Narendra Modi

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Narendra Modi
Narendra D Modi.png
15th Prime Minister of India
Assumed office
26 May 2014
President Pranab Mukherjee
Preceded by Manmohan Singh
14th Chief Minister of Gujarat
In office
7 October 2001 – 22 May 2014
Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari
Kailashpati Mishra
Balram Jakhar
Nawal Kishore Sharma
S. C. Jamir
Kamla Beniwal
Preceded by Keshubhai Patel
Succeeded by Anandiben Patel
Member of the Indian Parliament
for Varanasi
Assumed office
16 May 2014
Preceded by Murli Manohar Joshi
Member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly
for Maninagar
In office
1 January 2002 – 16 May 2014
Preceded by Kamlesh Patel
Succeeded by Suresh Patel
Personal details
Born Narendra Damodardas Modi
(1950-09-17) 17 September 1950 (age 64)
Vadnagar, Gujarat, India
Political party Bharatiya Janata Party
Spouse(s) Jashodaben Chimanlal (1968; estranged)
Residence 7, Race Course Road
Alma mater University of Delhi
Gujarat University
Religion Hinduism
Website Official websiteGovernment website

Narendra Damodardas Modi (Gujarati: [nəreːnd̪rə d̪ɑːmoːd̪ərəd̪ɑːs moːd̪iː], born 17 September 1950) is the 15th and current Prime Minister of India, in office since 26 May 2014.[1][2] Modi, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), previously served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014. He is currently the Member of Parliament (MP) from Varanasi.

Modi led the BJP in the 2014 general election, which resulted in an outright majority for the BJP in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian parliament) – the last time that any party had secured an outright majority in the Lok Sabha was in 1984. Since then, Modi has also been credited for the BJP's electoral victories in the states of Haryana and Maharashtra in October 2014.[3]

Modi is a Hindu Nationalist and a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).[4][5] He is a controversial figure both within India as well as internationally[6][7][8][9] as his administration has been criticised for failing to act to prevent the 2002 Gujarat riots.[9][10] Modi has been praised for his economic policies, which are credited with creating an environment for a high rate of economic growth in Gujarat.[11] However, his administration has also been criticised for failing to make a significant positive impact upon the human development of the state.[12]

Early life and education

Modi with his mother Heeraben on his 63rd birthday on 17 September 2013.

Narendra Modi was born on 17 September 1950 to a family of grocers in Vadnagar, Mehsana district, in Bombay State (present-day Gujarat).[13][14][15] His family belonged to the Ghanchi (oil-presser) community, which is categorised among the other backward classes by the Indian government.[16] He was the third of six children born to Damodardas Mulchand and Heeraben Modi.[17] As a child, he helped his father Damodardas sell tea at the Vadnagar railway station, and later ran a tea stall with his brother near a bus terminus.[18][19] He completed his higher secondary schooling in Vadnagar in 1967, where a teacher described him as being an average student, but a keen debater with an interest in theatre.[18][20] An early gift for rhetoric in debates was noted by teachers and students at the time.[21] Modi also showed a preference for playing larger than life characters in theatre performances which has influenced the image he portrays of himself in politics.[22][23]

At the age of eight, Modi came into contact with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and began attending its local shakhas, or training sessions. There he met Lakshmanrao Inamdar, popularly known as Vakil Saheb, who was to become Modi's political mentor. Inamdar inducted Modi as a balswayamsevak, or junior cadet in the RSS.[24] While training with the RSS, he also met Vasant Gajendragadkar and Nathalal Jaghda, Bharatiya Jana Sangh leaders who were later founding members of the BJP's Gujarat unit in 1980.[25][26][27][28]

In keeping with the traditions of the Ghanchi caste, Modi's marriage was arranged by his parents while he was still a child. He was engaged at the age of 13 to Jashodaben Chimanlal, and married when he was 18. They spent little time together, and were soon estranged when Modi began two years of travels (including visits to Hindu ashrams).[18][29] The marriage was reportedly never consummated.[30] Modi kept the marriage secret for most of his career, only acknowledging the existence of his wife when filing his nomination for a parliamentary seat in the 2014 general elections.[31][32]

