Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing controversy for dancing the bhangra in traditional Indian clothing before meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 23.
Trudeau is no bhangra novice. In 2009, he danced to the theme song of a Bollywood film at the India-Canada Association of Montreal. In 2015, the video surfaced, went viral, and swooped Indians off their feet. The reaction to his dancing in New Delhi, however, was decidedly different.
Despite already facing severe criticisms for his outfits during the trip, Trudeau made an entrance as he came on stage at the Canadian High Commission. Once again, he dressed in traditional Indian attire as he danced to the beating of drums. The crowd went wild, but social media around the world responded with a storm of mixed criticisms.
Some tweets derided his failed attempt to embrace Indian culture. Imperial College Business School student Atirav Kapur tweeted, “Can someone tell him Indians don’t live like they are in a Bollywood set 24×7.” Dhruva Jashankar, a member of the Indian office of world-renowned think tank the Brookings Institution, agreed with Trudeau’s analysis of his visit as “one for the history books” in a tweet, replying, “Oh, you bet.” Karim Jivraj, a past Conservative candidate for the Canadian Parliament tweeted a strong criticism of Trudeau: “Beyond the callow & undignified nature of his performance, Trudeau signalled to a regional power & its 1.3b citizens that the Canadian government views India & Indian culture as nothing more than a giant Bhangra dance spectacle. Astoundingly condescending & offensive.” Many more showed harsh criticism through the hashtag #trudeautravels and memes that ridicule Trudeau getting ready for hypothetical diplomatic trips all around the world.
A few others were more forgiving, though mostly in light of their opinions about Indian politics. Jairaj Singh, the editor of Daily O, an analysis and blog platform from associated with India Today, tweeted, “It’s official, I think we should keep him. You can take ours.”
Even though the majority of the trip represented a series of diplomatic disasters, it ended on a high note with Trudeau and Modi meeting at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, in Delhi, Trudeau now wearing a suit and tie.