Canadian International Council

Canadian International Council

August 24, 2009 12:06 ET

Higher Education Effective Way for Canada to Redress its Neglectful Relationship With India, New Study Argues

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 24, 2009) - Canada needs to redress its neglected bilateral relationship with India by harnessing a number of niche areas that can set a firm base for interaction with rising India, says a new paper released today by the Canadian International Council (CIC).

A New Direction for the Canada-India Relationship, written by Ryan Touhey, concludes Canada has been slow to recognize the increasing prominence of India in the world economy. The author recommends cost-effective ways for better engagement through the creation of an India specific public diplomacy program that includes post-secondary and science and technology linkages with Indian students.

"India is a leading democratic economic power in Asia" says Dr. Touhey. "So, it would seem to be a particularly attractive country with which to pursue partnership arrangements in trade and other areas. Yet, during his four-years in office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper hasn't visited India."

Canada simply has to move its diplomacy with India to a higher level. By taking action immediately, such efforts could help sensitize and influence Indian think-tanks, universities, and media and experts, which would help to improve interest in and create a more nuanced understanding of Canada, explains Dr. Touhey. It would also demonstrate to New Delhi that Ottawa's rhetoric that India is a priority, will finally be matched with real action.

Key to these efforts should be the creation of a new Canada-India council, a non-partisan body that would engage the Canadian private sector along the way. Dr. Touhey says the council would work to enhance the flow of knowledge and people between Canada and India which is pivotal to a new beginning in bilateral relations between Ottawa and New Delhi.

Since India's growth is also being felt in its education sector, Dr. Touhey recommends the federal government, the provinces and interested Canadian universities and colleges begin constructing higher education linkages with India at the research and student recruitment levels, as well as developing long overlooked science and technology partnerships that India offers as a way to build on an anemic bilateral relationship.

"The fact that we are approaching our relationship with India from a narrow base means it is vital that we pursue forward looking policies that have the potential to put ties with India on a firm footing," says Dr. Touhey. "This is something that has been missing for decades."

The report points out approximately 4,000 Indian students currently study at Canadian universities, whereas 25,000 study in Britain and 80,000 in the United States.

"In 1994-95, there were fewer than 300 Indian students studying at Australian universities," says Dr. Touhey. "After impressive efforts at tapping this lucrative market by Australia, there are now 40,000 Indian students studying in universities there and they are likely to leave with an intimate understanding of Australia when they return to India."

In comparison, Canada's High Commission in India had $50,000 dedicated to promoting higher education opportunities for Indians in Canada in 2007-08. "This isn't good enough and we need to give our diplomats in India improved resources," says Dr. Touhey.

Moreover, argues Dr. Touhey, "The Canadian government, our provinces and our educational institutions have to do better. They must work diligently to gather solid market intelligence about India, identify good quality higher education partners and cultivate relationships with reliable Indian faculty and capable students. By adopting these general practices, Canada can lay the foundation that will pay future dividends. The British, for example, estimate that international education is now worth over $9 billion annually to their economy and those students return home to India often acting as ambassadors based on their experiences. Thus, British government investments are rewarded handsomely".

Dr. Touhey is a history professor at St. Jerome's University at the University of Waterloo and one of eight fellows chosen by the CIC to contribute new perspectives leading to further debate and discussion in vital areas of Canadian foreign policy. The program's initial areas of focus include: China, border issues, Arctic sovereignty and security and energy.

For more information on Foreign Policy for Canada's Tomorrow: A New Direction for the Canada-India Relationship or the CIC, please visit: www.canadianinternationalcouncil.org

The Canadian International Council (CIC) is a non-partisan, nationwide council established to strengthen Canada's role in international affairs. With 13 branches nationwide, the CIC seeks to advance research, discussion and debate on international issues by supporting a Canadian foreign policy network that crosses academic disciplines, policy areas, and economic sectors. The CIC features a privately funded fellowship program, supported by a network of issue-specific working groups. Carefully selected CIC fellows focus on important foreign policy issues, working out of universities and research institutions across the country. The CIC was founded in 2007 by Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM (Research In Motion).

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