This Article is From Nov 26, 2014

Unlike Congress Leaders, PM Travels Abroad For Work

(Nalin S Kohli is spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Director of the party's Public Policy Research Centre. He is also a lawyer and has extensive experience in media and education.)

During the Lok Sabha elections, as the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi assured voters that his government would deliver more in 60 months than what had been delivered over the past 60 years. Some took this as mere rhetoric.

On assuming office, the Prime Minister hit the ground running. He pledged to work the hardest he could. He urgently course-corrected policy direction while making up for lost time and opportunity under the previous government. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) stands out as an example where, within 90 days,  70 million new bank accounts have been opened by some of the most marginalised sections of society. More importantly, the success of the PMJDY  proves that the government can set, and indeed, achieve bold targets.

Beyond domestic initiatives, foreign policy is no exception. Paralysed and scam-ridden under the UPA, India came to be increasingly regarded as an unattractive and unstable investment destination. The previous government seemed subservient to the whims of party mandarins, which did nothing to help bolster India's image. As a result, capital outflow began to gather pace even as inward investments began to dry up. Indian industrialists began investing outside India.

Prime Minister Modi has led from the front to correct this. In addition to major initiatives within the country, foreign affairs is simultaneously moving at great pace. Setting the tone even before assuming office, SAARC leaders were invited to the PM's oath-taking ceremony in May in a diplomatic coup of sorts. Bhutan in June, the BRICS Summit in Brazil in July, Nepal and Japan in August, USA in September and a 10-day tour of Myanmar, Fiji and Australia for the G-20 Summit in November followed. Investment commitments exceeding 50 billion dollars are already in place, some have even begun to flow in.

Yet the Congress responds with nothing but criticism. For the Congress, it appears that foreign travel is akin to taking vacations in foreign lands. Perhaps it stems from the model that a prominent leader in their party may have followed. Through most of the decade, the nation hardly knew when, where, why and for what purpose Congress leaders were traveling beyond Indian shores. And often, neither did the world take note. Policy appeared to be foreign to the work of the External Affairs ministry.

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Rather than celebrate achievement, the Congress has preferred to constantly crib and criticize, even in the domain of foreign policy where rare political unity existed earlier. In his article for ndtv.com, Mr. Pawan Khera adopts a new extreme in his desperation to find a reason, any reason, however hollow, to attack PM Modi's sincerity of effort (Read Pawan Khera's Opinion Piece). He forces perverse logic to even see existence of a secular-communal debate in the visit to Japan, where the PM presented his Japanese counterpart with a copy of the Bhagwad Gita, widely considered one of the greatest philosophical texts in the world. 

It is interesting to note that the more Prime Minister Modi burns the midnight oil, the more the Congress blindly criticizes him. This is expected. It is as if a centralised whip has been issued to relentlessly attack anything and everything that Mr Modi does, since it brings into sharp contrast the lack of agenda and purpose that the Congress had imbued its own government with.

The Congress may like to take note, that unlike many in its own party, Mr Narendra Modi travels abroad for work, not pleasure. Perhaps a comparative analysis of passport and travel details could be useful to end this debate. In the meanwhile, India moves on and ahead...

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