The much anticipated week-long visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family to India ended on Friday. The two sides are really looking forward to establishing strong ties and building warm relations with each other. Trudeau’s visit to India was a sheer play of diplomacy and soft power skills combined with emotional, political and strategic goals.
The Indian cities that Trudeau and his family chose to visit are in itself an evidence of diplomacy being played with complete smartness. PM Trudeau started his journey on Sunday, 18th February by visiting the world famous Taj Majal in Agra which he considered as an extremely beautiful place to visit. This was followed by his visit to an elephant sanctuary in Mathura the same day. On day 2, he made a visit to the Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati, Gujarat where he was seen spinning cotton on the wheel along with his family, completely dressed in traditional clothes. Gracing the occasion at IIM Ahmadabad, he referred himself as ‘feminist’ calling for adequate opportunities for women in all the sectors. The day 3 of his trip was to the financial capital of India, Mumbai, where he met some big business tycoons and discussed investments and jobs related talks. From Mumbai, he went to Amritsar which was the most important and significant part of his trip where he visited Golden temple, had some significant round of talks with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and discussed the “Khalistan issue”. The remaining days of his trip were spent in the national capital, New Delhi, meeting his counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other politicians.
Trudeau’s trip to India has gathered a lot of media attention and raised some serious questions. The welcome that Trudeau received after landing in India was not a big one unlike other leaders from different countries who received quite a grand welcome from PM Modi. Does it mean, India is not much interested in building ties with Canada or there are some other reasons that shall be answered with the passage of time? Despite this, what were the reasons behind some really specific cities making up for the Trudeau’s trip? The answer to this question is perhaps that is how diplomacy is played. For instance, Agra as a place always has a deep historical connection and paying a visit to one of the great historical monuments there, is definitely applauded and appreciated. Next, Gujarat and its link with both Gandhi and PM Modi, the two great leaders of India, might be one of the reasons behind Trudeau’s visit. Every country looks for economic benefits and so is the case with Canada with PM Trudeau
getting some really huge benefits for his country from the business tycoons in Mumbai. All on one side and his visit to Amritsar on the other side, one of the most remarkable visit owing to a significant Sikh population in Canada. Trudeau doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned in appeasing the Sikhs and the Punjabis because he knows that they are a great resource for his country. And at last, New Delhi is bound to be on his list because that is how all political and strategic goals between the two countries could be finalised.
Thus, one can see how diplomacy as a soft power tool works in international relations, helping countries establish better relations with each other and at the same time, making the scope for greater benefits for themselves. The world today is in a need of such “good diplomacy”. At last, after this landmark visit, both countries look forward to positive and optimistic relations with each other.
Monika Gupta is a PhD Research Scholar at Centre for European Studies, JNU