India escalates beef with Canada

Remember the good ol’ days of Canadian and Indian leaders forging economic ties and posing for extremely cringey photos? We sure do — but that time is behind us now. 

What happened: India hit Canada with a travel advisory yesterday, making it awkward for the scores of Indian nationals who call Canada home and ~319,000 Indian international students, now advised to exercise extreme caution amidst “growing anti-India activities.” 

Catch-up: The move is in response to Canadian intelligence reports claiming that India might be to the June killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government denies the allegations, calling them politically motivated. 

Why it matters: The row comes as India tries to position itself as a global leader. This year, Western nations have relentlessly courted the most populous nation as they look for a potential security partner in the Asia Pacific and a new production hub to replace China. 

  • This whole “killing a citizen on foreign soil” thing is a bad look for a country on the rise, drawing unflattering comparisons to rogue states the West doesn’t like.

Zoom out: That said, it could be Canada that loses favour. While the US has backed Canada, other allies like the UK (looking to secure a free trade deal with India) and Australia (whose PM called Modi “the boss" earlier this year) have been less vocal in their support.

What’s next: The travel advisory could be a sign of further retaliation to come, potentially in the trade arena. India’s status as the fastest-growing major economy has made it a desirable target for increased trade — this ambition could be scuttled by the dispute.

Bottom line: With Nijjar’s murder still under investigation, this newfound bad blood looks far from over.—QH