A relationship adrift: on India-Canada ties
India and Canada need to go back to the drawing board and urgently repair ties
The red flags had gone up long before Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived for an eight-day state visit to India. For some time now, New Delhi has been sending messages of protest to Ottawa — especially after his Liberal Party shepherded (ले चलना) a resolution in the Ontario provincial legislature calling the 1984 anti-Sikh violence “genocide (जातिसंहार)”; he went on to attend a rally in Toronto organised by Khalistani groups. More recently, Mr. Trudeau’s office and the Ministry of External Affairs differed over the details of the visit. While New Delhi would have preferred a shorter, more business-like itinerary (भ्रमण संबंधी) beginning with the official engagement in Delhi, Ottawa opted for a five-city tour, with a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the penultimate (आखरी से पहले) day. New Delhi would have also liked the delegation to exclude Canadian ministers suspected of sympathising with extremist Sikh groups in Canada, especially as they had already been in India controversially in the past few months — but Ottawa was adamant (अटल) they be included. Finally, the government wanted Mr. Trudeau to reach out to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh well ahead of the visit, as the latter had been denied a trip to Canada in 2016 and was understandably offended. But till his arrival, Mr. Trudeau’s office did not confirm a meeting with the Chief Minister. As a result, the controversies that followed the Canadian Prime Minister through the visit had gathered their own momentum. The responsibility lies on both sides, on Ottawa for its tone-deafness to Indian sensitivities, and on New Delhi for failing to press its concerns or have the visit discreetly (सावधानी से) put off until the differences were resolved. Mr. Modi’s decision to stick to protocol, and not welcome Mr. Trudeau as effusively as he has tended to do for many foreign visitors, was a signal.
The final straw in a visit steadily turning icy was the appearance of Jaspal Atwal at an official reception, which had an embarrassed Mr. Trudeau left explaining how a man who attempted to assassinate an Indian minister in 1986 had slipped into his entourage (परिजन). In turn, the Indian government was left scrambling (कठिन रास्ता) for answers on how Mr. Atwal was even allowed into the country. The real casualty amidst all the controversies was the India-Canada bilateral relationship, which has turned frosty after a decade of excellent progress. In this period, the two sides had forged close cooperation on energy and trade, including a civil nuclear cooperation agreement and a commitment from Canadian pension funds to invest in India. India and Canada have much in common as two pluralistic, diverse democracies with very strong people-to-people ties: there is an Indian diaspora of 1.3 million in Canada, besides 100,000 Indian students. The handling of Mr. Trudeau’s visit by both Ottawa and New Delhi doesn’t do justice to these ties; both countries must work to repair the rupture (संबंध विच्छेद).
- Shepherded: to give advice and instruction to (someone) regarding the course or process to be followed
Synonyms: coach, counsel, guide, lead, mentor, pilot, show, tutor
- Genocide: The deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.
Synonyms: racial killing, massacre, wholesale slaughter, mass slaughter, wholesale killing, indiscriminate killing
- Itinerary: A planned route or journey.
- Penultimate: Last but one in a series of things; second last.
- Adamant: sticking to an opinion, purpose, or course of action in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion
Synonyms: bullheaded, dogged, hard, hard-nosed, hardened, hardheaded, headstrong, immovable, implacable, inconvincible, inflexible, intransigent, mulish, obdurate, obstinate, opinionated, ossified, pat, pertinacious, perverse, pigheaded
Antonyms: acquiescent, agreeable, amenable, compliant, complying, flexible, pliable, pliant, relenting, yielding
- Discreetly: having or showing good judgment and restraint especially in conduct or speech
Synonyms: intelligent, judicious, prudent
Antonyms: imprudent, indiscreet, injudicious
- Entourage: a body of employees or servants who accompany and wait on a person
Synonyms: cortege (also cortège), following, posse, retinue, suite, train
- Scrambling: an unorganized collection or mixture of various things
Synonyms: agglomerate, agglomeration, assortment, clutter, collage, grab bag, hash, hodgepodge, hotchpotch, jumble, litter, medley, mélange, miscellany, mishmash, mixed bag, motley, muddle, olio, olla podrida, omnium-gatherum, patchwork, potpourri, ragbag, rummage, salmagundi, shuffle, smorgasbord, tumble, variety, welter
- Rupture: An instance of breaking or bursting suddenly and completely.
