Government is giving foreign deals a closer look

A closer look at Modi’s trips show that while some have yielded vague agreements that may not develop into anything substantial, doubters may still be exaggerating the negatives. Summit meetings accounted for roughly a third of Modi’s visits. And his arrival in each foreign capital made a symbolic statement about New Delhi’s world outlook.

Modi also made a point of repeatedly meeting leaders such as Japan’s Shinzo Abe and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whose countries provide much-needed industrial investment and defence technology. Here’s more.

Record FDI

Foreign direct investment into India in Modi’s first term amounted to $193 billion, 50 per cent more than the preceding five years. At the same time, despite a high-profile push to generate jobs through manufacturing, much of the FDI has continued to flow into India’s services and capital-intensive industries, not labour-intensive ones.

While Modi won investment commitments from long-standing economic and strategic rival China, it largely remains a non-starter. FDI from China totalled $1.5 billion in the four years to March 2018, data from RBI show, against $20 billion President Xi Jinping promised in the five years from 2014.

Energy security

Under Modi, India started purchasing crude and liquefied natural gas cargoes from the US for the first time. In the last five years, he struck deals from Russia to the Middle East securing oil assets for India. He got the world’s biggest oil exporter Saudi Aramco to agree to invest in India’s largest oil refinery, and the UAE. to fill up strategic oil reserves, reducing the strain on state finances.

Related news: India seeks Saudi investment in strategic oil storage, rescue plan for refinery project

More broadly, Modi has maintained relations with Gulf countries crucial to India’s energy security even as he strengthened ties with Iran. However, the opposition has criticised the prime minister’s diplomacy for failing to win continued access to cheaper Iranian crude in the face of increasing US pressure on Tehran.

Big projects

Modi has tried to tap a number of countries for strategic projects, which has occasionally brought him political grief.

After making the first-ever visit to Israel by an Indian Prime Minister, Modi has continued to seek advanced defence and water technology from Tel Aviv. With Japan, India is building a bullet train in Gujarat, although the slow pace of land acquisition has led to criticism.

Also read: Bullet train project to leave no stone unturned to save trees on route

In 2016, Modi signed an $8.7 billion deal for 36 Rafale fighter planes from France. The move has come under intense scrutiny since then for alleged rule violations, which his government has denied. Opponents have continued to use the deal to question the governments anti-corruption credentials.

Soft power

Modi has tried to use his trips to bolster India’s global image as an investment destination and a rising global power. He’s addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos and the Shangri-La security dialogue in Singapore. Modi used a rare informal summit with Chinas Xi in the city of Wuhan last year to patch up geopolitical tensions between New Delhi and Beijing following a military stand off in the Himalayas.

However several trips, including a surprise visit to Pakistan in 2015, did not yield any tangible results. And though Modi has approached diplomacy with vigor, some analysts suggest he has not injected the resources or implemented the reforms necessary to improve India’s standing in the world.