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PM Narendra Modi's upcoming three-nation tour: Power-packed Bonhomie

With Make in India, energy and personal rapport on the agenda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi starts his three-nation tour next week.

Anilesh S. Mahajan        Last Updated: April 4, 2015  | 13:07 IST

Assistant editor Anilesh S. Mahajan
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi boards Air India One to start his five-day three-nation tour, the primary focus would remain on ensuring a push for Make in India, energy security, and ways to develop his personal rapport with international leaders. Between April 9 and 12, the PM will be in France and Germany. From there, he will proceed to Canada for the last leg of his tour and return to Delhi on April 16. He will be the first Indian PM to visit Canada on a bilateral tour since Indira Gandhi in 1973.

Home to one of the biggest concentrations of the Indian Diaspora, Canada would host special events on Modi's visit. This includes an address at Toronto's Ricoh Coliseum on the lines of New York's Madison Square. This is being organised by BJP's overseas unit and Indo-Canadians.

Canada has a sizeable population of Indian descent, and the country's PM Stephan Harper's party will look at cashing in on this in a poll-bound year. Modi will also visit the historic Gurudwara Khalsa Diwan in Vancouver and Laxmi Narayan temple in neighbouring county Surrey.

These efforts are seen as moves to strengthen the moderates in Canada. The country is home to several radical Sikh organisations that are involved in the 'Khalistan' movement and regularly raise funds to support the organisations in Punjab. These outfits are planning to protest against Modi on this visit as well. The visit of the Indian PM to Gurudwara Khalsa Diwan will strengthen the moderates in Canada, who regularly look for the Indian government's support in case of hate crimes against Sikhs. The visit there will also strengthen BJP's prospects in Punjab - which will head for provincial polls in beginning of 2017.

The PM enjoys good relations with Harper and his colleagues in the Conservative Party. And many of them extended their full support when Modi ran for polls in India. Canada chose to side with Modi, even in the days when other western countries such as the US and UK issued embargoes against him, for his alleged role in the Gujarat riots in 2002. Canadian parliamentarian Patrick Brown played a critical role and ensured good relations between the two leaderships.

At first, of course, comes the France visit. Modi, who is known now for using symbolism in international diplomacy, is scheduled to take a boat ride on the river Seine with French President Fran├žois Hollande. Indians may remember this beautiful river from the 1960s Bollywood blockbuster 'An Evening in Paris', where an energetic song was picturised. Interestingly, Seine is a 776-km long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It could hold some lessons for Modi, who is pushing to develop a waterway from Varanasi to Haldia almost on similar lines.

Both leaders would discuss issues of security - especially the dangers emerging from ISIS, issues related to Iran, investments in the defence sector, and negotiations by both sides involving the Rafale fighter jet deal.

After reaching Germany, Modi will inaugurate the famous Hannover Messe 2015 fair on April 12 along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Modi had met Merkel on the sidelines of the G20 summit last November. He will interact with her one-on-one in Berlin the next day, before boarding Air India One again for Canada.

The Hannover Messe fair is very important for India, as Modi is keen to give his pet Make in India campaign a push at this platform. He will be accompanied by 120 top business honchos, 100-odd ministers from both the Centre and states, along with around seven chief ministers. Seventeen states and 400 companies are participating in this fair, which would also have participation of 6,000 exhibitors from more than 100 countries. This would be one of the biggest opportunities for India to push for its manufacturing campaign, ever since it was launched in late September.

Modi was also supposed to travel to Brussels, but because of delayed response from EU, the programme was shelved.

In Canada, the PM will sign two critical pacts, Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA and another commercial pact for supply of nuclear fuel. This would be an extension of the civil nuclear cooperation in 2010, and subsequent administrative arrangements in 2012. Canada has already signed CEPA with South Korea.

PM Modi posted this on social media on March 28, to push his commitment on nuclear agreement. "We look forward to resuming our civil nuclear energy cooperation with Canada, especially for sourcing uranium fuel for our nuclear power plants." Canada was also the first country to have completed requirements for a civil nuclear cooperation with India after New Delhi secured the waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008.

Canada had backed the NSG decision to provide clean NSG waiver for Delhi and has been keen to re-enter India's nuclear market. Indian companies eye uranium exploration in Canada, as the existing laws there permit 49 per cent partnership in mining companies. This North American country accounts for 22 per cent of the world's production of Uranium. Both these agreements were finalised under the strict watch of their respective PM's office. Prime Minister Harper also first met Prime Minister Modi on the margins of the G20 Summit in Australia in November 2014. Harper had also visited India in November 2012 and November 2009.

"Canada and India enjoy a close friendship based on shared values of democracy, pluralism and a mutual interest in expanding trade. India's growing economy presents enormous opportunities for Canada and I look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Modi to further strengthen bilateral relations and expand our trade and investment ties with a view to benefitting citizens of both countries," a release from Harper's office quoted him as saying.

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