By now, world leaders ought to be familiar with how India’s Prime Minister greets them. In fact, even the media has noticed Narendra Modi’s penchant for giving a warm hug at diplomatic meetings and a few headlines are certainly made when he does so.
The list of people who have been on the receiving end of a hug is rather long. In a visit to the USA, Modi was noticed to have hugged President Trump at least 3 times. Of course, former president Obama had also been the recipient of the now-famous gesture during his visit to the 2015 Republic Day Parade in India. Unfortunately, there have been times when it has been rather awkward. For example, with former French president Francois Hollande, it was a clumsy embrace.
Interestingly, Modi does not seem to reserve his hugs just for world leaders. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Australian actor Hugh Jackman have also been the recipients of the gesture when they visited India.
More than Hugs
Despite the warmth of his hugs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ensures that they are just hugs. He has repeatedly ensured that India’s interests are given due importance. He may have hugged Trump multiple times but he refused to follow USA in leaving the Paris Accords. If anything, he made sure that India was one of the first countries to reaffirm their commitment.
At the same time, Modi’s hugs often underline a degree of warmth which makes it easier for India to forge ties with other countries. Interestingly, he does not let things such as relations between other countries get in the way. This has allowed him to connect with the UAE and visited the country, something that last took place 34 years ago, during Indira Gandhi’s tenure. Despite visiting and building relationships with UAE and Saudi Arabia, Modi could visit Iran. He had the courage to tell Saudi Arabia about its visit beforehand. As a result, Saudi Arabia and the UAE still have warm relations with India. In the same way, Modi has managed to ask both the Israeli President and the Palestine President to come in for a visit, despite the incredible tensions between the two.