Ahmedabad: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said the new reality for 21st century was going to be heterogeneous societies and the biggest challenge was to understand how differences can become a source of strength.
Addressing a gathering of students at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) Trudeau said that India is a pluralistic place and called for strengthening people-to-people connection between the two countries.
The Canadian Prime Minister was replying to a question by a student who asked him as to how as a global leader he wished to change the world further towards globalisation at a time when the global trend of nationalisation was increasing.
The Canadian prime minister, who was in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the third day of his week-long India visit, also visited the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad and Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar before arriving at IIM-A.
“We (should) define more and more through shared values that anyone from any part of the world can come and adapt. That’s what we are doing in Canada. The definition of what it means to be a Canadian has nothing to do with what we look like, it has much more to do with openness to fashion, openness to work, desire to be with each other, love for hockey," he said.
This approach is something that a lot of society is struggling with, and they are turning inward to nationalism and protectionism, he added.
Trudeau went on to say that dividing society on the basis of ethnicity and religious lines was a “tribal" approach to civilisation that has over thousands of years ripped apart these beliefs.
“There are two paths, you can either amplify the anxiety in the troubles in the society or you can take a more successful pluralistic approach, when you actually meet people with different story and believe that we meet them and grow," he added.
The Canadian prime minister answered a range of questions.
Trudeau also defined himself as a feminist, and emphasised on the need for a society to empower women for it to be more successful.
Talking about the discrimination that women face, he said, “Any comment about how a man looks isn’t even an eyelash worth of the systemic discrimination women face. As a man in business and politics, I had lots of advantage but I didn’t get anywhere near to the kind of discrimination, sexism, superficiality and judgement that women go through daily."
He added that he was proud to be part of a gender-balanced cabinet.
When asked about his take on dynastic politics, given that his father, Pierre Truedue, also served as the 15th prime minister of Canada, he said that getting into politics was not an automatic choice for him.
He said that citizens were not fools and they could tell whether someone is genuine in their approach or is trying to live up to some lofty, familial expectation.
On improving India-Canada bilateral trade ties, the Canadian prime minister acknowledged that “there is a lot of room to grow".
“Presently Canada-India trade in goods is about $8 billion a year, which is great. It is $2 billion in services. But we do $2 billion worth trade every day with the USA, so there is a lot of room to grow," he said, adding that discussion on trade of agriculture products especially pulses was on between the two countries.
He ended the event by sharing his fear, stating that the trend of cynicism in the society was the biggest challenge.
“When people start thinking less of the institutions of their society, of their neighbours…it is easy and lazy to be cynical. It is harder to strive for the best, earnestness...This trend is worrisome and extremely tempting. Be hopeful," he told the gathering at IIM-A.