Though Narendra Modi's first step towards diplomatic relations started with a trip to Bhutan soon after his swearing in as prime minister, the real test for him was the recent BRICS summit which took place at Fortaleza, Brazil.
The announcement of the establishment of the BRICS development bank took place at the summit, where India was pushing for equal shareholding and for the bank's headquarters to be located in India. The headquarters, however, will be located in Shanghai in China instead.
A number of blunders and disorganised appointments occurred on Modi's second visit abroad. It started with Modi landing in Berlin on his way to Brazil for a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel, however, had already left for Brazil to watch her team win the finals of the FIFA football world cup.
Then came his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was to be immediately followed by a meeting with Chinese premier Xi Jingping. But Modi was left waiting in Fortaleza as Putin was in Brasilia, meeting Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff. Putin and Modi finally met, and Putin congratulated Modi on his historic electoral win, and Modi reciprocated by inviting Putin to visit the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu which was built with a collaboration with Russia.
When he met Putin, Modi said it made him reminiscent of his visit to Astrakan (in Russia) when he was chief minister of Gujarat. Talking about Indo-Russian relations, he said, "Even a child in India, if asked to say who is India's best friend, will reply it is Russia because Russia has been with India in times of crisis."
However, the fact remains that administerial goof-up or not, Modi was stood up by Merkel in Berlin. There was a good chance of Germany playing the finals of the FIFA World Cup, and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) should have foreseen this eventuality and avoided the blunder.