AHMEDABAD: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today said heterogeneous society is the new reality and the biggest challenge is to understand how differences can become a source of strength --"something that India and Canada have done fairly well" and "can do better".
Calling himself a "feminist", Trudeau also said that "we as a society" are under-performing as women are not being given an opportunity to contribute to their full potential.
He was addressing a gathering of students at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A).
"The new reality of the 21st century is going to be more and more heterogeneous community and society, and the biggest challenge we are going to have as species is doing something that India and Canada have done fairly well- that is to understand how differences can become a source of strength," he said.
Trudeau was replying to a question by a student, who asked that "when the global trend of nationalisation is on the rise, how does he, as a global leader, wish to change the world further towards globalisation".
"One realisation that we all need to have is that we are witnessing more and more encounters with differences.
When we meet people who have different stories and background from us, we learn and grow and create a more resilient community," Trudeau said.
"But the challenge around that is that identities start to break down.
If you think of typical citizens of France, South Korea or South Africa might look like, you might have certain images coming to your mind," he added.
"As you get more heterogeneous and pluralist society, the idea that typical citizens no longer rest on surface attributes like language, ideology.
It is anchored, instead, in shared values, values that society collectively ascribes or subscribe to," he said.
"We (should) define more and more through shared values that anyone from any part of the world can come and adapt to.
"That's what we are doing in Canada. The definition of what it means to be a Canadian has nothing to do with what we look like, has much more to do with openness to fashion, openness to work, desire to be with each other, love for hockey," he said.
This approach is something that a lot of society is struggling with, and they are turning inward to nationalism and protectionism, he said.
"India as a pluralistic place has always done reasonably well, and can always do better like we (Canada) can do better, particularly with our indigenous people," he said.
"We have to make a fundamental choice," the Canadian PM said.
He stressed that understanding that empowering women is not just the right or nice thing to do, but it's the smart thing to do, is extremely important.
"I am a feminist. It is a word with certain connotation, loaded with meaning, but at the very root of it it is very simple. If you think man and woman ought to be equal, and ought to have same opportunities, and if you recognise that there is still a lot of work to do to get there, you are also a feminist," Trudeau said.
"We are under-performing as society because we are not giving women the opportunity to contribute, we are not allowing them the opportunity to fulfil their full potential.
"We cannot have a successful society or economy if you have 50 per cent of population not contributing as fully as they should," he said.