Narendra Modi has gone on 16 foreign visits to 15 countries (visiting Nepal twice) since he took office in 2014. Out of these, five have been to summits which include BRICS, UNGA, ASEAN, G20 and SAARC, while the others have been state visits.
There has been criticism as well as praise for the Prime Minister’s travels abroad for bilateral, multilateral and summit meetings with heads of state and fellow heads of governments. Mr Modi has been on a whirlwind tour of friendly nations and his government has played an important part in helping other nations with their problems.
Helping Maldives with its water crises, Nepal with earthquake relief and a half-dozen more nations with evacuation of their citizens from war-torn Yemen has been a show of solidarity, strength and a sign of deepening ties with India’s neighbours by a PM whose symbolism is not only hard, but impossible to miss.
In a series of brilliantly executed foreign policy measures that has seen even the Union Minister for External Affairs noticeably sidelined, the PM has created such immense opportunities for India that even the most ardent of his critics must admit that Indian leadership of this kind on the international stage hasn’t been seen perhaps since the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, and that’s saying something.
Here are the FIVE reasons why a PM on the go has helped India stabilize and improve its image abroad:
1. Marching Westwards
Mr Modi’s visits to the ‘Western’ nations, including the United States, Germany, France and Canada has emphasised on a possible break from Russia’s influence and a march towards the West, an improvement on many levels since India would certainly not want to be seen snuggling with an international aggressor. However, although India did support Russia’s anti-gay legislation at the UN, the trend of this government’s foreign policy is definitely looking towards the west.
2. Looking back East
The PM hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping and is slated to return the visit later this month. But this visit has been strategically placed after his visits to the rest of South Asia. This can only be seen as a sign of solidarity with smaller neighbours in the vicinity who view India as the only friendly nation powerful enough to counter the Chinese threat in the Asia-Pacific. Visits to Bhutan, Nepal, Japan, Myanmar, Australia, Fiji, Seychelles, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Singapore coupled with the invitation for them to attend his swearing-in ceremony sealed his commitment to India again being forthcoming to address issues of regional significance after years of a dormant and laid-back attitude under successive governments.
3. Securing India’s Backyard
‘An iron hand in a velvet glove’ is what Mr Modi truly is. He has made sure that his voice of co-operation and failing that, the sound of his cannons, is heard from Kabul in the west to Dhaka in the east and from Beijing in the north to Colombo in the south. The first concentric circle of foreign nations surrounding India have been made to realize that she will not tolerate indiscipline at her borders and will act swiftly and decisively against those who try to violate her sovereignty as Pakistan has found in recent times.
4. Bringing in Trade
Industrialists have always had better deals and working conditions under Mr Modi’s government since the time he was Chief Minister. He merely took his idea of local manufacture of products to the next level when he was called upon to lead the nation. The ‘Make in India’ campaign has attracted not only the attention of corporate giants and MNC’s, but also various governments who seem to think it is lucrative to enter into an emerging market as vast and diverse as India. There is something for everyone and ultimately the country has a lot to gain if investment keeps pouring in. Sectors previously under government control will gain momentum under privatization and decrease reliability on imports to sustain demand. The value of the rupee will rise and with it, prosperity. The defence sector has been given utmost priority in this drive which is a step in the right direction.
5. Connecting with the Global Indian community