Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi
નરેન્દ્ર મોદી
Narendra Modi
14th 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
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
Vadnagar, Bombay State (presently Gujarat), India
Political party Bharatiya Janata Party
Spouse(s) Jashodaben Modi (m. 1968) (estranged)
Residence 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, New Delhi
Alma mater
Religion Hinduism

Narendra Damodardas Modi (Gujarati: [ˈnəɾeːnd̪rə d̪aːmoːd̪əɾˈd̪aːs ˈmoːd̪iː], born 17 September 1950) is an Indian politician who is the 14th and current Prime Minister of India, in office since 26 May 2014. Modi, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014, and is the Member of Parliament from Varanasi.

Born to a Gujarati OBC family in Vadnagar, Modi helped his father sell tea as a child, and later ran his own stall. He was introduced to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at the age of eight, beginning a long association with the organisation. He left home after graduating from school, partly because of an arranged marriage which he rejected. Modi traveled around India for two years, and visited a number of religious centres. He returned to Gujarat and moved to Ahmedabad in 1969 or 1970. In 1971 he became a full-time worker for the RSS. During the state of emergency imposed across the country in 1975, Modi was forced to go into hiding. The RSS assigned him to the BJP in 1985, and he held several positions within the party hierarchy until 2001, rising to the rank of general secretary.

Modi was appointed chief minister of Gujarat in 2001, due to Keshubhai Patel's failing health and poor public image following the earthquake in Bhuj. Modi was elected to the legislative assembly soon after. His administration has been seen as complicit in the 2002 Gujarat riots,[1][2][3][4][5] or otherwise criticized for its handling of it, although a court found no evidence to prosecute Modi. His policies as chief minister, credited with encouraging economic growth, have received praise,[6] and several industrial projects were begun during his tenure. His administration has been criticised for failing to significantly improve health, poverty, and education indices in the state.[4][5]

Modi led the BJP in the 2014 general election, which gave the party a majority in the Lok Sabha, the first time a single party had achieved this since 1984. Modi himself was elected to parliament from Varanasi. Since taking office, Modi's administration has encouraged foreign direct investment in the Indian economy, increased spending on infrastructure, and reduced spending on health and social welfare programs. Modi has encourages efficiency in the bureaucracy, and centralized power through the abolition of the planning commission. Modi has begun a high-profile sanitation campaign, and loosened environmental and labor laws. A Hindu nationalist and member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Modi remains a controversial figure domestically and internationally.[4][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Early life and education

Narendra Modi was born on 17 September 1950 to a family of grocers in Vadnagar, Mehsana district, Bombay State (present-day Gujarat). He was the third of six children born to Damodardas Mulchand Modi and Hiraben Modi.[13] Modi's family belonged to the Modh-Ghanchi-Teli (oil-presser) community,[14][15][16][17] which is categorised as an Other Backward Class by the Indian government.[17][18]

As a child, Modi helped his father sell tea at the Vadnagar railway station, and later ran a tea stall with his brother near a bus terminus.[19][20] Modi completed his higher secondary education in Vadnagar in 1967, where a teacher described him as an average student and a keen debater, with an interest in theatre.[19] Modi had an early gift for rhetoric in debates, and this was noted by his teachers and students.[21] Modi preferred playing larger-than-life characters in theatrical productions, which has influenced his political image.[22][23]

Modi being fed by his mother
Modi with his mother, Hiraben, on his 63rd birthday on 17 September 2013.

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

Engaged while still a child to a local girl, Jashodaben Narendrabhai Modi, Modi rejected the arranged marriage at the same time he graduated from high school.[27] The resulting familial tensions contributed to his decision to leave home in 1967.[28]

Modi spent the ensuing two years travelling across Northern and North-eastern India, though few details of where he went have emerged.[29] In interviews, Modi has described visiting Hindu ashrams founded by Swami Vivekananda: the Belur Math near Kolkata, followed by the Advaita Ashrama in Almora and the Ramakrishna Mission in Rajkot. Modi remained only a short time at each, since he lacked the required college education.[30][31][32] "Modi's life is said to have Vivekananda's deep influence. People close to Modi have often been quoted, saying that Modi has molded many aspects of his life as Vivekananda's."[33]

