Astaggering 40 meetings, multiple interactions with heads of some of the most powerful nations across three continents in six days – this just about sums up the whirlwind, action-packed overseas tour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week. Starting with G7 and Quad meetings in Hiroshima on May 20 and 21, the PM went to Papua New Guinea on May 22 where he hosted the third meeting of the Forum for India Pacific Island Cooperation (FIPIC) along with the Prime Minister of the island nation, James Marep. On the third and the last leg of his trip, PM Modi went to Australia where again he was accorded a hero’s welcome. Here, among several other things, he oversaw the renaming of Harris Park in Sydney as ‘Little India’ and met his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese as well as CEOs of Indian companies.
The pattern and the image which emerges from these six days of prime ministerial travel is that of a popular, powerful and respected world leader who has taken India’s position and prestige several notches up in the nine years that he has been in power since 2014.
PM Modi’s presence in Hiroshima, to attend the three working group meetings of G7 at the invitation of his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, was important since India holds the G20 presidency this year. This was the fourth time the Prime Minister attended the G7 meeting as a special guest since India is not part of this grouping. The G7 countries include Japan, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and the European Union (EU). Between G7 and G20, it is the latter which is more important as it is more representative of the new world order. During his entire visit, PM Modi was welcomed and felicitated in an unprecedented manner. US President Joe Biden himself came and hugged him at the G7 meeting in Japan. Marep stooped, Indian style, to touch PM Modi’s feet and take his blessings at the airport. Breaking tradition, a 19-gun salute and a Guard of Honour” was given at Port Moresby itself at night.
A unique quality of PM Modi, which was visible during this trip also, is the way he moulds each of his diplomatic missions into a memorable event. In Japan he gave interviews to the media, sharing his views on the significance of G20, the ills of terrorism and nefarious activities of countries like Pakistan and China.
The Indian leader also gave a message of peace to the world by unveiling the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Hiroshima. After the then prime inister Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to the city in 1957, which was devastated by the nuclear bomb in World War II, Modi became the second Prime Minister of India to go there. His presence in Hiroshima was also important because of the fact that India is not part of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
There was a time when India was considered the leader of the Non-Aligned Group, which included third-world countries. These countries are now termed as the ‘Global South’. Today they consider India as their ideal leader because PM Modi openly raises their problems. It is because of PM Modi that the Indian diplomacy is being valued around the world today.