Weekend Bites: India-Canada-Khalistan, women's Bill, and drugs on drones

In which we munch over the week's platter of news and views

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, First Lady Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, daughter Ella-Grace Margaret and sons Xavier James and Hadrien  at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: Dalip Kumar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, First Lady Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, daughter Ella-Grace Margaret and sons Xavier James and Hadrien at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: Dalip Kumar.

Suveen Sinha
India, Canada, and Khalistan are a potent mix. And that is not breaking news.
In February 2018, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had an eventful week in India. The bonhomie of hugs between him and Prime Minister Modi, and pictures of the Canadian PM, his wife and three children could not overcome the frostiness arising from Trudeau and his party’s support to pro-Khalistan groups in Canada.
In his speech at the joint media conference after delegation-level talks, Modi did not mince words. He said those challenging India’s sovereignty, unity and integrity could not be tolerated, and that there could not be any place for those who misused religion for political motives and promoted separatism.
This week, things went out of hand.
Story of the week…
Trudeau’s accusation that the “agents of the government of India” were responsible for the assassination in June this year of pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the mutual expulsion of diplomats, and a pause in trade talks earlier this month mark further downward steps in the slide in India-Canada relations. The frosty personal relations were well in evidence at the recent G20 leaders’ summit, where Trudeau skipped the dinner and held talks with Prime Minister Modi only on the sidelines. Our Editorial surmised that Canada's internal politics was harming its relations with India.
India on Thursday asked Canada to downsize its diplomatic presence in the country.
The heightened diplomatic tensions could affect economic relations if the rift widens, although experts believe there may not be an immediate impact. Negotiations for an early harvest trade deal between the two countries were put on hold earlier this month because of “political” reasons.
The diplomatic row could disrupt masoor imports. Masoor is primarily cultivated in Canada and India is a large importer.
Here is what is at stake.
In other news…
The Rajya Sabha passed the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam — the women’s reservation Bill, or the 128th Constitution amendment Bill on Thursday, with all 215 members present in the House in favour. The Lok Sabha had cleared the Bill, which seeks to reserve one-third of all Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly seats for women, the previous day.
The stocks of public-sector banks gained ground on Friday after JP Morgan suggested it would include India in its Emerging Market Bond Index starting June 2024. The rally may be a knee-jerk reaction.
Chief Economic Advisor V Anantha Nageswaran said inclusion of Indian government bonds into JP Morgan's benchmark emerging market index would widen investor base, and might lead to the appreciation of the rupee.
Holding that economic activity in the July-September quarter is shaping up well, the finance ministry has kept its estimate for the real GDP growth in 2023-24 unchanged at 6.5 per cent. However, it has cautioned that the monsoon deficit in August could affect crops and the rising crude oil prices need to be watched.
The latest RBI numbers on household financial savings have taken economists by surprise and can have significant implications for medium-term growth outcomes. Since savings have declined even in absolute terms, it is possible that households that suffered income setbacks during the pandemic have not fully recovered, and the economic recovery has been primarily led by corporate profits.
Tech that: Word from the world of technology and start-ups
The government wants Big Tech companies to get ready to follow the digital data privacy law, while hinting at a breather of up to 12 months for startups, government entities and MSMEs.
Watch it: From The Morning Show
With the buzz around the women’s reservation Bill, TMS wondered why Indian women do not have a fair share in the economy. As you seek the answer, you will also learn why Indian OEMs are shying away from the biofuel push, whether the rally in PSU stocks has run out of steam, and what on earth is the ‘Five Eyes alliance’.
What is Suveen obsessing over?
Are recreational drugs, such as marijuana and ganja, being delivered by drones at well-known university campuses?
That could be a flight of fancy, but recreational drugs are growing roots into the lives of students. A young woman who studied at a well-known university in Delhi says she saw her mates growing weed next to their hostel rooms. Some students were known to be specialists in drying the leaves and making them consumable.
Of the several students Business Standard spoke to, some say it is the “worst-kept secret” on campuses. Some others say it is not out of line with what you would expect from a bunch of 18 to 22-year-olds. Still others go to great lengths to describe the many different drugs being used — paste to dry powder. A few ‘enlightened’ ones speak about the “efficient yet informal economy and supply chain”.
It is not a big shock to know university students are consuming recreational drugs; they have been for decades. But it is a shock to see how glib they are about it.
A young man who was on a university campus till last year reports that his friends, under the influence, claim to experience heightened sensory perceptions. Apparently, they feel the world is going around in slow motion and see a path to higher creativity.
Little do they know it can be a rapid descent into something else. Read the full story here.
This is Suveen signing off. Please send tips, comments, news, or views about anything, from unhappy prime ministers to drones delivering drugs, to suveen.sinha@bsmail.in.
(Suveen Sinha is Chief Content Editor at Business Standard)

First Published: Sep 23 2023 | 07:30 AM IST

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