We caught up with the incoming Consul General, Consulate General of Canada in Bangalore, Mrs Jennifer Daubeny, to talk about her move to India, Indo-Canadian trade and much more.

What brings you here to India?

I moved to India on work in Mid-August this year. I am from the West Coast of Canada from British Columbia. I’ve been in the Canadian diplomatic services for more than 25 years. This line of work was something that interested me even as I went to the university. I have had my previous postings in Prague, London and Mexico.

What kind of a shift has it been to India?

It is an extremely interesting country, for me it’s very exciting to experience that– Going forward India is going to be a more and more important player on the world stage. I feel lucky to be here and to experience some of what is going on. This is a time of great change for India.

It is my first posting in Asia. My previous posting was in London till 2013 after which I spent three years back in our headquarters in Ottawa, Canada. I think you always know that anywhere you go there are going to be differences. They say, in our line of work, going out on a posting is not the hard part, the hard part is coming back to Canada. You don’t expect that to be difficult and then, it is. In India, you have to be very accepting and patient. The traffic in Bangalore definitely takes some time to get ­used to.

What makes the rapport between India and Canada work?

I think the relationship between India and Canada is a longstanding one. The Indian Canadian Community has a long history in Canada. So, you have this historic relationship and it is very diverse. It is fundamentally rooted in values of democracy. Canada stands high on the democratic index and India is, of course, the world’s largest democracy. I am astounded at what goes on in India in terms of local movements. When you have such a huge population it’s great to see democracy in action – all its functioning and logistics.

We’re both very pluralistic countries, with a number of communities within them. Canada is also home to diverse communities. Quebec is a predominantly French region – We have other French-speaking communities, as well as bilingual provinces. Both countries put a great emphasis on tolerance and the rule of law. Of course, human rights are very important to both our nations.

How is the Indo-Canadian relationship in recent years moving forward?

There is no question that the trading relationship between the two countries is growing and will continue to. A recent significant event was the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Canada in April 2015 - it was an excellent step to build a more enhanced relationship. At the time the two countries announced that the relationship between India and Canada had been elevated to that of a strategic partnership. The Prime Ministers have met again since then. The last time they met, Prime Minister Modi said, “Canada and India are made for each other.” They [India and Canada] have a very strong basis for enhancing the relationship and a very strong dynamic between top leaders. There’s a lot going on and a lot will happen in the future.

Tell us about the work of your Consulate in furthering bilateral ties.

The Bangalore Consulate General was established as a full Consulate General two years ago in September, 2014. We have concentrated primarily on trade and immigration. I would like to do a little more on the advocacy and public affairs side and that will involve activities in support of Canada’s global priorities. Some of them involve gender equality and women’s rights. We did a lot of activities around the International Day of the Girl. Another area we would like to involve in is climate change. Sustainability is a huge priority for Canada and India as well. I hope that we will be able to promote some cultural events as well. With Canada’s 150 anniversary around the corner, we might do some events.

How do you facilitate bilateral trade?

We work with Canadian companies looking to export goods and services into the Indian Market. We have an active trade team. We help companies find contacts in this market, help them navigate the system, warn them of any pitfalls they might encounter, make sure they understand the environment – so it’s a range of services we provide to Canadian businesses. In terms of Indian businesses looking to enter the Canadian market, we don’t provide these services directly but encourage spaces where they can network.

What should companies keen on entering the Indian market know?

It’s a unique market, do your homework, talk to people who are already there. Understand the environment before you make any firms decisions. Read our services, we have what we call the Trade Commissioner Service of Canada and that’s our network of trade offices including in India – use them. In terms of networking as well, we think an organisation such as the Indo Canadian Business Chamber plays an important role in helping people develop their connections, we would recommend that they follow up there.

Trying to get more companies into the market is about education and awareness. The ICBC plays a huge role in that regard. We definitely need partners on the ground to magnify the message more than we can on our own. ICBC is a very important partner for us with a very dynamic leadership full of enthusiasm and energy.

Elizabeth Raj | Blogger - Arsha Consulting

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