21 May 2015

Does Modi Need to Go On Foreign Visits So Frequently?

“The previous PM was on Silent Mode. The current PM is on Flight Mode.” You must have read this message a hundred times by now, right? Narendra Modi has visited 17 countries in his first year, and the ‘tours’ just don’t seem to end. Someone had cracked a joke about how empty Modi’s passport was at this time last year.

So what is this showbaazi about? Senior journalist Renu Mittal slammed every move of Narendra Modi lately (surprise surprise?) and said that Modi is doing what every other Prime Minister has done. In fact, she believes that since he has 4 more years in the office, he should space out his visits and focus more on work within India. Well, she exemplifies the ignorance in a lot journalists these days - something that led to them being tagged ‘presstitutes’ and #GoHomeIndianMedia trending in Nepal and India.

Let’s leave our emotions out of the picture and think objectively about Narendra Modi’s foreign visits for some time.

narendra modi foreign trips

Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia was the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 28 years. His visit left Russia and USA feeling somewhat queazy because of some policy agreements, most importantly a nuclear deal and landmark framework for security cooperation. India will now receive a substantial supply of uranium and collaborate with Australia in generating cleaner energy. This should, to an extent, put a tab on the bullying behavior of USA, and increase the bargaining power of India. Modi also pushed for making a resolve to ‘isolate those who harbor terrorists” and called for a “closer security cooperation, but, even more a policy of no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations’. The aim is to make India safer from Chinese and Pakistani insurgency.

Closer home, Modi has visited many Asian countries like Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Mongolia, China and South Korea. Come on! These are countries that we common folk visit on a vacation, right? (I hope you don’t mind being called common folk - anyway it’s Hindi translation is aam aadmi.) Why does a Prime Minister have to visit them instead of taking care of your and my petty problems here? Well, here are some points to ponder on.

The Prime Minister is forming good relations with neighbors, thus securing the borders of India from Chinese and Pakistani infiltration. Also, until recently, India was seen as a marketplace of a vast population, where multi-national corporations could sell their wares and make lots of money. Modi is now making India an investment centre. This will help in technology transfer (you MBAs surely know what it means. If you don’t, because you watch TimesNow and read ToI-let paper, you might have to Google it). It will also increase the number of jobs and reduce our current trade deficit because we will import lesser non-essential goods and instead, manufacture them here, and maybe even export them. The Rafale deal is a significant one because India has not had modern fighter aircrafts since the last 17 years, as pointed out by our defense minister Manohar Parrikar. Developed nations like Australia, France, Germany, USA and South Korea have agreed to invest in India. Apart from Australia, Mongolia (which no Indian PM had ever visited before) and Canada have agreed to supply India with uranium to meet the target of 10,000 MW of hydropower generation each year, which will make India less dependent on costly fuel imports. Apart from saving us time spent outraging when petrol prices rises, this will also save us an enormous amount of money and provide sustainable energy to millions of people who don't have access to it.

During his visit to China, Modi exhorted the politicians, civilians, and even students to think about the their hostility towards India. He also pointed out that China’s steel dumping in India was not ethical, something the Chinese leaders acknowledged and promised to address. Would these have been possible without a Prime Minister as dynamic and steadfast as Narendra Modi? Plus, there are talks about positive steps to work together on railway and other projects to improve the infrastructure of India.

So you see? The 3 key aims of Modi through these foreign visits are:

  1. Secure India’s borders
  2. Encourage foreign investment, and
  3. Build a better India

If you want someone to help you, you have to reach out to them and offer them something first. The law of reciprocation kicks in and the person in front helps you achieve what you need. Common knowledge, isn’t it? And it holds true not only for you and me, but politicians and bureaucrats too. And this is exactly what Modi is doing.

Critics say that Modi is doing the same thing done during UPA II - i.e. no talks with Pakistan. However, India has always measured the effectiveness of foreign talks on the basis of interactions with Pakistan, USA and, to an extent, Russia. Should we continue with age old redundant policies or look to implement new and effective ones? It’s time for you to decide. Do you want to live in an India which progresses in leaps and bounds in the coming years? Where people have jobs and the quality of life of billions is better than today? Or would you prefer living in one where you still keep promoting ‘secularism’ and decrying corruption while the world passes you by?

“I have never seen any leader as rapturously received in Australia as PM Modi”, said Tony Abbott. Modi received stellar welcomes in USA, Canada, Europe, Japan and other countries too. We, his own countrymen, however fail to recognize the hope that he brings, and rant about money and time being wasted on these trips. Now this post is not to tell you to start supporting Modi - if you despise him, you won’t see the light even if it is shining right in your face. And if you are a Modi supporter like I am, you don’t need to be convinced about the progress and development that India can achieve in the next 4 (hopefully 9) years.
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