2020 becomes the first year since 2014 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t visit a foreign country.

The great coronavirus crash of 2020 is different. The year is different to an extent that 2020 has ended up becoming the first year since 2014 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t visit a single foreign country. The pandemic has brought a halt to Narendra Modi’s pre-planned foreign trips. COVID-19 is surely to blame for no foreign trips for PM Modi in 2020.

No travel for Modi in 2020 is surely a part of interesting news as it is very obvious that everyone in India has probably heard some jokes or memes about the foreign visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the past few years. Critics on social media and opinion pages of Indian newspapers are also frequently seen criticising Prime Minister for his foreign visits and his spends on them.

According to data from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) website, until 22 November, Modi had not made a single international trip in 2020. And it’s unlikely that he will visit any country before the year ends.

2020: First year without a foreign trip

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last trip was to Brazil on November 13-14 in 2019 where he attended a summit of influential grouping BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

According to PMO data, Prime Minister Modi has visited 96 countries in all between June 2014 and November 2019. A breakup shows that, in 2014, Modi visited eight countries, followed by 23 countries in 2015, 17 in 2016, and then 14, 20 and 14 over the next three years, respectively.

Modi’s travel has not been particularly inordinate if we compare it to the standards of his counterparts in other countries—or even his predecessor. In 2015, he visited around 23 countries and spent a total of 53 days travelling abroad. But it should be noted that just like Modi, Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also visited more than 20 countries in 2015, including Jamaica, Ukraine and Jordan, and spent 58 days on the tour. 

China’s President Xi Jinping is also no way behind the above two Prime Ministers when it comes to visiting a foreign country. Xi Jinping is even considered to be China’s most travelled leader. Jinping also in 2015 managed to visit 14 countries over the span of 42 days, including some as far afield as Zimbabwe and Belarus.

Modi has not made any foreign visits in 2020, but this does not mean that the Prime Minister has not at all travelled. This year, the Prime Minister visited different Indian states including Bihar, where he went four times to campaign for the recently-concluded assembly elections. While in the month of August, he also made a visit to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh to perform the ground-breaking ceremony for the Ram Janmabhoomi.

Modi’s cancelled trips in 2020

Amid the growing threat of coronavirus in South Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka was cancelled which was planned for the centenary celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s (father of Bangladesh) birth anniversary. His trip was cancelled in accordance with the Bangladesh government’s decision to cancel the celebrations for Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s centenary birth anniversary on March 17.

The deadly coronavirus also disrupted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s travel plans to Brussels in the month of March for the India-EU Summit.

The change in the Prime Minister’s schedule due to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic is standing out because Narendra Modi since 2014 always had a full packed international itinerary. It is only in 2020 so far that Prime Minister Modi has not made a visit to a single foreign country.