Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one of the most powerful, popular and influential world leaders of our time. In his 30 month stint as the executive head of the world’s largest democracy, Modi has established himself as a strong administrator and a brave decision maker. Narendra Modi took the entire nation and the world by surprise with demonetization, which left the earlier used 500 and 1000 rupee notes as invalid. As India is about to complete two months of demonetization, let us try to know some interesting facts about the life of Narendra Modi, the key person behind this move.
He was born as Narendra Damodardas Modi on 17th September 1950 in a grocer family of Vadnagar in the Mehsana district of Gujarat. He was the third of six children born to Damodardas Mulchand Modi and Hiraben Modi. In early childhood, he used to help his father sell tea at the Vadnagar Railway Station and later on ran a tea stall himself.
Modi completed his schooling from Vadnagar in the year 1967. As a student, he displayed fine oratory and debating skill, something that forms a crucial attribute of his political achievements till date. He also had a keen interest in theater. After schooling, there was a long gap in his education as he travelled across the country for his intellectual and spiritual pursuits. However, he earned a degree in Political Science from the Delhi University in the year 1979 and later an MA in political science from Gujarat University in 1982.
3.Association with RSS
Modi joined the RSS (a right wing Hindu nationalist organization) as a junior cadet when he was just eight years old and began attending its training sessions. It is there he came in contact with the members of Bhartiya Jana Sangh which marked the beginning of his political career. He later became a full time campaigner for the RSS and was made a regional organizer for the RSS in the year 1978.
Modi’s marriage was arranged by his parents at a very young age. He was married to Jashodaben when he was just 18 years old. However, he did not approve of the marriage and kept it a secret as it was required for becoming an RSS campaigner. He left his home and visited Hindu ashrams all across India to seek spiritual knowledge and clarity. He is a fan and follower of Swami Vivekananda and his principles. He returned to Gujarat in 1969 and started working at a canteen in Ahmadabad.
Modi’s political style is strongly influenced by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It was during the emergency period in 1975-77 when Modi got more active in politics. He was a member of the ABVP, which is the student wing of the RSS. He joined the BJP in the year 1985, and started working in the electoral unit in Gujarat. With his political acumen and understanding of the state, he soon became a prominent strategist for the BJP. He was appointed as the BJP national secretary in 1995 and later BJP General Secretary in 1998.
Modi was sworn in as the Gujarat Chief Minister in October 2001 replacing Keshubhai Patel. He remained in office until being elected as the Indian Prime Minister in the year 2014. Under Modi’s leadership, Gujarat witnessed great economic growth. Modi promoted the use of technology and global investment to revamp the economy and industries of Gujarat. The state grew as a preferred zone for investment and business under Modi.
The infamous Godhra Riots of 2002 is something that would perhaps always haunt Modi as an administrator. He is often questioned and sometimes criticized for his inability to deal with the mass killing and destruction that happened in Gujarat. He was barred from entering the United States under a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act banning violators of religious freedom and still remains the only person to be denied a US Visa on these grounds. Even the EU and the UK did not allow him to set foot on their land. However, after being elected the Indian PM he visited all these countries and the same countries are now eager to welcome him. Time has indeed changed a lot for Modi.
In the 2014 Parliamentary Elections, the Bhartiya Janta Party rode strongly on the wave of Modi’s development agenda of Gujarat and of the inefficient administration of the incumbent Congress Party. What resulted was a stupendous victory for the BJP, which won 282 out of 543 seats and managed a majority on its own. The Congress was restricted to 44 seats, its lowest ever tally in the parliament. The historic mandate for the BJP affirmed Modi as a leader of a huge stature and also marked the beginning of a new phase in the Indian politics.
The 2014 Elections were characterized by some very innovative and impactful methods of election campaigning by the BJP. Modi was strongly projected as a champion of growth and development. Slogans like Acche Din Aane Waale Hain (good days are about to come) and Abki Baar Modi Sarkar (Modi government this time) resonated across the country. Modi also made an exensive use of social media to campaign and connect with the masses, particularly with the youth.
As a Prime Minister, Modi has built his image as a tough decision maker and a leader who does not shy away from taking bold decisions. By the counter insurgency operations in Myanmar (2015) and the more recent Surgical Strike across the Pakistan Border, Modi has sent out a strong message of hitting out hard at terrorism. The most recent and well known addition in this list has to be the Demonetization, which is being considered a historic step to curb black money and control corruption in the country.
11.Well Connected PM
Narendra Modi is certainly the most well connected, accessible and technology loving PM India has ever seen. He is very active on social networking platforms. He has more than 12-million followers on Twitter, which places him second as the world’s most followed leaders after the former US President Obama. His official Facebook page PMO India has more than 12m likes. He emphasizes on reaching out to the public in a better and efficient way with the use of media and technology. He frequently addresses the nation on radio with his extremely popular program Mann ki Baat (talk from the heart).
Modi is very frequent in visiting foreign lands for summits and diplomatic pursuits. This has sometimes given the opposition parties opportunities to take a dig at him. However, his visits have been successful and he has been given a warm reception in every country, especially by the Indian community. Modi’s address at the Madison Square Garden in New York and the Wembley Stadium in London attracted huge audiences and energized the Indian Diaspora of these nations.
13.Lifestyle and habits
Modi lives a very active and disciplined life. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat for a span of thirteen years and during his term in office he did not take any leave. He is a workaholic and work tops the priority list of Modi. He is a very early riser and takes only four hour of sleep daily. He is a pure vegetarian. Whether as the Chief Minister of Gujarat or now as the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi doesn’t share his official residence with any of his family members, not even with his mother.
He has received various awards and accolades for his work as the Gujarat Chief Minister and now as the Indian Prime Minister. He was named Best Chief Minister in a 2007 nationwide survey by India Today. He was awarded Indian of the Year by CNN-IBN news network in 2014. Modi was awarded the highest civilian honors of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia in the year 2016.
15.Global influence and stature
International media has also acknowledged Modi’s growing influence and massive appeal in India and also at the international level. In 2014 and 2015, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. He was also declared winner of the Time magazine reader’s poll for Person of the Year in 2014 and 2016. Forbes Magazine ranked him the 15th-Most-Powerful Person in the World in 2014 and the 9th-Most-Powerful Person in the World in 2015 and 2016.