You missed Holi in India Mr Prime Minister

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, recently completed his scandalised and controversial tour to India. The tour gained much of unwanted attention — not for diplomatic reasons but for his unusual attire and Bhangra moves.

Was it a bilateral success in major trade and economic sector?  I am still searching for the answers and looking for concrete evidence.

There are still many controversies haunting him; world’s famous charming prince wasn’t very famous and well received in Punjab and its Chief Minister. His smiling photo session with Jaspal Atwal, a militant Sikh separatist convicted of attempting to murder an Indian politician in Canada, wasn’t forgotten or forgiven by the patriotic Indians, it would need more than all glitter and charm of desi wedding attire of Justin Trudeau and family and fancy lip service.

Speaking of dressing up or in this case overdressing was well described by Chatelaine Magazine as “As if it wasn’t clear before, Justin Trudeau’s awkward trip to India offered a reminder that the Prime Minister never passes up an opportunity to dress up. Along with his family, Trudeau’s daily donning of traditional Indian clothing drew much mockery from local observers, with one noting it felt like a ‘weeklong Indian wedding’ as others called it ‘a bit much.’

You can’t have the cake and eat it too; inviting Jaspal Atwal at an official Government dinner at Canadian High commissioner in Delhi won’t get you a chair on the dinner table of many high-ranking Government counterparts that easily. Robyn Urback an Op-Ed columnist for CBC Opinion section rightly put it as ‘Trudeau went all the way to India and all he got was this lousy diplomatic incident.’

Trudeau may have secured popularity within Canada especially with Imams of Mosques, Muslim Organizations and right-wing Muslim Pakistanis in heavily populated areas of Ontario, but on the diplomatic front of foreign affairs, his performance has constantly been very poor. After an embarrassing tour of China, he secured another failure with his recent India’s fiasco. Yet Trudeau blames it all to factions within the Indian government.

The comments, made during Trudeau’s first parliamentary session since returning to Canada, provoked an instant reprimand by the Indian government, with a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry labelling the suggestion “baseless and unacceptable.” “There has never been a government, Liberal or Conservative, who has used a national security official to clean up an embarrassing mess that was self-inflicted by this prime minister,” Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told the House of Commons in Canada.

NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere said Trudeau has managed to make a “botched” trip even worse by supporting the sabotage theory. “Is the prime minister trying to create an international diplomatic crisis?”

Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai, a former parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs who travelled to India twice with former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, called the Liberals’ suggestion that someone in the Indian government was behind Atwal’s attendance ‘nonsense.’

“Who was responsible for taking the picture with his wife? Who was responsible for taking the picture with (Liberal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet) Sohi? Who was responsible for sending out that invitation? Are you telling me that the government of India was? No,” Obhrai said. Yet Trudeau did not back down on his support for Jean, whom he described as “a distinguished public servant who’s served many governments.

Justin Trudeau’s awkward trip to India offered a reminder that the Prime Minister never passes up an opportunity to dress up. Along with his family, Trudeau’s daily donning of traditional Indian clothing drew much mockery from local observers, with one noting it felt like a ‘weeklong Indian wedding’ as others called it ‘a bit much’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed to have enough confidence on his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, but it is apparent that feeling wasn’t mutual. National Post a Leading Canadian News Paper recently questioned the same saying “Why India doesn’t trust Canada all that much. There are real fears in India that Canada is a terrorist hotspot that could plunge their northwest regions into sectarian violence.”

As far as economic sector goes, we are still looking for a signing ceremony on the 2011 ‘investment treaty’ that was agreed between Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Indian counterpart, this billion-dollar deal was intended as a breakthrough for the trading relationship and the gross domestic products of both countries— unfortunately this remains ongoing.

Trudeau’s Indian itinerary included several visits to landmark tourist attractions and public appearances, that only served as a Barbie doll show of enchanting prince of True North Land, but on the side of Indian Government they remained unaware of the presence of this prince from La La land. Yet he remained hopeful to have that famous loving hug of Indian Prime Minister Modi. In my opinion, if he had stayed a bit longer, there was an amazing opportunity of celebrating Festival of Holi, more photo ops and less oops!!

The writer is a social and civil right activist and vocal on Human Right violations across the globe. He works as Host/Producer (Current Affairs) at a leading news channel of North America. He can be reached at anisfarooqui@gmail.com and tweets @anis_farooqui

Published in Daily Times, March 4th 2018.

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