Till date, in his capacity as the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has gone to 27 countries. He has visited Nepal and the US a couple of times. Following is a list of countries he has visited once:
• Sri Lanka
• South Korea
• United Arab Emirates
One of the common refrains among the opposition as well as common people, who may not be as well-initiated into the world of politics, is why is the PM undertaking so many foreign tours and how is the country benefiting from the same?
Major Achievements in a Nutshell
In one of his foreign tours Modi has been able to impress upon Saudi Arabia the reasons as to why it should not be levying premium charges that are applicable on crude oil as and when it is delivered on the agreed time. The agreement to this effect was sealed by Sushma Swaraj, the Union External Affairs Minister, and Dharmendra Pradhan, the Petroleum Minister. During the latest war in Yemen, he was able to convince the King of Saudi Arabia to allow Indian Air Force planes to use the Saudi airspace and successfully bring back more than 4000 Indians as well as people from 41 other countries. This rescue operation significantly increased India’s international prestige. At that time Yemen had been declared a no fly zone and Saudi Arabia had been attacking Yemen.
India has agreed to extend its cooperation with Bhutan by agreeing to create four dams cum hydropower stations in the Himalayan nation. This will enable India to get a part of the clean energy thus produced.
India is also supposed to build the largest dam ever in Nepal. It has been able to edge out China in that particular race. Considering how China is trying to exert its influence in the region by building infrastructural facilities – especially in countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka – this can be regarded as a major diplomatic and strategic victory of sorts. It is expected that India will be able to claim 83% of the green energy produced through this dam in the future and that too without paying anything.
India has been able to strengthen its bilateral ties with Japan on the back of the foreign tours made by Modi. In fact, Japan has agreed to put in 30 billion dollars in the Delhi-Mumbai Investment Corridor.
The PM has also been able to enhance India’s ties with Vietnam which has resulted in the Southeast Asian country allowing ONGC-Videsh to explore oil in the South China Sea area by way of a contract. It needs to be remembered in this context that this is a highly-disputed area. China claims it as its own and does not view any exploration or naval activity in the area favourably. This is perhaps one reason as to why the previous regime, headed by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), was not too keen on taking up this opportunity since it would have meant entering a conflict with the powerful Asian neighbour.
Thanks to Modi, India would now be able to import oil from Iran in spite of a ban placed by the US, which happens to be one of the biggest allies of India and a major supporter to its claim for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Iran has agreed to be paid in Indian currency, which will be a major relief for the Indian Government as it would save some much-needed foreign exchange (Forex) reserves. India is also expected to play a part in building the Chabahar port over there.
Narendra Modi was the first Indian Prime Minister to have visited Australia in 28 years. The significance of this visit lies in the fact that he has been able to procure supply of uranium that is such an essential component in energy production by talking to his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott. Incidentally, Australia is one of the leading suppliers of uranium and coal.
In the last few years the relationship with China has degraded over various issues such as territory and stapled visas being issued to people of Arunachal Pradesh having ruled the roost. All this has taken a toll on the bilateral trade as well. During his recent visit to China, Modi stated that he will start to take measures so that China is not able to make India a dumping ground of its products if it did not start investing in India. It was a successful warning considering the fact that China has now committed that it will invest 20 billion dollars in India. This trip has also allowed India to start the much-needed road in the northeastern border shared with China. Its construction had been delayed during the previous government as the Asian Development Bank had not provided funds owing to China’s opposition.
Modi was the first Indian PM to visit Canada in 42 years. He was successful in getting Canada to provide uranium for the coming five years. Expected to be used in the nuclear reactors over here this will help solve a lot of power issues for India. He has also enabled Canada to become one of the select countries whose citizens get visa as and when they arrive in India.
In order to beef up the air defence of India Modi entered a deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets with final agreement to be reached as soon as possible. France has also agreed to build a nuclear reactor in India, which is going to be done as part of the Make in India initiative started by the prime minister.
In his foreign visits to the US, including the recently-concluded one, there have been a number of significant achievements by the Prime Minister of India. He has given Indian startups a platform to engage and collaborate with their much-advanced US counterparts. He has enabled India to get the support of prominent countries like Russia, Japan, and Germany in its bid for a permanent seat at the UNSC. He has also got Obama to do away with the rule regarding trafficking of nuclear fuel. US is also expected to take a relook at the liabilities rules which will make the path smoother for the 16 nuclear power plants to be built in India by the US.
There is no doubt that what the prime minister is doing is commendable and its fruits will accrue to the generations to come. However, the problem with a third-world country like India is that the messy state of internal affairs often puts paid to any development achieved externally and makes sure that the benefits do not percolate to the masses, which is perhaps the main aim.
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