The foreign policy of the Narendra Modi government, also referred to as the ‘Modi Doctrine’, concerns the policy initiatives made towards other states by the current Modi government after he assumed office as Prime Minister of India on 26 May 2014.
Since his aggressive foreign policy requires him to globe trot often and India has no dearth of situations demanding his personal attention, the PM knows how to turn the world into his office.
During his trips, he has devised a novel way to save time on foreign travel, by sleeping in his plane instead of a hotel. If he sleeps in the plane while it keeps flying, he can reach the venue in the next country right after he gets up in the morning.
While on his trips to Belgium, US and Saudi Arabia between March 30 and April 2 last year, Modi spent three nights on Air India One, while in transit from Delhi to Brussels, from Brussels to Washington DC and from there to Riyadh. He just spent two nights at hotels, one in Washington and one in Riyadh.
On the plane too, PM Modi does not sleep throughout the time on his flat-bed cabin. “He wants a detailed debriefing on the plane after one leg of the trip is over. There is no luxury to return to India and then prepare for the debriefing,” an official said. The PM also wants a briefing within 30 minutes of checking into the hotel in a foreign country where he has an important meeting.
“It is unprecedented to complete a PM’s multination trip involving US in just 97 hours. If the PM had not chosen to sleep on the plane, we would not have been back for at least six days,” a senior government official had told sources.
As part of official foreign trips, Modi has reportedly travelled 3.4 lakh kilometres over the last three years.The prime minister has been on 57 foreign tours over 119 days, which is approximately 10 percent of his time as the PM.
As per the official PMO website, Modi has travelled approximately eight-and-a-half times around the globe since he took charge as prime minister in 2014.Such an aggressive push towards travelling to different countries as a mode of diplomacy is a dramatic change from the approach adopted by other leaders before him.
Modi’s first foreign policy outlook were revealed during the run up for the Prime Ministerial candidature in his party in 2013 when on a program called ‘Think India, dialogue forum’ had outlined that improving relations with immediate neighbours would be his priority as peace and tranquillity in South Asia is essential for realizing his development agenda.
Significantly Modi also pledged to introduce the concept of para diplomacy in India where each states and cities would have liberty to forge special relation with countries or federal states or even cities of their interest.
Modi wanted bilateral trade to dominate the relations with most countries except few important global powers with which India shares a strategic partnership.
Even before he formally took charge of office Modi, Prime Minister elect, had made his maiden foreign policy statement by inviting all the heads of state/heads of government of India’s neighbours.
Modi’s swearing-in ceremony featured nearly all the SAARC leaders along with Navin Ramgoolam of Mauritius who holds an observer status at the grouping. Guests list included Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, Bhutan’s Tshering Tobgay, Maldives’ Abdulla Yameen, Nepal’s Sushil Koirala, Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif, Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mauritius’s Navin Ramgoolam.
As Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was travelling, parliamentary Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury came instead. Significantly Lobsang Sangay, the Prime Minister of Tibetan Government-in-Exile, was also spotted seating in the spectators gallery.
India, as one of leading developing countries, plays an active role in important multilateral forums for global governance such as United Nations, World Trade Organization, G20 leaders summit, East Asia Summit, BRICS summit of emerging economies, Commonwealth of Nations and often seen as a “third world voice’.
Apart from these big platforms India also engaged in many regional groupings like the BASIC, Shangai Cooperation Organisation, Indian Ocean Rim Association, ISBA Dialogue Forum, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, BIMSTEC among others.
Modi’s foreign policy is currently focused on improving relations and in pursuit of this Modi has made multiple trips to nine countries, four times to the United States, twice to China, France, Afghanistan, Japan, Nepal, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan.
He has also covered all continents except Antarctica. His visits have included those to the major powers in the world today as well as smaller island nations in the Indian Ocean, central Asian countries, SAARC nations among others.
However, just for records, it may be noted that no leave has been availed by present Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi since taking over charge,” the PMO said. “The Prime Minister of India is on duty all the time”, it said.