The premise of the recent conflict in India-Canada Relations
The recent diplomatic brawl between India and Canada is due to the assassination of a Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in British Columbia, Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that credible evidence links Indian government agents to the murder. This incident has further strained India-Canada relations, mainly because India is dissatisfied with Canada’s perceived inaction against the Khalistan movement advocating for an independent homeland.
In This Article
India has expressed concerns about the activities of Sikh hardliners within the Indian diaspora in Canada, accusing them of attempting to revive the Khalistan insurgency. The Sikh community in Canada is one of the largest overseas communities of Indian origin, with approximately 770,000 people identifying as Sikhs in the 2021 census. The presence of Khalistan flags during recent parades in Canada and other incidents has fueled India’s grievances.
This article analyses two crucial communication theories, “Public diplomacy theory” and “Propaganda Theory”, having implications for international relations and diplomacy in the context of the ongoing conflict between the two countries. The article will deliberate on how both sides use public diplomacy and propaganda to promote their respective narratives.
Public Diplomacy Theory
Public diplomacy theory is a field of study that examines the use of communication to influence public opinion in other countries. It is based on the premise that public opinion can significantly impact foreign policy and that governments can use communication to shape public opinion in their favor.
Public diplomacy theory has its roots in the early 20th century when governments began to use propaganda to influence public opinion during World War I. However, the term “public diplomacy” was not coined until the 1960s, when it was used to describe the United States’ efforts to promote its image and values abroad during the Cold War.
Public diplomacy theorists have developed several models and frameworks for understanding how public diplomacy works. One of the most influential models is the “four P’s” model, which identifies four key elements of public diplomacy:
- Product: The message or image that a government is trying to promote.
- Public: The target audience for the message or image.
- Policy: The foreign policy goals the government attempts to achieve through public diplomacy.
- Process: The activities and strategies that the government uses to communicate with its target audience.
Public diplomacy can be used to achieve a variety of foreign policy goals, including:
- Promoting a country’s image and values.
- Building support for a country’s foreign policy initiatives.
- Countering negative perceptions of a nation.
- Supporting democracy and human rights in other countries.
Propaganda theory is a field of study that examines the use of communication to influence people’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours. Governments and other organizations often use it to promote their interests or to demonize their opponents.
Propaganda can be disseminated through various channels, including the media, advertising, and social media. It can manipulate people’s emotions, appeal to their prejudices, or spread misinformation.
Propaganda theorists have identified several different techniques that can be used to influence public opinion. Some of the most common methods include:
- Repetition: Repeating a message repeatedly to make it more memorable and persuasive.
- Emotion: Appeals to people’s emotions, such as fear, anger, or patriotism, to influence their behaviour.
- Bandwagon effect: Creating a sense that everyone else is doing something can make people more likely to do it themselves.
- Snob appeal: Suggesting that a product or idea is only for the elite can make people more likely to want it.
- Fear-mongering: Playing on people’s fears and insecurities can make them more likely to support a particular policy or candidate.
Propaganda has been used throughout history but became prevalent during World War I and II. Governments often used propaganda to mobilize their populations and demoralize the enemy.
The Use of Public Diplomacy by the Government of India
The Indian government has used public diplomacy to respond to the Canadian government’s allegations. On the public diplomacy front, the Indian government has sought to promote its image as a responsible and democratic state. It has also sought to build support for its position among the Indian diaspora in Canada and other countries. The Indian government has also accused the Canadian government of spreading misinformation and supporting Khalistan separatists.
On the other hand, the Canadian government has used public diplomacy to explain its position to the Indian government and the Indian diaspora in Canada. It has also sought to build support for its position among Western countries.
The Canadian government has accused the Indian government of using propaganda to spread misinformation and to suppress dissent. It has also pointed to India’s declining human rights record as evidence that it is not a responsible and democratic state.
The Reaction of Indian Diaspora in Canada
There is a sizable number of Indian diaspora, including students from India in Canada, which are divided on the issue of the conflict between India and Canada. Some members of the diaspora support the Indian government’s position, while others support the Canadian government’s position.
Those members of the diaspora who support the Indian government’s position argue that the Canadian government is interfering in India’s internal affairs and supporting Khalistan separatists. They also say that the Indian government is a responsible and democratic state.
Those members of the diaspora who support the Canadian government’s position argue that the Indian government is using propaganda to suppress dissent and that it is not a responsible and democratic state. They also say that the Canadian government is right to stand up for human rights and to support democracy.
Response of Western Nations and China
Western countries are closely monitoring the conflict between India and Canada. Some Western countries, such as the United States, support Canada’s position on human rights. However, Western governments are also reluctant to alienate India, a significant power in Asia.
China is also closely monitoring the conflict between India and Canada. China has territorial disputes with India, and it is likely to see the conflict as an opportunity to sow discord between India and its Western allies.
The Impact of Internal Politics on India-Canada Relations
The conflict between India and Canada will likely play a role in the upcoming general elections in India. The Indian government is likely to use the conflict to rally nationalist sentiment and to portray itself as a strong and decisive leader.
However, the conflict could also backfire; if the Indian government is unable to resolve the dispute on time, it could damage its growing image as a responsible voice of the global south.
As far as Canada is concerned, the conflict has already led to criticism of the Canadian government’s handling of the situation. Canadian MP Chandra Arya has criticized the government for “permitting hate crimes”. The conflict may also lead to a further deterioration of bilateral ties between the two countries, which could have economic and political implications for Canada.
Implications of the use of Public Diplomacy and Propaganda
The recent conflict between India and Canada has led to a diplomatic row, with both countries expelling each other’s diplomats. India has also suspended visa services for Canadian nationals, citing “operational reasons”. The Canadian government has updated its travel advisory, asking its citizens to avoid all travel to India’s Jammu and Kashmir region due to terrorism threats.
The use of public diplomacy and propaganda by the Indian and Canadian governments in the ongoing conflict has several implications. First, it could escalate the conflict and make resolving it more difficult. Second, it could damage relations between India and Canada and between India and its Western allies. Third, it could sow discord among the Indian diaspora in Canada. Fourth, it could damage the image of both India and Canada on the world stage.
It is important to note that public diplomacy and propaganda can be used for good or bad. In the context of the ongoing conflict between India and Canada, both governments must use these tools responsibly and avoid escalating the conflict.