Reaching the Belur Math in the early summer of 1968 and being turned away, Modi wandered through Calcutta, West Bengal and Assam, stopping by Siliguri and Guwahati.[34] Modi then went to the Ramakrishna Ashram in Almora, where he was again rejected, before travelling back to Gujarat via Delhi and Rajasthan in 1968-69.[35] Sometime in late 1969 or early 1970, Modi returned to Vadnagar for a brief visit before leaving again for Ahmedabad.[36] There, Modi lived with his uncle, working in the latter's canteen at the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation.[37][38]

In Ahmedabad, Modi renewed his acquaintance with Inamdar, who was based at Hedgewar Bhavan (RSS headquarters) in the city.[39][40][41] After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, he stopped working for his uncle and became a full-time pracharak (campaigner) for the RSS.[38] In 1978, Modi became an RSS sambhag pracharak (regional organiser), and received a degree in Political Science after a distance-education course from Delhi University.[42][43] Five years later, he received a Master of Arts degree in political science from Gujarat University in 1982.[44][45]

Early political career, 1975–2001

On 26 June 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency in India which lasted until 1977. During this period, many of her political opponents were jailed and opposition groups (including the RSS) were banned.[46][47] As pracharak in-charge of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS, Modi was forced to go underground in Gujarat and frequently travelled in disguise to avoid arrest. He became involved in printing pamphlets opposing the government, sending them to Delhi and organising demonstrations.[19][48][49][50] During this period, Modi wrote a book in Gujarati, Sangharsh ma Gujarat (The Struggles of Gujarat), describing events during the Emergency.[51][52]

He was assigned by the RSS to the BJP in 1985.[25] In 1988, Modi was elected organising secretary of the party's Gujarat unit, marking his entrance into electoral politics.[42][53] He rose within the party, helping organise L. K. Advani's 1990 Ram Rath Yatra in 1990 and Murli Manohar Joshi's 1991–92 Ekta Yatra (Journey for Unity).[19][54] As party secretary, Modi's electoral strategy was considered central to BJP victory in the 1995 state assembly elections.[25][55][56] In November of that year Modi was elected BJP national secretary and transferred to New Delhi, where he assumed responsibility for party activities in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.[55][57] The following year, Shankersinh Vaghela (one of the most prominent BJP leaders in Gujarat) defected to the INC after losing his parliamentary seat in the Lok Sabha elections.[19] Modi, on the selection committee for the 1998 Assembly elections in Gujarat, favoured supporters of BJP leader Keshubhai Patel over those supporting Vaghela to end factional division in the party. His strategy was credited as key to the BJP winning an overall majority in the 1998 elections,[55][58] and Modi was promoted to BJP general secretary (organisation) in May of that year.[59]

Chief Minister of Gujarat

Taking office

Modi flanked by three other men at a table
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 lost a few state assembly seats in by-elections. Allegations of abuse of power, corruption and poor administration were made, and Patel's standing had been damaged by his administration's handling of the earthquake in Bhuj in 2001.[55][60][61] The BJP national leadership sought a new candidate for chief minister, and Modi, who had expressed misgivings about Patel's administration, was chosen as a replacement.[19] Although senior BJP leader L. K. Advani did not want to ostracise Patel and was concerned about Modi's lack of experience in government, Modi declined an offer to be Patel's deputy chief minister, telling Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee that he was "going to be fully responsible for Gujarat or not at all". On 3 October 2001 he replaced Patel as Chief Minister of Gujarat, with the responsibility of preparing the BJP for the December 2002 elections.[62] On 7 October 2001, Modi was administered the oath of office.[63] On 24 February 2002 he won a by-election to the Rajkot – II assembly constituency, defeating Ashwin Mehta of the Indian National Congress (INC) by 14,728 votes, which enabled him to take office.[64]

