Not long after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was criticised for refusing to take journalists along on his foreign trips, he has now chosen to be accompanied by India's biggest business tycoons on his maiden trip to Japan this Saturday.
Industrialists including Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Wipro chairman Azim Premji, Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani, ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and Essar Group chairman Shashi Ruia are going to be part of the business delegation that will accompany Modi in Japan, The Times of India reported.
This move comes in sharp contrast to Modi's decision to leave out journalists except those from state-owned media on his flights abroad after taking charge as the Prime Minister, thus breaking away from tradition.
On his previous foreign trips to Bhutan and Nepal, the PM only allowed about five journalists on his Air India One flight despite there being room for more than 30 media persons, according to Firstpost. Even the handful journalists he picked were representing agencies or the state-controlled Doordarshan and All India Radio.
Some of Modi's reasons for excluding journalists were that he would make announcements on important policy decisions on his return and that journalists could track news with technology despite not physically travelling with him.
For his Japan trip, however, the delegation of industrialists is fatter, maybe indicating Modi's well-known affection for businesses and business magnates. The delegation will represent members of the technology, manufacturing and service sectors.
Others in Modi's delegation include Sun Pharmaceuticals chairman Dilip Shanghvi, TCS vice-chairman S Ramadorai, Biocon chairman Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Larsen & Toubro CEO K Venkataramanan, ONGC chairman D K Sarraf and Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Mittal, according to TOI.
Modi is said to be keen on attracting foreign investment from Japan to India, and it may be this motivation that led Modi to pack his plane with businessmen instead of journalists.