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Globe-trotter Modi has his sight set on foreign policy

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New Delhi: He may have been in the firing line of opposition leaders for his frequent visits abroad but Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems undeterred by the flak – and even the jokes on his foreign visits – to set a new benchmark for India’s foreign policy initiatives and make India a global power.

In just over 18 months after becoming prime minister, Modi has already visited 30 countries, three of them – the United States, France and Nepal seeing two visits each. His first visit, within 20 days of assuming office, was to closest neighbour Bhutan in June 2014.

That Modi is not in any foreign holiday mode can be gauged from his hectic schedules in all the countries he has visited so far and the number of summit meetings with top leaders, including US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameroon, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the heads of state and government rulers of the other countries.

From the tiny island country Fiji to economic giants like the US and Japan, Modi has ensured that he leads by example on the diplomatic front to engage with other countries for economic and strategic interests. Modi’s mission certainly is aimed at catapulting India to a global power in the coming years.

But in doing so, Modi is not trying to usurp the role of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) or for that matter of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Though Sushma Swaraj is generally not part of Modi’s foreign entourage, she certainly should not be feeling left out.

The minister has herself been crisscrossing the globe in the same period – having been to 28 countries as well, clearly indicating the importance the Modi government is attaching to foreign policy matters and getting India the tag of a world power in the future.

Swaraj, like Modi, too is not on any junket and is ensuring India’s diplomatic outreach and strategic partnerships in the present and the future.

President Pranab Mukherjee has travelled to 10 countries in six state visits after the Modi government took over. Vice President Hamid Ansari has travelled abroad thrice in the same period.

Modi has addressed lawmakers in various countries – from Australia to the United States – but his penchant seems to be in a rockstar role in addressing biggish gatherings of Indians settled abroad. From his first mega-show at New York’s Madison Square Garden to stadia in Sydney and Dubai to the recent show at London’s iconic Wembley Stadium (where even British Prime Minister David Cameroon was present), Modi has created an image of being a hit with NRIs.

“Narendra Modi’s foreign policy initiatives have realized the true potential and role of the world’s largest democracy, India, on the world stage,” the website of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) states, making it clear where he wants to see India in the coming years.

Modi’s foreign policy initiatives are not only offshore.

He assumed office with a bang by getting the top leaders of all the SAARC countries, including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to attend his swearing-in in New Delhi on May 26, 2014.

“Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister to embark on a bilateral visit to Nepal after a long period of 17 years, to Australia after 28 years, to Fiji after 31 years and the Seychelles after 34 years. He became the first PM of India to visit Mongolia. Modi has attached great importance to strong ties with the Arab world. His visit to the UAE in August 2015, the first by an Indian PM in 34 years, covered tremendous ground in enhancing India’s economic partnership with the Gulf,” the PMO website states, listing the importance that his government is attaching to engaging with countries which seemed to have been lost on India’s foreign policy radar in the last few decades as the emphasis continued on the big western powers.

Modi has addressed the UN General Assembly, actively participated in the India-Africa Forum, BRICS, SAARC and G-20 Summits and attended other international conferences in Paris, Kuala Lumpur and other cities.

On home ground too, Modi has not let off on the diplomatic front.

He invited US President Barack Obama to be the chief guest at the 2015 Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi on January 26 – a first in Indo-US ties – hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad and New Delhi, had his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott visiting and hosted President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Though Modi has not yet touched base on the African continent, the historic India-Africa Summit was held in New Delhi in October at which all the 54 African nations were represented – perhaps the first time this has happened outside the continent. Modi also held bilateral meetings with several African leaders during the event.

Modi has, with visits to principal central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as also Mongolia, has indicated his government wanted to secure strategic ties with them.

And, as the year is being closed, it was announced that Modi would be visiting Islamabad next year for the SAARC summit. This, on the back of renewed India-Pakistan ties and the renewal of their composite dialogue.

There perhaps couldn’t have been a better way to end the year. (Jaideep Sarin, IANS)

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi Appeals MPs To Utilize Their Winter Season Well

The session would have 20 sittings spread over 29 days

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According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.
Modi asks MPs to utilize winter session well, wikimedia commons

Prime Minister Naredndra Modi on Monday appealed to all MPs at an all-party meeting to utilize the winter session of Parliament well as it will be the last full-fledged session before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing an all-party meet at Parliament House a day before the session commences, Modi said the government was ready to discuss all issues as per rules and procedures and was open to the opposition’s inputs for better working of Parliament.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar briefed the media on what transpired in the meeting.

“The Prime Minister said that we all need to cooperate with each other on the issues of public interest. He underlined that in a democracy both the government and the opposition share their inputs for efficient governance,” Tomar said, quoting the Prime Minister.

“The Prime Minister also said that the government was ready to discuss all issues as per rules and procedures. If anybody wants to bring something to the government’s notice inside the House or even outside, we are open to it,” he added.

Tomar said that all the political parties present at the meeting have assured full cooperation in the smooth functioning of Parliament.

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (Wikimedia Commons)

Asked if the government was ready for a JPC probe in the Rafale fighter jets deal, he said the opposition had several issues including Rafale, farmers’ plight and economy “but they would have to prioritise things as the session was only four weeks long.

“These things can be settled in the Business Advisory Meetings,” he added.

The Minister said a legislation on Ram Mandir was “not the topic of today’s discussion”.

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“When something to this effect comes up, we will let you know,” he said.

He said the government had 46 items on the agenda including three ordinances, Supplementary Budget and government legislations.

The session would have 20 sittings spread over 29 days. (IANS)