Little is known of the time he spent traveling; however, in interviews Modi has spoken of visiting various Hindu ashrams, or places of Hindu religious learning, founded by Swami Vivekananda. The first of these was the Belur Math near Kolkata. He later visited the Advaita Ashrama in Almora, and the Ramakrishna mission in Rajkot. However he was only able to stay for a short period in each ashram, as he lacked a college education, and the institutions were strictly limited to postgraduates.[33][34][35] After two years of travel, Modi returned to Vadnagar, and after a brief visit left again for Ahmedabad. Here he lived with his uncle and worked at a canteen also run by his uncle at the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation.[36][37] In Ahmedabad, Modi renewed his acquaintance with Inamdar, who was then based at Hedgewar Bhavan, the RSS headquarters in the city.[25][26][38] After the end of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, he stopped working for his uncle and became a full–time pracharak (campaigner) of the RSS.[37] In 1978, Modi became a sambhaag pracharak (regional organiser) for the RSS, and also graduated with an extramural degree in political science through a distance education course at Delhi University.[30][39] In 1983, he completed his Master of Arts degree in political science from Gujarat University.[20][40]

Early political career

On 26 June 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a unilateral state of emergency throughout the country, which lasted until 1977. During this period, many of her political opponents were jailed, and organisations opposing her, including the RSS, were banned.[41][42] At the time, Modi was the pracharak in-charge of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS. He was forced to go underground in Gujarat, and frequently traveled in disguise to avoid being arrested. He became involved in printing booklets against the central government and distributing them to Delhi, as well as organising agitations.[18][43][44][45] During this period, he also wrote a book in Gujarati titled Sangharsh ma Gujarat (The struggles of Gujarat) which described events during the emergency.[46][47]

The RSS assigned Modi to the BJP in 1985.[27] In 1988, Modi was elected an organising secretary of BJP's Gujarat unit, marking his formal entry into electoral politics.[30][48] He rose to prominence within the party after helping organise L. K. Advani's Ayodhya Rath Yatra in 1990 and Murli Manohar Joshi's Ekta Yatra (Journey for Unity) in 1991–92.[18][49] His electoral strategy as secretary was seen to be central to the BJP's victory in the 1995 state assembly elections.[27][50][51] Later in the same year in November, Modi was elected National Secretary of the BJP, and was transferred to New Delhi where he was assigned responsibility for the party's activities in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.[50][52] In 1996, Shankersinh Vaghela, one of the most prominent leaders of the BJP in Gujarat, defected to the INC after he lost his parliamentary seat in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections.[18] While on the selection committee for the 1998 Assembly elections in Gujarat, Modi favoured supporters of another BJP leader, Keshubhai Patel, over those loyal to Vaghela, in an attempt to put an end to the factional divisions within the party. His strategies were credited as being key to the BJP winning an overall majority in the 1998 elections.[50][53] As a result, Modi was promoted to the post of general secretary (Organisation) of the BJP in May 1998.[54]

Chief Minister of Gujarat

Chief Minister Modi and his cabinet ministers at a Planning Commission meeting in New Delhi, 2013

In 2001, Keshubhai Patel's health was failing, and the BJP had lost seats in the by-elections. Allegations of abuse of power, corruption and poor administration were being made, and Patel's standing had been damaged by his administration's handling of the Bhuj Earthquake of 2001.[50][55][56] As a result, the BJP's national leadership sought a new candidate for the office of chief minister, and Modi, who had aired his misgivings about Patel's administration, was chosen as a replacement.[18] L. K. Advani, a senior leader of the BJP, did not want to ostracise Patel and was worried about Modi's lack of experience in governance. Modi declined an offer to be Patel's deputy chief minister, informing Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee that he was "going to be fully responsible for Gujarat or not at all", and on 3 October 2001, Modi was named as the replacement of Patel as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, with the responsibility of preparing the BJP for elections in December 2002.[57][58] As Chief Minister, Modi's ideas of governance revolved around privatisation and small government, which stood at odds with what political commentator Aditi Phadnis has described as the anti-privatisation, anti-globalisation position of the RSS.[55]

