Former diplomat talks about India’s emerging growth

David M. Malone, former Canadian high commissioner to India and currently president of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), discussed India’s emergence as one of the fastest growing countries in the world at a Nov. 29 Glendon campus lecture

Sponsored by the Centre for Global Challenges and the Glendon School of Public & International Affairs, the talk, “Rising India: Should We Care?”, looked at Indo-Canadian relations. After a brief overview of the subcontinent’s history and its foreign policy since attaining independence, Malone referred to the cooling of relations between Canada and India after the latter conducted nuclear testing in Pokhran in 1974. At that time, India perceived nuclear weapons as a strategic necessity, following its defeats by China in 1962 and Pakistan in 1965. Canada, which considered itself a champion of non-proliferation at the time, bristled at New Delhi’s nuclear policy.

Right: David Malone

His lecture addressed the question of just how pertinent this debate is today. He pointed out that Canada has significant interest in developing closer relations with India, a country in the process of rapid development. He spoke of the advantages of diversifying Canada’s commercial exchanges to reduce its dependence on the United States and develop partnerships with a country that is undergoing a remarkable economic expansion.

He also pointed to India as the developing country most like Canada. Malone outlined how the two countries share democratic values, a federal and parliamentary system, cultural similarities, as well as the use of the English language. Moreover, Canada’s Indian community is the largest in the world. Indo-Canadians – such as Rohinton Mistry, Anita Rau Badami, Shauna Singh Baldwin, Anosh Irani, M.G. Vassanji and Jaspreet Singh – are enjoying great popularity; and the Toronto International Film Festival was the first of its kind to feature Bollywood’s abundant productions.

For some time now, Canada’s American neighbours have been enjoying many advantages of India’s new prosperity and the exchanges between the two countries have increased and deepened significantly since the year 2000. In this competitive milieu, what can Canada offer to entice new partnerships with India?

Malone expressed the belief that the US will remain India’s priority, but that Canada has the opportunity of making significant progress as a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement, acting as a springboard towards the rest of North America. Canada’s abundant natural resources represent another advantage in the context of an emerging Indian middle class, which is revising its consumer habits. Finally, Canada’s Indian partners are favourably disposed towards Canada and its multicultural social framework, which enables the Indo-Canadian community to blossom and integrate into Canadian society.

More about David M. Malone

Born in 1954, Malone is a career foreign service officer and scholar. On July 1, 2008, he became president of Canada’s IDRC, one of the world’s leading institutions in the generation and application of new knowledge to meet the challenges facing developing countries. Prior to that, he served as Canada’s high commissioner to India and non-resident ambassador to Bhutan and Nepal from 2006 to 2008. For more information about Malone, visit the IDRC website. Oxford University Press will be publishing his monograph, Does the Elephant Dance? Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy in the near future.

Submitted by Marika Kemeny, Glendon communications officer