Canadian PM Trudeau roundly mocked for political, fashion blunders during disastrous trip to India

Business Insider | Feb 23, 2018, 05.00PM IST

trudeau india

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Trudeau dressed like this to visit the holy Sikh shrine of Golden temple, but he also dressed like this at the airport.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been roundly mocked for a series of political, cultural, and fashion blunders during his trip to India.
  • India's Prime Minister Nandera 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 different elements of his trips, while the papers back in Canada do the same.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, normally the 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.

Right off the bat, Trudeau's trip got off to a bad start. Indian Prime Minister Nandera 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 convicted terrorist Jaspal Atwal, a Sikh separatist. Back in Canada, Trudeau's liberal party has ties to the country's Sikh minority, 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, they found themselves disinvited from a dinner with Trudeau. "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau feted the world over as the new face of 'liberalism' seem [sic] to find it difficult to accommodate critical media coverage," the magazine wrote. 

Even after Trudeau assured India's government that he didn't back the separatist movement, Canada's diplomatic mission sent and then rescinded a dinner invitation to a man convicted of trying to kill an Indian politician.

Cultural appropriation, or just trying too hard?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets the audience as he leaves after attending the Canada-India business forum in Mumbai, India, February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Thomson Reuters

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets the audience as he leaves after attending the Canada-India business forum in Mumbai

But the political blunders paled in comparison to the more visible cultural and fashion missteps. On several occasions Trudeau and his entire 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."

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," Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer, Trudeau's main opponent, told Reuters.

On CTV, a major Canadian news broadcaster, host Don Martin said that "If this is Trudeau putting Canada 'back' on the world stage, we should get off."

Trudeau's hometown paper, the Ottawa Citizen, compared his trip to India to George H.W. Bush's 1992 trip to Tokyo, when he vomitted 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.


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