India

Why Amritsar is more important than New Delhi for Canadian Prime Ministers

NEW DELHI: Amritsar is more important than New Delhi for Canada’s politicians, and since 2003, every Canadian Prime Minister, bar one, has paid obeisance at the Sikh holy city when on a state visit to India.

Why?

Consider this: By percentage of population, the number of Sikhs in Canada is almost the same as that of Sikhs in India.

There are some 55 lakh Sikhs in Canada. They comprise 1.5 percent of Canada’s population. And in India, Sikhs make up 1.72 per cent of the country’s total population.

It’s no wonder then that Justin Trudeau

today became the latest in a long line of Canadian Prime Ministers to visit Amritsar and the Sikhs’ holiest shrine, the Golden Temple. As it is, the Canadian PM has more Sikhs in his cabinet than Prime Minister Narendra Modi has.

In fact, Canada has “the world’s most Sikh cabinet”, as the Washington Post described it in a November 2015 article. What’s more, a Sikh – Jagmeet Singh, of the left-leaning New Democratic Party – is also one of the prominent opposition leaders in Canada.

The prosperous Sikh community in Canada is a prominent vote bank and fundraising source for Canadian politicians. That’s also why Trudeau apologised in the Canadian parliament two years ago for the Komagata Maru episode.
In 1914, Canada refused to let most of 376 passengers from Punjab, a majority of them Sikh, on board the Japanese steamship Komagata Maru, get off the ship. The vessel, which had sailed from Hong Kong to Vancouver, was forced to return to what was then British India.
This year, we mark the 102nd anniversary of Komagata Maru incident. The passengers of the ship, like the millions of immigrants to Canada since, were seeking refuge and better life for their families. With so much to contribute to their new home, which was Canada, and we failed them utterly,” said Trudeau a month before the apology.
News credit: Times of India
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