I do not know about the Canadians, but ever since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected to power, we Indians have found ourselves marooned at the crossroads of reality and fantasy.
Here is a leader, who is free of all the prosaic political drama. Who does not resort to desperate gimmicks to be in the news all the time. He does not talk about “tolerance” because his government is above and beyond the mere “acceptance” of people. The Trudeau government has whole-heartedly welcomed refugees and immigrants. People of different religions, communities and race, have found the warmth and love in this country. Canada has set an example for the world, by showing what it’s like to propagate affection without any hidden political agenda(s).
And on the occasion of the harvest festival of Vaisakhi, Trudeau did, what was expected of him – took part in the celebrations with the Canadian Sikhs. He took the opportunity to issue a public apology for the 1914’s Komagata Maru incident.
On May 23, 1914, the Canada government had turned away a Japanese ship Komagata Maru, carrying 376 south Asian immigrants. The chartered ship had sailed into the Vancouver harbour; on board were several Sikh passengers from Punjab. They were denied entry because of the strict immigration laws of the time. The Komagata Maru had to sit in the harbour for two months, consequently.
On July 23, a Canadian naval cruiser escorted it out to the sea. Komagata Maru had to return to Calcutta, upon which British troops opened fire when the passengers disembarked, killing as many as 19 people. The others were jailed.
In his speech, a suave Trudeau said, “When we reflect on the creation of khalsa, we think of the cult Guru Gobind Singh ji made, for five brave volunteers, to be inducted into the khalsa. What Guru Gobind Singh ji had in mind was a society based on equality. Those five individuals came from different religions, castes and professions. And that, is as it should be, in a country as welcoming and diverse as Canada is. A country, strong, not in spite of our differences, but because of them”.
“This year, will mark the 102nd anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident… The passengers of Komagata Maru, like millions of immigrants to Canada since, were seeking refuge and better lives for their families… We failed them utterly… That is why next month, on May 18, I will stand in the House of Commons and offer a full apology for the Komagata Maru incident.”
And so spoke a Prime Minister. Firstly, he is willing to apologise for something that happened way before his time, and secondly, he will do it publicly – in the presence of commoners.
People like Justin Trudeau awaken respect among the masses. He has earned every bit of it, and our Indian politicians have a long way to go (if they want to learn from Trudeau, that is).