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Indian Express

21-September-2023

The Indian Express, CSE candidates can stay informed about current events and developments in India and around the world.

1) India-Canada Relations facing a serious downturn

Context:

  • India Canada Relations are facing a serious downturn after Canada Prime Minister’s Trudeau accused “agents of the Government of India” of killing of Canadian Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June 2023.
  • Trudeau’s accusation has set off a chain of events.After Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat, India summoned the Canadian High Commissioner and expelled Canada’s Station chief for intelligence.

What is the history of India Canada Relations?

  • Diplomatic relations between India and Canada date back to 1947.
  • A significant milestone in this relationship occurred in April 2015 when the Prime Minister of India visited Canada, elevating bilateral ties to a strategic partnership.
  • In recent times, both nations have been actively collaborating to strengthen cooperation across various sectors of shared significance witnessed deterioration in the political domain despite economic engagement, regular high-level interactions and long-standing people-to-people ties.

Reasons for thaw in relations:

  • Canada’s support for Plebiscite in Kashmir – Canada supported a plebiscite in the Indian state of Kashmir in 1948.
  • Canada’s opposition to India’s nuclear tests After India conducted nuclear tests, it’s relations with Canada deteriorated as Canada recalled its high commissioner to India following the nuclear tests.
  • Also India’s refusal to accept NPT (the Non-Proliferation Treaty) and the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) further widened the gulf between New Delhi and Ottawa for many years.
  • Khalistan Issue Relations between India and Canada have remained strained due to Canada’s alleged leniency toward supporters of Khalistan.

Khalistan factor in Canadian politics

  • Canada is home to the second-largest Sikh population in the world, after India. In terms of their population, they form more than 2 percent of the total population of Canada, with nearly 8,00,000 people. They are also the fastest-growing and fourth-largest religious community in Canada.
  • Over the years, Canada has seen several phases of Sikh migration. They have now developed into a robust and economically flourishing community.
  • Earlier in the 1980sCanada had provided sanctuary to several dreaded terrorists, including Jagjit Singh Chauhan and Talwinder Singh Parmar, among others.
  • Presently, several designated terrorists’ like Arshdeep Singh Gill alias Arsh Dalla of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) are residing in Canada.
  • While Canada’s actions during the 1980s were guided by Cold War dynamics, its present actions are influenced purely by vote bank politics.
  • In the 2019 Canadian federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party got 157 votes, 13 short of a majority. Hence, they had to form a coalition government with the ‘New Democratic Party’ led by Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal, a pro-Khalistan leader.The Trudeau-led government is under political compulsion to not antagonize their coalition partners.

What are the Challenges in the Relations between the two countries?

  • Khalistani separatist factor- It is the major bone of contention between India and Canada. The Canadian government’s Policy of balancing the Sikh assertions and its relations with India, has jeopardised the India Canada Relations.
  • Attacks on Indian Consulates and Indian Diaspora- The attacks on Non-Sikh Indian Diaspora, Indian Consulates and Temples have further strained the India Canada Relations.
  • Trade Challenges-Structural impediments such as complex labour laws, market protectionism, and bureaucratic regulations have been roadblocks for Indo-Canadian trade relations. Bilateral agreements, such as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPA), have been in negotiation for long time and no progress has been reached by both the countries.
  • Before the G20 summit, the Canadian government independently halted trade negotiations with India. All these have contributed to low Indo-Canadian trade.

Way Forward:

  • Both India and Canada should prioritize open and constructive diplomatic dialogue to address current tensions.
  • Engaging in high-level talks can help in better understanding each other’s concerns and finding common ground on contentious issues.
  • There is a need to develop anew framework of cooperation that is more pragmatic and that emphasises on mutually beneficial areas, such as trade, energy, infrastructure and transport, for better Indo-Canadian relations.

2) Women’s Reservation Bill: 27 years on, a step closer

Context:

  • The introduction of the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, popularly referred to as the women’s reservation Bill or Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam 2023 in the ongoing special session of Parliament by the government, has captured the imagination of the country.

Key Provisions of the bill:

  • Reservation for women- The Bill reserves one-third of all seats for women in Lok Sabha, state legislative assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Additionally, this reservation will also extend to the seats reserved for SCs and STs in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.
  • Commencement of reservation The reservation will be effective once the census conducted after the commencement of this Bill has been published. Based on the census, delimitation will be undertaken to reserve seats for women.
  • Period of Reservation The reservation will be provided for a period of 15 years. However, it shall continue till such date as determined by a law made by Parliament.
  • Rotation of seats- Seats reserved for women will be rotated after each delimitation, as determined by a law made by Parliament.

Earlier attempts to introduce the bill:

  • Political reservation of woman has been a long-standing demand since the pre-independence period.
  • Recommendations by various committees gave way to the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments mandating all State governments to lay aside 1/3rd of the seats for women in the local bodies.
  • But the issue of reservation in the Parliament and Legislative Assemblies still persisted and the Women’s Reservation Bill was brought in this regard.
  • Back in 2010 Women’s Reservation Bill introduced as 108th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2008 was passed in the Rajya Sabha and lapsed in the Lok Sabha.

Criticism of the bill:

  • Enactment of the BillReservation for women in Parliament depends on the census and delimitation process.
  • However, the census has been delayed and delimitation could be politically sensitive, especially impacting southern India, which has seen slower population growth due to its development progress.
  • No reservation in the Rajya Sabha and legislative CouncilsThe Bill does not provide reservation to women in the Rajya Sabha and the legislative Councils.
  • Use of Women as proxies– Panchayats have witnessed the evolution of ‘Panchayat Patis’ who use their wives as proxy candidates for reserved seats.
  • They wield the real power.
  • There are fears that we might witness the evolution of ‘MP and MLA Patis’ with extension of reservation to women in Parliament.

Way Forward:

  • The Women’s Reservation Bill is long overdue, with women waiting for their rightful place in governance and nation-building.
  • There are miles to go in achieving gender parity in politics and this is just the beginning.

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