Now we know where all our tax money is going – funding foreign trips for the bureaucrats, and the PM of India. RTI activist Bhimappa Gadad, to understand PM Modi’s frequent absence and constant traveling made him dig out some information on this subject.
So, in a process to identify the expenses incurred on foreign trips by PM Narendra Modi, Bhimappa submitted queries to Prime Minister’s office (PMO) through Right to Information (RTI). The information received, thereafter, revealed some eye-opening details on the expenses of his foreign delegations to 52 countries since he became the PM of India. The amount is surmounting to Rs. 355 crores from 41 trips done in 4 years.
The figures revealed here are astonishing and quite perturbing to any Indian citizen whose hard earned tax money is going into such use. Although the PM website shares cumulative statistics of the expenditure, however, it does not justify the ginormous amount spent since there is no breakdown of the expenses. In fact, there is not more information on the domestic travel expenses and the cost of security measures provided in these trips, exempting any information on security from the purview of RTI. If the expenditure on foreign travel is added with domestic visits, the total figure would be shocking.
The news reports of Prime Minister’s foreign tours have received massive media attention around the world but heavily criticised in India. It is for obvious reasons because PM is hardly available in his country (on tour for a cumulative number of 165 days) to attend to issues curbing the nation, left right and centre. The issue of PM being absent has more often been used by the Opposition, in a taunt and a sarcastic way, attacking his way of handling the governance in the nation.
Bhimappa’s inquisitiveness on this subject has definitely done a huge revelation. The information reveals some exorbitant figures of the Indian rupee spent across the countries PM has visited. As per the data received, the highest expenses incurred on a trip was for the 9-day tri-nation visit to France, Germany and Canada from April 9 to 15, 2015. The amount totals to a sum of INR. 31.26 crores. On the contrary, the minimum amount spent on PM’s delegation to a foreign country stands at a figure of INR. 2.46 crores, which was in Bhutan.
To investigate further, Gadda inquired with Indian flight carriers, like Air India, to share information on PM travel but they refused, indicating that they have been instructed by PMO not to do so. Henceforth, Air India was directed by the Chief Information Commission to disclose complete records of the expenditure related to the foreign visits. The PMO website shares expenses incurred on the chartered flight by PM’s delegation to foreign countries, making an exception of Indian Air Force’s Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) aircraft. The PMO website also mentions that all international tours of PM are met out of the budget head “Cabinet Ministers — Maintenance of PM’s aircraft.
PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Switzerland at the beginning of this year alone created an expenditure amount of INR. 13.21 crores. His recent visit to China to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit was his 42nd foreign visit.
Though some media sources and Modi supporters have made positive comments on PM’s strategy to do foreign tours as means to improve international relations and encourage to trade and commerce. The administration says that he intends to build brand India across the globe. But the citizens are yet to see the real benefits as promised and mentioned. The 2019 General Election will give the verdict of what lies ahead for India as a nation and whether the “Ache Din’ has arrived or yet to arrive.