Canada and India: Potential for Partnerships

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Remarks to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT Bombay) by Kevin G. Lynch
Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Public Service of Canada

March 16, 2009

[PDF 562 KB]

Thank you for the welcome.  

It is a privilege to visit a city which has become an example to the world of courage and resilience in the face of terrorist attacks, demonstrating to all the values of your society  and the strength  of your democracy.  Let me express again the profound sympathy of all Canadians.
It is also a privilege to experience first hand the undaunted dynamism, the energy and, in many ways the future of India, here in Mumbai. 

As India helps to change the patterns of international trade and investment flows, it is powered by an impressive commitment to developing the minds of its best young people.  Today, India boasts the third largest higher education system in the world, with 269 universities, over 18,000 colleges and almost 10 and half million students. 

Nor is it just the quantity of the numbers.  Both the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) understand that it is the quality of education and training that drives success.  These Institutes have helped to chart the course, develop the expertise and train the leaders whose efforts have led to India's remarkable period of economic growth.  

One of the challenges India and Canada share is how to continually ramp up the quality of our academic institutions and the excellence of their research capacity to meet the fierce competition of the global market-place.  This Institute shares that global perspective, is reaching out across the globe, attracting students and engaging partners. 

I am delighted that IIT Bombay is now linked, through memorandums of understanding, with a number of leading Canadian institutions.  The President of the University of Waterloo, Dr. David Johnston, a man of extraordinary vision, is deeply committed to building ties with higher education institutions in India. He is certainly not alone. 
Dr. Indira Samarasekera, President of the University of Alberta, is a real Canadian leader in building stronger academic ties, including researchers, with India's leading research universities.

Recently, Mr. R.P. Aggarwal, Higher Education Secretary in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, observed that “India is on the verge of a knowledge revolution”.    He further opined that, if our two countries work together in this crucial field, with Canada sharing its excellence in higher learning with India, it will go a long way in strengthening our bilateral relationship.  I too see much promise for Indo-Canadian partnerships.

In this spirit, an education mission sponsored by the Canada-India Business Council visited a number of Indian education centres, including in Mumbai last fall, to explore further opportunities for affiliations between Indian and Canadian colleges and universities.  This builds on the work of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, now jointly funded by India and Canada, which has promoted understanding between our two countries through academic cooperation and exchanges for many decades now. 

Of course, the case for stronger links between India and Canada extends well beyond the academic field.  It is rooted in our shared experiences in the Commonwealth, our Parliamentary democracies, our federal systems of government and our legal codes.   Indeed, India's remarkable Constitution of 1950 draws on Canadian constitutional arrangements, not least in those areas touching on the judiciary.  And the Supreme Courts of India and Canada continue to engage in a rich exchange of ideas and visits. 

Even more fundamentally, our links are grounded in a shared commitment to developing pluralistic societies - where ethnic differences are embraced, religious diversity welcomed and cultural variety celebrated.  

India's pluralism is the product of 5000 years of mutual accommodation and today it is one of the most regionally, ethnically, linguistically and spiritually diverse nations on earth.  Canada's experience with pluralism is not nearly as old, but our commitment to it is just as strong.  Canadian pluralism emerged from an accelerated process of immigration and today, there are few places on earth that can look to Canada without seeing their own reflection. 

That is certainly true of India and the nearly one million Canadians of Indian descent, who began emigrating to Canada more than a century ago.  Today, this dynamic community is the largest non-resident Indian community in any Western country relative to the size of the overall population.  Indo-Canadians have enriched our country, strengthened our economy and serve as a dramatic example of what pluralism can achieve.

In a world where distance is disappearing, where information technology is connecting people and nations as never before, the commitment to pluralism is a tremendous strength for both India and Canada.  In many ways, the world is watching countries like ours; learning from our paths to developing pluralistic societies.  Looking to our experience and seeing their own future; recognizing the path they must follow as globalization makes neighbours of us all.

Today, I want to talk for just a few moments about the extent of the ties between India and Canada – and why we might think of deepening them.  To begin, I want to tell you a bit about a Canada you may not know, doing things you might not expect.

A lot of people, when they think about Canada, think about an enormous country of towering, snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes, vast forests and fields of wheat that stretch to the horizon.

