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Canadians come wooing Delhi

September has proved to be quite a 'substantial' month for Indo-Canadian relationship, writes Gurmukh Singh.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2005 23:18 IST
CANADA DIARY | Gurmukh Singh
CANADA DIARY | Gurmukh Singh

In her concluding remarks at the end of the 11th Technology Summit between India and Canada in New Delhi this week when Canadian high commissioner Lucie Edwards said that after the success of this summit her next wish was to bring a Canadian cricket team to India, the audience roared with laughter.

The honourable lady had her finger very well on the Indian pulse, for Indians are crazy about cricket.

Well, Canadians -- minnows in cricket -- may hold no lessons for Indians -- giants in cricket, New Delhi needs every bit of technical know how in which this North American country is a world leader.

As we had mentioned in this column last week, Indo-Canadian relations are deepening rapidly, and September has proved to be quite a "substantial" month for this relationship.

Canadian international trade minister Jim Peterson was in India as part of a 100-member trade delegation for this week's Technology Summit. He held talks with Indian science and technology minister Kapil Sibal. India, said Peterson, was among the four countries Canada had prioritised for cooperation in science, technology and biotechnology. In fact, India topped their list in biotechnology.

"Our two countries are ideally placed for cooperation in science and technology as they have a vast pool of talent ... the two are technology-driven democracies and civil societies,'' he said after his talks with Sibal. For his part, the Indian minister said India was open to cooperation with any country for its betterment.

The main aim of the summit was to give thrust to cooperation between private and public sectors in the two countries. And the summit yielded immediate dividends when Indian pharmaceutical giant Ranbaxy announced that they were entering Canada.

It may be mentioned that many top Indian IT companies such as Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy have already set up shop in Canada as Ottawa pursues 'look east policy' in trade and commerce.

When Peterson landed in Delhi, Canada's environment minister Stephane Dion had just left Delhi after extensive talks with his Indian counterpart and others on cooperation in the field of environment. The visit came just two months before Canada holds the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal in November.

Dion was quite categorical in stating that Canada attached great importance to India, as it was an emerging superpower, which would play an important role in this field in the future. It must be remembered that India is a signatory to all major international accords on environment and pollution, including the Kyoto agreement and the UN Climate Change accord.

Apart from these high-profile visits from Ottawa, the Canadian high commission also organised the first edition of the Banff Mountain Film Festival in New Delhi this month. Held at the Vasant Valley School, the film festival invited students from 40-odd schools of the Indian capital to watch the world's major films on the mountains.

The 100-member delegation had a substantial representation of universities and research institutes as Canada vies with other western nations like the UK, Australia and New Zealand to woo Indian students to enrol in its universities.

The number of Indians going to Canada for higher education has been rising by about 25 per cent each year in recent times. Many Indian universities have collaborative agreements with Canadian universities.

With 90-odd universities -- many of rated, as among the best in the world -- Canada is a world leader in higher education and research. And this country leads G7 nations in R & D funding.

As Dr Karen McBride, vice-president (international) of the Association of Universities & Colleges of Canada, pointed out at the New Delhi Technology Summit, Canadian institutions have about 4,000 collaborations worldwide. That's why "Canada has become a hot spot" in the field of higher education and research, she added.

Which is true. Canadian universities have produced more than 300,000 graduates and 1.5 million undergraduates during the last decade.

The name Toon Boom is synonymous with animation and Canada. This world leader in animation has considerable 'presence' in India through collaboration with UTV, DataQuest, Toonz India, etc.

With the Indian animation industry growing by 30 per cent yearly -- its current size of $2 billion will double within three years -- and cable TV by 11 per cent, the scope for cooperation between the two countries in this field is immense.

Looks like the Indo-Canadian honeymoon has begun in earnest after all those lost years -- actually months -- after Pokhran II in May 1998.

First Published: Sep 23, 2005 19:32 IST