Open Forum

In late November 2014, in the flurry of foreign visits that marked his early months in power, Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister in almost thirty years to make an official trip to Australia, and only the third in history.1 Over four days, he attended the G20 summit in Brisbane, addressed a joint session of parliament in Canberra, and engaged with large gatherings of the Indian diaspora in both Melbourne and Sydney. It was a whirlwind tour and remarkably successful. Australian politicians, businesspeople, and the media met Modi with a mix of curiosity and enthusiasm, despite his checkered history. The diaspora, for its part, greeted Modi rapturously. In Sydney, where he gave a characteristically expansive speech lasting fully ninety minutes, a capacity crowd of 16,000 expatriate Indians chanted his name when he appeared on stage and cheered throughout his address.2

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