First term (2001–02)

On 7 October 2001, Modi was administered the oath of office by the Sunder Singh Bhandari, Governor of Gujarat .[59] He then contested election from Rajkot - II assembly constituency in a by-poll and on 24th February 2002 won by defeating Congress's Ashwin Mehta by 14,728 votes.[60]

2002 Gujarat riots

Main article: 2002 Gujarat riots

On 27 February 2002, a train with several hundred passengers including large numbers of Hindu pilgrims was burned near Godhra, killing around 60 people.[a] Following rumours that the fire was carried out by Muslim arsonists, anti-Muslim violence spread throughout Gujarat.[63] Estimates of the death toll ranged from 900 to over 2,000, while several thousand more people were injured.[64][65] The Modi government imposed a curfew in major cities, issued shoot-at-sight orders, and called for the army to prevent the violence from escalating.[66][67] However, human rights organisations, opposition parties, and sections of the media all accused Gujarat's government of taking insufficient action against the riots, and even condoning it in some cases.[66][67][68] Modi's decision to move the corpses of the Kar Sevaks who had been burned to death in Godhra to Ahmedabad had been criticised for inflaming the violence.[69][70]

In March 2008, the Supreme Court asked the state government to re-investigate nine cases in the 2002 Gujarat riots, including the Gulbarg Society incident, and constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the cases afresh.[68][71][72] Responding to a petition from Zakia Jafri, widow of Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the Gulbarg Society massacre, the Supreme court in April 2009 asked the SIT to probe her complaint alleging that Modi and another minister had been complicit in the killing.[71][73] The SIT questioned Modi in March 2010, and in May 2010 presented its report before the Court, stating that it found no evidence to substantiate the allegations.[71][74] In July 2011, the amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran submitted his final report to the Supreme Court, stating that Modi could be prosecuted based on the available evidence, contrary to the position of the SIT. Ramachandran's report was criticised by the SIT for relying on the testimony of Sanjiv Bhatt, who, it said, had fabricated the documents used as evidence.[75][76] The Supreme court handed the matter to the magistrate court, and left it to the SIT to examine Ramachandran's report. The SIT submitted its final report in March 2012, seeking closure of the case, against which Zakia Jaffri filed a protest petition. In December 2013, the magistrate court rejected the protest petition and accepted the clean chit given to Modi by SIT stating that there was no evidence against Modi in the case.[77]

Modi's involvement in the events of 2002 has continued to be debated. Several scholars have described the events of 2002 as a pogrom, while others have called it an instance of state terrorism.[78][79][80] Summarizing academic views on the subject, Martha Nussbaum stated that "There is by now a broad consensus that the Gujarat violence was a form of ethnic cleansing, that in many ways it was premeditated, and that it was carried out with the complicity of the state government and officers of the law."[81] In 2012, Maya Kodnani, a former minister in Modi's Government from 2007–09, was convicted of having participated in the Naroda Patiya massacre during the 2002 riots.[82][83] She was both the first female and the first MLA to be convicted in a post-Godhra riots case.[84] While initially announcing that it would seek the death penalty for Kodnani, Modi's government eventually pardoned her in 2013 and settled for a prison sentence.[85][86][87]

A few months after the riots, New York Times reporter Celia Dugger asked Modi if he wished he handled the riots any differently. He told her his only regret was that he did not handle the news media better[88][89] and cited India's NDTV channel as being irresponsible in its reporting.[90]

2002 election

In the aftermath of the violence, there were widespread calls for Modi to resign from his position as chief minister of Gujarat. These came from both within and outside the state, including from the leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Telugu Desam Party, which were allies in then BJP-led NDA government at the centre. The opposition parties stalled the national parliament over the issue.[91] In April 2002, at the national executive meeting of BJP at Goa, Modi submitted his resignation; however, it was rejected by the party.[92] On 19 July 2002, Modi's cabinet had an emergency meeting and offered its resignation to the Governor of Gujarat, S. S. Bhandari, and the assembly was dissolved.[93][94] In the subsequent elections, the BJP, led by Modi, won 127 seats in the 182-member assembly.[95] Modi made significant use of anti-Muslim rhetoric during his election campaign, though he later denied it.[96][97][98][99] Modi won from the Maninagar constituency receiving 1,13,589 votes of the total of 1,54,981 votes polled defeating Congress Candidate Yatin Oza by a difference of 75,333 votes.[100] On 22 December 2002, Modi was sworn in as the Chief Minister for a second time by the Governor Bhandari.[101]

Second term (2002–07)

Modi with PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002.

