Moscow: On Wednesday, as Narendra Modi walked onto the tarmac in Moscow, where he will spend the next day and a half discussing Indo-Russian ties, he committed a minor protocol gaffe. Just as a Russian band began playing the Indian anthem, the prime minister started walking away from the ceremonial welcome, forcing an official to quickly pull him back to his spot so that the tune could finish.
The Russian gesture appears to have been a cue to the band to begin playing Jana Gana Mana, unbeknownst to Modi. Another official then quickly caught up to the Indian prime minister and told him to return to the spot, while the anthem was playing. Harmless mistake, as such, and yet one that will cause embarrassment to a prime minister who has cultivated a hyper-patriotic image.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived on Wednesday to a red carpet welcome on his first bilateral visit to Russia during which both countries are set to seal a raft of deals in key sectors like defence, nuclear energy and hydrocarbons to boost their robust and close partnership.
On his arrival, the Prime Minister was accorded a guard of honour at the Vnukova II airport amid light drizzle and overcast conditions. “Reached Moscow. A series of programmes await in this short but very important visit,” Modi tweeted both in English and Russian.
Stepping up economic engagement and further expanding ties in strategic areas are likely to be the centre piece of the 16th India-Russia summit talks between Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow.