The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, might have caught some cold vibes from the Indian government at the beginning of his week-long visit, but Indian millenials were all there to treat him as a celebrity. Of course, an immigration visa to Canada was also on top of mind of many who came to give him "all our love."
Standing behind heavy barricading with security officials hovering around them, the young had much to ask and tell Trudeau at the Youth Changemakers Conclave held on Saturday morning at the Indira Gandhi National Stadium. The extravaganza attracted school students, college goers and young adults who had just started working, from across the state. The school students were often accompanied by their teachers.
A group of girls who did not want to reveal the name of their college told IANS: " We are here only for Justin. He is so charismatic. I hope I get my visa and have him as my PM".
Many were in the queue for over two hours to get in, but all of them showed excitement to just see and hear Trudeau give his key note address, although there were other speakers like Actress Dia Mirza and human rights transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi.
A student, with a touch of cynicism said politicians everywhere were more or less the same. "The only way we can distinguish the slightly better ones from the not-so-good ones are by how they conduct themselves in public. Trudeau does a good enough job of that," she added.
A group of boys and girls who were dressed in formals so that if "Trudeau sees us he doesn't think we are here for time-pass".
Talking about the invitation -- later rescinded -- to a Khalistani separatist, Jaspal Atwal, for a reception that was hosted in honour of Trudeau, one of the youths said it was wrong on their part to have extended invitation, though it was not right for India to "snub" Trudeau for it. "We need to look at the situation more maturely from both sides," another youth said.
One of the college students had a question for the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi: "Whatever happened to 'atithi devo bhave'? Whatever you may feel, how can you be so rude as not to welcome a prime minister of Canada? Even if you don't like some gesture of his or some factor, will a warm hug and receiving him at the airport make you a smaller person? You are setting an example for the youth of this country, dear prime minister."
Just after this student spoke, one of his friends asked him to keep quiet because "today you are dead if you speak against anybody in the ruling party," requesting IANS not to disclose their identities.
One of the student could not suppress her excitement. "He (Trudeau) comes across as a gentleman, and I hope I get to finish my education in his country".
Asked why they wanted to go to Canada, she said: "That country is clean and devoid of the kind of corruption that we have in India. People don't get raped there on a daily basis as if it's just another normal thing. Also, look at the medical facilities that my parents would get. In this country a kidney can go missing if we go for a lung operation," she added.
(Kishori Sud can be reached at email@example.com