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Updated: April 29, 2012 19:12 IST

President dismisses criticism over foreign trips

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President Pratibha Patil. File photo: V.V.Krishnan
President Pratibha Patil. File photo: V.V.Krishnan

As she embarked on her last tour abroad as President, Pratibha Patil today dismissed criticism over a large number of foreign visits undertaken by her, insisting that they were not on her own volition but at the request of the government to promote India’s relations.

“Government wanted me to visit two-three more countries, but it was not possible due to paucity of time,” she told reporters accompanying her in her state visits to Seychelles and South Africa as part of “our efforts to further consolidate our ties with Africa...(which) occupies an important place in India’s foreign policy”.

Ms. Patil’s term as President is ending on July 25.

The President’s refrain was that in an interdependent world, no country can remain in its own cocoon and it was necessary for countries to increase engagement with others.

Noting that India was elected as a non-Permanent member of the U.N. Security Council with an “overwhelming majority”, she said that for this it was “very necessary” to make new friends and promote ties with the old ones.

Asked as to how would she describe her 22 foreign visits so far, she remarked that they have been “very successful” in promoting India’s growing image abroad and strengthen the country’s ties with those nations which she visited.

Elaborating on the different kind of ties in a fast changing world, she said the relations between countries were no longer only political in nature, but have different aspects like economic, educational and cultural.

She said that in such a scenario, high-level visits help in strengthening and furthering ties.

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The point we are making it is that why should she carry all her
relatives to foreign countries alongwith her at tax payer's expense. she
could have taken the necessary officials only and saved our burden

from:  ramakrishnan
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 18:34 IST

If Kalam and this Prathibha contest now, I am sure Prathibha will win effortlessly. Such are our MPs and MLAs.

from:  Prasad
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 11:06 IST

None will regret when the president demits office.

from:  Skanakasabapathy
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 10:29 IST

The 'President' is lecturing the government on proper behaviour. There was a great opportunity to show Indian women, India and the world how a woman leader, even a figurehead, could be a shining example of integrity and character. Unfortunately, the current incumbent is determined to bankrupt the Presidency with unnecessary, extravagant foreign tours with a large entourage. The 'President's foreign trip bill is currently around 300 crores rupees and she is apparently aiming to break the 500 crores mark before July 2010 finally and thankfully ends the most politicized appointee, most extravagant occupant and one of the least admirable persons to ever occupy the Presidency. President Abdul Kalam, this person's predecessor was a great example but unfortunately some interests and leaders in the Congress wanted this incumbent. Thankfully, this term is coming to an end but this person should be made to pay back the money that was squandered by her and her extended family.

from:  Bart Namboodhiri
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 09:10 IST

Have the Prsident's visits make any difference? India can make more friends by becoming more poweful economically. Today India's rating is less than Tunisia. Soon it will be "junk". To our leaders the trips outside are for holidays. She has often made sure that her family members also accompany her. Can poor India afford the Rashaterpati Bavan? The loot must stop or we should be ready for large scale revolt.

from:  JAY JOLLY
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 06:47 IST

How is President visiting a country going to strengthen economic,
educational and cultural relationship? Had any of the visits yielded
anything other than the name that the president from India visited some
country, stayed there for couple of days in lavish hotel and met some
people. Did our president talk about the issues/actions that the
countries need to look at for better relationship between the countries?

from:  kiran
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 06:28 IST

President has rightly pointed out the purpose of her visits abroad.

Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 02:03 IST

Right from the day she was nominated for President post, some vested interests have started portraying Pratibha Patel in poort light. Is it because of our subconscious discomfort in having women in high places?
I'm sure if her predecessor has undertaken the same number of foreign visits, he would have been hailed as a statesman promoting India's cause abroad.
But Pratibha Patel has to face criticism over this!
Over the past 5 years, she has conducted herself with quiet diginity.

from:  Hari
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 01:09 IST

Its sad that people at the top abuse the facilities at their
disposal. First the land scam for her retirement and now the travel
expenditure row..It is amazing how they manage to get away with such
things even if figures are out in the open.

from:  Swati
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 23:34 IST

What part of India's image needs promoting by Ms. Patil? In the age of the internet, two people thousands of miles away from each other can chat on a daily basis if they care to, but to some people, an elaborate physical meeting involving crores of rupees of expenditure is needed? Seriously, how wasteful must this person's travel be, considering one can undertake an excellent three month trip of the USA, for instance, for INR 25 lakhs? Four countries for a crore rupees. 200 crores spent on foreign trips for a single person, visiting briefly, seems like an awfully inefficient system.

