The Canadian PM did not only lose a great opportunity to strengthen ties with India but he missed out on warm Modi hugs too!!

The long awaited India tour of the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family came to an end this Saturday. Despite trying hard to the point of desperation, Trudeau’s visit could not make any positive impact on the Indians. The viral memes made on him managed to impress India more than the entire ‘Mimic the Native’ theme of the visit could.

Trudeau has been trolled relentlessly over social media for the weird choice of Indian attire during the course of his visit. The Trudeaus tried to strike a positive chord with the Indian people by dressing in traditional Indian attire but ended up looking more Indian than what Indians look like in weddings. The Trudeaus’ outright gaudy and flashy costumes displeased most Indians with some even considering it as an act of cultural appropriation. They even managed to upstage the Bollywood stars at the party they hosted for the Trudeau family. But this is not the first time that he has been in controversy for something like this. In a Toronto Gay Parade, he showed his support by wearing rainbow socks that had Eid Mubarak written on them ( Some Muslim countries are known to violently persecute gay people) to celebrate the month of Ramadan. His critics have stated that his over enthusiastic liberal attitude often misses to address the complexity of the issues. Something similar happened in his recent visit to India. Justin Trudeau’s over the top antics can be used to draw parallels with another fellow Canadian  Justin’s overhyped gig last year. Both failed to live upto the hype.

Trudeau wore Eid-themed socks to a pro-Pride church service.

On the top of that, Government of India left no stone unturned to snub the Canadian PM. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself receives the world dignitaries upon their arrival in India; but this time around, putting the protocol aside, a junior agricultural minister received the Trudeaus at the airport while PM Modi was busy campaigning in Nagaland. Our social media savvy  PM did not even post a welcome tweet for them until five days into the trip. It got even worse when the Trudeaus visited Agra . They were not received by the Chief Minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh or even by any junior minister, but by district officials.

So why did India display this rude attitude towards Canada?

India has often accused Canada of sheltering the Sikh Separatists rooting for the separation of Punjab from India and the subsequent formation of an independent Khalistan. The violent Khalistan Movement in the 1980’s wreaked havoc in Punjab. India managed to suppress the militancy. But after the Indian Army cleared the Golden Temple of militants , PM Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards in 1984 leading to anti sikh riots in which thousands of Sikhs were killed across the country. The next year the militants had blown up an Air India plane flying from Canada to Mumbai.

Even though a minority group in Canada, Sikhs form a voting block for Trudeau’s Liberal Party. In fact , the sikh vote bank matters so much to the party that he even attended a Khalsa Day parade organised by a radical  Gurudwara in Toronto. Some Gurudwaras in Canada have barred the entry of Indian diplomats .Trudeau publicly boasts of having more sikh ministers than Modi. All four of his Indian origin ministers are sikh who have been accused of having sympathies with Canadian sikh extremists .

Moreover, Trudeau’s attendance at the Canada-India Business Summit was overshadowed by reports that the Canadian High Commission in India had issued an invitation to the businessman Jaspal  Atwal who has been convicted of trying to assassinate a politician in 1980s.

Canada maintains that it cannot curtail the freedom of expression of its sikh citizens whereas New Delhi maintains the stance that while Canadian citizens do have a right to support Khalistan or any group they identify with, the Canadian ministers do have a choice when it comes to associating with them. India demands that Trudeau publicly distance himself from the supporters of the secessionists. The issue had not been resolved till the visit as Canada refused to comply. Hence, the royal snub meted out to the Canadian contingent.

 

The effects of the visit on Canada-India relations:-

As for the outcomes of the visit, India-Canada relations remain frozen in time as Canada has little to offer in terms of assisting India with objectives including China, Pakistan, maritime security in Indian Ocean and in the subcontinent. Canada is reluctant to engage in such issues. Then there are trust issues regarding the Khalistan secessionist groups. India is afraid they might re-instigate Sikh separatism in the country and cannot rely on Canada for it’s prevention.

 

Trudeau’s over the top enthusiasm and sparkly costumes have failed to mask the epic fail that his India visit has been, drawing flak from all over the world. Moreover, Trudeau could not use this opportunity to bring content or continuity into bilateral relations with India. However the final joint statement does indicate that both countries are keen to expand strategic co-operation on several issues like Bilateral Foreign Investment  Promotion , economic partnership, electricity and renewable energy efficiency. Efforts will continue on the civil nuclear front.

