Foreign trips usually mean tourism, business or education but for a few, it means diplomacy, trade and international relations. These people occupy the highest chairs in their respective nations. Leaders often visit foreign countries and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is no different. But sometimes, unfortunately, these foreign trips become a pointless political debate. Whether it was the PM Modi’s visit to the white house or a surprise visit to Pakistan, he was often blamed of ‘wasting the country’s resources for photo-ops’ or ‘publicity’. His critics don’t seem to fully understand or appreciate the strategic importance of these visits. These debates claim that Modi has taken more trips during his 5-year tenure than what Dr Manmohan Singh has taken in 10 years of his tenure.
In this article, we will do an impact assessment of foreign trips by our current Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and evaluate their effectiveness for our country.
To study the effectiveness, apart from a number of trips, we need to look at other factors such as which PM has a higher count of signing MoUs, who had more impact on their visits and cost analysis of total trips. So we shall see both the reports presented and compare the statistics in conclusion.
Manmohan Singh Trips to Foreign Countries:
Mr Manmohan Singh served for two terms and made 200 trips to foreign nations. Many of these trips were either conferences or summits. The important ones are mentioned below. This includes an agreement with Ethiopia regarding tax policy and industrial development in Ethiopia.
Date: 23-25 May 2011
- Agreement between India and Ethiopia for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income
- MOU between National Small Industries Corporation, India and Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency, Ethiopia for mutual cooperation for the development of small industries in Ethiopia
Date: 27-29 May 2012
- MoU on India-Myanmar Border Area Development
- MoU for Establishment of the Advance Centre for Agriculture Research and Education(ACARE), Yezin Agriculture University, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
- MoU on the Establishment of a Rice Bio Park (Paddy and Rural Prosperity) at
Department of Agriculture Research Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
- MoU on Establishing Border Haats across the Border between India and Myanmar
- MoU on the establishment of Joint Trade and Investment Forum
- Agreement on Cooperation between the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) and Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS)
- MoU regarding a USD 500 million Credit Line between Export-Import Bank of India and Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank.
- MoU between Calcutta University, Kolkata, and Dagon University, Yangon
- MoU on cooperation between the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS)
Date: 10-12 April 2013
- JDI between HRD ministry and the Federal Foreign Office of Germany regarding promotion of German as a foreign language in India
- Intergovernmental MoU between India & Germany on Cooperation in the field of Higher Education
- JDI on Indo-German cooperation in the area of Civil Security Research
- JDI Department of Agriculture & Cooperation of India and the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection
- JDI by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution of India and Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology of the Federal Republic of Germany on the Establishment of an Indo-German Working Group on Quality Infrastructure for Cooperation in Standardization, Conformity Assessment and Product Safety.
- JDI between Germany and India on Indo-German Development Cooperation regarding the Establishment of Green Energy Corridors
Date: 29-31 May 2013
- Treaty Between The Republic of India and The Kingdom of Thailand on Extradition
- MoU between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand on the Establishment of the India – Thailand Exchange Programme
- MoU between Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency and Survey of India for cooperation in the field of Mapping and Geospatial Technology Applications
- MoU between Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency and National Atlas and Thematic Organization for cooperation in the field of Mapping and Geospatial Technology Applications.
- MoU between Financial Intelligence Unit, India and Anti Money Laundering Organization, Thailand on Cooperation in the exchange of Intelligence related to Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing
- MoU between Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Thammasat University on the establishment of the ICCR Hindi Chair of Indian Studies (Hindi Language).
