Lot has been written about Narendra Modi foreign visits as prime minister of India, cynics and trolls have left no chance to criticize him for the same while some tagged him as visiting prime minister of India who spend most time touring the world.
But is Narendra Modi only prime minister who spent substantial time visiting foreign countries! As per RTI reports, ₹640 crores were spent only on air travel under UPA I and UPA II tenure from (2004-2014) while foreign policies were always given due importance since the tenure of P.V Narasimha Rao who launched look east foreign policies to Manmohan Singh frequent visits to USA leading to seal of nucleaur deal which is became major highlight of UPA II. So, why this sudden out cry? It’s because Narendra Modi’s foreign visits has more to do with his public image and media coverage which hovers around and is synonymous to public anticipation and demand. But what need to be noted is; media houses which were carried on public expenses during earlier Prime minister’s visit to other nations have been made to bear their own expenses after Narendra Modi hold the office and only press release from PMO is carried down as official entries.
Comparing Manmohan Singh’s first year (2009-2010) under second tenure of UPA or UPA II as Prime minister of India and Narendra Modi’s first year (2014-2015) difference in number of countries visited is remarkably same while difference in numbers of business delegates meetings attended is huge.
Manmohan Singh visited 14 countries under UPA II during fiscal year 2009-2010. Countries visited were: Russia, Italy, France, Egypt, USA twice (for G-20 summit and Nuclear Security Summit), Trinidad and Tobago, Denmark, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil (ISBA/BRIC) and Bhutan (SAARC).
Narendra Modi’s foreign policy is currently focused on improving relations with neighbouring countries in South Asia, engaging the extended neighbourhood in Southeast Asia and the major global powers. In pursuit of this, his first official visit was Bhutan followed by Brazil (BRICS summit), Nepal, Japan, USA, Myanmar, Australia, Fiji (In more than 33 years Modi became the first Indian head of government to visit Fiji after Indira Gandhi’s visit in 1981), Seychelles, Mauritius (He was the Chief guest at the Mauritian National Day on 12 March), Sri Lanka, Singapore (He attended the state-funeral of Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore) , France, Germany, Canada, China, Mongolia and South Korea.
Narendra Modi spent 54 days abroad while Manmohan Singh spent 42 days abroad holding prime office.
57 bilateral treaties/agreement were signed under Modi’s first year compared to UPA II where 37 bilateral agreement were signed showing healthy improvement from UPA I which were successful on 27 treaties, thus resulting increase in foreign direct investments (FDI) by 18.5% in 2014-2015 compared to 47.12% during UPA I and 17.2% during UPA II.
Narendra Modi’s schedule for mid and end 2015 is going to be tight with visits to Bangladesh (June), Russia (his 2nd BRICS summit meet), Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan visits in July followed by G-20 summit meet in Turkey and state visit to Russia and Singapore in end November-December.
As, Modi quoted “agar jyada kam karna gunah hai to mujhe ye gunah manjoor hai” during his visit to Republic of China, one shouldn’t be wary of his frequent foreign visits as it has helped global market take notice of Indian government movements and intentions and will subsequently lead to change perspective of Indian economy being dormant and unestablished.