Well, we are all that, and much more!  To be sure, Canada has an enormous geography - the second largest in the world.  Our southern-most point lies farther south than Rome while our northern boundary is close to the North Pole.  The border we share with the United States crosses a continent and connects two oceans.   And this proximity to the world's largest market, spells incredible opportunities for Canadian companies - and for companies operating in Canada. 

Competing at such close proximity to the U.S. has made Canada's private sector among the most dynamic in the world – a fact recognized by the impressive surge in Indian corporate investment over the past two years in areas as diverse as steel and pharmaceuticals, banking and consulting.

It's also true that Canada is extremely rich in resources, from agriculture to forestry to fishing to mining.  We have the second largest proven oil reserves in the world in the oilsands, and we are the largest supplier of all energy sources to the U.S.

But we are also, today, a highly developed, high tech economy.  Manufacturing accounts for more of our GDP than agriculture, fishing and mining combined; a high quality service sector provides almost 70% of Canada's GDP.  Canada has world-class excellence in photonics, nanotechnology, genomics, aerospace and ITC.  And if, like many, you're addicted to your Blackberry, you have a Canadian company - Research in Motion - to thank.

This shift toward a more innovation-driven economy has been accelerated by the decision in the mid-1990's to rebuild the research capacity of our universities, to invest in leading edge science and technology, to attract the best researchers in the world, and to promote innovation as a core driver of productivity growth.

And as India looks to expand its links overseas, please consider the Canadian “value proposition”: one of the world's best fiscal performers; the lowest net government debt in the G-7; inflation that has averaged just 2% for the past 10 years; and the lowest corporate tax rate in the G-7.

The Canadian advantage also includes: a solid financial sector and effective financial regulatory system; an actuarially sound national pension plan; and, a comprehensive public health care system.  Canada also values, and boasts, a highly educated
Workforce --- according to the World Competition Yearbook, Canada has the highest percentage of people with at least college or university education among the 50 countries ranked.

So when you think of Canada you should think of a vibrant, modern nation; regionally diverse and economically successful.  A country relying as much on its resourcefulness as on its resources for its prosperity.

All of which spells opportunity - for India-Canada partnerships --- in government, in business, in research and in education.

We are partners in the G20, dealing collectively with the enormous challenges of the first synchronized global recession in over 60 years, and the pervasive weaknesses in international financial markets.  Neither problem originated in either India or Canada. But, responding effectively to them will take a coordinated effort by all G20 nations to stimulate aggregate demand, to address financial system problems, to avoid protectionist pressures, and to reduce uncertainty. Both our countries gain from a strengthened multilateral system, and can work together to achieve it.

In the education field, we are building those partnerships between our institutes of learning at the student level.  Last year, 7000 Indian students who went abroad for their higher education came to Canada.  Great news, but it is in both our interests to do better as this is only 5% of the total number of Indian students studying abroad. 

In research, three years ago, our two countries signed a Science and Technology Agreement.  That Agreement is now a vibrant, active partnership with cooperation across the scientific spectrum, with the recent signing of 10 new initiatives in science and technology worth over $17 million.

And in January of this year, the Ministers of Trade of India and Canada made the important announcement that talks towards a possible trade agreement between our two countries will soon commence.

Much progress, much potential for more progress. To conclude, let's look forward.  We already share a common inheritance of history and traditions, animated by common values and family links.  India and Canada also share a common vision of the importance of higher education, science and technology and entrepreneurship to drive our economies and to improve the standards of living of our citizens. 

But we have much more to offer each other, sharing economic opportunities, investment links, and research collaborations in this great global marketplace we share with all its potential for partnerships.

As both India and Canada deal with the urgent challenges of global recession, let us not lose sight of this tremendous potential that lies ahead, and the opportunity to strengthen our partnerships.

Thank you.

Canada-India: A Snapshot And A Perspective

India and Canada: A Snapshot of Us

Image: Map of Canada

Canada: 2007

Size 9,984,670 km2
Population 32.9 million
GDP (nominal) 1,539 USD billion
GDP/capita 46,737 USD

Image: Map of India

India: 2007

Size 3,287,263 km2
Population 1.12 billion
GDP (nominal) 1,181 USD billion
GDP/capita 1,051 USD

India and Canada: What We Have In Common

  • Commonwealth countries; strong democratic traditions; Westminster systems of government; diversity
  • People links :
    • One million Canadians of Indian origin
  • Annual trade links (2007) in CAD:
    • Canadian Exports to India : $1.762 billion
    • Indian Exports to Canada : $1.979 billion
  • Investment links (2007) in CAD:
    • Canada in India : $207 million
    • India in Canada : $446 million

India and Canada... We're both among the top dozen economies in the world

Based on Gross Domestic Product at Current Exchange Rates (US$ Trillions)

Figure 1: World Gross Domestic Products

Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook, October 2008

A Canadian perspective

Over the last decade, Canada has had the strongest growth of all G-7 countries, the lowest net debt to GDP, low and stable inflation and a high living standard.

