Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently at the tally of 92 nations ( including repeated visits) with just one foreign nation short of drawing equal with his predecessor Manmohan Singh who visited 93 nations (including repeated visits) as the prime minister.
PM Modi’s per nation trip cost comes to almost Rs 22 crore
His most expensive chartered flight was during his 9-day visit to France, Germany and Canada in 2015
During 2015-16, Modi visited 24 nations including the USA, the UK, Germany and Canada
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been in power for the last 4 years and 7 months, is nearing yet another mile stone. In the next few months, before the Lok Sabha elections, if he visits just two more nations, he will earn the tag of becoming the second Indian prime minister to have visited most foreign nations since the 113 nations visited by late PM Indira Gandhi.
He is currently at the tally of 92 nations ( including repeated visits) with just one foreign nation short of drawing equal with his predecessor Manmohan Singh who visited 93 nations (including repeated visits) as the prime minister.
The difference between the three frequent flyers is that while Modi visited 92 nations in little less than 5 years, Singh scored 93 visits to nations in 10 years and two terms. Further, Indira Gandhi took 15 years and three terms to create her record.
If the amount which the country spends only on maintenance of the aircraft, chartered flights and hotline facilities (not including the cost of hotels and other overheads for the PM entourage) during the prime ministers’ foreign visits is added, PM Modi’s visits to these 92 nations comes at a cost of whopping Rs 2,021 crore.
In comparison to PM Modi’s term (5 months short of 5 years), Manmohan Singh’s 50 odd trips during UPA II’s five year term cost almost Rs 1,350 crore.
These details were provided by the Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh. The minister gave trip wise details of the visits undertaken by the Indian prime ministers since 2009 when UPA II was in power till 2018.
On the face of it, one can say that Modi has travelled more and made the nation spend much more than Manmohan Singh. But a back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals an interesting fact.
If PM Modi travelled to 92 nations which cost Rs 2,021 crore, his per nation cost comes to almost Rs 22 crore. However, Manmohan Singh’s trips cost Rs 1,350 crore on 50 nations which translates to Rs 27 crore per nation visit.
Sources in the PMO say that the lower cost per visit by Modi is due to the itineraries being drawn in a way to minimise the number of days prime minister travelled during each trip.
According to the data provided by the minister in Rajya Sabha, the most expensive chartered flight was during Modi’s 9-day visit to France, Germany and Canada (April 9 to April 17, 2015) at Rs 31.25 crore. The chartered flight to Myanmar, Australia and Fiji (November 11 to November 20, 2014) was the second most expensive trip at Rs 22.58 crore.
In comparison Manmohan Singh clocked the most expensive tour during his visit to Mexico and Brazil (June 16 to June 23, 2012) for the G-20 and Rio+20 summits at Rs 26.94 crore.
As fun as it sounds, foreign visits are made of negotiations and diplomacy which can be quite pressurising. For one, Modi has signed 480 odd agreements and Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with the nations he visited.
The prime minister’s travel itinerary was busiest during 2015-16 when within a span of one year, he visited 24 nations.
During the year Modi visited the USA, the UK, Germany and Canada.
He visited France twice and it was during his April 2015 visit to the European Nation when he announced that the Indian government will purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from of Dassault Aviation SA of France after years of disputing over the deal.
In 2016-17 and 2018-19 (till date) he made equal number of trips i.e., 18 nations. In 2017-18, he visited 19 nations while in his first year in power he visited 13 nations.
His visits, during the 55 months depict the interesting blend of diplomatic policy pursued. He has made one visit to 4 nations, two visits each to 10 nations, including the UK, UAE, South Africa and Afghanistan. He has made three visits each to France and Japan. He has been to Germany, Nepal, Russia and Singapore 4 times. And he has visited china and the USA five times.
Diving back into the foreign outreach by the Indian prime ministers, one finds that the country’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, who was part of the Non-alignment movement (NAM) and the global face of independent India, between 1947 and 1962, visited 68 nations. His first foreign visit was to the USA from October 11 to October 15, 1949.
His daughter, Indira Gandhi, holds the record of traveling to 115 odd nations during her three terms as the prime minister which lasted 15 years.
Late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee is perhaps the only prime minister who in his career had been a foreign minister. He, during his term, visited 48 nations. Vajpayee created history when he became the first Indian foreign minister to address the United Nations general assembly in 1977 in Hindi.
Choudhary Charan Singh who was the fifth prime minister of India between July 28, 1979 and January 14, 1980 is the only prime minister of India who didn’t travel abroad while in office.