There were negative reports in the media of both the countries following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India, how do you look at it?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was warmly received by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 23, when a meeting was held in New Delhi. The joint statement by both leaders mentioned that both the countries are committed to co-operation on many fronts. Prime Minister Trudeau was accompanied by six cabinet ministers. All of them had parallel programmes. Six MoUs in various areas, including science and technology, was signed. Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence of the Government of Canada, launched the Canada-India Track 1.5 Dialogue and also inaugurated the Vancouver Film School in Mumbai. Similarly, a mind-blowing number of opportunities were created as an outcome of this visit. We are busy following up these opportunities. Our team worked really hard and delivered a full programme encompassing business meetings, forums and events, along with engagement with film industries. Canadian and Indian companies have signed 66 new contracts worth $1 billion.
Coming back to the purpose of your Pune visit, what are the high points of your visit to the MCCIA and Tech Mahindra Pune Campus and Valiant?
Pune is an exciting city for us. My visit was to find ways, in which Canada can have a better presence in Pune. I am happy to have signed an agreement with the MCCIA, which will give our trade commissioner an office space in Pune. The chamber has agreed to line up a series of business meetings every month so that they can better connect Canadian and local companies in Pune to look for new opportunities.
The vary first foreign institutional venture capital fund to be established in Pune is Canadian, Alacrity India - a joint venture between Alacrity Canada and local firm here called Ideas to Impact. They just received final approval to go ahead with the first million-dollar funding. We had Minister Bains visit here. He broke the ground for building an incubator centre to help start-ups. Pune is an important destination for innovation in IT space. Alacrity is part of a bigger Canadian company called Wesley Clover International. Solutions by IT entrepreneurs will be used for companies around the world.
During Anand Mahindra and Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit in Mumbai, an investment of around 100 million canadian dollars was announced to set up a new innovation centre in Canada. It will take advantage of work we are doing in Canada in artificial intelligence and data analytics, which will help them find new solutions to their customers in Canada and the same solutions can be rolled out for their globe clients.
Twelve plants of Canadian companies in the automobile sector have been established in Pune. Most of these companies are optimistic of expanding by 20-50 per cent. I visited the new facility of Valiant TMS in the past two years, they have doubled their workforce in Pune.
India and Canada share impressive ties in the educational sector. What are the future plans?
There are 1,24,000 Indian students currently studying in Canada. India is the second largest source of Indian students to Canada. We want to build long-term relations between both countries. We also want to see more Canadian students coming to India, particularly to Pune as the students’ population you have here offers many opportunities. During PM Trudeau’s visit, there was an announcement by an organisation called ‘MITACS’ to support students from Canada as well as India for commercialising the graduate research in various areas.
The Carleton University, which has a Canada-India centre, has signed MoUs with the Savitribai Phule Pune University and the Symbiosis University for IT management and exchange programmes for students and faculties, respectively.