As Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins his visit to the US on June 21, he is getting closer to breaking the record set by his predecessor, Dr. Manmohan Singh, for the number of visits to the country. During his ten-year term, Dr. Singh made a total of ten trips to the United States, with five visits each during his first and second terms, an average of one per year.

Prime Minister Modi has, so far, made seven trips since 2014, according to PMO records.

Dr. Singh started his first trip in September 2004, during which he addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) along with meetings with US President George Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

In July and September 2005, he visited the United States for the second and third time, respectively. The first visit this year was an “official” visit to Washington, D.C., while the second was in September to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

On 18 July 2005, during his White House reception, President George W. Bush praised India’s economic reforms of the 1990s, in which Dr. Singh played a prominent role as the face of those reforms. He also delivered a speech during the visit to the joint session of the US Congress.

In 2008, Dr. Singh visited the United States twice in the space of two months, first for a working visit in September and again in November to attend the G-20 Economic Summit meeting in Washington, DC.

In his second term, Prime Minister Singh represented India at the G20 Economic Summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in September 2009 followed by an “official state visit” two months later.

A “state visit” usually entails a higher level of grandeur and ceremonial protocol than an official visit.

In April 2010, Dr. Singh was in the capital for the Nuclear Security Summit. The following year, in September 2011, he traveled to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

After a hiatus of about two years, the Prime Minister made his last official working visit to the United States in September 2013.

Four months into his first term, Prime Minister Modi conducted his inaugural official working visit to the US in September 2014. This four-day visit (26-30 September), marked the beginning of several, including a joint opinion piece with US President Barack Obama. Obama and the Prime Minister’s unforgettable address at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Prime Minister Modi returned to the United States in September 2015, and attracted great interest during the visit. Notably, he became the first Indian prime minister to visit Silicon Valley, renowned as a hub for innovation and information technology, where the contributions of Indians are lauded. The trip caused a stir as the prime minister attended a Facebook event and visited the headquarters of companies like Tesla and Google.

In 2016, Prime Minister Modi visited America twice: the first in March-April to the US capital to participate in the multilateral nuclear security summit. This was followed by an official working visit by the Prime Minister. During the trip, the Prime Minister also addressed a joint session of the US Congress.

During his upcoming trip, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will achieve another milestone by addressing a joint meeting of the US Congress for the second time, making him the first Indian Prime Minister to achieve the feat. Addressing Congress is one of the highest honors granted by Washington to eminent foreign figures.

Prime Minister Modi met President Donald Trump for the first time during his fifth visit in June 2017. During this visit, the US President called Modi a “true friend”. And the prime minister became the first international leader to dine at the White House with President Trump.

In his second term, Prime Minister Modi’s next visit in September 2019 witnessed a historic event when nearly 50,000 Indians gathered in Houston to hear him. The community’s grand summit known as “Howdy Modi” was attended by President Trump, making it the largest gathering ever with a foreign political leader in the United States.

In September 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister virtually addressed the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

At the invitation of President Joe Biden, PM Modi returned to America in September 2021. The three-day visit included the PM participating in the first in-person summit of the Quad leaders at the White House. The Prime Minister also held meetings with CEOs of several prominent US companies, including Qualcomm, Adobe and First Solar.

India’s only female prime minister, Indira Gandhi, made six trips to America during her tenure as prime minister. At the invitation of President Lyndon Johnson, she made her first official visit in March 1966, at a time when India was facing a severe food crisis caused by successive monsoon failures. During the visit, the US President assured the Indian Prime Minister that “the United States will continue to participate generously in international efforts to alleviate India’s immediate food deficit problem.”

In her first term as Prime Minister, she made two more trips in October 1968 and October 1970 to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

In her second term, Indira Gandhi made her second official visit (fourth overall) in November 1971. The visit garnered more attention due to the strained relationship between the Indian Prime Minister and President Richard Nixon.

Indira Gandhi’s next outing was after a gap of 11 years when she arrived in New York for an 8-day state visit in July 1982. Upon her arrival, President Ronald Reagan welcomed her on the South Lawn of the White House. Reagan’s remark reflected the state of Indian-American relations at the time.

And the US President said: “Prime Minister Gandhi, we realize that there were differences between our two countries, but they should not overshadow everything that we have in common, because we are two strong, proud and independent countries.”

More than a year later, Indira Gandhi visited US soil for the last time in September 1983 for the United Nations General Assembly, in what was a low-level diplomatic affair.

India’s 10th Prime Minister, Atal Bihar Vajpayee, has traveled to the United States five times during his tenure. His first visit as head of government was in September 1998 to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York. During his speech at the United Nations, Vajpayee defended India’s nuclear tests in May 1998, stating that “these tests were essential to ensuring a credible nuclear deterrent for India’s national security for the foreseeable future”.

At the invitation of then US President Bill Clinton, Vajpayee visited America for the second time in September 2000 on an official visit. During this five-day visit (September 13-17), the Indian Prime Minister also addressed the Joint Session of Congress.

Vajpayee’s next visit came just two months after the horrific September 11 terrorist attacks. On his way to the United Nations, the Prime Minister met with President George Bush on November 9 at the White House, where the two leaders noted that “Since 9/11, the people of the United States and India have united like never before in the fight against terrorism.”

In September 2002 and 2003, Vajpayee visited the United States for the fourth and fifth time, respectively.

The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, visited the United States four times. His first visit was in 1949, followed by subsequent visits in 1956, 1960 and 1961.

During his first visit in October 1949, Nehru was the guest of US President Harry S. Truman. He had the opportunity to meet President Dwight Eisenhower on two occasions, in December 1956 and September 1960. Nehru’s last visit in November 1961 was hosted by President John F. Kennedy.

During his first and last visit, Nehru was greeted at the airport by the then US Presidents, Truman and Kennedy. During his inaugural visit, he also spoke separately to members of the House and Senate.

Nehru’s grandson and India’s sixth Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, also made four visits to the United States during his five-year presidency. Rajiv’s first visit in June 1985 proved a success with the US leaders.

Welcoming Prime Minister Gandhi to the White House, President Reagan noted, “Americans admire what they saw. Your leadership and example are inspiring. We are eager to learn more about your vision for India’s future.” Gandhi also became the first Indian Prime Minister to address a joint meeting of Congress.

In October of the same year, Rajeev returned to America to take part in the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the United Nations.

In October 1987, Rajiv made his third visit to the United States, which included an official working visit as well as attending the United Nations General Assembly. His last visit to the United States was in June 1988 to participate in the third special session on disarmament at the United Nations General Assembly.

PV Narasimha Rao during his tenure from June 1991 to May 1996 visited the United States three times. His first visit was in January 1992 to attend a UN Security Council summit in New York, where he also met President George Bush.

In May 1994, Rao paid an official visit during which he addressed a joint meeting of Congress and visited New York, Houston and Boston. In October 1995, Rao made his last visit to the United States to participate in the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

Prime Ministers Morarji Desai and Inder Kumar Gujral, both of whom have visited the United States, are two other Indian prime ministers to do so. Desai was visited in June 1978, while Gujral was visited in September 1997.

Five Indian prime ministers—Gulzari Lal Nanda, Chaudhry Charan Singh, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Chandra Shekhar, and H.D. Dev Gowda—did not visit the United States during their tenure.


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