- REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been roundly mocked for a series of political, cultural, and fashion blunders during his trip to India.
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not acknowledge his arrival on social media and sent a junior-level agricultural minister to meet him at the airport.
- Indian citizens, politicians, and pundits have been ripping Trudeau for various elements of his trips, while the papers back in Canada do the same.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, normally a darling of Western media, has been roundly, and sometimes savagely, mocked for a trip to India that included cultural, fashion, and political blunders at every turn.
Trudeau’s trip began to go awry right off the bat. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known for his social-media savvy, did not make any posts welcoming Trudeau, who was greeted off the plane by a low-level agricultural minister.
On Tuesday, Trudeau’s wife, Sophie, posed for a photo with Jaspal Atwal, a Sikh separatist who was once convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian politician.
Back in Canada, Trudeau’s liberal party has ties to the country’s Sikh community, some of whom support the Khalistan movement, which backs a new Sikh state in India’s Punjab region. When Outlook India magazine pointed this out, it found itself disinvited from a dinner with Trudeau.
“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau feted the world over as the new face of ‘liberalism’ seem to find it difficult to accommodate critical media coverage,” the magazine wrote.
Though Trudeau assured India’s government that he didn’t back the separatist movement, Canada’s diplomatic mission had also sent a dinner invitation to Atwal – which it later rescinded.
Cultural appropriation, or just trying too hard?
- Thomson Reuters
But the political blunders paled in comparison with the more visible cultural missteps. On several occasions Trudeau and his family appeared dressed in traditional Indian clothing, something other Western politicians don’t usually attempt with such vigor.
Prominent Indian personalities expressed their distaste for Trudeau’s dress, with India Today calling it “tacky.” Trudeau showed up at an event full of Bollywood stars in full traditional dress, while the movie stars themselves simply wore black suits.
On social media, popular Indian personalities put it more bluntly, calling for Trudeau to “have some chill” and calling his outfit choices “fake and annoying.”
Is it just me or is this choreographed cuteness all just a bit much now? Also FYI we Indians don’t dress like this every day sir, not even in Bollywood. pic.twitter.com/xqAqfPnRoZ
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) February 21, 2018
At one point, Trudeau, wearing traditional dress, broke into the Indian dance called the Bhangra, to a mixed reaction on Twitter.
Back at home, the trip hasn’t played well for Trudeau, who was criticized for making his visit largely about photo opportunities and less about handling business.
“I don’t know if Justin Trudeau thinks that international trade missions are reality-TV shows, but they are not,” the Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, Trudeau’s main opponent, told Reuters.
On CTV, a major Canadian news broadcaster, the host Don Martin said, “If this is Trudeau putting Canada ‘back’ on the world stage, we should get off.”
Trudeau’s hometown paper, the Ottawa Citizen, compared Trudeau’s India trip to George H.W. Bush’s 1992 trip to Tokyo, where Bush vomited on Japan’s prime minister.
“As for what ‘the work, achievements and objectives’ of this cavalcade of embarrassment might amount to, it would have been better, in hindsight, if Trudeau had gone to India alone, invited himself to dinner with Modi, and thrown up in his lap,” the Citizen wrote.
Five days into the trip, when Modi finally acknowledged Trudeau’s trip on social media, he did so with a picture of Trudeau in normal dress from 2015.
I hope PM @JustinTrudeau and his family had a very enjoyable stay so far. I particularly look forward to meeting his children Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien. Here is a picture from my 2015 Canada visit, when I'd met PM Trudeau and Ella-Grace. pic.twitter.com/Ox0M8EL46x
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 22, 2018