Prime Minister Modi addressed a cheering crowd of thousands on Monday at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in UAE who had gathered for ‘Marhaba Namo’, the grand public reception held for the visiting PM.
Modi became the first Indian premier to visit the United Arab Emirates in 34 years with his visit to Abu Dhabi, the last such visit being by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1981. UAE has around 2.6 million Indians, a majority of which are Keralites. Facing a crowd of 50, 000 expatriates, the Prime Minister spoke for almost one and half hours about the ties between the two countries, terrorism, and development of India as well as announcing initiatives for the Indian diaspora including welfare fund. It’s the first time such a reception has been held for a head of the state on this scale. India and UAE have decided to join hands to battle terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering and also strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, intelligence sharing and capacity-building. In the joint statement issued by Modi and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, both the nations called on other states to ‘abandon the use of terrorism against others and dismantle terrorism infrastructure on their soil.’ The two countries would cooperate to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region and promote collaboration and inter-operability for humanitarian assistance and evacuation in natural disasters and conflict situations. The Prime Minister also announced UAE’s plan to invest Rs 4.5 lakh crore in India.
Despite having around 700 flights from India to UAE every week, it had taken so many years for an Indian PM to pay a visit to the Arab country. The Gulf region is crucial for India’s economic, energy as well as security interest. The Prime Minister, however, did not talk about the relevant issues faced by the expatriates in Gulf which they often try to bring to the attention of the authorities. He lauded the NRIs for standing with India during the toughest of times and assured them that he would ease the hindrances that stand in the way of exercising their right to vote in the elections. Given the fact that the lower and middle class NRIs constitute a major part of the Indian Diaspora in the UAE, the Prime Minister should have taken steps to ensure smooth travel amenities and rehabilitation facilities when they return to India. Even though he reiterated the ‘Make in India’ initiative, it’s the same government that throws obstacles on the path of investors including foreigners and NRIs who are willing to manufacture in India. Modi maintained a meaningful silence about revamping bureaucracy and making it transparent. He had earlier remained silent when grave corruption allegations against his ministers surfaced but had not taken any steps to tackle the issues allowing the annual session of the Parliament to be stalled.
Modi’s roaring speeches about India’s growth and progress and its charisma would all go futile if he did not adopt measures to rectify the steps he had taken earlier. The country would progress only if it manages to remain a secular democratic republic. Whether the ideologies and policies of the NDA government would aid in countering terrorism and enable peaceful lives for the people are yet to be seen. Only if the government strives hard to win the faith of the minorities and backward communities and bring them onto the mainstream path of progress and development, will the image of India improve before the world nations. The tolerance and cordiality exhibited and the permission to build places of worship for NRI Hindus might have moved the PM. One has to see if he shows equal tolerance towards the minorities in India. One of the main goals of the UAE visit was to end the anxieties and skepticism over Modi’s first ever visit to Israel towards the end of this year. Whatever his approaches and attitude are, the huge level of diplomacy Modi exhibits is laudable.