Despite allegations of using anti-Muslim rhetoric during the campaign, Modi's emphasis shifted during his second term from Hindutva to the economic development of Gujarat.[55][96] Modi's decisions curtailed the influence of organisations of the Sangh Parivar such as the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP),[102] which had become entrenched in Gujarat after the decline of Ahmedabad's textile industry.[55] Modi dropped Gordhan Zadafia, an ally of his former Sangh co–worker and VHP state chief Praveen Togadia, from the cabinet ministry. When the BKS launched a farmers' agitation, Modi ordered their eviction from houses provided by the state government. Modi's decision to demolish 200 illegal temples in Gandhinagar deepened the rift with VHP.[102][103] Various organisations of the Sangh were no longer consulted nor informed of Modi's administrative decisions prior to their enactment.[102]

The changes brought by Modi in the period 2002–07 has led to Gujarat being called an attractive investment destination. Aditi Phadnis writes that "there was sufficient anecdotal evidence pointing to the fact that corruption had gone down significantly in the state... if there was to be any corruption, Modi had to know about it".[55] Modi started financial and technology parks in the state. During the 2007 Vibrant Gujarat summit, real estate investment deals worth INR6.6 trillion were signed in Gujarat.[55]

Despite his focus on economic issues during the second term, Modi continued to be criticised for his relationship with Muslims. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then Prime Minister of India, who had asked Modi not to discriminate between citizens in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat violence and had pushed for his resignation as Chief Minister of Gujarat,[104][105] distanced himself from Modi and reached out to North Indian Muslims before the 2004 elections to the Lok Sabha. After the elections, Vajpayee held that the violence in Gujarat had been one of the reasons for BJP's electoral defeat and acknowledged that not removing Modi immediately after the Gujarat violence was a mistake.[106][107]

2007 election

In the run up to the assembly elections in 2007 and the general election in 2009, the BJP stepped up its rhetoric on terrorism.[108] On 18 July 2006, Modi criticised the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, "... for his reluctance to revive anti-terror legislations" such as the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act. He asked the national government to allow states to invoke tougher laws in the wake of the 2006 blasts in Mumbai.[109] Around this time Modi frequently demanded the execution of Afzal Guru,[110] a collaborator of the Pakistani jihadists who had been convicted of terrorism for his involvement in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack.[111][b] As a consequence of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, Modi held a meeting to discuss security of Gujarat's 1,600 km (990 mi) long coastline which resulted in the central government authorisation of 30 high–speed surveillance boats.[112]

In July 2007, Modi completed 2,063 consecutive days as chief minister of Gujarat, making him the longest-serving holder of that post.[113] The BJP won 122 of the 182 seats in the state assembly in the 2007 election, and Modi continued as chief minister.[114]

Third term (2007–12)

Development projects

The Sardar Sarovar Dam, undergoing a height increase in 2006.

Successive BJP governments under Patel and Modi supported NGOs and communities in the creation of infrastructure projects for conservation of groundwater. Gujarat is a semi-arid state and, according to Tushaar Shah, was "... never known for agrarian dynamism". By December 2008, 500,000 structures had been constructed, of which 113,738 were check dams. While most check dam impoundments dried up during the pre-monsoon season, they helped the monsoon rains recharge the aquifers that lie beneath.[115] 60 of the 112 tehsils which were found to have over–exploited the groundwater table in 2004 had regained their normal groundwater level by 2010,[116] meaning that Gujarat had managed to increase its groundwater levels at a time when they were falling in all other Indian states. As a result, production of genetically-modified Bt cotton, which could now be irrigated using tube wells, increased to become the largest in India.[115] The boom in cotton production and utilisation of semi–arid land[117] saw the agriculture growth rate of Gujarat increase to 9.6% in the period 2001–07.[118] Though public irrigation measures in the central and southern areas, such as the Sardar Sarovar Project, have not been as successful in achieving their aims,[115] for the decade 2001–10, Gujarat recorded an agricultural growth rate of 10.97%, the highest among all Indian states.[117] However, sociologists have pointed out that the growth rate under the Congress government during 1992–97 was at 12.9%.[119]

Modi at the inauguration of a hospital in Kheda district, Gujarat.

