Canada’s Intelligence Service Accuses India of Election Interference; PM Trudeau Orders Inquiry

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada’s premier foreign intelligence agency, has raised concerns about potential interference by India in the country’s recent election, according to a recent intelligence report. The report, made available to the media on Thursday, identified India as a ‘foreign interference threat’ and emphasized the need for greater protection of Canada’s democratic institutions and processes.

In a top-secret briefing document obtained by Canadian media outlet Global News, it was further highlighted that India’s interference could escalate if left unchecked. This revelation marks the first time India has been implicated in election interference in Canada, joining China and Russia, which were already under scrutiny for similar activities.

The declassified report, titled ‘Briefing to the Minister of Democratic Institutions on Foreign Interference,’ dated February 24, 2023, also singles out China, labeling it as “by far the most significant threat.”

According to the report, China’s foreign interference activities are extensive and resource-intensive, targeting various levels of government and civil society nationwide. The term ‘FI’ refers to foreign interference, with ‘PRC’ representing the People’s Republic of China.

Notably, India and China were the only countries explicitly named in the latest intelligence briefing.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has responded to these allegations by initiating an inquiry into the claims outlined in the recently disclosed intelligence report.

Relations between India and Canada have been strained since September 2023, following Trudeau’s accusations of potential Indian involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia. India has vehemently denied these allegations, dismissing them as baseless and driven by ulterior motives.

India Likely To Allow Foreign Universities

Can India create a higher education system worthy of its aspirations as a full-fledged knowledge economy? That’s still to be determined. But India is on the verge of taking a major, long-awaited first step in the right direction: With the recent release of draft rules by the country’s higher education regulator – the University Grants Commission – India is moving closer to allowing high-quality foreign universities to set up campuses to help meet the country’s growing appetite for advanced education.

Crucially, under the rules, which will have to be approved by Parliament, foreign universities would get the freedom to decide their own curriculums, fix fees and hire faculty at terms of their choosing. They would even be allowed to repatriate earnings. That all might seem underwhelming to readers accustomed to the U.S. system. But it would be a radical – and, eventually, perhaps game-changing – shift for India.

And India’s higher education system badly needs shaking up. Setting aside issues of quality (as if those can be set aside), India does not come close to providing sufficient seats to those aspiring to higher education – a glaring shortcoming as India’s burgeoning middle class strives to prepare their children for the opportunities of the future.

India’s system has its successes, of course, but they are narrow. Just nine Indian higher education institutions made the top 500 of the most recent QS World University Rankings. The top one – the Indian Institute of Science (at 155) – is a highly specialized institution focused on postgraduate studies and research in the sciences. The other eight are part of the well-known Indian Institutes of Technology, which specialize in engineering. The highest-ranked comprehensive university was the University of Delhi, falling in the 520s.

That is simply not good enough. All told, India has just over 1,000 institutions of higher learning. China, with a similar population, has three times that. The United States, with a much smaller population, has four times as many.

India’s gross enrollment ratio for higher education – the percentage of college-age adults who are enrolled – is around 27 percent, much lower than in advanced economies and even other emerging economies such as Brazil and China. Expect that figure to increase. If the supply of higher education cannot keep pace, more students will look overseas, as so many already do. Canada, the United States, Australia and Britain are primary destinations. The “import” of higher education from other English-speaking countries makes no sense for a country that prides itself on a service-based economy and its English language advantage. Education should be a sector that provides export earnings.

So, what’s the problem? Overregulation, as with so much of the Indian economy. Other parts of the economy have been liberalized over the years, but not higher ed.

More than half of Indian colleges and universities are government-run – around 200 by the federal government and 400 by state governments. Of course, it is not uncommon for countries to have large public university systems. But India grants little autonomy to such institutions, which have no freedom to set tuition and fees – kept artificially low by the pressures of populist politics.

Thus, institutions are totally dependent on the government for funding, eroding what autonomy exists on paper. The federal and state governments have serious fiscal constraints, and higher education always struggles in the competition for resources. Faculty salaries are benchmarked with civil servants, but at a somewhat lower level; tenure and promotions are based on service time, not merit. There is no way to reward stellar talent.

Private universities, too, are overly regulated and cannot operate for profit. That deters the best entrepreneurs from entering the sector.

Critics argue that allowing in foreign universities will not solve the problem, and it’s true it won’t be a cure-all. But if even a small number of acclaimed universities establish campuses, it would both improve overall quality and inject some competition into a sector that badly needs it. It should also induce more top academic talent to stay in India.

More important, it would set a precedent that Indian universities, both public and private, can and will use to argue for greater liberalization and freedom. They will push for a level playing field, which will eventually be granted. In the long run, high-quality foreign university campuses and improved Indian institutions can attract students from Africa and elsewhere in Asia, turning higher ed into the growth-and-jobs pillar that it should be in a world-leading economy.

