Dominating the world

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is flying East to West and West to East with the singular mission to build (or rebuild) India’s image at the global stage.

On his most recent trip, the Prime Minister scalped over 25 deals worth billions with China, inked 7 deals with South Korea and announced a $1 billion ‘Line of Credit’ to Mongolia whilst trying his hand at the traditional ‘morin khuur’ (horsehead fiddle) which he received as a gift from the Mongolian President.

With this outing, India’s globe-trotting prime minister has been to 18 different countries (He visited Nepal twice).

The Prime Minister promised a strong foreign policy to Indian citizens after he took oath on May 26, 2014. The swearing-in ceremony saw leaders from eight neighbouring nations.

His packed travel schedule has been one of the most-notable features of his first year as the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy. 

Modi has spent 52 days of his first 365 as prime minister outside of India.

That’s not very different from his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, who spent 47 of 365 days in 12 countries during the first year of the second term of the United Progressive Alliance, or UPA-II (and 30 days during UPA-I).

What separates India’s 15th prime minister’s trips from his predecessor are some of the nations he chose to visit during his first year in office. These were planned strategically by the Modi government to help India become a global powerhouse.

To start with, his aggressive ‘Look East policy’ has made clear that Modi wants India to strengthen its regional power in Asia.

His Mongolia visit was significant since it was the first ever visit of an Indian Prime Minister to the country, which also takes place in the backdrop its celebrations of the 25th year of democracy. Modi’s arrival opened a new chapter in 60 years of India’s diplomatic relations with Mongolia.

Also, a strong relation with Mongolia will also help New Delhi counter Beijing’s dominance in the Asian subcontinent.

Modi became the first Indian prime minister in 17 years to visit Nepal on a bilateral visit. He also became the first foreign leader to address Nepal Parliament. Modi also announced a credit assistance programme of $1 billion to Nepal and vowed not to interfere in its internal affairs which were a game changer in Indo-Nepal ties.

Modi visited Suva, the capital of Fiji, on a one-day trip in November, 2014. He became the first Indian head of government to visit Fiji after Indira Gandhi’s visit in 1981. His visit to the small nation was important as Modi is always eager to engage with the Indian diaspora and Fiji is home to a big population of Indian-origin.

India and the Indian Ocean island of Seychelles strengthened their ties as Modi’s brief visit, the first by an Indian prime minister in 34 years, saw the inking of four pacts, including one on boosting maritime security.

Modi visited France, Germany and Canada in April 2015. Although Singh had visited Canada in June 2010 to participate in the G-20 summit, the visit by Modi was the first standalone meeting in the last 42 years. His visit to the country saw both the sides coming back to nuclear business.

When it comes to treaties and agreements, a total of 57 bilateral treaties/conventions/agreements were signed during Modi’s first year (May 26, 2014 to Dec 31, 2014), compared to 37 and 22 bilateral treaties during Singh’s first year of UPA-II (May 22, 2009 to Dec 31, 2009) and UPA-I (May 22, 2004 to Dec 31, 2004), respectively.

India’s foreign aid to other countries during Modi’s first year increased 15.84%. This was down by 10.81% during Singh’s first year of his second term, against an increase of 29.32% during the first year of his first term.

If Modi continues to fly abroad at the same pace, in the remaining four years, he can cover at least one third of the world.

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