The Narendra Modi government also succeeded in bringing electricity to every village in Gujarat, although Dipankar Banerjee points out that all but 170 of them had been electrified under the previous Congress administration.[119] Modi also greatly changed the system of power distribution in the state, with a significant impact on farmers. The state greatly expanded the Jyotigram Yojana scheme, in which the agricultural electricity supply was rewired to separate it from other rural power supplies. The electricity supplied was then rationed to fit scheduled demand for irrigation, resulting in a cost reduction. Initial farmer protests died down when the farmers who benefited found that supply had become more regular.[115] An assessment study found that corporations and large farmers had significantly benefited from the policy, but that small farmers and labourers had been negatively impacted.[120]

In his third term, progress was made on the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City project, considered as one of Modi's pet projects. The first phase, which encompassed two skyscrapers, GIFT One and Two, was completed in 2012.[121][122]

Debate on Gujarat's development under Modi

Narendra Modi addressing law graduates at the Gujarat National Law University.

Modi's government has worked to brand Gujarat as a state of dynamic development, economic growth and prosperity, using the slogan "Vibrant Gujarat".[123][124][125] However, critics have pointed to Gujarat's relatively poor record on human development, poverty alleviation, nutrition, and education. The state is 13th in India for poverty, 21st for education, 44.7 percent of children under five are underweight and 23 percent are undernourished putting the state in the "alarming" category on the India State Hunger Index.[126] In contrast, officials from the state of Gujarat claim that Gujarat outperformed India as a whole in the rates of improvement of multiple human indicators, such as female education, between 2001 and 2011. Furthermore, they claim that the school drop-out rates declined from 20 percent in 2001 to 2 percent in 2011, and that maternal mortality declined by 32 percent from 2001 to 2011.[127] Additionally, the Indian Supreme Court, in a review of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, identified Gujarat as being one of the few states from which there were no complaints of forcible land acquisition.[128]

Political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot asserts that the development in Gujarat has been limited to the urban middle class, while rural dwellers and lower castes have become increasingly marginalised. He cites the fact that Gujarat ranks 10th among the 21 Indian states in the Human Development Index, which he attributes to the lower development in rural Gujarat. He states that under Modi, the number of families living below the poverty line has increased, and that particularly rural adivasi and dalits have become increasingly marginalised.[129] In July 2013, Economics Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen criticised Narendra Modi's governance record and said he did not approve of it, saying that under Modi's administration, Gujarat's "record in education and healthcare is pretty bad".[130] However, economists Arvind Panagariya and Jagdish Bhagwati state that Gujarat's social indicator improved from a much lower baseline than other Indian states. They state that Gujarat's performance in raising literacy rates has been superior to other states in India, and the "rapid" improvement of health indicators in Gujarat as evidence that "its progress has not been poor by any means."[131]

Fourth term (2012–14)

Modi with Anandiben Patel at a meeting of BJP MLAs, after being elected as Prime Minister. Patel succeeded Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

In the 2012 Gujarat legislative assembly elections, Modi won from the constituency of Maninagar with a majority of 86,373 votes over Sanjiv Bhatt's wife, Shweta, who was contesting for the Indian National Congress.[132] The BJP won 115 of the 182 seats, continuing the majority that the party has had throughout Modi's tenure,[133] and allowing the party to form the government, as it has in Gujarat since 1995.[134]

In later by-elections, the BJP won an additional four assembly seats and 2 Lok Sabha seats that were all held by the Indian National Congress prior to the by-elections, even though Modi never campaigned for its candidates.[135] This brought the number of seats held by the BJP in the state assembly up to 119.