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 23:11 IST

The real problem is the size of the entourage, extended family
hitching a ride and the chartered aircraft.

from:  Kurien Mathew
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 22:49 IST

Anyways, no Indian would have expected Madam President to accept that it was not successful. But, can she lay out 22 country visits, it's objective, the people met during the visit and achievement out of each visit? Then only myself or any Indian will believe her words. Simply saying "It was successful" is not acceptable. If she says that Government asked her to visit, does she have official written documentation or the so called Govt. Orders to show that she was requested by the Government?

from:  Manoj
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 22:06 IST

If the president undertook the travel as the "Government wanted her to" increase foreign relationship, why was the family members accompanying her as reported in another report in The Hindu. A detailed report of who all accompanied her and that cost should be published so that people will understand what is going on.

from:  Chitra
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 22:03 IST

In my opinion i think the incumbency of President in India should be
removed since in our country their is no such vital role for President
other than 2 or 3 and outrageous amount of money is spent on
President's living, security, futile foreign trips and maintenance of
Rashtrapati Bhavan.In all in its 5 year tenure approximate of over
thousands of crore rupee is spend which can be made to use for other
important causes especially in a country like India where millions of
poverty-stricken people exists and most of time are forced to to end
the day empty stomach.We desperately need some reform to abolish
Presidency in India to make better use of the precious money.

from:  Ankit Trivedi
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 20:59 IST

I understand from newspaper reports the our President is going to embark on writing an autobiography.
Presumably, it will read more as a 'world travel guide' given her penchant for travelling abroad with her family members.
After she has spent over 200 crores (the cost will mount further with her latest sojourn) of the tax payers money we still have to contend with 'autobiography'?
Surely there are cheaper 'travel guides' around!!

from:  Mukul Goyal
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 20:55 IST

What is role of President, please clarify; go on visiting all countries with a retinue of relatives and friends at a huge cost to tax payers, and tell when to bridge our good relationship?!
Sad we have such folks in our top leadership; time we learn to respect the office we occupy and NEVER take advantage of it; even British did behave better, oldies who served will confirm for sure.
Pray Almighty to shower grace on better sense on all our top brass!

from:  Radhik Hairam
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 20:35 IST

the president's post is purely ornamental in nature, so there is no chance of any
benefit that the country can hope to see by her visits, the mind bogling expenses
can or should be used for drought relief and the other simple cause she
professses to espouse "women " simple toilets in her districts for the women!!!
TO start with ,

from:  bhushan
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 19:41 IST

Face saving unsuccessful reply. What is the criteria of success when
very few MOU signed?

from:  Buku
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 19:30 IST

President in India does not make or
influence policy (especially this president) all foreign jaunts (jolly
trips) undertaken by her and her large group of relatives accompanying
is a blatant waste of public money. I think we should get rid of
these white elephants and move to presidential system (USA)
of government that would stop all this horse trade, minority party
holding a large party to ransom etc. Once again, all foreign trips
undertaken by our president are a blatant waste of public
money, she has defiled the honorable position, Sonia Ghandhi wanted a
"i obey" type person, so she could not find anyone better.

from:  sharath
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 18:50 IST

So Ms President must request or order the Govt of India to arrange her after retirement house in any foreign country so the ties of India to/with so many foreign country (ies) built stronger as day to day basis and India may not live in its/hers cocoon.

from:  Mohit Sood
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 18:48 IST

The issue is not the number of foreign visits. It is the size of her delegation and the number of pointless relatives on board

from:  venkat
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 18:42 IST
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