Date: 11-12 October 2013
- MoU between the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia on Health Cooperation
- MoU between the Central Vigilance Commission of the Republic of India and Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi of the Republic of Indonesia for International Cooperation on Combating Corruption
- MoU between the Narcotics Control Board of the Republic of India and the National Narcotics Board of the Republic of Indonesia on Combating Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics, Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors
- MoU between the National Disaster Management Authority of the Republic of India and the National Agency for Disaster Management of the Republic of Indonesia on Cooperation in the field of Disaster Management
- MoU between Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, India and National Institute of Public Administration, Jakarta, Indonesia
- MoU between Indian Council of World Affairs, India and the Indonesian Council of World Affairs, Indonesia
Date: 22-24 October 2013
- Agreement on Border Defence Cooperation
- MoU on Nalanda University
- MoU to Strengthen Cooperation on Trans-Border Rivers
- MoU on Cooperation in Road Transport and Highways
- MoU on Power Equipment Service Centres in India
- Agreement between Delhi-Beijing on the establishment of Sister City Relationship
- Agreement between Bengaluru – Chengdu on Establishment of Sister City Relationship
- Agreement between Kolkata – Kunming on Establishment of Sister City Relationship
Date: 3-4 March 2014
- MoA on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Permanent Secretariat
- MoA Among BIMSTEC Member Countries Concerning Establishment of a BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate
- MoU on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Commission (BCIC) and BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Observatory (BCIO)
Manmohan Singh had managed to construct a solid framework within which foreign policy initiatives were pursued by his government. Some of the major steps taken during his tenure included the civil nuclear cooperation with US, India-ASEAN free trade, border talks with China and negotiations on Kashmir with the then President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. The India-Japan relations had lost some of its momentum after Shinzo Abe was out of power.
Manmohan Singh was of the opinion that India’s economic rise and its regional and global profile would increase India’s standing within the international community. Manmohan Singh also stressed that the foreign policy should evolve from time to time in response to the changing realities of the world. He emphasized on India’s economic interests, its economic relations with the other Asian economies, other developing and developed economies to shape Indian Foreign Policy
One notable observation in the above table is that Manmohan Singh had signed multiple MoUs with Myanmar regarding Trade, Border security and agriculture. But this wasn’t effective to keep out Rohingya refugees and created a massive refugee crisis within Indian borders.
MoUs were signed with China for border security, trans-border rivers and development of sister relations of Indian cities with Chinese cities. These cities included Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata. However, these cities continue to face the challenges of pollution, traffic congestion and encroachments irrespective of any pacts being associated with them.
If we analyze the visits of the former prime minister, he has travelled a lot but much of his overseas trips have failed to create any association with the foreign nations. Considering his reign of 10 years, his work could have tilted towards Asian Summits which deals with more important matters like climate control, peace treaties and global policies.
We can say that Manmohan Singh has failed to create an impact that India needed to convert with benefits from other nations. We are talking here about the most qualified prime minister across the World, who once changed the financial policies of our nation to provide us stability in distressed times.
The onset of the Modi government saw a great appeal for overseas relationships. We will be including only the major ones below.
MoUs signed by Narendra Modi in 2014
Date: 11–13 Nov
- MOA on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Permanent Secretariat
- MOA Among BIMSTEC Member Countries Concerning Establishment of a BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate
- MoU on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Commission (BCIC) and BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Observatory (BCIO)
Date: 19 Nov
- MoU on Cooperation on the exchange of information on structure and content of training programs for diplomats
- MoU on earmarking of land for the Diplomatic Missions in respective capitals.
- MoU for extending a Line of Credit for establishing a Co-Generation Plant in Fiji
Date: 25 Nov
- MoU on Nepal Police Academy (NPA)
- MoU on Tourism
- MoU Traditional Medicines
- MoU on Youth Exchange
- LoC US$ 1 billion Agreement
- Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA)
- MoU on PDA for ARUN III
- Twin City Agreement between Ayodhya-Janakpur
- Twin City Agreement between Kathmandu-Varanasi
- Twin City Agreement between Lumbini-Bodh Gaya
Few of the notable initiatives started included the establishment of a permanent secretariat, Centre for weather and climate and Cultural Industries Commission and Observatory with BIMSTEC. Memorandums of Association were signed for same at East Asia summit at Myanmar in Nov 2014. Additionally, few twin city agreements were signed with Nepal to provide aid and cooperation between Nepalese and Indian cities.
MoUs signed by Narendra Modi in 2015
Date: 10–11 March
As part of “Indian Ocean outreach” program to strengthen maritime ties and enhance bilateral development and cooperation
Date: 11–13 March
- MoU between India and Republic of Mauritius in the field of Ocean Economy
- The protocol between the concerned Agricultural departments of two nations for the importation of fresh mango from India
- MoU for the Improvement in Sea and Air Transportation Facilities at Agalega Island of Mauritius
- MoU on Cooperation in the field of Traditional System of Medicine and Homeopathy
Date: 14–16 May
- MOU to jointly setup Photovoltaic (PV) Industry Park in India.
