Mod to Visit Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique

Letter from New Delhi

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is preparing to visit Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique this July.

That’s not all; India’s President Pranab Mukerjee is likely to travel to Ghana and Nigeria during this year.

And moreover, India’s Vice President Hamid Ansari will go to Morocco and Senegal.

These initiatives by top three Indian leaders are a natural followup to the most successful India Africa Summit held in New Delhi last year attended by almost all heads of African states.

In Kenya and South Africa, PM Modi is certain to get a rousing welcome from the large Indian communities settled in these countries. South Africa has an estimated 1.8 million and Kenya has over 100,000 Indians but it is expected that many thousands from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania will converge to Kenya to greet PM Modi in Nairobi.

“It has long been recognised that Africa holds huge importance for India. But it was realised more in 2011 when former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Ethiopia for the India-Africa summit. While Chinese leaders have made regular forays into African countries, Indian leaders traditionally preferred to invite African leaders over,’ said a news item in Times of India.

“It was therefore a novel experience for many of Modi’s ministers last year when they travelled to almost all 54 countries to invite their leaders to the India-Africa summit in New Delhi. The Modi government is focusing on Africa for a number of reasons – energy, agriculture and security, apart from opening markets in Africa for Indian companies for products and services,” added the newspaper report.

Ansari’s visit to Morocco comes at an important time. Morocco’s ruler was one of the big draws at the India-Africa summit last year. It’s not only for phosphates that Morocco takes a big spot on India’s radar. India is looking more and more at Morocco as a security partner, particularly in counter-terrorism.

While the PM’s visit to South Africa will proceed along predictable lines, his visit to Mozambique will be more important. Mozambique has grown to become one of India’s biggest investments in the energy sector.

Kenya has a health bilateral cooperation with India over many decades and many Indian companies have invested in Kenya in various industrial and service sectors, including telecommunications and IT. T

These bilateral ties are bound to get a major boost with these top-level visits to Africa.

* * *

PM Narendra Modi still topper among the Indian middle class: ET-TNS survey

Prime Minister Narendra Modi still holds sway over members of his core constituency — the urban salaried, especially those living in India’s seven biggest cities, reports The Economic Times.

The government’s overall approval ratings are still running high almost two years after the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power at the head of a robust majority, according to the findings of an ET-TNS survey. That’s despite getting caught up in various controversies and the failure to make progress on key elements of its reform agenda.

The government has an overall approval rating of 86% on economic performance, while 62% say that it has delivered on job creation and 58% expect the future to be better. In other words, they still believe that ‘achhe din aaney wala hain’.

The government has an overall approval rating of 86% on economic performance, while 62% say that it has delivered on job creation and 58% expect the future to be better. In other words, they still believe that ‘achhe din aaney wala hain’.

Perhaps the finding that reveals the most about those surveyed is their response to questions about the controversy over nationalism and sedition as exemplified by the Jawaharlal Nehru University protests. Half of them (46%) believe that the controversy is the Congress’ fault and more of them (52%) hold the view that the government has taken the right action in the matter.

It’s important to note that the findings don’t reflect sentiment across the country or among different population segments, particularly during the current election season. It should be read for what it is — a sense of the government’s popularity across a segment that’s seen as being strong supporters of Modi and the BJP.

To that end, our surveyors fanned out across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, covering a sample size of more than 2,000 people between the ages of 24 and 50 with an annual family income between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 20 lakh. About a fifth of those surveyed were women.

One key finding: Modi is vastly more popular than Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi. On a scale of one to 10, Modi gets a score of 7.68 against a lowly 3.61 for Gandhi. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley does better than him at 5.86. As much as 41% of those surveyed gave the PM a rating of 9 or 10.

Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi

*  Published in print edition on 15 April 2016

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