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Amid the India-Canada standoff, India has, under the leadership of PM Modi, made it clear that we are no more a pushover nation

Besides India's stern approach towards Canada, it's neutral stance over the Russia-Ukraine war and India's strong retaliation to China's Galwan misadventure, that has strongly signalled to the world that the days of India caving in to pressure from world powers are long gone by.

On Friday, October 20, Canada withdrew 41 diplomats and their families from India. The move came after India gave an ultimatum for revoking the diplomatic immunity of those diplomats who stayed back post-10th of October even after being told to leave.

Diplomatic ties between India and Canada nose-dived after Canada prematurely expelled an Indian diplomat on the 19th of September following baseless allegations by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the involvement of Indian agents in the murder of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India went on to promptly expel a Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat response to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official over the case. New Delhi also suspended visa services for Canadian nationals.

The chill in relations between the two countries was even evident at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi on September 9 and 10, so much so that even local Canadian media chastised its Prime Minister for being overlooked by Indian and other foreign leaders during the G20 Summit.

As the bilateral relations between Canada and India worsen, several reports suggest that Canada has been desperately trying to diffuse the diplomatic row with India. India, on its part, has made it clear that it is no longer a pushover nation and would not tolerate acts of aggression, hate, and intimidation from the rest of the world.

The Western big powers like the US, Russia and the UK have also when it came to the India-Canada standoff, chosen to steer clear of strongly-worded public statements that would antagonise India, fearing diplomatic backlash from one of the fastest-growing countries in the world and regarded as a potential counterweight to an increasingly assertive China. This is why, when the Canadian Prime Minister sought the support of many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, to raise the issue with India he was snubbed by everyone fearing diplomatic backlash from India.

The USA, which has a habit of interfering in every nation’s domestic affairs, was also compelled to toe a fine diplomatic line when it came to the India-Canada standoff. While avoiding offending Canada, one of its closest allies, it did not dare to oppose India. This is primarily because, India, in recent years, has advanced to a position where it is seen as a crucial defence partner for the United States and an essential counterweight to China.

The West, including Canada, also has other major things to consider when it comes to India, including strong defence and trade ties that both sides would rather see maintained and strengthened.

Another major reason why the Western nations haven’t taken sides may be that they are aware that India’s demand for parity in mutual diplomatic presence does not violate any international rules. In fact, when Canada accused India of flouting the Vienna Convention in withdrawing diplomatic immunity from 41 Canadian diplomats, India strongly responded to Canada’s statement on the withdrawal of some of its diplomats following India’s prod and said no international norm was violated seeking parity in the mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa. 

Basically, the Canadian presence in India is much more than India’s presence in Canada. Therefore, India has asked Canada to take back the excess diplomats so that it is equal to Indian diplomats in Canada.

Moreover, the West is also completely aware that India is well aware that it has the upper hand and that, if it chooses, it can turn the faucet off and hurt Canada where it hurts the most.

The majority of overseas students studying in Canada are from India. According to statistics provided by the Canadian government, around 40% of the 8 lakh international students studying in Canada at the moment are from India. Indian students pay three to five times more in tuition than Canadians do at private colleges. In a sense, Indians support the entire Canadian private college ecosystem, which will disintegrate if the Indian government decides to stop the outflow. Moreover, as many as 600 Canadian companies, including Bombardier and SNC Lavalin, have a strong presence in India, while more than 30 Indian companies, such as infotech majors TCS, Infosys and Wipro have invested billions of dollars in Canada, creating thousands of jobs.

The above multiple reasons might have also compelled Canada to change its rhetorics. On Tuesday, October 17, Trudeau and Foreign Minister Melanie Joly indicated that they did not want to fuel tensions with India by speaking about them publicly — a sharp contrast with the open claims against India that the prime minister made in parliament.

It is, however, not just in reference to how India has been handling the India-Canada standoff but there are other recent bold decisions India has taken under the leadership of PM Modi like maintaining a neutral stance over the Russia-Ukraine war and India’s strong retaliation to China’s Galwan misadventure, that has strongly signalled to the world that India has a mind of its own and that the days of India caving in to pressure from world powers are long gone by.

When Modi initially took office as Prime Minister in May 2014, nobody anticipated this three-time Chief Minister of Gujarat and outsider to Lutyens’ Delhi would become the nation’s top diplomat and steer foreign affairs like a gifted artist. But like in other areas, PM Modi took the initiative and crafted a new multi-dimensional foreign policy of multiple allegiances and issue-based allegiances, which has elevated India to the position of most sought-after partner on the international stage. After all, who could hug two arch-rivals- US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin with the same panache?

It is difficult to think of another world leader who could tell Putin directly that this is “not the age of war,” and also persuade his foreign minister S Jaishankar to tell the arrogant West that “Europe’s problems are not the world’s problems,” while yet managing to maintain good relations with both sides.

Ukraine-Russia war: How India showed the world that it would no longer buckle under western pressure

The West actually fought tooth and nail to have us on their side during the Russia-Ukraine war. India was under intense pressure from the United States to adopt a position. Despite the pressure, India resisted giving in. India remained impartial in regard to the situation between Russia and Ukraine despite pressure from the West.

India’s toughness in its attitude was warmly received by the West, which was demonstrated by the fact that despite their differences, the U.S. and India have continued to have a strong collaboration in areas such as business, technology, security, and education.

China’s Galwan misadventure showed that India isn’t a pushover

In June 2020, Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Galwan Valley. The clash was the worst fighting in over four decades and resulted in severe casualties on both sides. The deaths of 20 Indian soldiers was the first time Indian Army personnel were killed on the Line of Actual Control since October 1975.

China, still celebrating its victory in 1962, blatantly misjudged India’s resolve to oppose its land-grabbing strategies this time. Beijing was shocked when the Modi administration chose to protect India’s frontiers.

At first, India and China had multiple rounds of discussions, both officially in Delhi and Beijing and at the level of military commanders on the LAC. However, when it became clear that China would not back down, India made the decision to establish trade limitations on Chinese investors and goods.

The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Modi, authorized the Indian Army to respond to any further escalation on the front lines in a responsible manner. An example of this was the aggressive occupation of specific heights by Indian troops near the Pangong Tso on August 5, 2020, which caught China off guard.

With its handling of China’s Galwan misadventure, India once again demonstrated to the world that it is no longer a nation to be taken lightly.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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