Prime Minister Modi’s diplomacy : Visits to countries long forgotten by the Congress government

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday arrived in Rwanda on the first leg of his three-nation Africa tour as part of India’s outreach to the resource-rich continent, becoming the first Indian premier to visit the East African country. His two-day state visit to Rwanda, one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, is symbolic as this is the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister.

As the Prime Minister’s aircraft landed at the Kigali International Airport, he was received by President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and accorded a red carpet welcome at the airport.

Along with the defence cooperation agreement which is expected to be signed between India and Rwanda during the visit, we expect to conclude two lines of credit: one of USD 100 million for development of industrial parks and Kigali special economic zone (SEZ), and another one for USD 100 million for agriculture and irrigation,” said TS Tirumurti, secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs.

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He further confirmed that an important element of the programme would be the Prime Minister’s visit to Rweru Model Village where he will gift 200 cows as a contribution from India to the ‘Girinka’ scheme of Rwanda.

Under ‘Girinka’, a social protection scheme of the Rwandan government personally overseen by President Kagame, poorest families are gifted dairy cows by the government and the first female calf born to the cow is gifted to the neighbour, thus promoting brotherhood and solidarity.

As of July 2018, Narendra Modi has made 39 foreign trips on six continents, visiting 57 countries, since he became the PM of India in 2014. Narendra Modi has set several records since 2014 general elections. Apart from leading the Bharatiya Janata Party to the first parliamentary majority by a single party since 1984, he became the first Indian born in independent India to become the Prime Minister.

Since then the PM has been working relentlessly, commendably travelling to countries and cities that no preceding Indian head of state had bothered to visit in decades.

In 2014, as soon as he was elected, Modi took a trip to Fiji, a first by an Indian Prime Minister in 33 years. Modi visited Australia in November 2014 becoming the first to visit the country since Rajiv Gandhi in 1986. In the same year, he became the first to visit Nepal in 17 years when he landed in Kathmandu in August 2014. Accompanied by a 101-member delegation, Modi was the first foreign leader to address the Constituent Assembly of Nepal.

In May 2015, Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Mongolia. During the trip, he announced that India will extend a $1-billion credit line to the mineral-rich country. This was widely seen as India’s attempt to strengthen its influence in China’s backyard. Later that year, Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel.

The same year, Modi made a stopover in Ireland before his US visit, marking the first visit by an Indian PM to the country in around 60 years. Jawaharlal Nehru was the last Indian prime minister to visit Ireland in 1956. The PM’s visit to Canada in April 2015 was the first Prime Ministerial visit from India after Indira Gandhi’s trip in 1973.  Modi’s visit had helped generate business worth more than 1.6 billion Canadian dollars (Rs7,944 crore), according to official figures released by the government then. Similarly, in March, Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to travel to Seychelles in last 33 years.

In August 2015, he was the first again in the last 34 years to visit UAE. Modi addressed a gathering of around 50,000 Indians at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium there and his 75-minute speech ended with the entire crowd chanting “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.

Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign trips have often become a point of contention for the opposition to target him, his continued endeavour is to position himself as a global statesman and India as a soft power that is democratic at heart and multi-cultural in spirit.

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