In 2013, the Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF) at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania cancelled a keynote video-conference speech by Modi after some Indian-Americans lobbied against Modi.[136]

After being elected as Prime Minister, Modi resigned from the post of chief minister on 21 May 2014, and his MLA seat from the Maninagar constituency, after delivering a leaving speech described as emotional. Anandiben Patel was chosen as his replacement.[137]

National government

2009 election

Modi played a role in the 2009 national general election campaign of the BJP[138] and was one of their star campaigners.[139]

2014 general election

Modi addressing a rally in Meerut, during the campaign for 2014 general election.

On 31 March 2013, Modi was appointed to the BJP Parliamentary Board, the highest decision-making body of the party.[140][141] On 9 June 2013, Modi was appointed Chairman of the BJP's Central Election Campaign Committee for the 2014 general election, at the national level executive meeting of BJP.[142] The party's senior leader and founding member Lal Krishna Advani resigned from all his posts at the party following the selection, protesting against leaders who were "concerned with their personal agendas"; the resignation was described by The Times of India as "a protest against Narendra Modi's elevation as the chairman of the party's election committee". However, Advani withdrew his resignation the next day at the urging of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.[143] In September 2013, BJP announced Modi as their prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha election.[144] Narendra Modi contested the election from two constituencies: Varanasi[145] and Vadodara.[146] His candidacy was supported by spiritual leaders Ramdev and Morari Bapu,[147] and by economists Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, who have stated that they, "...are impressed by Modi's economics."[148] His detractors included Nobel Prize laureate economist Amartya Sen, who said that he did not want Modi as a Prime Minister because he had not done enough to make minorities feel safe, and that under Modi, Gujarat's record in health and education provision has been "pretty bad".[130]

During his campaign, Modi, pledged to speed government decision-making and remove bureaucratic hurdles that have slowed development.[149]

Modi won from both seats he contested; defeating Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, in Varanasi and Madhusudan Mistry of the Indian National Congress in Vadodara (by a margin of 570,128 votes, the second highest ever).[150] He led the BJP-led NDA to a decisive victory in the general elections in which the ruling Indian National Congress suffered its worst ever defeat.[151][152][153] Modi was unanimously elected as the leader of the BJP parliamentary party following his party's victory in the Indian parliamentary elections and was subsequently appointed the prime minister by India's president.[154][155] To comply with the rule that a MP can not hold two constituencies, Modi vacated the Vadodara seat.[156]

In "India's first social media election", Modi effectively used social media like Twitter, Facebook and Google in his campaign, besides Google Hangouts and holograms for campaign appearances. He even posted a selfie on Twitter and his victory tweet emerged as the most retweeted in India.[157]

Prime Minister

Modi (far right) was sworn in on 26 May 2014 at the Rastrapati Bhavan.

Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister on 26 May 2014 at the Rastrapati Bhavan. He is India's first prime minister born after the country's independence.[158] In a first of its kind, Modi invited all SAARC leaders to attend his swearing-in ceremony;[159] the attendees included Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam of Mauritius (SAARC observer), Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif,[160] and Speaker of the National Parliament of Bangladesh Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury.[161][162] Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina could not attend since she had a scheduled state visit to Japan and deputed the Speaker of National Parliament of Bangladesh to attend the ceremony on her behalf.[163]

Modi's first cabinet consisted of 45 ministers, less than the 70 ministers of the previous government.[164]

International diplomacy

As chief minister of Gujarat

To attract foreign investment in Gujarat during his time as chief minister, Modi made visits to countries such as China, Singapore and Japan.[165] He also visited China in November 2006 to study the Special Economic Zones that were about to be implemented in Gujarat.[166] He again visited in September 2007[167] and later in November 2011. A month after his visit of 2011, the Chinese Government released 13 diamond traders from India who had been jailed by the Shenzhen Customs, which Modi attributed to his diplomatic efforts and statesmanship.[168][169]

Narendra Modi meeting the South Korean ambassador in Gandhinagar.