Of course, it would be better if Indian institutions could get the benefits of change before, or at least alongside, foreign universities. But in India’s reform-resistant system, sometimes all you can do is open one window at a time.

Dhiraj Nayyar is the director for economics and policy at Vedanta Resources, whose philanthropic arm runs three not-for-profit colleges in India.

Harjit Sajjan Named Canada’s Defense Minister

Canada’s new Defence Minister is Harjit Sajjan, a decorated Lt.-Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces and the newly-elected MP for Vancouver South.

Sajjan grew up in his riding, and later walked the South Vancouver streets as a detective with the Vancouver Police Department’s Gang Crime Unit. He is a combat veteran, serving in Bosnia and on three deployments to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Sajjan, a turbaned Sikh, was born in Punjab and moved to the Vancouver area when he was five. He lives in British Columbia with his wife, Dr. Kuljit Kaur Sajjan, a family doctor trained at the University of British Columbia, and their two children.

Sajjan began his service in the army in 1989. He was deployed overseas four times, having served in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as three separate stints in Afghanistan. For two of his Afghanistan deployments, Sajjan served as a special adviser.

In 2011, he became the first Sikh to command a Canadian army regiment, a British Columbia-based regiment called the Duke of Connaught’s Own. For his service, Sajjan has been awarded with 13 accommodations, including the Meritorious Service medal and Order of Military Merit.

“He was the best single Canadian intelligence asset in theater, and his hard work, personal bravery, and dogged determination undoubtedly saved a multitude of coalition lives. Through his courage and dedication, (then) Maj. Sajjan has singlehandedly changed the face of intelligence gathering and analysis in Afghanistan,” said Brigadier-General David Fraser in a letter to then Chief Constable Jamie Graham of the Vancouver Police Department.

In addition to serving his country, the Indian Canadian also served 11 years with the Vancouver police. During his police tenure, he was a detective in the gang crime unit. He was also an advocate for education and mentorship programs to engage youth to become more active members of society.

Outside of his army and police background, Sajjan, who was born in a rural village within Punjab, and his wife have four sponsored children and support many charities that promote health and education to impoverished children. Becoming the defense minister is the latest of his achievements, one which he isn’t taking lightly.

Sajjan has received numerous military honours, including the Meritorious Service Medal in 2013, for reducing the Taliban’s influence in Kandahar Province.

“His approach, based on his knowledge of local culture and tribal dynamics, helped senior management to engage with influential Afghan tribal leaders, and led to the identification of insurgent command and control connection points,” according to the citation on the Governor General’s website. “It’s an honor to serve in cabinet as Minister of National Defense. I will work hard to serve Canada,” he said in a Twitter post Nov. 4.

Indo-Canadian Candidates Win 19 Parliamentary Seats

In an ever growing clout of Indo-Canadians, 15 Liberal candidates of Indian origin, 3 from the Conservative Party and an Indo-Canadian belonging to New Democratic Party (NDP) won the election to the Canadian Parliament in the general elections to 338 seats. The Liberals got a parliamentary majority that will allow them to govern without relying on other parties.

The results of the national elections to the Canadian Parliament were declared on October 20th, 2015. The Indian-Canadians more than doubled their representation in the Canadian parliament from eight to 19 as Canadians voted out the Conservative Party by handing out a landslide to the Liberal Party.

Indo-Canadian Candidates Win 19 Parliamentary SeatsGosal lost to fellow Indian-Canadian Ramesh Sangha of the Liberal Party in Brampton Center, and Grewal of the Conservative Party lost in Fleetwood-Port Kells, British Columbia. But the biggest surprise was created by Darshan Kang of the Liberal Party, who won the Calgary Skyview seat for his party for the first time in 50 years by beating fellow Indian-Canadians Devinder Shory of the Conservative Party and Sahajvir Singh Randhawa of the New Democratic Party.

The outgoing minister of state Tim Uppal retained his seat by beating Amarjeet Singh Sahi of the Liberal Party and Jasvir Deol of the NDP in Edmonton Mill Woods. Most Indian-Canadian victories came in Canada’s biggest province of Ontario.

In Brampton East, Raj Grewal of the Liberal Party beat Harbaljit Kahlon of the NDP and Naval Bajaj of the Conservative Party. Bajaj is the former president of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce. In Brampton West, Kamal Khera of the Liberal Party beat Ninder Thind of the Conservative Party. In Brampton North, Ruby Sahota of the Liberal Party beat outgoing MP Parm Gill of the Conservative Party and white Sikh Martin Singh of the NDP.

While longest-serving MP Deepak Obhrai, a 65-year-old Conservative lawmaker, won for the seventh time from Calgary Forest Lawn, outgoing minister of state Bal Gosal and four-time MP Nina Grewal were prominent Indian-origin Canadians who lost their fight to hold back their seats to the Parliament.

