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Modi vs Manmohan: Both Global Roamers

Chaitanya Mallapur,
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is executing his “fast-track diplomacy”—as his government calls it—with gusto: Including his current China visit, he will have been abroad for 53 of 365 days in 17 countries during his first year as Prime Minister.

 

That’s not very different from 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).

 

Modi promised a strong foreign policy to the people of India after he took oath on May 26, 2014. The swearing-in ceremony was attended by leaders from eight neighbouring nations.

 

Here’s the most striking difference between the two PMs: Modi has made more state visits—official visits to countries—compared to summit-oriented visits by Singh.

 

Modi and Singh: Foreign Tours During First Year
Singh 1st term-1st year visits Dates Days Singh 2nd term-1st year visits Dates Days Modi 1st year visits Dates Days
Thailand (BIMSTEC Summit) Jul 29-31, 2004 3 Russia (Shanghai Coop. Org./BRIC summits) Jun 15-17, 2009 3 Bhutan Jun 15-16, 2014 2
UK Sep 19-20, 2004 2 Italy (G-8) Jul 7-11, 2009 5 Brazil (BRICS Summit) Jul 13-18, 2014 6
USA (UN Gen. Assembly) Sep 21-27, 2004 7 France Jul 13-14, 2009 2 Nepal Aug 3-4, 2014 2
Netherlands (India-EU Summit) Nov 7-10, 2004 4 Egypt (Non-Aligned Movt.) Jul 15-17, 2009 3 Japan Aug 31-Sep 3 2014 4
Laos (India-ASEAN Summit ) Nov 28-30, 2004 3 USA (G-20) Sep 23-27, 2009 5 USA (UN Gen. Assembly/Bilateral visit) Sep 25-30, 2014 6
Mauritius Mar 30-Apr 2, 2005 4 Thailand (ASEAN-INDIA/East-Asia Summits) Oct 23-25, 2009 3 Myanmar (East Asia/ASEAN-India Summit) Nov 11-13, 2014 3
Indonesia (Afro-Asian Summit) Apr 22-25, 2005 4 USA Nov 21-26, 2009 6 Australia (G20 Summit/Bilateral visit) Nov 14-18, 2014 5
Russian Federation May 8-10, 2005 3 Trinidad & Tobago (Commonwealth Heads of Govt.) Nov 27-28, 2009 2 Fiji Nov 19-20, 2014 2
Denmark (Climate Summit) Dec 17-18, 2009 2 Nepal (SAARC Summit) Nov 25-27, 2014 3
Russia Dec 6-8, 2009 3 Seychelles Mar 10-11, 2015 2
Saudi Arabia Feb 27-Mar 1, 2010 3 Mauritius Mar 11-12, 2015 1
USA (Nuclear Security Summit) Apr 10-13, 2010 4 Sri Lanka Mar 13-14, 2015 2
Brazil (IBSA/BRIC summits) Apr 14-16, 2010 3 France Apr 09-11, 2015 3
Bhutan (SAARC summit) Apr 28-30, 2010 3 Germany Apr 12-14, 2015 3
Canada Apr 14-17, 2015 3
China May 14-16, 2015 3
Mongolia May 17, 2015 1
South Korea May 18-19, 2015 2
TOTAL 30 47 53

Source: Ministry of External Affairs Annual reports: 2004-05, 2009-10, 2014-15

 

Modi has been criticised for his foreign visits and days spent out of the country. But Singh was nearly as well travelled as Modi, in terms of days abroad.

 

Modi intends to use public diplomacy to project India’s soft power, as IndiaSpend reported earlier.

 

In terms of visits by heads of states to India, Modi’s first year saw 23 visits compared to 30 and 29 visits during Dr. Singh’s first year of his first and second terms respectively.