Modi's relationship with many Western nations was a troubled one during his tenure as Chief Minister. Questions about his role in the 2002 Gujarat riots resulted in a boycott by the UK, the US and the EU. He was barred from entering the United States under a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.[170] Modi is the only person ever denied a visa to the U.S. under this provision.[171] The UK as well as the European Union refused to deal with Modi because of perceptions of his role in the riots. However, as Modi emerged as a national leader in India, the UK[172] and the EU[173] lifted their boycotts in October 2012 and March 2013 respectively and, following Modi's election as the Prime Minister of India, the US invited him to Washington.[174][175]

In 2011, the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, impressed with the development of Gujarat, invited Modi to visit Pakistan and address prominent business leaders. They also asked him to consider a flight between Karachi and Ahmedabad, on account of the historical cultural and economic relations between the two regions of Gujarat and Sindh. Modi wanted to help Pakistan out of its power crisis, especially in Sindh, suggesting Pakistan can follow the 'Gujarat Model' in two ways – Gujarat Solar Park and Kalpasar Project.[176]

In April 2014, in a move described as "unexpected", senior Pakistani diplomats told The Daily Telegraph that Modi is their preferred choice for the Prime Minister of India, "as he could provide the strong leadership necessary for peace talks".[177]

Although boycotted by Western nations, Modi visited Japan in 2012. According to Ryohei Kasai, research fellow at the Center for South Asian Studies, Gifu Women's University, Japan, "There is a growing interest in Modi in Japan with much anticipation that he will reshape India by revitalizing its economy and better governance. I believe Japan has an excellent relationship with him. Not only have successive Japanese ambassadors to India been regular guests in 'Vibrant Gujarat' investors' summit (organised biennially) but Japanese private companies also made a big amount of investment in the state."[178]

As Prime Minister of India

Modi invited the leaders of SAARC countries to his swearing-in ceremony for taking office as Prime Minister, to strengthen the diplomatic relationship and increase business.[179] Continuing with the aim of promoting close ties with neighbouring countries, Modi's first foreign visit as Prime Minister of India was to Bhutan . He later visited Nepal on August 8, 2014.[180][181] Later, he made a 5 day bilateral visit to Japan starting on August 30, 2014.[182] On 17 September 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in India and several financial MoUs and agreements of cooperation were signed between the two countries.[183] which Modi termed as a new chapter in the economic relations of both them.[184] Modi visited the United States in the last week of September 2014, which was described as very successful, leading to a boosting of bilateral relations between India and the US.[185] During his address to UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014, Modi asked the world leaders to adopt, June 21, as International Yoga Day.[186] which was approved by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly and a resolution establishing June 21 as 'International Day of Yoga' was made.

Personality and image

Modi is a vegetarian.[187] He has a frugal lifestyle, is a workaholic and an introvert.[188] He writes poems in Gujarati.[189] As a speaker, he is known as a crowd-puller.[190] In the critical opinion of Somini Sengupta, writing for The New York Times in a 2009 article on the Supreme Court's ordering of an investigation into Modi's role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, "Mr. Modi has assiduously sought to reinvent himself from a scruffy mascot of Hindu nationalism to a decisive corporate-style administrator".[68] He emerged as social media savvy politician and since September 2014 is the second most followed leader in the world with over 6 million followers on Twitter.[157][191] His interaction on Google Hangouts on 31 August 2012 made Modi the first Indian politician to interact with netizens through live chat on the internet.[192][193]

Modi has been labelled by the media and some articles in peer-reviewed journals as a controversial, polarising and divisive figure,[194][195][196] but British economist Jim O'Neill, author of the BRIC report, wrote on his blog that Modi is "good on economics", one of the things that "India desperately needs in a leader".[197] In August 2013, financial analyst Chris Wood, chief strategist of CLSA, wrote in his weekly Greed & Fear that "the Indian stock market's greatest hope is the emergence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate".[197]


Modi has been called a fashion leader in India and his choice in clothing has been discussed internationally.[198][199]

Modi's usual dress is a kurta with a vest over it.[200] His kurta is unusual for having half-sleeves, and this look is being called the "Modi kurta".[201][202][203] His clothes are made of silk or cotton.[200] They are always crisply ironed, which is a contrast to many Indian politicians who are not as careful to be so neat.[200] He has them made by hand in his home state of Gujarat.[200] He has favored certain brand name products, including his Movado watch and his Bulgari glasses.[200] When he was chief minister, he wore bold and bright colors, but after becoming prime minister, he tended to favor pastel colors.[200] For holidays he has a habit of wearing traditional hats of the place where he is.[200]

