According to reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hectic travel schedule and his government’s advertising blitz over the past four-and-a-half years have cost Indian taxpayers about 65.9 billion rupee or 2010 crore ($920 million). Our very own globe-trotting prime minister’s 84 trips around the world cost roughly $280 million, while the government spent $640 million on promoting PM Modi’s flagship projects and achievements, according to new government data.
Apparently, the money spent on each trip, combined with the cost of maintenance on Air India One and setting up a secure hotline, was provided in a response to a lawmaker’s question in parliament by VK Singh, the country’s junior foreign minister. Also, the money on advertisement spent — some of which bear PM Modi’s image — was made in parliament by Rajyavardhan Rathore, the junior minister for information and broadcasting.
Since the time Modi has taken his office, PM Modi has maintained a punishing pace of world travel, meeting some global leaders such as US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe multiple times in a bid to boost India’s influence in global affairs and secure its strategic interests.
An informal summit with President Xi Jinping in the Chinese city of Wuhan, are credited as diplomatic successes. After a tense stand-off in the Himalayas, Modi’s meeting with China’s leader was seen as ushering in a detente between the world’s two most-populous countries.
Others generated some controversy too
It is to be noted that Narendra Modi’s trip to Japan in 2016 — which came immediately after PM Modi eliminated 86 per cent of India’s currency, sending millions into bank queues to exchange worthless cash — led to accusations by the opposition that he was travelling the world while ordinary Indians were struggling.
And the reason for some of his other foreign trips were also a bit odd. While on a trip to Africa, PM Modi — a vegetarian and devout Hindu nationalist who reveres and worships bovines — gave Rwandan villagers 200 dairy cows on a beef-eating continent where there is a possibility of them getting slaughtered. In an effort to take Yoga to an international level (and neglecting the other major trade deficit in the country) PM Modi had also signed a memorandum of understanding to open a yoga college in China’s Yunnan province, and pledged to cooperate with Turkmenistan on both yoga and traditional Indian medicine, according to government statements.
PMO’s spin doctors tried to justify his innumerable foreign trips to these sorts of agreements — inspirational, though sometimes vaguely-worded — were signed with countries as varied as China and Palestine. Not-to-forget, in Oman, a memorandum of understanding was signed pledging ‘cooperation in the field of health’. PM Modi’s diplomats promised to cooperate ‘in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes’, in Portugal. An agreement on similar issues were also signed by India with Vietnam and Oman.