- Tripartite MoU in the renewable energy sector
- MoU to set up a Solar Cell and module manufacturing facility
- MoU to generate 5,000 MW of solar power in the next five years as well as manufacturing of solar modules.
- Master plan MoU on 2000 acre Industrial Park in Kakinada SEZ for hi-end Chinese equipment manufacturers
- MoU for project financing
- MoU for the credit facility
- MoU on the development of potential projects
- MoU to jointly build “China-India Information Service Industry Corridor”
- MoU for cooperation in IT Sector Partnership MoU
Date: 16–17 May
- MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy
- MoU on Establishment of Cyber Security Training Centre
- MoU on Establishment of India-Mongolia Joint Friendship School in Mongolia
- MoU for Cooperation between the National Security Council of both the nations
- MoU on Cooperation between the Ministry of External Affairs of both the nations
- MoU between the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of both the nations
- MoU between the 2 countries on enhancing cooperation between the border guarding forces
- MoU between the Tata Memorial Centre of India and the National Cancer Center of Mongolia for Gifting Bhabhatron-II Tele-therapy Unit along with a Radiotherapy Simulator
- MoU between the Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India and the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia
Country: South Korea
Date: 18–19 May
- MoU for Cooperation between the National Security Council Secretariat of the Republic of India and the Office of National Security of the Republic of Korea.
- MoU between both the nations concerning Cooperation in the field of Electric Power Development and New Energy Industries.
- MoU between both the nations on Cooperation in Youth Matters.
- MoU between both the nations on Cooperation in the Fields of Maritime Transport and Logistics
Date: 10–11 July
- MoU on the supply of Chemical Products between ‘Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited’ and ‘Turkmenhimiya.’
- MoU regarding the Foreign Service between both nations
- MoU between both the Governments on Cooperation in Yoga and Traditional Medicine.
- MoU between both the Governments on Cooperation in the field of Tourism.
Date: 12 July
- Memorandum of Mutual Understanding and Cooperation in the field of Elections
- MoU between the Ministry of Economy of Kyrgyzstan and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on cooperation in the sphere of Standards.
Date: 23–25 November
- MoU on Cooperation in the area of Cyber Security.
- MoU between Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) in Civil Aviation
- MoU between NITI Aayog and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) on Cooperation in the Field of Planning
- MoU between the Narcotics Bureaus of both the nations to Combat Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substance and their Precursors
- MoU between the between Planning Organizations of both the nations in the Field of Urban Planning and Governance
Date: 23–25 November
- MoU between the Ministry of Railways of the Republic of India and the Joint Stock company “Russian Railways” on technical cooperation in the railway sector
- MoU between Solar Energy Corporation of India and Russian Energy Agency regarding construction of solar energy plants in the Republic of India
- MoU for cooperation between HEC & CNIITMASH for development of Centre of Excellence for heavy engineering design at HEC
- MoU for cooperation between HEC & CNIITMASH for upgradation and modernization of HEC’s manufacturing facilities
- MoU Between Prasar Bharati and Digital Television Russia on Cooperation in the field of Broadcasting
- MoU in the field of investment cooperation in the Russian Far East
- MoU for Cooperation for geologic survey, exploration and production of hydrocarbons onshore and on the continental shelf of the Russian Federation
- MoU for Cooperation for geologic survey, exploration and production of hydrocarbons onshore the Russian Federation between Rosneft oil company, Oil India Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited.
In 2015 Narendra Modi went on to explore new countries with which India didn’t establish a prior relationship. Modi went to Seychelles and started the Indian Ocean Outreach program to strengthen maritime ties and extended relationship with Mauritius for improvement in Sea Transportation facilities.
Later Narendra Modi visited China. The visit to China saw some crucial MoUs being signed which included association in setting up solar energy module manufacturing facility at India and manufacturing of hi-end Chinese device manufacturing. This was followed by a visit to adjoining countries that included Mongolia and South Korea. In Mongolia, the deals signed focused on the field of Medicine, Modern education and border security. The MoUs signed here geared strategic influence considering the location of Mongolia with bordering nations. To establish an association in the Far East, Narendra Modi struck up a deal with South Korea for Cooperation on national security and Electric power generation. To establish an association with Superpower Modi also signed MoU with Russia, on Technical Cooperation in the railway sector, and technology in oil extraction.
