India Canada Relations: The differences in staffing between the Indian and Canadian embassies were recently reviewed in a conversation between representatives of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Canadian High Commission on Thursday. The Canadian High Commission will reduce its diplomatic representation in India due to rising tensions around the Nijjar homicide event, according to reports.
India’s Call for Diplomatic Parity
Arindam Bagchi, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said during a weekly briefing, “We have conveyed to the Canadian government the need for parity in strength and rank equivalence in our diplomatic relationships. The Canadian contingent in India significantly exceeds our representation in Canada. We foresee a reduction from their side.” Arindam Bagchi further emphasised the stark disparities in staff sizes between the two countries. Prior to his remarks, the Canadian High Commission made a temporary change to the number of employees they had in India, citing precautionary steps.
Canada’s Staffing Adjustment in India
The High Commission of Canada in a statement remarked, “Due to recent events and out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily adjusting our staff presence in India. All our locations will continue operations with diplomats and locally-engaged staff to ensure uninterrupted business and operational continuity.” However, it is unclear how many Canadian ambassadors will depart India as a result of the upcoming “sizing down” process. Over 30 accredited Indian ambassadors are stationed in Canada, compared to three times as many accredited Canadian diplomats in India. A high commissioner, two deputy high commissioners, three ministries, 18 council members, several first secretaries, second secretaries, and attachés are all included in the list.
Strained Diplomatic Relations Between India and Canada
Addressing the “adjustment”, Bagchi mentioned, “We have informed the Canadian government that there should be parity of strength and rank equivalents in our diplomatic presence, our mutual diplomatic presence. We feel that we think that the numbers are much higher, and those details are being worked out, and we think that. So yes, I presume this is pursuant to our conversation or request.” Following claims made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau concerning India’s alleged involvement in the assassination of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada earlier this year, relations between the two nations have been strained. These allegations have been explicitly denied by India, which has also issued a travel warning for its citizens living in Canada. Due to the diplomatic crisis, there is a security worry for the safety of diplomats and personnel in both nations.
Vienna Convention Obligations Addressed Amid Diplomatic Tensions
To a question on security preparedness, Bagchi said, “We take our obligation of Vienna Conventions very seriously. And if there are specific threats and things, I’m sure they are in touch with our security agencies, and we will certainly be providing all security and all support to foreign diplomats in India. We would accordingly also expect that the Canadian authorities show similar sensitivity to posters threatening assassination and incitement to violence against our diplomats, attacks on our premises, or such kind of threats and take their obligation under the Vienna Convention a little more seriously.”