By Devika Kohli:
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi completing one year of his office on 26th May 2015, several newspapers have declared him as the most travelled PM with 17 countries to show on his officially visited list. They have also painstakingly emphasized the fact that the PM spent 53 days of his first 365 abroad. Some even went so far to compare his travel map with that of Dr. Manmohan Singh who had travelled to 12 countries during the first year of the second term of UPA. However, is visiting more countries a valid parameter against which we can measure the success of these visits, and by extension a government?
The Agenda And The Outcome
Several critics have argued that Mr. Modi’s trips lack substance and are viewed as PR events whose soul aim is to promote his own image. However Mr. Modi asserts that his goal is to bring in investment.
All major newspapers have duly stated that during his first year Mr. Modi has signed a total of 57 bilateral treaties compared to 37 and 22 bilateral treaties during Dr. Singh’s first year of UPA-II and UPA-I respectively. However, the truth is that not a single memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed during his trip to US. In other nations Mr. Modi didn’t have anything new on his agenda except for implementing the legacy created by the UPA.
Issues At Home Being Ignored
Mr. Modi has been strongly critiqued by the opposition leaders for ignoring domestic problems such as those being faced by the farmers and for giving priority to international affairs. Congress leader Veerappa Moily said that, “Modi is touring the world, but has failed to understand the problems of the country.” He further added that the promises made by the PM during elections were yet to be fulfilled. Congress party Vice President Rahul Gandhi also took a jibe at him by saying that, “Our Prime Minister is visiting India […] He can visit Punjab, talk to the farmers […] He will understand what’s going on.” A similar opinion was voiced by Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar, who wonders, why can’t the Prime Minister visit a few Indian villages in distress for a change? This, in spite of the fact that farmer suicides in the country are on the rise, a sensitive issue which continues to be denied the attention it deserves.
Relieving Us From The ‘Shame‘ Of Being An Indian?
In conversation with The Hindu, Mr. Modi asserted that during his term in office he had made expatriates (Indians abroad) take a renewed pride in their country. “Earlier, you felt ashamed of being born Indian, now you feel proud to represent the country. Indians abroad had all hoped for a change in government last year.” Such brazen comments had triggered strong reactions by opposition parties and the public (via social platforms like twitter) alike. One cannot help but wonder how Mr. Modi arrived at the conclusion that millions of Indians are ‘ashamed’ of their origin! I certainly am not. Also, is it becoming for the officially elected Prime Minister of a country to make such derogatory comments about their own people?
The Media’s Reticence
The Hoot ‘rubbished’ the edits on PM’s visit to China in prominent newspapers like Indian Express, The Times of India, The Telegraph, The Economic Times and Business Standard. While Indian Express’s approach to the edit was described as ‘unusual’, the Telegraph’s article was absurd because it opened by saying that, “It is unrealistic to expect every diplomatic encounter to produce a breakthrough”, and went onto write an entire editorial about the same. The Hindu, unlike other newspapers did not write an edit on Mr. Modi’s visit to China. Why? Probably because there is nothing to write about.