Figure 2: G-7 countries economic statistics

Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook, October 2008.
1 OECD Economic Outlook, No. 83 (June 2008); Federal Reserve, Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States (June 2008); Department of Finance calculations. U.S. value is adjusted to exclude certain government employee pension liabilities to improve comparability with other countries' debt measures.

But Canada, like India, facing first synchronized global recession in over sixty years

Evolution of Private-Sector Average Forecasts for Real GDP Growth in 2009

Figure 3: Evolution of Private-Sector Average Forecasts for Real GDP Growth in 2009

Source: Blue Chip Economic Indicators - January 2008 to January 2009

Canadian recovery by 2010

Private sector forecasts suggest Canadian recovery by 2010; Government's 2009 budget, which is consistent with IMF/G20 prescription to tackle the global recession, provides economic plan to support the financial system and provide stimulus.

G-7 Economic Outlook: 2009 and 2010

Figure 4: G-7 Economic Outlook: 2009 and 2010

Sources: Finance Canada, Budget 2009 (Canada and the U.S.), IMF World Economic Outlook Update, January 28, 2009, (France, Italy, Germany, Japan, and U.K.)

Canada's Economic Action Plan

  • $200 Billion Extraordinary Financing Facility
  • $20 Billion National Infrastructure Investment Plan to stimulate aggregate demand
  • $20 Billion Adjustment Support Plan to support workers, sectors, affected communities
  • Five-Year Fiscal Plan to return to fiscal balance

Strong Fiscal Framework

A strong fiscal framework remains a key anchor of Canada's long-term economic plan.

Total Government Net Debt to GDP Ratio: Canada much less than G-7

Figure 5: Total Government Net Debt to GDP Ratio: Canada much less than G-7

Source: OECD Economic Outlook no. 84 (December 2008). OECD projections adjusted to include measures from stimulus packages announced since November 2008; stimulus package estimates from various national government sources. Excludes credit guarantees and loans. U.S. stimulus package assumed to be US$825 billion, allocated equally over 2009 and 2010.

Controlling Federal Debt

Figure 6: Controlling Federal Debt

Sources: Finance Canada, Budget 2009

Why do business in Canada...

  • A stable financial system; underpinned by strong regulation and supervision
  • Rule of law; and efficient, effective and independent regulatory systems
  • Highest proportion of population with post-secondary education among all OECD countries
  • National medical care system for all Canadians and National Pension Plan (CPP/QPP), actuarially fully funded
  • Efficient national infrastructure system and major renewal underway
  • Strong university system, including world-class research universities and public support for leading-edge research

... and a strong natural resource base ...

  • Canada is one of the world's largest energy producers. It is:
    • 7th in the world in oil production (2nd in petroleum reserves)
    • largest exporter of crude oil to the U.S. (2.5 million barrels a day)
    • third largest producer of natural gas in the world
    • largest exporter of natural gas to the U.S.
    • largest producer in the world of hydroelectricity
    • largest exporter of electricity to the U.S. (majority from clean hydro electric and nuclear power)
  • Canada is one of the world's leading producers of minerals. It ranks:
    • first in the global production of potash and uranium
    • second in the global production of asbestos, sulphur, nickel, zinc, gypsum
    • third in the global production of titanium, aluminum, copper, platinum

... and a focus on competitiveness

Figure 7: Focus on competitiveness

What is Canada like to work in, live in?

  • Strong public education system (ranked in top 5 OECD countries)
  • Good public infrastructure (roads, subways, rail, air, etc.)
  • Safe, clean cities: 3 cities among top 20 in the world (Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa)
  • Varied geography; strong attachment to the environment
  • Stable, peaceful, rule of law
  • Multicultural, multi-ethnic population
  • Strong cultural bases (Toronto International Film Festival; Bollywood has shot films like "Pardes", "Neal and Nikki", "Taal" and "Kismat Konnection" in Canada)