27-03-2012 : Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi
Certain quarters in the media in recent days have highlighted the expenses incurred on the State visits of the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil to some of the countries abroad. These reports also compare the number of visits undertaken by the current President with those of her predecessors.
The rising global profile of India on account of its dynamic economy, strategic importance, democratic governance and ancient civilisational links has led to enhanced engagements with countries across the world. As part of these engagements, it is necessary for the President of India to visit various countries to deepen bilateral cooperation. For example, the President's visit to Latin American countries emphasized the growing importance attached to this region, where a Presidential visit had not taken place for almost a decade. Other visits were occasioned by special events. Many countries had to be visited since those countries had been pressing for a visit at the level of Head of State like Indonesia, Cyprus, Laos, Cambodia and Mongolia. Some of the countries which the President visited such as Syria, Tajikistan and Spain saw the first ever visit by an Indian President.
Comparison of the number of foreign visits undertaken and countries visited by various Presidents is potentially misleading as the frequency of such visits do not follow a fixed normative pattern. Such visits are undertaken on the basis of standing invitations received from countries abroad and after the need to undertake such a visit has been appraised and recommended by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Prime Minister's Office. The number of countries visited by various Presidents have varied. For instance, Dr. Kalam visited 17 countries, Shri Narayanan visited 13 countries, Shri Venkataraman visited 21 countries and Shri V.V. Giri visited 22 countries during their tenure.
While undertaking visits abroad, the President is accompanied by an Official Delegation comprising of Ministers, Members of Parliament and senior functionaries of the Government besides supporting and security staff constituting part of the Accompanying Delegation. All Presidents have been accompanied by family members and Presidential Guests besides media contingent. The composition of delegation during the time of President Patil has also been on the same pattern as followed in the past and, therefore, to say that President Patil was "mostly" accompanied by family members is a distortion of facts.
Therefore, comparison of foreign visits undertaken by various Presidents is potentially misleading. These visits are undertaken after careful appraisal and recommendation by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Prime Minister's Office.
This release issued at 1800 hrs.