There is an urgent need to resolve the diplomatic impasse between India and Canada
There is an urgent need to resolve the diplomatic impasse between India and Canada

New Delhi: For a broad spectrum of stakeholders, the growing diplomatic divide between India and Canada has caused serious anxiety. As their enterprises and educational futures hang in the balance, Indian businesspeople and students cooperating with Canadian counterparts are experiencing growing dread and unease.

Numerous thousands of students, businesspeople, and tourists are among those who are immediately impacted and are keenly following the development of the issue. Families of individuals who are studying or working in Canada are also concerned and are hoping for a calm and quick conclusion to the rising conflict. These deserving students have committed their hard-earned funds to achieving the goals of their loved ones, and the current climate of uncertainty dampens their ambitions.


The latest move by New Delhi to “suspend visa services until further notice” in Canada highlights the seriousness of the issue. This action was taken in reaction to a growing diplomatic dispute that was started by Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, who claimed that an Indian agent may have been involved in the murder of Khalistani rebel Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June. India categorically denies these accusations and calls them ludicrous.

This diplomatic impasse has consequences that go well beyond politics. Families, businesses, and travel operators are all coping with uncertainty.

The first victim of this separation, laments Ravi Kalra, CEO of Travel Inn, a prominent travel operator in India: tourism. The protracted issue not only hurts Canada but also prompts worries that other Western nations may hesitate travelling to India as tourism picks up after COVID.

The consequences of the diplomatic deadlock in the real world is starkly shown by a personal tale that Kalra related. The argument prompted a delay of a destination wedding he had been negotiating for a Canadian family in Kerala, out of concern that the event may be moved to another countries.

Ahmed mirrors the general worry since his daughter just started working in Canada. Constant calls to the high commission reveal the anxiety of loved ones who fear their family members might be stranded amidst the diplomatic turmoil.

The situation is particularly dire for the thousands of students who had secured visas for advanced studies in Canada. They now grapple with uncertainty, frantically seeking information to ensure they do not become collateral damage in the diplomatic feud. Those awaiting visa approvals are even more apprehensive.

The travel disruptions are just one facet of the fallout following India’s announcement. The suspension of visa processing for Canadian citizens due to safety concerns for embassy staff has led to the cancellation of several tours, further exacerbating the economic consequences.

Shubneet Singh, an Indian-born Canadian rapper, epitomizes the disappointment echoing through the arts and entertainment sector. He had prepared extensively for a Mumbai tour, investing heart and soul in his music, only to have his dreams dashed by the cancellation. In a heartfelt message, he expressed his love for India and urged against painting all Punjabis as separatists or anti-national.

At the heart of this diplomatic crisis lies the public accusation by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that India may have played a role in the murder of a Sikh separatist on Canadian soil.

India vehemently denies these allegations. Pressure mounts on Canada to back its allegations against India with evidence, with the Trudeau government claiming “both human and signals intelligence” pointing to the involvement of Indian officials in the killing.

On September 21, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stated that the US is in touch with Canadian and Indian officials at the highest levels on the matter, emphasizing a commitment to a law enforcement process to get to the truth. The Canadian government has not released its evidence and has suggested it could emerge during an eventual legal process.

The dispute has strained India’s relationship with Canada, just as the United States is courting it as a potential ally. The Indian government has blamed Canada for sheltering and encouraging Sikh separatists and terrorists, including Nijjar. The growing feud has already resulted in the expulsion of diplomats from both Canada and India.

The implications extend beyond diplomatic ties. Canada is among the top five source countries for foreign visitors, with over 80,000 Canadians travelling here in 2021. Approximately 250,000 Indian students go to Canada every year to study, and around 20 million Indians are now directly or indirectly connected to Canada.

This robust relationship now faces uncertainty and strain. Canada boasts a large Indo-Canadian population with deep ties to India, making it a preferred destination for Indian students and immigrants. However, the visa ban has sparked questions about the future of these relationships.

While those with Indian citizenship or an Overseas Citizenship of India card can still visit India, the issue revolves around concerns of incitement of violence and disruptions to diplomatic missions.

For many students planning their futures and seeking permanent residency in Canada, the tension breeds unease and prompts reconsideration. Canada has not retaliated with a similar visa ban, but anxiety among those involved with Canada remains high.

As the dispute continues to unfold, it raises profound questions about the economic ties between these two nations. Western powers, navigating this diplomatic tightrope, are keenly aware of the need to safeguard their interests while avoiding alienation of either India or Canada. In this complex dance of international relations, maintaining equilibrium remains the ultimate challenge.

However, there remains a glimmer of hope. History has shown that even the most formidable conflicts and misunderstandings can be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. As families, businesses, and students anxiously wait for a resolution, let us remember that bridges of understanding can be rebuilt.

The enduring bonds between these two nations, forged through culture, commerce, and shared aspirations, have weathered storms before. With a shared commitment to dialogue and reconciliation, there is optimism that the future will bring a return to harmonious relations and renewed opportunities for all those affected. The time for dialogue and reconciliation is now, as the consequences of inaction could lead to lasting damage that goes far beyond the current dispute.



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