By Hemant Shah
WINNIPEG: I congratulate Prime Minister Stephen Harper on finalizing the long-awaited nuclear treaty with India. His government needs to be applauded for this bold move. The treaty will strengthen and solidify the trade relationship between these two nations.
Indo-Canadians play an important role in creating trade connections between Canada and India. But their degree of involvement is dependent upon their personal experience. In the late 90s because of the Liberal Government’s trade embargo on India, we saw Canadian businesses suffer a lot. Further, the embargo left a bitter taste with Indian politicians and bureaucrats. So after all these years, the nuclear deal comes as a great relief to businesses.
Now that political and economic pundits predict that India will be one of the largest economies in the world along with China and Brazil, Canadian businesses will certainly get advantage from better economic relations between India and Canada.
Already, Canada has become one of the most popular destinations for Indian migrants and business companies for investment.
But still, there is a lot of untapped potential in western India that Canada should think about. A lot of Indian companies from the western part of the country want to enter in North America, and would like to set up base in Canada because of new and exciting opportunities. We have a lot of titans ready to make investment in Canada.
But unfortunately the missing piece of Canadian puzzle in western India is the absence of a visa and immigration office. A visa office in Mumbai is needed immediately to cater to this business class and open the untapped opportunities for Canada from western India.
Yes, I welcome the decision of opening the new Canadian consulate in Bangalore. But I am still waiting when we will get a Canadian visa office in the financial capital of India – Mumbai. It has been a very, very long wait and the Canadian government should seriously look into it. It should make sincere and concerted efforts to address this issue. A visa and immigration office in its consulate in Mumbai is needed urgently.
And it is high time that the trade relation between Canada and India was taken to the next level.
Canada should also engage the Indian diaspora not only from eastern Canada but also western Canada in its bid to deepen business ties with India. There are cities in eastern Canada with a huge Indian diaspora. These people have been living there for more than four decades. They are well known in their own fields – academics, medical, business, arts and culture – and they have much better understanding of India. I strongly believe that they should be involved by the Canadian government when it seeks to engage India on various issues. Prime Minister Stephen Harper should look into this matter and do the needful.
(Hemant Shah, seen in the top picture with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is a Winnipeg-based senior executive with Cubex Ltd and these are his personal views)