Narendra Modi’s touch down in China on Thursday will mark the 17th overseas stamp in the Indian prime minister’s passport since coming to office. By the time he returns to India on May 20, he will have added two more nations – South Korea and Mongolia – to his officially-visited list.
Mr. Modi’s packed travel schedule has been one of the most-notable features of his first year as the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy. He was sworn-in as India’s 15th prime minister on May 26, 2014.
By his one-year anniversary later this month, Mr. Modi will have traveled to 18 different countries –he went to Nepal twice — and spent 52 days of his first 365 as prime minister outside of India.
Less than a month into his new role, Mr. Modi took off for Bhutan, India’s tiny neighbor, for two days — his first of many foreign trips that year.
In July, he went to Brazil for the BRICS summit, in August he flew up to Nepal and by September he had landed in the U.S.
Germany, France, Japan, Canada and Indian Ocean nations also figure among the nations he has visited in the past year.
Political watchers think Mr. Modi’s busy international travel itinerary is meant to deliver on one of his core electoral promises: jobs.
“Mr. Modi’s visits are to attract more FDI to India,” said Subhash Kapila, a foreign affairs analyst at Noida-based South Asia Analysis Group. Foreign direct investment in the country will lead to more job opportunities, he added.
Pictures of the prime minister with major world leaders like Barack Obama in the U.S. and Angela Merkel in Germany also create an image back home that Mr. Modi is a world player and promoting India as a global power.
But some opposition members of Parliament have criticized Mr. Modi for not paying attention to domestic problems, such as those faced by the farmers, while he focuses on foreign lands. Speaking in India’s lower house of the Parliament during the recently concluded budget session, Congress party Vice President Rahul Gandhi said Mr. Modi was more away than home. “Our prime minister is visiting India. He is here for a few days. He can visit Punjab, talk to the farmers, talk [to the farmers] in the market. He will understand what’s going on.”
Earlier in December, Derek O’Brien, a leader of All India Trinamool Congress, a regional party in West Bengal, took a pot shot at Mr. Modi saying “please grant a visa to the prime minister of India to come to the Rajya Sabha.”
Still, Mr. Kapila thinks the criticism of Mr. Modi’s jet-setting agenda is too harsh. “I think these are unfair objections,” he said. “It’s just politicizing an issue because there are no other issues.