India-Canada Relations : Bilateral Ties, Political & Economic Relations | UPSC Notes

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India-Canada Relations : Bilateral Ties, Political & Economic Relations | UPSC Notes

• Bilateral ties between India and Canada are based on the shared values of democracy, pluralism, growing economic involvement, regular high-level meetings, and long-standing relationships between people.

India and Canada have a long-standing relationship built on shared democratic values, the fact that both countries are made up of many different cultures, ethnicities, and religions, and strong people-to-people connections.

• When the Indian Prime Minister came to Canada in 2015, the relationship between the two countries became a Strategic Partnership.

The visit of the Canadian Prime Minister in 2018 confirmed the depth and breadth of Canada-India relations, which are based on the basic principle of respect for the sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of the two countries. India and Canada also have similar structures and procedures for their parliaments because they are both Westminster-style democracies.

Areas of Cooperation

Dialogue Mechanisms

• Both sides try to get along with each other by using the following ways to talk:

Strategic, Trade, and Energy Dialogues at the ministerial level; Consultations at the Foreign Office; and other sector-specific Joint Working Groups (JWG). Since 2019, a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Higher Education has been meeting.

JWG on Fighting Terrorism

Civil-Nuclear Cooperation Meeting of the Joint Committee

External Affairs Ministers from both countries take part in the India-Canada Strategic Dialogue.

• India and Canada have set up a Track 1.5 Dialogue to bring together experts, government officials, and business leaders from both countries to look into the chance of working together in the future.

Relations in the economy:

• Trade between India and Canada is worth 5 billion USD.

More than 400 Canadian companies have a presence in India, and more than 1,000 are actively trying to do business there. Canadian pension funds have also promised to spend more than USD 55 billion between 2014 and 2020.

• There are Indian companies in Canada that work in fields like IT, software, steel, natural resources, and banks.

• India sends medicines, iron and steel, chemicals, gems and jewellery, nuclear plants and boilers to Canada.

Imports include minerals, ores, veggies, fertiliser, paper, and pulp. Canada and India are also working on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).

Development Cooperation

• Through Grand Challenges Canada, Canada spent nearly $24 million in 2018-2019 to help 75 projects in India. This was the case as of 2021.

The Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch’s main programming area is maternal, newborn, and child health, which includes helping with early childhood development. • Canadian funding helps key organisations in India, such as the Micronutrient Initiative, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

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• The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is still working in India on projects that look at how climate change affects migration and how violence against vulnerable people can be stopped.

women’s rights, safety, and access to justice; economic opportunities for Indian workers, especially women; and improving food stability.

Nuclear Cooperation:

• In 2010, the US and Canada signed a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA), which went into effect in 2013.

In 2013, the NCA’s Appropriate Arrangement (AA) was signed, and a Joint Committee on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was set up.

In 2015, India and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) made a deal for DAE to send India uranium rock concentrate from 2015 to 2020.

Security and Defence

• India and Canada work closely together in foreign forums like the United Nations, the Commonwealth, and the G-20.

• In 2012, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and York University in Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together on biological and chemical weapons and sensors.

In 2015, DRDO and Canada’s Defence Research and Development Council signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) on Cooperation.

• In 2018, the National Security Advisor of India and the National Security and Intelligence Advisor of Canada signed the Framework for Cooperation between India and Canada on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism. This made the security cooperation even better.

• In 1994, the two countries signed a treaty on mutual legal assistance, which went into effect in 1998. In 1987, the two countries also signed a treaty on extradition.

In 1997, a group called the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism was set up.

• There is a lot of work being done on problems related to counterterrorism, especially through the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Counterterrorism.


Canada is a “energy superpower” with one of the world’s largest supplies of uranium, natural gas, oil, coal, minerals, and advanced technologies in hydropower, mining, renewable energy, and nuclear energy. Energy has been one of our main areas of focus. India Oil Corporation has a 10% stake in a Liquid Natural Gas project in British Columbia.

Science and Technology

• The main goal of Indo-Canadian science and technology partnership has been to promote industrial research and development that could be used to make new IP, processes, prototypes, or products.

• The Department of Biotechnology runs joint study projects in health care, agri-biotech, and waste management as part of the IC-IMPACTS programme.

• The Department of Earth Science and Polar Canada have started a programme to share research and information about cold climates (Arctic Studies).


