From immigration, pluralism to trade, Trudeau touches all on Gujarat visit

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Ahmedabad, Feb 19 (IANS) Dressed in traditional Indian attire, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife and three children landed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s homestate Gujarat on Monday.

The visiting Prime Minister and his family, here on a day-long visit, were received at the Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport here by Gujarat Minister Ganpat Vasava and State Chief Secretary.

The first engagement of the Trudeau family, dressed in shades of festive yellow and red, was a visit to the Sabarmati Ashram. After paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, the Canadian Prime Minister tried his hand at the spinning wheel.

Trudeau appeared at ease as though on a family tour instead of an official visit and sported an attractive red bandhgala kurta accompanied by a cream-coloured churidar and even a matching stole.

Similarly, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau was in a bright yellow long kurta which she teamed with white palazzo pants. She wore drop-down earrings, gold bangles and a little bindi to give her a completely traditional Indian look.

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Writing in the visitor’s book at the Sabarmati Asrham, Trudeau said: “A beautiful place of peace, humanity and truth that is as needed today as ever.”

He then proceeded to the Akshardham Temple in state capital Gandhinagar and spent about 40 minutes there.

His last destination was the premier B-school Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, for a townhall where he had a lively session with the students, taking questions and replying in great detail.

Trudeau said Canada was open to immigration and trade.

On trade front, the Prime Minister said that current bilateral trade of $8 billion in goods and $2 billion in services had a potential to grow.

“When you think of natural connections between India and Canada, especially in field of agriculture or pulses, where we have slight challenges. We are discussing potential of growth in pulses.”

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Referring to the issue of immigration, especially in context of most of the countries globally looking inwards and raising barriers, Trudeau said that he and Canada firmly believed that the new reality for 21st century is going to be heterogeneous societies.

“India has done fairly well and Canada too has done fairly well to see that differences can become source of strength and not weakness… As you get more pluralistic, language, religion, ethnicity, ideology should be anchored in shared values that society subscribes to.”

Trudeau went on to say that dividing society on the basis of ethnicity and religious lines was a “tribal” approach to civilisation that has over thousands of years ripped apart these beliefs.

“There are two paths – you can either amplify the anxiety in the world by blaming a particular ethnic or religious group for all the troubles in the society or you can take a more successful pluralistic approach, when you actually meet people with different story and believe that we meet them and grow.”

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The Canadian Prime Minister also had a word for the media, which he called “frustrating” at times but in the same breath said that it was important to support it as it tells the governments where it is wrong. “Independent media is essential for a successful democracy.”

Trudeau again summoned the name of Mahatma Gandhi to be his inspiration. “He should be an inspiration to all. Idea of extraordinary strength in compassion, peace and non-violence…

“It takes tremendous amount of strength to be strong, without having to be aggressive, without having to pick fights, instead looking to better understand each other, to better question yourself.”

–IANS

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