Trudeau has said in his statement that Canada supports “One United India” and has been all praises about India’s diversity and Pluralism. This is definitely not going to go down well will the Sikhs back in Canada. On the other hand, the revelation about Canada’s invitation to Jaspal Atwal has proved the linkage between Canadian ministry and the sikh extremist groups. Trudeau and his Canadian contingent’s actions have been suggestive of heir ulterior motif of securing their sikh vote bank through the visit. He has been trying too hard to keep everyone happy. Mr.Trudeau wants to appease his sikh vote bank and India at the same time. He can’t have both. And this time, his visit has been nothing but a messy failure as he has managed to displease  both the Canadian sikh community and India . In an attempt to appease the two opposing parties, he has lost the confidence of both. His image has deteriorated back home as well as internationally. The Canadian PM did not only lose a great opportunity to strengthen ties with India but he missed out on warm Modi hugs too!!

 

Meanwhile, India’s stance on the issue is to be appreciated. India sent out a strong message that it will not be welcoming those who promote secession. It will definitely mount pressure on Canada to stop sheltering the Sikh extremists if Canada hopes on fruitful bilateral relations with India.

Explained in 450 words: Turkey Coup and Implications

Turkey faced a democratic crisis on Friday afternoon when a faction of Turkish military attempted a coup to topple the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. But this is not the first time this has happened. Read on to find out.

The irony is very strong in this one. In the name of protecting democracy, the coup leaders mobilised their units to bring down the democratically elected Government of Erdogan. Over and top of this, they made the statement “Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedom,” Yes! Freedom and Human Rights!

But why would a military want to bring democracy?

Let’s delve into Turkish history a bit. The present Turkish Republic was founded by a military officer Mustafa Kemal Pasha or Ataturk in 1923. Democratic nationalism and hard-line secularism were the principles on which he established the Government. This ideology of Kemal Pasha is known as Kemalism.

The Turkish military are the watchdogs of Kemalism. They have interrupted the functioning of Government from time to time. Since 1960, the Turkish military has overthrown four Governments. They claimed to protect Turkey from chaos and Islamic influence.  However, every time after the Government was overthrown; the military themselves reinstated a new democratically elected Government.

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The faction of military that attempted the coup sees Erdogan as a threat to secularism and democracy which is not entirely false according to reports. Erdogan belongs to a moderate Islamist party called AKP. He has curtailed freedom of press in Turkey and has reformed schools on Islamic lines. He has also pushed for constitutional amendments that would lead to a concentration of power in the hands of President.

The silence of military on these matters till now, made people believe that Erdogan has forced them to submission. But this changes things, a lot.

Turkey is a member of EU, a strong alliance of US and a border state of Syria where Islamic extremism is tearing it apart. A military coup, even a failed one, has many political implications. People have openly come out to the streets to protect their democratically elected Government. It’s also assured that the military has splits within it. Therefore the failure of coup has in fact strengthened Erdogan’s power.

Erdogan has now successfully projected himself as the defender of civilian government. This could help him push his constitutional amendments in the Parliament easily granting him unequalled powers. If at all he succeeds in this, then the coup leaders have failed miserably at two ends. They have not only failed in seizing Government from Erdogan but also might’ve given him an edge he needed to spell the doom of Kemalism.

What happens further in Turkey is of great importance not only to Middle Eastern politics but also to International politics.

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Why only Muslims are called Terrorists?

It’s time we question the vested interests of people and media who promote ‘Islamophobia’ and say that Muslims are terrorists and that Islam is a terrorist religion. 

What a shame it is to live in a world where each bomb that explodes, each fire that burns and each cry that is heard is credited not to a group of heartless hyenas but the followers of a particular religion- a religion that preaches peace – Islam. How do we tell the world that this word, ‘Islamophobia’, that was coined in the United States of America after the 9/11 attack is actually an exaggeration of threats faced in the world today?  Two well recognised Islamist groups that are known for terrorising the world in the name of Holy Jihad are Al Qaeda and Taliban. But how many of us are aware that only 6% of the attacks that the world faces today are by Muslims?

Latinos

A minority group in the States named Latino is a major threat to the world. They comprise of Roman Catholics who are descendants of people of Spanish speaking countries of South and Central America and Iberian peninsula. They were responsible for the violence from Puerto Rican separatist groups in 1980.

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Zealots

Coming to the followers of Judaism, the Jewish extremists proliferated due to Jewish political and religious movement called Zealotry. This was the 1st example of terrorism. They are the creators of mayhem in the holy lands of Israel and Palestine.

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Communist Terrorism.

There are some people as well who are in the forefront of establishing a socio-economic order by common ownership of means of production and consumption. They are often referred to as The Communists.