In 2012 Modi said that he was getting his clothing stitched by Kanahiya Ji Chouhan, who says that he has been making the same style clothing for Modi since 1974.[204] Some of Modi's clothing has been created by Bollywood fashion designer Troy Costa.[205][206]

In 2009 his clothing was critiqued as being like something from Bollywood and portraying the progressive nature of Gujarat.[207] Of Modi's clothing, Vogue India editor Priya Tanna said in 2014 "never before has there been such a strong convergence between what a politician in India stands for and his clothing."[202] She went on to say that his clothing choice was "100% India", democratic for being accessible for anyone to wear, supportive of Indian industry, separating him from politicians who wear western business clothes, a sign of his humble birth, clean and hygienic as India's image, aspirational, and raises the profile of personally tailored fashion.[202] In response this Vogue critique, another commentator said that Modi's fashion choice has no particular meaning at all and that there is no justification for trying to interpret it.[208]

Awards and recognitions

  • Gujarat Ratna by Shri Poona Gujarati Bandhu Samaj at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch on celebration of centenary year.[209]
  • e-Ratna award by the Computer Society of India.[210]
  • Best Chief Minister – In a nationwide survey conducted in 2007 by India Today magazine, Narendra Modi was declared the Best Chief Minister in the country.[211]
  • Asian Winner of the fDi Personality of the Year award for 2009 by FDi magazine.[212]
  • In March 2012, Modi appeared on the cover of the Asian edition of Time, one of India's few politicians to have done so.[213]
  • Modi was featured in Time's 2014 Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.[214]
  • Modi has become the most followed Asian leader on Twitter.[215]
  • In 2014, he was ranked as the 15th most powerful person in the world by Forbes.[216]



  1. ^ The exact number of people killed in the train burning is variously reported. For example, the BBC says it was 59[61] while The Guardian put the figure at 60.[62]
  2. ^ Afzal Guru was executed on 9 February 2013. There had been BJP allegations that the government's delaying of the execution for so long was an attempt to ensure that the Muslim vote was not lost.[111]


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Further reading

  • Sardesai, Rajdeep. 2014: The Election That Changed India (2014) excerpt
  • Sridharan, Eswaran. "Behind Modi's Victory." Journal of Democracy (2014) 24#4 pp: 20-33. Online


  • Fernandes, Vivian (2014). Modi: Leadership, governance and Performance. Orient Publishing. ASIN B00JUIMUBA. 
  • Kamath, M.V.; Randeri, Kalindi (2013). The Man of the Moment: Narendra Modi. Vikas. ISBN 978-9325968387. 
  • Kishwar, Madhu Purnima (2014). Modi, Muslims and Media: Voices from Narendra Modi's Gujarat. Manushi Publications. ISBN 978-81-929352-0-1. 
  • Mahurkar, Uday (2014). Centrestage: Inside the Narendra Modi Model of Governanace. Random House India. ASIN B00JR3PQ64. 
  • Marino, Andy (2014). Narendra Modi: A Political Biography. HarperCollins Publishers India. ISBN 978-93-5136-217-3. 
  • Mitta, Manoj (2014). The Fiction of Fact-Finding: Modi & Godhra. HarperCollins Publishers India. ISBN 978-93-5029-187-0. 
  • Mukhopadhyay, Nilanjan (2013). Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times. Westkabd. ASIN B00C4PGOF4. 
  • Nag, Kingshuk (2013). The NaMo Story - A Political Life. Roli Books. ISBN 978-8174369383. 
  • Nussbaum, Martha Craven (2008). The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-03059-6. 

External links



Political offices
Preceded by
Keshubhai Patel
Chief Minister of Gujarat
Succeeded by
Anandiben Patel
Preceded by
Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Lok Sabha
Preceded by
Murli Manohar Joshi
Member of the Lok Sabha
for Varanasi