Barring the US presidential visits, foreign dignitaries visiting India never airlift their own vehicles to India. Maybe there have been cases of other dignitaries also bringing in their vehicles, but this correspondent has never heard this thing during his long stint in New Delhi.
But this time around, Canada has airlifted in a black SUV with Ontario number plate and a car to ferry its prime minister Stephen Harper during his on-going trip to India.
Reporters noticed that, in Agra, the prime minister was driven around in a black SUV with Ontario plates. A second Canadian car met him on arrival in New Delhi, according to the CBC.
Canada’s national broadcaster said that when it asked the PMO about it, the queries were referred to the RCMP. In its turn, the RCMP said the deployment of resources is dictated by “operational requirements, including public and officer safety considerations, and a threat assessment of the events/environments.”
The prime minister’s spokesman Andrew MacDougall was quoted as saying, “The RCMP evaluates these things and they make the operational decisions. I don’t have the costs in front of me. We won’t know that for a while.”
Beginning his second trip to India with a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Canadian prime minister attended a business roundtable in New Delhi on Monday where 14 agreements, most of them previously announced, were showcased. These agreements will bring business worth $2.5 billion for Canadian companies.
But International Trade Minister Ed Fast, who met his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma, was quoted by the CBC as saying that the business environment in India is “opaque” and “byzantine.” The minister was also not hopeful of signing a foreign investment protection agreement that the sides have been discussing for eight years.
“Byzantine rules that sometimes stand in the way of investment. (But) let us face it, the Indian market is a market of some 1.2 billion consumers, Canadians need to be here and we are hoping we can make it even easier for Canadian investors to invest in this market by actually completing the negotiations on the FIPPA agreement,” Fast was quoted as saying.
However, there is little possibility of the nuclear deal and the comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) being signed during the trip.
Earlier, on his arrival at Palam airport in New Delhi from Agra, Harper was welcomed by Shashi Tharoor, minister of state in the government.