The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson has termed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to India “unqualified success.” While the true impact of the visit will become apparent over the years when the memoranda of understanding signed now become really projects, the immediate impact may be felt back here in Canada where the conservatives are hoping to break into Sikh and Hindu vote banks concentrated in large Canadian cities.
The prime minister has been busy visiting shrines, Temples, and other places of worship in India. The primary purpose of these yatras is to please the Indian Diaspora in Canada who has gained enough size and momentum in major Canadian cities to be able to determine electoral outcomes.
To me this is it is no more than electioneering by the conservatives while the Canadian taxpayers will foot the bill for this temple to temple canvassing in Indian Punjab.
A review of interest in Canada amongst Indians with Internet access, which represents most urban middle class in India, in the past two weeks suggests that the prime minister's visit has failed to tickle Indians' fancy in India.
When I compare the searches conducted about Canada on the Internet from computers based in India in November of 2009 and compare those against the searches conducted in 2008, 2007, and 2006, I fail to see any real increase in Canada's popularity amongst Indians. The following graph illustrates that Canada was more popular in November 2006 in India than in November 2009.