The heart wrenching Cambodian genocide was the deed of Communists. From 1975 to 1979, Khmer Rouge, a heinous Communist regime which came to power due to regional instability, wiped out 21% of Cambodia’s population. S-21, one of the notorious Cambodian prisons was known as a torture and interrogation centre. Also, most Cambodian villages and prisons had a killing field, the place where those who were sentenced to death were taken for execution. They were ruthlessly made to dig their own graves. And do you know what is the most inhumane of this all? Only 5 people have been brought to justice for the Cambodian Genocide.

Now, turning to the Left Wing Extremist Groups who are attributed to the Marxist-Leninist terrorism, we get to see that their actions are meant to overthrow the capitalist systems all over the world and replace them with socialist societies. The Naxalites in India and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (a group of the Sri Lankan Tamils demanding a separate state) are well known examples.

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The Red Army

Could anyone have ever thought in the wildest of their dreams that an army could pose a threat to the wellbeing of the world? The International terrorist group- Red Army Faction was formed in 1970 after breaking away from Japanese Communist League. This group is headed by Fuasko Shigenobu, believed to be in hiding outside Japan. They wish to remove the established Japanese government and monarchy. Shigenobu became close friends with an influential member of the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Leila Ahmed, as reported by The Brown Political Review. The two women together created a strong bond that defined their pure Marxist, anti-imperialist movements. Together, their mission was “to consolidate the international revolutionary alliance against the imperialists of the world.”

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Racial Terrorism

Who would have known that a day would come when racist ideology would give birth to the concept of White Supremacy. This view is cornered on the belief that the whites are superior in race and blood, far ahead of the browns and the blacks. A study by The New American Foundation reveals that the White Americans are one of the biggest threats breathing on the US soil. Almost twice as many people have died in attacks by Right Wing groups in America.

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Animal Lovers

There are enthusiasts all around the globe who are concerned with the health, safety and psychological wellness of animals. They enrol themselves in what are commonly known as ‘Animal Welfare Societies’. These groups can sometimes take violent forms. One such is the Animal Liberation Front- an international, leaderless resistance that engages in illegal direct action in pursuit of animal rights. They pose a threat to the peace of the world.

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So do you see? Do you? If you have been a stereotypical critique, it’s time you change your mindset towards people who wake to the melodious sound of the Azaan, the people who abide by the peace keeping principles listed down in the Holy Quran and the Hadith, the ones who believe in a different way to communicate with the Supreme Power.

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Abbas Kiarostami: Why will we miss him?

Abbas Kiarostami, the greatest Iranian film director, died on Monday in Paris aged 76.

Why do we miss someone? Why do we feel bad when someone is no more? It’s because we are not our own. All of us together form and share the conscience of humanity. When someone departs from it, there’s a void. And when that someone is the likes of Abbas Kiarostami, who has descended to the roots of this conscience, the void is overwhelming.

Profoundly rooted in realism, Kiarostami’s films were poetry in frames. He had started out by making short films about childhood problems for the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. In his own words, this was ‘the making of an artist’ who would later enthuse the world cinema as a breeze of innovativeness and simplicity.

His first short film, exquisite as it is, ‘The Bread and Alley’ (1970) showcased a different reel of reality. Unlike his contemporaries, he stayed in Iran even after the Khomeini Revolution, and made films within the country. Totally apolitical, he managed to find ways around the strict restrictions and censorships under the new regime. That is the commitment he had for all his films  

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‘Where Is the Friend’s House?’ was the first feature film that earned Kiarostami international acclaim. He exposed the social context of a small village in Iran from the perspective of a young boy who wants to return his school friend’s notebook. That is the innocence you find in all his films.

It was ‘Taste of Cherry’ (1997) that brought Abbas Kiarostami the Palme D’Or from Cannes. The film was about a man, who has decided to commit suicide, and his search for someone to bury him. The film impressed international critics and audience alike.  Jean-Luc Godard, after seeing the film, said: “Film begins with DW Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.” That is the brilliance you find in all his films.

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What make his films so much beautiful are his characteristically slow cuts and long shots. They tend to create a perception reality so devoid of pretences that you cannot decipher its meaning; you have to feel it.  The rhythm and mood is so ingenious that the deepest trenches of philosophy and poetic beauty are surfed together effortlessly. These films depict life and reality from an altogether uncharacteristically real perspective. Kiarostami represented the best of Iranian life and culture, but his films represented the best of humanity. That is the honesty you find in all his films. 

Anybody who’s ever watched his movie knows how he has touched the heart of humanity. And for us, who try to decipher meanings from reality, from philosophising actions and thoughts, Abbas Kiarostami is a beacon of excellence who not only borrowed from the raw beauty of reality but also disseminated it through his frames. He proved that the artists can find a way even in distraught conditions. He planted the seeds of a new vision in all of us.

We bow down to him.

you can watch his short films compilation here

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