PM Creates Indian Record for Foreign Visits
Map of international trips made by Narendra Modi as Prime Minister: 1 visit 2 visits
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was more visible to Indian citizens since he came to power, hugging and embracing world leaders across the globe, created a record of sorts by visiting 37 countries in 17 months.
Reports appearing in a section of the media, quoting ‘sources’ now seem to suggest that the PM will cut back on his foreign travels that have become the butt of criticism as well as jokes across the social media. But while independent confirmation, or for that matter denial, of this was not available he has accepted at least four invitations already in this year.
The Nuclear Security summit will take him to the United States in March, the Saarc summit will take him for now his second visit to Pakistan in September or a little later, the G-20 summit will also ensure a second visit to China, a Non Aligned Meet could take him to Venezuela and possibly to other Latin countries as he will be in the region. This list does not include the bilateral visits that he will undertake.
Interestingly the African continent seems to be of low priority with the Prime Minister not having set his sights there as yet. The countries covered by the PM in 2015 include Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Japan, France, China, United States, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Ireland, UK and others.
The Prime Minister has held mega events of the Indian diaspora until curtailed by Singapore laws, he has taken any number of selfies, and of course signed agreements for business, defence, and security with key nations. He is usually accompanied by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval with the entourage of industrialists including favoured Gautam Adani and Anil Ambani. The foreign jaunts have earned him considerable criticism, and placed the government on the defensive against Opposition accusations that the Prime Minister is more abroad than in the country.
Most of his visits abroad are accompanied by as a Congress former Minister put it, “one gimmick one nation” with the Madison Garden diaspora event on the first visit to the US with the nuclear deal also thrown in for good measure , followed by the visit to the Facebook headquarters and a meeting with CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the second US visit; another similar event in Australia; a dramatic decision to scrap an earlier agreement and replace it with an order of 36 Rafale jets in ready to fly condition with France; posed photographs at the Terracotta Warriors Museum in China (this inspired many memes); and most recently the drop by in Lahore after taking off from a visit to Afghanistan.
The follow through has been vague, but the moments created by the Prime Minister have been dramatic to say the least. The Lahore visit topped the list perhaps with the meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the hug and walking down holding hands, a major photo-op that the media in both countries lapped up with great enthusiasm.