Six major areas of bilateral cooperation received a strong boost from the ongoing visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Canada, where he inked deals with his counterpart Stephen Harper on civil aviation, rail, education, space, social security and health, in addition to giving a major boost to negotiations on nuclear and broader economic cooperation.
“I seek Canada’s cooperation and investment in every area of India’s national development priority - energy and infrastructure, manufacturing and skills, Smart Cities and agro-industry, and research and education,” Mr. Modi said during joint remarks delivered to thunderous applause in Ottawa on Wednesday.
Reciprocating Mr. Modi’s warmth Prime Minister Harper said, “The priorities of your government – growth and job creation, infrastructure investment and the development of a stable, predictable business environment, including lower taxes for job creators mirrors our own priorities here in Canada.”
So did Mr. Modi’s slogan of “minimum government, maximum governance,” Mr. Harper added.
Indeed it was economic cooperation that was placed front and centre as the two leaders and their teams met over intense discussion during the forenoon on Wednesday, and Mr. Modi affirmed this when he expressed confidence that the two sides would “very soon” conclude the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and implement the road map to conclude the Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement by September 2015.
Specific deals inked
In civil aviation, rail and space cooperation, the two leaders came away from parleys with a multiple memoranda of understanding signed, between the respective Indian and Canadian organisations, for example between the Canadian Space Agency with the Indian Space Research Organisation, thirteen memoranda of understanding between India’s National Skill Development Council and Canadian colleges and institutes and plans for airport development proposed between Transport Canada and India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Existing agreements that were given a boost through this week’s meetings included the April 2013 agreement on procurement of uranium from Canada for India’s civilian nuclear power plants launches a new era of bilateral nuclear cooperation.
Mr. Modi said in this regard that it both “reflects a new level of mutual trust and confidence, and will “contribute to India’s efforts to power its growth with clean energy.”
Electronic and ten-year visas
Finally Mr. Modi had an important gift for the 1.2-million strong Indo-Canadian community, which has been at the heart of the bilateral relationship for decades.
The Prime Minister announced, To support greater engagement and people-to-people contacts, we have liberalised our visa policy for Canada. We will issue Electronic Visa Authorisation for tourist visa for Canadian nationals. They will also be eligible for ten-year visas now.””