MoUs signed by Narendra Modi in 2016
Country: Saudi Arabia
Date: 2–3 April
MoU between Financial Intelligence Unit of both nations concerning Cooperation in the Exchange of Intelligence related to Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing and Related Crime
Date: 22–23 May
- MoU between Foreign ministres on Policy Dialogue between Governments and Interaction between Think Tanks
- MoU between Foreign Service Institute, MEA and the School of International Relations, Iran’s MoFA
- MoU between Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Islamic Culture and Relations Organizations of the IR Iran
- MoU between EXIM Bank and Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization [PMO] on current specific terms for the Chabahar Port project
- MoU between ECGC [Export Credit Guarantee Corporation] Limited of India and the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran (EGFI)
- MoU between National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) and the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO)
- MoU between IRCON and Construction, Development of Transport and Infrastructure Company (CDTIC) of Iran
- MoU for cooperation between the National Archives of India and the National Library and Archives Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Date: 4–5 June
- MoU on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters between both Governments
- MoU concerning cooperation in the exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, terrorism-financing and related crimes
- MoU for Cooperation in Skill Development and Recognition of Qualifications
- MoU on cooperation in Tourism between both Governments
- MOU between India & Qatar for Cooperation in the field of Health
- The First Executive Programme for MoU in the field of Youth and Sports between both the governments
Date: 7 July
- MoU between India and Mozambique on drug demand reduction and prevention of illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances
- MoU between both governments in the field of Youth Affairs and Sports
- Long-term agreement for the purchase of pulses from Mozambique.
Country: South Africa
Date: 8-9 July
- MoU on ICT
- MoU on Tourism
- MoU on Grass Root Innovation (S&T)
Date: 10 July
- MoU on Cooperation in the field of water resource management and development between the two countries
- MoU on Visa waiver agreement for Diplomatic/Official passport holders between the two countries
- MoU between both the Governments for Establishment of Vocational Training Centre at Zanzibar
Date: 11 July
- MoU on Defence Cooperation
- MoU on Cooperation in the field of standardization, expertise sharing and mutual trade between Bureau of Indian Standards and Bureau of Kenya Standards
- MoU on Cooperation in the field of National Housing Policy Development and Management
Date: 11-12 November
- Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on the Manufacturing Skill Transfer Promotion Program
- MoC on Cooperation in Sports
- MoU between ISRO and JAXA concerning Cooperation in the Field of Outer Space
- MoU on Mutual Collaboration in Marine and Earth Science and Technology
- MoC in the Field of Agriculture and Food Related Industry
- MoU for Transport and Urban Development
- MoU between concerned Field of Textiles
MoUs signed by Narendra Modi in 2017
Date: 30–31 May
- MOU on Technical Cooperation in Civil Aviation
- MOU on Cooperation in organ transplantation
- MOU on Cooperation in Cyber Security
- MOU on Cooperation in Renewable Energy
- MOU between the Foreign Service Institute and Diplomatic Academy of Spain
Date: 31 May–2 June
Memorandum of cooperation between ALROSA Joint Stock Company (Public Joint Stock Company) and the Council for the Promotion of the Export of Precious Stones and Jewellery of India
Date: 4–6 July
- MoU For setting up of India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F).
- MoU on National Campaign for Water Conservation in India
- MoU on State Water Utility Reform in India
- MoU between the ISRO) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA)regarding cooperation in GEO-LEO Optical Link
- MoU between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) regarding cooperation in Electric Propulsion for Small Satellites
MoUs signed by Narendra Modi in 2018
Country: United Arab Emirates
Date: 10–11 Feb
- MOU between Indian Consortium (OVL, BPRL & IOCL) and ADNOC
- MoU between Ministry of Railways, India and Federal Transport Authority-Land & Maritime of UAE
- MoU between Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX)
- MoU between Government of Jammu and Kashmir and DP World
Date: 11–12 Feb
- MoU on Academic and Scholarly cooperation sectors between Defence Institutes
- MoU in the field of Tourism cooperation between India and Oman
- MoU on Cooperation in the field of health
- MoU on Cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
- MoU on Cooperation between Foreign Service Institute, Ministry of External Affairs, India and Oman Diplomatic Institute.
Date: 29 May
- MOU between India and Indonesia on Scientific and Technological Cooperation
- MOU between India and Indonesia on Technical Cooperation in the Railways sector
- MOU between India and Indonesia on Health Cooperation
- MoU between Indian and Indonesia on Pharmaceutical, Biological and Cosmetics Regulatory Functions
- MOU on Policy dialogue between two Governments and Interaction between Think Tanks
Country: South Africa
Date: 25–27 July
- MoU on Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Education.