2002 Gujarat riots

Main article: 2002 Gujarat riots

On 27 February 2002, a train with several hundred passengers was burned near Godhra, killing approximately 60 people.[lower-alpha 1] The train carried a large number of Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya after a religious ceremony at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid.[67][68] In making a public statement after the incident, Modi said that the attack had been pre-planned terror attack by local Muslims.[3][69][67] The next day, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad called for a bandh across the state.[70][71] Riots began during the bandh, and anti-Muslim violence spread through Gujarat.[70][71][67] The government's decision to move the bodies of the train victims from Godhra to Ahmedabad had the effect of further inflaming the violence.[72][67] The state government stated later that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed..[73] Independent sources put the death toll at over 2000.[74][67] Approximately 150,000 people were driven to refugee camps.[75] Numerous women and children were among the victims; the violence included mass rapes and mutilations of women.[2]

The government of Gujarat itself is generally considered by scholars to have been complicit in the riots,[1][2][3] and has otherwise received heavy criticism for its handling of the situation.[76] Several scholars have described the violence as a pogrom, while others have called it an example of state terrorism.[77][78][79] Summarising academic views on the subject, Martha Nussbaum said: "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."[2] The Modi government imposed a curfew in 26 major cities, issued shoot-at-sight orders and called for the army to patrol the streets, but was unable to prevent the violence from escalating.[70][71] The president of the state unit of the BJP expressed support for the bandh, despite such actions being illegal at the time.[3] State officials later prevented riot victims from leaving the refugee camps, and the camps were often unable to meet the needs of those living there.[80] Muslim victims of the riots were subject to further discrimination when the state government announced that compensation for Muslim victims would be half of that offered to Hindus, although this decision was later reversed after the issue was taken to court.[81] During the riots, police officers often did not intervene in situations where they were able.[2][69][82] In 2012 Maya Kodnani, a minister in Modi's government from 2007 to 2009, was convicted of participation in the Naroda Patiya massacre during the 2002 riots.[83][84] Although Modi's government had announced that it would seek the death penalty for Kodnani on appeal, it reversed its decision in 2013.[85][86]

Modi's personal involvement in the 2002 events has continued to be debated. During the riots, Modi said that "What is happening is a chain of action and reaction."[2] Later in 2002, Modi said the way in which he had handled the media was his only regret regarding the episode.[87] Modi has not offered an apology for the riots.[88] In March 2008, the Supreme Court reopened several cases related to the 2002 riots, including that of the Gulbarg Society massacre, and established a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the issue.[76][89][90] In response to a petition from Zakia Jafri (widow of Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the Gulbarg Society massacre), in April 2009 the court also asked the SIT to investigate the issue of Modi's complicity in the killings.[89] The SIT questioned Modi in March 2010; in May, it presented to the court a report finding no evidence against Modi.[89][91] In July 2011, the court-appointed amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran submitted his final report to the court. Contrary to the SIT's position, he said that Modi could be prosecuted based on the available evidence.[92][93] The Supreme Court gave the matter to the magistrate court. The SIT examined Ramachandran's report, and in March 2012 submitted its final report, asking for the case to be closed. Zakia Jaffri filed a protest petition in response. In December 2013 the magistrate court rejected the protest petition, accepting the SIT's finding that there was no evidence against the chief minister.[94]

2002 election

Modi and former Prime Minister Vajpayee looking at a blue-covered report
Modi with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002.

In the aftermath of the violence came widespread calls for Modi to resign as chief minister from within and outside the state, including leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Telugu Desam Party (allies in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance coalition), and opposition parties stalled Parliament over the issue.[95] Modi submitted his resignation, which was not accepted, at the April 2002 BJP national executive meeting in Goa.[96] His cabinet had a 19 July 2002 emergency meeting, offered its resignation to the Gujarat Governor S. S. Bhandari and the assembly was dissolved.[97][98] Despite opposition from the election commissioner, who said that a number of voters were still displaced, Modi succeeded in advancing the election to December 2002.[99] In the elections, the BJP won 127 seats in the 182-member assembly.[100] Although Modi later denied it, he made significant use of anti-Muslim rhetoric during his campaign,[101][102][103][104] and the BJP profited by the division of the vote along religious lines.[99] Modi hired the public relations firm APCO Worldwide to manage his image.[99] He won the Maninagar constituency, receiving 1,13,589 of 1,54,981 votes and defeating INC candidate Yatin Oza by 75,333 votes.[105] On 22 December 2002, Bhandari swore Modi in for a second term.[106] Modi framed the criticism of his government for human rights violations as an attack upon Gujarati pride, a strategy which led to the BJP winning two thirds of the seats in the state assembly.[1][101]

