The first visit by a newly elected Indian prime minister to a country has traditionally been New Delhi’s way to send out a strong diplomatic signal not only to the host, but also to other observers in the neighbourhood.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has a knack of doing things differently, has chosen two countries, instead of one, as maiden destinations of his second term. In a back-to-back visit, he will be in Maldives and Sri Lanka from June 8 and 9, to emphatically underline the importance that New Delhi accords to its relations with the two island nations.
In a way, Modi is carrying on from where he left off during his first term. Modi had begun his 2014 tenure with an emphasis on India’s immediate neighbours, inviting leaders from South Asia for his inaugural ceremony. After returning to power last month with a massive mandate, Modi continued with that, inviting leaders of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) grouping for his second inaugural ceremony on May 30.