The Indo-Canada nuclear deal might be seen as another milestone in the relations between the two countries.
On 28th June, India signed a civilian nuclear agreement with Canada here in Toronto during the G-20 summit. The agreement signed between Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper hopes to revive the old friendship which the two countries had before the 1974 nuclear test. The agreement will enable India to import the atomic equipment and technology from Canada. In return, India will provide the Canadian nuclear companies an industrial access to its growing nuclear market.
The relations between the two countries have been cordial since India gained freedom from its British colonizers. The deal is very much significant as it will help to break some ice in the aftermath of the sanctions posed by Canada after the latter conducted its first ever nuclear test in 1974.However, the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted the ban from India in the late 2008 owing to the signing of the India-US civilian nuclear deal. The relations between the two countries were cordial in the 1940’s, thanks to the personal ties between erstwhile Indian premier Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and his Canadian counterparts, Louis St. Laurent and Lester B-Pearson. There was a mutual consent between the two states on various issues, which was reflected in various summits. Canada even helped India in 1951 when the latter was facing a severe drought in many of its provinces by providing food aid, project financing and technical assistance under the Colombo Plan. However, the relations hit a new low as India conducted its first nuclear test at Pokharan in 1974. As a result; Canada imposed strict sanctions on India in the aftermath of a public outcry in its country. It also went to an extent of severing ties with India in 1976. However, the relations began to be normal as the erstwhile Canadian premier Jean Chretien visited India in 1996 with his two Cabinet colleagues and 300 businessmen. In return, Indian External Affairs Minister I. K. Gujaral paid an official visit to the North American country in the same year. Since then India and Canada have exchanged many official visits in the recent years.
On the development front, the two signed an agreement known as Canada India agreement for Scientific and Cultural Cooperation to enhance greater collaboration in the fields of science such as nano-science, nano-medicine, biotechnology, sustainable and alternative energy technologies and earth sciences and disaster management. In order to seek vital inputs from shareholders, non-governmental organizations and municipalities, the Government of Canada has set up a group ‘Focus India’ under the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada(DFAIT), which conducts various meetings to help the DFAIT to coordinate the bilateral relations with India .The Canada India Forum for Environmental Collaboration has been working together in order to work together on key global environmental issues, the prominent one being the climate change.
Currently, India is the second largest source country of immigrants to Canada. However, it is expected that it will be the main source to Canada in another few years. In 2005, Canada opened nine new visa application centers across India.
However, considering India’s rise as a global economic superpower, this agreement will help the sub continental giant in expanding its role on a global stage. Canada is the eighth country which has signed a nuclear deal with India. It must be however noted that India is being regarded as a potent emerging nuclear technology market, thanks to the Indo –US nuclear deal in 2008.In the recent years, Canada and India have pledged to work together to combat global terrorism of which India is a victim. The strengthening of bilateral relations with the world powers such as Canada, France, US will be of great help for India to voice its grievances on a global stage on various issues ranging from economic disparities to terrorism. The key issue in terms of national security for India has been terrorism, especially after the 26/11 Mumbai attack. It would be interesting to see how Canada helps India in applying pressure on its neighbor Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the attack to book.
The Canada-India relations have indeed reached a new milestone in terms of India’s foreign policy. It would be interesting to see whether this relation turns out to be a symbiotic partnership or not.