Modi's public speeches during the election campaign had been focused on the 2002 riots, but after the election, the stated agenda of the government shifted toward economic development.[1][101] Modi organized a "Vibrant Gujarat" summit, where Gujarat was advertised as an attractive destination for private investment. During the summit, which would later become a biennial event, Modi offered financial incentives to investors, and also referred to Gujarat's culture as a factor which made the state well-suited for business. Modi's rhetoric at the time was aimed at a middle-class Hindu audience and sought to consolidate a Gujarati cultural identity based on upper-caste, Hindu cultural elements.[1] However, after the 2002 election the BJP reduced the use of anti-Muslim rhetoric in its campaigns in favor of statements about economic development.[1]

Second term

After an election campaign in which the BJP benefited from religious polarisation among the voters, during Modi's second term the rhetoric of the government shifted from Hindutva to Gujarat's economic development.[60] Modi curtailed the influence of Sangh Parivar organisations such as the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP),[107] entrenched in the state after the decline of Ahmedabad's textile industry,[60] and dropped Gordhan Zadafia (an ally of former Sangh co-worker and VHP state chief Praveen Togadia) from his cabinet. When the BKS staged a farmers' demonstration Modi ordered their eviction from state-provided houses, and his decision to demolish 200 illegal temples in Gandhinagar deepened the rift with the VHP.[107][108] Sangh organisations were no longer consulted or informed in advance about Modi's administrative decisions.[107] Nonetheless, Modi retained connections with some Hindu nationalists. Modi wrote a forward to a textbook by Dinanath Batra released in 2014, which stated that ancient India possessed technologies including test-tube babies.[109][110]

Modi's relationship with Muslims continued to be criticised. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (who asked Modi for tolerance in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat violence and supported his resignation as chief minister)[111][112] distanced himself, reaching out to North Indian Muslims before the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. After the elections Vajpayee called the violence in Gujarat a reason for the BJP's electoral defeat and said it had been a mistake to leave Modi in office after the riots.[113][114]

Questions about Modi's relationship with Muslims were also raised by many Western nations during his tenure as chief minister. Modi was barred from entering the United States under a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act banning violators of religious freedom,[115] the only person denied a US visa under this provision.[116] The UK and the European Union refused to admit him because of what they saw as his role in the riots. As Modi rose to prominence in India, the UK[117] and the EU[118] lifted their bans in October 2012 and March 2013, respectively, and after his election as prime minister he was invited to Washington.[119][120]

During the run-up to the 2007 assembly elections and the 2009 general election, the BJP ramped up its rhetoric on terrorism.[121] On 18 July 2006, Modi criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh " ... for his reluctance to revive anti-terror legislation" such as the 2002 Prevention of Terrorism Act. He asked the national government to allow states to invoke tougher laws in the wake of the 2006 Mumbai blasts[122] and demanded the execution of Afzal Guru,[123] who was convicted of involvement in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack.[124] After the November 2008 Mumbai attacks Modi held a meeting to discuss the security of Gujarat's 1,600-kilometre (990 mi)-long coastline, resulting in government authorisation of 30 high-speed surveillance boats.[125] In July 2007 Modi completed 2,063 consecutive days as chief minister of Gujarat, making him the longest-serving holder of that post,[126] and the BJP won 122 of 182 state-assembly seats in that year's election.[127]

Development projects

The Sardar Sarovar Dam during a 2006 height increase.
Modi unties a ceremonial red ribbon before a crowd of onlookers
Modi at a hospital dedication in Kheda district in 2013.