Synonyms: breaking, breakage, cracking, cleavage, shattering, fragmentation, splintering, splitting, separation, bursting, disintegration
The regional mix: on the Nagaland-Meghalaya polls
Nagaland and Meghalaya go to the polls at a time of unusual political fluidity
Nagaland and Meghalaya go to the polls on Tuesday, nine days after voters in Tripura voted, at a time when there is a change in the nature of political contestation in all three States. If the Tripura campaign was marked by the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party as a force in the reckoning, regional parties, including newly formed ones, are expected to have a greater say in the elections to the other two States. In Nagaland, former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, elected unopposed from a constituency in Kohima district, has added a new wrinkle (सिकुड़ना) to the contest by resigning from the ruling Naga People’s Front and joining a new party which he had helped found, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party. The NDPP has stitched an electoral alliance with the BJP, ceding 20 of the 60 seats, and is now seen as the main competitor to the ruling NPF, even as the Congress has been reduced to a shell of its old organisational self. The NPF had in any case lured (प्रलोभन) legislators from the Congress and others into its fold during its previous term in power, leaving the legislative assembly with no opposition. This was before differences within the Front cropped up, resulting in the resignation of Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang in February 2017 and the appointment of Shurhozelie Liezietsu, and the return of Mr. Zeliang to the post again in July 2017 after yet another upheaval (उथल-पुथल). These internal differences, besides Mr. Rio’s exit, have weakened the NPF in the bipolar contest between the NPF and the NDPP-BJP. Interestingly, the BJP has said that its relations with the NPF are intact (अखण्ड), indicating it is hedging its bets till the results are out. The contest is less of a battle of agendas than a clash of personalities — which does not augur (निमित्तज्ञ) well.
In Meghalaya, the polling takes place against the backdrop of extremist violence: Nationalist Congress Party candidate Jonathone Sangma was assassinated on February 18. There appears to be a keen contest between the ruling Congress party and the National People’s Party, founded by former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma and now led by his son Conrad. A coalition of ethnic parties concentrated in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills is expected to play spoiler. The BJP is a bit player in Meghalaya, but it has forged an alliance with the NPP in Manipur and may play a larger part if the party and other regional forces manage to oust (निकाल देना) the long-standing Congress regime. With unemployment and a sluggish economy being major issues, the Congress has sought to run on its record of bringing back peace to the State. As things stand in both Meghalaya and Nagaland, it will be no surprise if post-election realignments among political parties, rather than the existing equations, decide the nature of the governments that will be formed.
- Wrinkle: something (as a device) created for the first time through the use of the imagination
Synonyms: brainchild, coinage, concoction, contrivance, creation, innovation, invention
Antonyms: carbon copy, clone, copy, dupe, duplicate, duplication, facsimile, imitation, reduplication, replica, replication, reproduction
- Lured: something that persuades one to perform an action for pleasure or gain
Synonyms: allurement, bait, come-on, enticement, siren song, temptation, turn-on
Antonyms: alarm (also alarum), alert, caution, forewarning, notice, warning
- Upheaval: a violent disturbance (as of the political or social order)
Synonyms: cataclysm, convulsion, earthquake, paroxysm, storm, tempest, tumult, uproar
- Intact: not lacking any part or member that properly belongs to it
Synonyms: compleat, complete, comprehensive, entire, full, grand, integral, perfect, plenary, total, whole
Antonyms: imperfect, incomplete, partial
- Augur: one who predicts future events or developments
Synonyms: diviner, forecaster, foreseer, foreteller, fortune-teller, futurist, prognosticator, prophesier, prophet, seer, soothsayer, visionary
- Oust: to remove from a position of prominence or power (as a throne)
Synonyms: defrock, depose, deprive, dethrone, displace, uncrown, unmake, unseat, unthrone
Antonyms: crown, enthrone, throne