• Since the 1990s, India and Canada have been working together and doing business in the space field, mostly in the areas of space science, earth observation, satellite launch services, and providing ground support for space projects.

• ISRO and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) have signed memorandums of understanding about how to explore and use space.

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• Several nanosatellites have been sent into space from Canada by ANTRIX, which is the business side of ISRO.

• ISRO’s 100th satellite, the PSLV, was launched in 2018 from the Indian spaceport in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. It was also Canada’s first LEO satellite.


• India is now the country that sends the most foreign students to Canada. There are 300,000 Indian students there.

• Many Canadian professors have gone to India to teach in Indian schools as part of the Global Initiative of Academic Works (GIAN) scheme.

• Canada is one of the 28 countries included in the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC), a programme that aims to improve India’s higher education schools’ research ecosystems.

The Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI) is a unique bi-national organisation that has been helping India and Canada work together on education and culture since 1968. The Government of India decided to set up a Chair on Guru Nanak Devji in a Canadian University to mark the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji’s birth.


Canada has one of the biggest Indian diasporas in the world, with 1.6 million PIOs and NRIs, which is more than 3% of the country’s total population. The diaspora has done very well in all areas of Canadian life.

In politics, 22 of the 338 members of the House of Commons are from India.


• India sent 5 million tablets of HCQ to Canada as part of a series of drug transfers to different countries.

• Air Bubble operations and evacuation of trapped Indian and Canadian nationals from each other’s countries: India and Canada made plans to evacuate their stranded nationals from each other’s countries.

• COVID-19 medicines are being made. The External Affairs Minister and the Canadian Foreign Minister have talked about how they might work together to solve medical problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. India has offered to work together with Canadian companies to help them make PPEs, pharmaceutical goods, and vaccines.

Challenges to India-Canada relations

Khalistani factor

• When the first Sikhs moved to Canada, they tried to get themselves publicly organised in response to racism and other problems they faced there.

• Social, economic, and political changes in India, like the declaration of emergency in 1975 and the Riots of 1984, that affected the Sikhs’ interests fueled their political drive even more.

• Events like the riots in 1984 and what happened at the Golden Temple are often brought up in Canada’s provincial governments, often through petitions.

This has made Indo-Canadian politics more like those in other countries.

• In India, Sikh militantism has mostly died down, but there are still worries about the Khalistan movement coming back.

A small but highly motivated part of the Canadian Sikh diaspora has taken the cause very much to heart.

• The divide between India and Canada has been made worse by the actions of some Canadian Sikhs who support Khalistan.

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Trade Issues

• Canada’s peas, lentils, and grains have mostly been sold in India.

In the last few years, India’s pulse crops have been huge, but the country won’t import the staple food to protect its own farms.

From this point of view, India’s plan to raise taxes on all imported peas by 50% in 2018 without giving any notice upset the Canadian Government.

• Both countries have been talking for a long time about bilateral deals like the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and the Investment Promotion and Protection deals (BIPPA), but neither has made any progress.

• Structures like complicated labour laws, market protectionism, and bureaucratic rules also make it hard for Indo-Canadian ties to move forward.

Way forward

• India’s growing economy offers opportunities for a G-7 country like Canada, such as the rise of a large middle class of consumers, an improvement in the business environment, a booming service sector, and a strong demand for natural resources.

Canada, which has a strong economy and a lot of natural resources, can improve its ties with India so that both countries benefit.

• Energy is another area where the two countries are beginning to work together.

The World Oil Outlook Report 2040 from the Oil Processing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) says that India’s oil needs will double by 2040.

In a time when the US is putting more pressure on India to stop buying oil from Iran, Canada could be a different way for India to get energy.

• Infrastructure and transport are also possible places to work together and spend.

India’s ambitious “smart cities” project gives Canadian companies the chance to work on infrastructure projects in a number of Indian towns.

Also, India can learn from Canada’s experience building modern infrastructure that is good for the environment.


• Relations between India and Canada have been hard to improve, even though the two countries are similar in many ways, such as being free and part of the Commonwealth.

• If India wants to get its relationship with Canada back on track after a long break, it needs to stop focusing on political problems.

Also, India should keep in mind that events from the past that affected the Sikh population in Canada are slowly becoming part of the political conversation in that country.

• Because of this, Indo-Canadian relations need a new framework of cooperation that is more realistic and focuses on areas that are good for both sides, like trade, where there are chances and a lot of work to be done.