As Chief Minister, Modi favoured privatisation and small government, which was at odds with the philosophy of the RSS, usually described as anti-privatisation and anti-globalisation.[60] His policies during his second term have been credited with reducing corruption in the state.[60] He established financial and technology parks in Gujarat and during the 2007 Vibrant Gujarat summit, real-estate investment deals worth 6.6 trillion were signed in the state.[60] Modi's administration branded Gujarat as a state of dynamic development, economic growth and prosperity with the slogan "Vibrant Gujarat".[1][128][129]

The governments led by Patel and Modi supported NGOs and communities in the creation of groundwater-conservation projects. By December 2008 500,000 structures had been built, of which 113,738 were check dams, which helped recharge the aquifers beneath them.[130] Sixty of the 112 tehsils which had depleted the water table in 2004 had regained their normal groundwater levels by 2010.[131] As a result, the state's production of genetically modified genetically modified cotton increased to become the largest in India.[130] The boom in cotton production and its semi-arid land use[132] led to Gujarat's agricultural growing at an average rate of 9.6 percent from 2001 to 2007.[133] Public irrigation measures in central and southern Gujarat, such as the Sardar Sarovar Dam, were less successful.[130] The Sardar Sarovar project only irrigated 4-6% of the area it was supposed to.[130] Nonetheless, from 2001 to 2010 Gujarat recorded an agricultural growth rate of 10.97 percent – the highest of any state.[132] However, sociologists have pointed out that the growth rate under the 1992–97 INC government was 12.9 percent.[134]

In 2008 Modi offered land in Gujarat to Tata Motors to set up a plant manufacturing the Nano.[135] This happened after a popular agitation had forced the company to move out of West Bengal.[135] Several other companies followed the Tata's to Gujarat.[135]

The Modi government completed the process of bringing electricity to every village in Gujarat, which had been nearly completed under the previous administration.[134] Modi significantly changed the state's system of power distribution, greatly impacting farmers. Gujarat expanded the Jyotigram Yojana scheme, in which agricultural electricity was separated from other rural electricity; the agricultural electricity was rationed to fit scheduled irrigation demands, reducing its cost. Although early protests by farmers ended when those who benefited found that their electricity supply had stabilised,[130] according to an assessment study corporations and large farmers benefited from the policy at the expense of small farmers and labourers.[136]

Development debate

Modi speaking at flower-decked podium
Modi addressing graduates of the Gujarat National Law University in 2012.

There has been a contentious debate surrounding the development of the state of Gujarat during Modi's tenure as chief minister.[137] The GDP growth rate of Gujarat averaged 10% during Modi's tenure, a value above that of the country as a whole, and similar to other highly industrialised states.[135] Gujarat also had a high rate of economic growth in the 1990s, before Modi took office.[138] Some scholars have stated the rate of growth did not accelerate during Modi's tenure,[138] although the state is considered to have maintained a high growth rate during Modi's Chief Ministership.[81] Under Modi, Gujarat topped the World Bank's "ease of doing business" rankings among Indian states for two consecutive years.[139] In 2013, Gujarat was ranked first among Indian states for "economic freedom" by a report measuring governance, growth, citizens' rights and labour and business regulation among the country's 20 largest states.[135][140] In the later years of Modi's government, Gujarat's economic growth was frequently used as an argument to counter allegations of communalism.[1] Tax breaks for businesses were easier to obtain in Gujarat than in other states, as was land. Modi's policies to make Gujarat attractive for investment included the creation of Special Economic Zones, where labor laws were greatly weakened.[101]

Despite its growth rate, Gujarat had a relatively poor record on human development, poverty relief, nutrition and education during Modi's tenure. In 2013, Gujarat ranked 13th in the country with respect to rates of poverty and 21st in education. Nearly 45 percent of children under five were underweight and 23 percent were undernourished, putting the state in the "alarming" category on the India State Hunger Index.[141][142] A study by UNICEF and the Indian government found that Gujarat under Modi had a poor record with respect to immunisation in children.[143]

Over the decade from 2001 to 2011, Gujarat did not change its position relative to the rest of the country with respect to poverty and female literacy, remaining near the median of the 29 Indian states.[81] It showed only a marginal improvement in rates of infant mortality, and its position with respect to individual consumption declined.[81] With respect to the quality of education in government schools, the state ranked below most Indian states.[81] The social policies of the government generally did not benefit Muslims, Dalits, and Adivasis, and generally increased social inequalities.[81] Under Modi, the state government spent far less than the national average on education and healthcare.[81]