- MoU regarding the Setting up of the “Gandhi Mandela Centre of Specialization for Artisan Skills” in South Africa.
- MoU on Cooperation in the Exploration and uses of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes.
MoUs signed by Narendra Modi in 2019
Country: Saudi Arabia
Date: 20 Feb
- MoU on Investing in National Investment and Infrastructure Fund
- MoU on Cooperation in the field of Tourism
- MoU on Cooperation in the field of Housing
- MoU on Cooperation of Broadcasting for the exchange of audio-visual programme
In 2016 Narendra Modi covered the majority of Arab countries and the African continent. In Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Modi signed MoU concerned with Financial Intelligence between two nations in order to curb financial malpractices and reduce terrorism. While MoUs with Iran involved Development of Port infrastructure and Trade exports. The step was a crucial boost in promoting trade with Iran. During the same time, Modi signed MoUs between India and Mozambique for cooperation and mutual assistance with customs on the reduction of drug demand and narcotics drug prevention. MoUs were signed with Kenya regarding the strengthening of defence and mutual trade corporation. The year ended with a visit to Japan where Modi signed MoUs in areas like skill development, Sports, earth science and technology and outer space technology
In 2016, Modi signed some crucial MoUs with Spain and Russia. MoU with Spain included cooperation in civil aviation, organ transplantation, cybersecurity and foreign services. A crucial MoU with Russia was established for the promotion of export of precious stones and Jewelry from India.
In 2017 Narendra Modi created history by being the first ever Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel. The MoUs signed at Israel included enlightened some essential relations between India and Israel. This included areas like Technical innovation. Research and Development, Water conservation reforms and space technology.
Lastly, In 2018, Modi started with a visit to UAE and Oman. The MoUs with these nations between Oil trade, railway trade, stock exchange policies and defence cooperation. In South Africa, Modi signed MoU regarding agricultural research. Another MoU was also signed to set up Gandhi Mandela Centre in Africa specializing in artisan skills.
We present a table below comparing the number of total trips and countries visited by Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. The table below gives region wise breakup of trips made by Manmohan Singh during his two terms and by Narendra Modi in during his present term.
As we conclude, there are a few key points every Indian and every voter must be cognizant of:-
- Total number of trips made by Modi is 94 which is in fact even lower than the total trips made by Dr Singh in UPA-2’s regime
- In his tenure, Narendra Modi has ensured that he clubs the visit to nearby nations saving the country immense time and money. For instance, in 2015 Modi visited China between 14th-16thMay but also covered South Korea and Mongolia in the same week unlike others who made no such attempt
- In terms of signing international deals, Narendra Modi has delivered 322% more than Manmohan Singh (Narendra Modi- 129 MoUs and Manmohan Singh – 40 MoUs) at only 18% additional costs (Narendra Modi 42 Cr and 35.4 Cr).
- In his trips, Modi has covered 30% more nations further expanding and enriching India’s global presence and footprint
- The past 4 years have seen a drastic improvement in India’s bilateral ties with major nations such as the US, UK, Russia, Israel and Japan.
6. Apart from the numbers or the quantitative aspect (number of trips, countries visited etc.), Modi has achieved remarkable success at the qualitative aspects of the trips measured by our bilateral relations, international support, number of MoUs, trade ties etc.
- There are 10 countries including major economies such as Spain, Australia, Switzerland that have been visited after 10 years by an Indian Prime Minister
- It is for the first time that an Indian PM visited Israel- a country whose intellectual prowess, strategic importance and global influence, even the US takes note of. Modi’s visit to Israel yielded multifarious benefits including but not limited to collaboration in the startup ecosystem, defence ties, improved relations and cooperation.
(Note: We have tried to cover all the important MoUs signed by both the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Modi. We have not included the recent MoUs signed by Prime Minister Modi in his visit to South Korea. We have sourced our information from publicly available references. If we have missed an important MoU signed either by former PM Manmohan Singh or PM Modi, we would be obliged to incorporate the information in this article if brought to our notice.)
Head – Project Management Office (Projects, Corporate Relations and Media), for Minister of Finance & Planning, Forests – Government of Maharashtra.