Ahmedabad’s Shirish Patel (name changed) has to redraw his plans for his IT programme in Canada, which he had prepared to join from December this year. “The current scenario is not very conducive. We have seen how Indian medical students in Ukraine were affected after Russia launched a military assault,” he said, giving his Ontario dream a miss. Amid rising India-Canada tensions, there are thousands of students like Sirish, whose study plans have taken a hit. Many of them are now deciding to wait out the year and apply next year.
Representatives of Canadian universities have warned that the ongoing political tension between the countries may result in visa delays for Indian students, potentially disrupting the spring academic session scheduled to begin in January.
With more than 10,000 students from Gujarat heading to Canada every year, the ongoing row between India and Canada has put the community on the edge. While there are more cases like Trivedi’s, since the September intake has concluded, all eyes are now on the next admission cycle.
“There is a lot of apprehension and confusion among Indian students regarding the recent diplomatic strain .. but it is less likely to impact them. The fall intake is already over in Canadian universities and students have settled into comfortable routines. The next round of admissions will be in December-January. By then, one hopes the situation will get better,” said an Ahmedabad-based foreign education consultant. An engineering student from Gujarat in Toronto said, “As of now, there is no problem. But if Canada changes visa rules, it can have implications. We are hoping for a quick resolution to the issue,” said the student.
Hemant M Shah, a businessman from Winnipeg and an office-bearer of Overseas Friends of India Canada (OFIC), said the row is affecting Canadian brands in India. “We have been trying to gauge the impact the row will have on Indian and Canadian businesses. The much-awaited trade agreement could not be fructified, and now the countries are at loggerheads,” he said, adding that any move from either of the countries will affect thousands of Indian students.
The members of the Hindu community in Canada have taken a strong objection to the statement made by New York-based secessionist Sikh leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who asked them to leave the country.
Naresh Chavda, president of the Canadian Hindu Chamber of Commerce, said that they have been taking social, legal and political measures following Pannun’s warning. “There cannot be an atmosphere of fear for any community, and we are concerned about such statements,” he said.