 

Parameters Singh, May-Dec 2004 Singh, May-Dec 2009 Modi, May-Dec 2015
Bilateral (Treaties/ Conventions/ Agreements Signed) 22 37 57
Multilateral (Treaties/ Conventions/ Agreements Signed) 2 1 5
Instruments of full powers issued 3 13 5
Instruments of ratification/accession 14 5 10

Note: Definitions of the terms used can be found here. Source: Ministry of External Affairs Annual reports: 2004-05, 2009-10, 2014-15

 

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

 

Parameters Singh 1st year-1st term Singh 2nd term-1st year Modi first year
2003-04 2004-05 % growth 2008-09 2009-10 % growth 2013-14 2014-15 % growth
Foreign Aid ($ million) 161 208 29% 414 370 -11% 848 982 16%
Foreign Direct Investment 2 3 47% 31 26 -18% 24 29 19%
Foreign Exchange Reserves 107 136 26% 242 255 6% 304 342 12%
Exports 64 84 31% 185 179 -4% 314 311 -2%
Imports 78 112 43% 304 288 -5% 450 448 -0.5

Note: Figures for Foreign Aid in US $ million and rest of the figures are in US $ billion; Sources: In the following list, 1 stands for 2003-04, 2 for 2004-05, 3 for 2008-09, 4 for 2009-10, 5 for 2013-14 and 6 for 2014-15. Foreign Aid: 1,2,3,4,5,6; Foreign Direct Investment: 1 to 6, Figures for FDI 2014-15 are up to February 2015; Foreign Exchange Reserves: 1,2,3,4,5,6; Exports and Imports: 1 to 4, 5 & 6

 

India’s foreign aid to other countries during Modi’s first year increased 16%. This was down by 11% during Singh’s first year of his second term, against an increase of 29% during the fist year of his first term.

 

Foreign direct investment (FDI) registered a growth of 19% in 2014-15 over 2013-14. During Singh’s first year of his first term, FDI saw an increase of 47% but declined 18% during his first year of second term.

 

Foreign exchange reserves in 2014-15 registered a growth of 12% over its previous year. The same saw an increase of 5% and 26%, respectively, during Singh’s first year of his two terms.

 

In terms of dollars, exports and imports declined 2% and 0.5%, respectively, in 2014-15 from 2013-14. In Singh’s first year of his second term, exports and imports declined far more sharply, 4% and 5%, respectively.

 

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, under Modi, has restored some purpose and direction to India’s foreign policy, missing during the UPA’s second term, according to Dr. Uttara Sahasrabuddhe, professor for International Politics, University of Mumbai.

 

The breakthrough in the Indo-US nuclear deal during Dr. Singh’s first term was the chief highlight of his foreign policy. During his second term, foreign policy lacked direction, Sahasrabuddhe said, as his leadership was not accepted within the party and was largely driven by the bureaucracy, unlike Modi, who exerts greater control over foreign policy.

 

(Mallapur is a policy analyst with IndiaSpend.)

 

Image Credit: Press Information Bureau

 


 

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  1. Raakshasan Reply

    May 18, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Actual figure is MSM – 12/14 days abroad (UPA – I/UPA-II) and Modi – 30 days abroad (not counting the Summits they have participated as head of state)

  2. HARSHVARDHAN Reply

    May 19, 2015 at 10:00 am

    This article is an eye opener for those who criticise foreign visits of Shri Narendra Modi.Few people are saying that he is in flight mode but I say he is in right mode because flight mode generally means silent and no network coverage which was actually characteric feature of Manmohan Singh’s foreign visits but Shri Modi is keeping his points very strongly at world stage and is connecting with not only governments of our important neighbors and strategic partners but also with the common people and Indians living in the country and this provides immense strength to our relation as government can change but people remain the same which I think lacked in the foreign policy of other Indian PMs.His policy to focus on relation with our immediate neighbors has further improved our understanding with them.So act east policy which I think lacked in other PMs foreign policy has further helped India in emerging as a strong country. We must appreciate it.

  3. Vishal Samota Reply

    June 23, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Modi is the best PM ever; he is always thinking about the growth of India. He never think about the party or any profit for him.

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