Development in Gujarat was generally limited to the urban middle class, and citizens in rural areas or from lower castes were increasingly marginalised. In 2013 the state ranked 10th of 21 Indian states in the Human Development Index. Political Scientist Christophe Jaffrelot says that under Modi the number of families below the poverty line has increased and conditions for rural adivasi and dalits, in particular, have declined.[144] In July 2013 economics Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen expressed disapproval of Modi's governance record, saying that under his administration Gujarat's "record in education and healthcare is pretty bad".[145]

However, economists Arvind Panagariya and Jagdish Bhagwati say that Gujarat's social indicators have improved from a lower baseline than that of other Indian states. According to them, Gujarat's performance in raising literacy rates has been superior to other states and the "rapid" improvement of health indicators is evidence that "its progress has not been poor by any means."[146]

Final years

Modi talking to a woman; both are seated.
Modi with Anandiben Patel at a meeting of BJP MLAs after his election as prime minister; Patel succeeded him as Gujarat chief minister.

During the 2012 campaign, Modi attempted to identify himself with the state of Gujarat, a strategy similar to that used by Indira Gandhi during the Emergency, and projected himself as protecting Gujarat against persecution by the rest of India.[101]

Despite the BJP's shift away from explicit Hindutva, Modi's election campaign in 2007 and 2012 contained elements of Hindu nationalism. Modi only attended Hindu religious ceremonies, and had prominent associations with Hindu religious leaders. During his 2012 campaign he twice refused to wear articles of clothing gifted by Muslim leaders.[101] He did, however, maintain relations with Dawoodi Bohra.[101] His campaign included references to issues known to cause religious polarization, including to Afzal Guru and the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh. The BJP did not nominate any Muslim candidates for the assembly election of 2012.[101]

While campaigning for the 2012 assembly elections, Modi made extensive use of holograms and other technologies allowing him to reach a large number of people,[99] something he would repeat in the 2014 general election. In the 2012 Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections, Modi won the constituency of Maninagar by 86,373 votes over Shweta Bhatt, the INC candidate and wife of Sanjiv Bhatt.[147] The BJP won 115 of the 182 seats, continuing its majority during his tenure[148] and allowing the party to form the government (as it had in Gujarat since 1995).[149] In later by-elections the BJP won four more assembly seats and two Lok Sabha seats held by the INC, although Modi did not campaign for its candidates.[150] 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 following protests by Indian-Americans.[151] After his election as prime minister, Modi resigned as the chief minister and as an MLA from Maninagar on 21 May 2014. Anandiben Patel succeeded him as the chief minister.[152]

2014 Indian general election

Modi addressing a large crowd from a podium
Modi addressing a rally in Meerut during the 2014 general election campaign.

On 31 March 2013 Modi was appointed to the BJP parliamentary board, the highest decision-making body in the party,[153][154] and at a meeting of the party's national executive on 9 June he was appointed chair of the BJP's central election campaign committee for the 2014 general election.[153][155] BJP founding member L. K. Advani resigned his party posts after the appointment, citing concern with leaders who were "concerned with their personal agendas". His resignation, which was described as being a protest against Modi's elevation, was withdrawn the following day at the urging of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.[156] In September 2013, the BJP announced that the chief minister would be their candidate for prime minister in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.[155][157] Other BJP leaders also initially expressed opposition to Modi's candidature.[153] Modi's nomination also drew attention for his reputation as "one of contemporary India's most controversial and divisive politicians."[137]

Modi played a dominant role in the BJP's 2009 general-election campaign.[158][159] Several people who voted for the BJP stated that if Modi had not been the prime-ministerial candidate, they would have voted for another party.[160] The BJP projected an image of Modi as a strong, masculine leader, who would be able to take difficult decisions.[153][155][137][160][161] The focus on Modi as an individual was unusual for a BJP election campaign.[153][162] The election was described as a referendum on Narendra Modi.[137]

