When we think of Canada and India, the minds tend to gravitate to their shared history as the country of pioneers. Two countries that strived to be different and separate from the British and European nations yet were joined in the nineteenth century by the combined powers of these two countries. As a result, Canada and India are today one of the largest multicultural nations in the world with more than seven million people belonging to various Indian communities. The two countries have been trading partners for quite some time. There has also been significant political and financial link existing between Canada and India.
Initially, after the two countries got together, there was limited awareness in both the countries about the presence of Sikhs in India. This led to two major episodes where the Sikh population in India was subjected to communal riots and the government in India took harsh actions against the Sikhs. Eventually, after independence, these incidents became more muted. However, in the 1980s, when the two countries were involved in a war with each other, the issue of Sikhs travelling to Canada came to light. Given the religious beliefs of the Sikh people, Canada’s immigration laws were not flexible enough and these soldiers travelling to Canada had to remain there for the duration of the war.
Even today, despite the presence of numerous western countries, India has a strained relationship with some of them. The Sikhs in particular, have a deep resentment against the Indian government due to their treatment during the Punjab State crisis in the early part of the twentieth century. For this reason, Canada and India have remained separated since partition. However, recent times have seen some changes in this. With the opening up of the economy to the east, both Canada and India have been able to become better neighbours.
There is also the presence of various western countries like the United States, Britain and France along with Germany and Italy, which form an important trading partner for India. This has led to greater political and trade cooperation between the two countries. Canada has even provided financial assistance to its sister colony of India, which went through severe economic problems in the early part of the 20th century. The opening up of the economy to the east has also helped the western countries to gain access to markets in the east. It was in this context that the two countries began cooperating with each other in the trade field.
At present, Canada and India are economically and politically very close and have become natural friends. This has also led to the coming into existence of numerous businesses in the two countries. In fact, Canada and India have been one of the most successful trades partners ever. There have been a substantial rise in the exports of Canada and Indian merchandise in recent years. Some of the main goods traded between the two countries are automobiles, chemicals, textiles, machinery, wheat, dairy products, fish and meat among many others.
Although there are many problems that need to be overcome, both Canada and India are in the process of discovering and exploiting new opportunities that will facilitate and speed up trade. There is also the potential to expand their business in the existing and developing markets. The most obvious example is the Canadian company that recently signed an agreement with China for a $600 million deal to develop six theme parks in China. As more western companies look to invest in India, it will be interesting to see how the two countries and their respective societies and cultures develop. This will definitely add to the richness of the India tourism experience.