essential to prioritize national security and foreign policy over short-term electoral demands.

A political compact between the two countries is necessary to address mutual concerns and reduce the influence of diaspora elements supporting India's separatist agenda.


To bridge the gap between Ottawa and Delhi, it is crucial to address India's concerns directly rather than through the lens of diaspora politics. Both countries share common interests and should work towards a diplomatic solution that strengthens their bilateral relationship.

Thank You