Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Ottawa on April 14 to a large number of fans waiting and chanting his name.
The visit was historic.
In 1973, Canada played host to Indira Gandhi, then prime minister of India. Relations between India and Canada have had their ups and downs since that time, but during that period there has been no similar visit from an Indian prime minister.
After 42 long years, this visit by Modi has raised many hopes and emotions among Canada’s Indian community, which is 1.2 million strong. On his very first day in Canada, Modi gave a major speech at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, which was packed by 10,000 people, in which he said that Indo-Canadian relations are back on track and the solution to all India’s problems lies in development.
A range of issues were discussed between the Indian Prime Minister and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper during the visit. This included infrastructure and strategic partnerships, and several agreements were signed – including a much-awaited uranium supply deal, which, it is hoped, will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs in Saskatchewan.
Rising from the humble background of a tea seller in his native city of Vadnagar, in the state of Gujarat, to being prime minister of the largest democracy in the world, the story of Modi is nothing short of inspirational and is proof of a rising India. Recently announced one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time, he has met almost all major world leaders since his historic victory in the general ele ctions in 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama penned his approving thoughts about Modi in Time. “Determined to help more Indians follow in his path, he’s laid out an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India’s true economic potential while confronting climate change,” Obama wrote.
Through his vision of developing India and making it a superpower in the 21st century, Modi was able to connect with the people of India and the ever-growing and influential Indian diaspora. Coming into office after a sweeping win in 2014, Modi has introduced many initiatives such as the Clean India Mission and Save the Girl Child. The Make in India initiative, which is another brainchild of Modi’s, invites foreign investors to set up businesses in India by promising reduced corruption and quicker clearances for foreign projects.
For Canada, India is a place of opportunities to do business. India has a huge, and growing, middle class which is largely untapped by Canadian businesses. Bilateral trade between India and Canada in 2014 was just at $6.4 billion, as compared to $73.2 billion with China in 2013.
Though many challenges have yet to be overcome by India before it frees itself from the twin shackles of corruption and poverty, the world sees Modi’s leadership as the beginning of a new era for India.