“I have a strong record both as a representative of the constituency as well as working in government and in the opposition over the years I have been in Parliament,” Obhrai, who began his career as a Reform Party lawmaker, was quoted as saying by the Calgary Sun.

For over a century, Canada has benefited from the talent and hard work of newcomers from India. Tens of thousands of Indians continue to make the journey to Canada every year to help us build our country, our economy and, in many cases, to settle permanently and become Canadians.

Canada remains a destination of choice for visitors, students and business travellers from India. In 2013, Canada issued more than 130,000 visas to people coming to visit family, friends or as tourists. Canada welcomed almost 14,000 students and admitted more than 33,000 Indian citizens as permanent residents.

The Canadian government has been making changes to facilitate legitimate travel, welcoming more visitors, businesspeople and students to Canada than ever before. The Business Express Program (BEP), introduced in 2008, was created to ensure faster processing of visa applications for businesspeople. In addition, the Worker Express Program, which provides expedited service to applicants sent to Canada by companies under the BEP, was introduced in India in June 2009 and has since benefited more than 7,200 Indian citizens.

In addition to the BEP, in July 2011, the government extended the duration of multiple-entry visas from five to 10 years allowing visitors to enter and exit Canada for up to six months at a time over a 10-year period. The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa remains a fast and convenient option for parents and grandparents who want to spend longer periods of time with their families in Canada. By the end of February 2014, more than 31,000 Super Visas had been issued, and almost 97 percent of qualified Super Visa applicants were approved.

According to reports, more than 33,000 Indians became permanent residents in 2013, a 17 percent increase since 2008. The number of visitor visas issued in 2013 to Indian citizens represents an increase of 14 percent since 2008. Nearly four times more Indian students entered Canada in 2013 than in 2008 when 3,566 Indian citizens entered Canada as students. Canada welcomed more than 50,000 parents and grandparents to Canada during 2012 and 2013. Canada plans to welcome 20,000 more over the coming year.

Indian-Canadians make up over three per cent of Canada’s population of about 35 million and have become a significant political force. There were eight lawmakers of Indian-origin in Canada in 2011.

CHAI Signs MoU with Toronto University on Education and Research Collaborations

The Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) and the Toronto University, Canada signed  a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on education and research collaborations . Rev Dr. Tomi Thomas, IMS, Director-General, CHAI, and Dr Freida S Chavez, Director, Global Affairs Office Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, University of Toronto,  signed the MoU. It was signed during the 72nd CHAI Foundation Day Celebrations  held at CHAI Central Office premises on 29th July 2015 in front of a huge gathering of Principals/Counsellors, Teachers and CHAI Staff.

The Catholic Health Association of India celebrates it 71st years of service. The organization has grown in terms of its membership, services and expanded the scope for encompassing and achieving the mission for which it was established in 1943. The organization has been shaped and nurtured by the visionaries who directed it and by the impact of national and international happenings. There have been paradigm shifts to meet the needs and to fulfill the vision and mission of reaching the poor and marginalized.

Alysha Brilla Organizes Topless ‘Bare With Us’ Protest

“Bare With Us” demonstrators gathered at the Waterloo Town Square in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. The rally and march were organized by three sisters who were stopped by a police officer for biking topless a week ago. Local media reports said people were waving banners and wearing body paint with messages including “everyone has the right to NOT be harassed” and “Bare With Us! They’re just boobs!”

Musician Alysha Brilla said she and her sisters were not wearing shirts while cycling in Kitchener, Ontario, on July 24 when a male police officer drove up beside them and told them to cover up because it is the law. Brilla said she told the officer he was wrong and that when she started filming the interaction on her cellphone, the officer said he had only wanted to check if the women had proper bells and lights on their bicycles.

Ontario women have had the right to go topless in public since 1996. A similar incident in June garnered headlines after an 8-year-old was told by city staff in Guelph, Ontario, to cover up while she was in a wading pool wearing only a swim bottom.

“It was really well attended, and the people who came were very supportive. I had no idea how polarizing the issue would be. I thought people would not be so disturbed by the female breast. We just want to advocate and let people know that they do have this right,” Brilla was quoted as saying.

Alysha Brilla Organizes Topless “Bare With Us” Protest

They carried slogans of “They feed you, they breed you, but they sure as hell don’t need you” through the streets. Another one read: “They are boobs, not bombs, chill out.” Police in Canada allegedly stopped the three sisters for cycling topless a week ago in Kitchener, Ontario.

A male police officer who asked them to cover up to comply with the law was told that women in Ontario had the right to go topless in public since 1996. As Brilla started recording their conversation on her phone, the policeman changed his stance and said he stopped to check if their bikes had proper bells and lights for safety.