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Canada is a natural ally of India

opinionEditorialCanada is a natural ally of India

Boswell writes of Samuel Johnson that the raconteur defined a patron as an individual who idly watched a man at risk of drowning in a lake, only bounding forward to offer him assistance when the swimmer had reached the shore safely. A genuine patron, a true friend, will help the most when the need is most, not step forward when the need has been extinguished. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, a man of letters, is remembered in history for the concept of non-alignment, or not aligning with any other power but going it alone. During the 1950s, the PLA was far weaker than it subsequently became, and had efforts been made to enlist the help of countries that were at the time hostile to China, it may have been possible to get together a coalition that could have joined forces with India to drive the PLA from Aksai Chin.

Indeed, there was a compelling case for capturing by force during 1947-48 that third of Kashmir that has since 1947 been forcibly occupied by Pakistan, but that too was not attempted.

Indeed, until the 1970s, the military was looked upon with inner suspicion and spasms of outward derision by the political leadership of the country at Delhi. It was inexplicable that Defence Minister Vengalil Kumaran Krishna Menon ridiculed the Chief of Staff of the Indian Army in public, when he ought to have been giving words of encouragement. Although possessing a brilliant intellect, Menon joined his mentor Nehru in acting as though the real world was the imaginary world that they wished it to be. Small wonder that countries, several of which had been freed of the colonial yoke because of the freedom struggle of the people of India, steadfastly adopted a policy of non-alignment when it came to the land grab by Pakistan and China at the expense of an already truncated India. It was only after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India in 2014 that the foundation agreements underpinning US-India security cooperation were signed, and the Quad was formed with India joining Australia, Japan and the US in a partnership designed to ensure a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

Canada is as much a natural partner of India as Australia is, the difference being that Ottawa does not understand this truth in the way that Canberra does. Or Tokyo and Washington, for that matter. Many scars and scabs have been left behind in the minds of several Indians from the time of Cold War 1.0, when India was seen by many in the US as being a satellite of the USSR. As a consequence, anti-US sentiment forms a strong sediment even in the strategic discourse of several policymakers. Hence, verbal sallies from Blinken and Sullivan that are transparently designed to assuage the wounded feelings of Justin Trudeau at the lack of support he has been getting from within NATO in his tirade against India, have resulted in an eruption of anti-US sentiment in India. Such a sentiment is not supported by either facts or by national interest. The US and India need each other, and the unmerited rant by Trudeau in the Canadian parliament against India is not going to diminish the need for Delhi and Washington to work together in ensuring that a new hegemon does not threaten global security. It is a matter of astonishment that an individual who has been chosen as the Prime Minister of one of the countries friendliest to India should be so hostile to our country, but it would be unfair, possibly inaccurate, to portray such a dislike as being motivated by a compulsion to protect the interests of China, a country where the leadership is visibly unhappy at the growing closeness between the West and India, or between India and the Global South. What is more likely is that Justin Trudeau does not have an instinct for the big picture, but concentrates his attention and his activity on the moods and perceived requirements of the day, whatever these may be, and however harmful they may be to the overall interests of Canada and its people. In the din of Trudeau’s false charge against India, what ought not to be lost sight of is the reality of Canada being a natural partner of India, and the need to ensure that when the country gets a Prime Minister of a higher calibre than Trudeau, Ottawa and Delhi become as close as Washington and Delhi have become since Prime Minister Modi took over as the Pradhan Sevak of Bharat, i.e., India.


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