During the campaign, Modi focused on the corruption scandals under the previous INC government, and played on his image as a politician who had created a high rate of GDP growth in Gujarat.[153][137] Modi projected himself as a person who could bring about "development," without focus on any specific policies.[153] His message found support among young Indians and among middle-class citizens.[137] The BJP under Modi was able to downplay concerns about the protection of religious minorities and Modi's commitment to secularism, areas in which he had previously received criticism.[137] Prior to the election Modi's image in the media had centered around his role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, but during the campaign the BJP was able to shift this to a focus on Modi's neoliberal ideology and the Gujarat model of development.[159] Although the BJP avoided issues of Hindu nationalism to an extent, Hindutva remained a significant part of its campaign.[153][160][163] Through the campaign, the BJP received significantly more positive media coverage than its competitors, particularly in the northern and western parts of the country. Commentators attributed this to Modi's influence in the area.[164] The campaign also made extensive use of advertising in vernacular media sources, portraying Modi as the victim of a "news media conspiracy" among the English language sources.[159] However, the BJP's campaign was assisted by its wide influence in the media.[142] Modi's campaign blitz cost approximately INR 5000 crores ($830 million),[137] and received extensive financial support from corporate donors.[142] In addition to more conventional campaign methods, such as rallies and the use of print media, Modi also made extensive use of social media,[153][137] and addressed more than 1000 rallies via hologram appearances.[163] The election was described as "India's first social media election.[165]

The BJP won 31% of the vote,[88] and more than doubled its tally in the Lok Sabha to 282, and became the first party to win a majority of seats on its own since 1984.[159][160] The results were described as a pro-Modi "wave."[137][160] Voter unhappiness with the INC, as well as with regional parties in North India, was another reason for the success of the BJP.[160] The support network of the RSS played a role in Modi's success.[153] Scholars studying the election also stated that Modi had an ability to attract supporters who would campaign for him, thus strengthening his position as a candidate but making the party's victory relatively fragile.[153][155] In states such as Uttar Pradesh in which the BJP performed well, it drew exceptionally high support from upper-caste Hindus.[160] It won only 10 percent of the Muslim vote, which was nonetheless more than it had won before.[160] It performed particularly well in parts of the country that had recently experienced violence between Hindus and Muslims.[160]

The magnitude of the BJP's victory led many commentators to say that the election constituted a political realignment away from progressive parties and towards the right-wing BJP.[137][160][166][167] Modi's tweet announcing his victory in the election was the most re-tweeted in India,[168] and was described as being emblematic of the political realignment away from a Nehruvian secular, socialist state towards capitalism and Hindu cultural nationalism.[168]

Modi himself was a candidate for the Lok Sabha in two constituencies: Varanasi and Vadodara.[169] He won in both constituencies, defeating Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi and Madhusudan Mistry of the INC in Vadodara by 570,128 votes.[170] The BJP-led NDA won the general election overall and the INC experienced its worst-ever defeat.[171][172][173] Modi, who was unanimously elected leader of the BJP after his party's victory, was appointed prime minister by India's president.[174][175] To comply with the law that an MP cannot represent more than one constituency, he vacated the Vadodara seat.[176]

Prime Minister

Wikinews has related news: Narendra Modi elected new Prime Minister of India.
Modi reading from a paper into a bank of microphones
Modi (far right) being sworn in as Prime Minister, in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee (far left), 2014.

Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India on 26 May 2014 at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He became the first Prime Minister born after India's independence from the United Kingdom.[177] His first cabinet consisted of 45 ministers, 25 fewer than the previous UPA government.[178] 21 new ministers were added to the council of ministers in November 2014.[179]

Economic policies

Modi at the launch of the Make in India program.

The economic policies of Modi's government focused on privatisation and liberalisation of the economy, based on a neoliberal framework.[180][179] Modi liberalised India's foreign direct investment policies, allowing more foreign investment in several industries, including in defence and the railways.[181][182][179][183] Other reforms included removing many of the country's labor laws, to make it harder for workers to form unions and easier for employers to hire and fire them.[180] These reforms met with support from institutions such as the World Bank, but opposition from scholars within the country. The labour laws also drew strong opposition from unions: on 2 September 2015, eleven of the country's largest unions went on strike, including one affiliated with the BJP.[180] The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, a constituent of the Sangh Parivar, stated that the reforms would hurt laborers by making it easier for corporations to exploit them.[179] In his first budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley promised to gradually reduce the budgetary deficit from 4.1% to 3% over two years, and to divest from shares in public banks.[179] Over Modi's first year in office, the Indian GDP grew at a rate of 7.5%, making it the fastest growing large economy.[180]

The funds dedicated to poverty reduction programs and social welfare measures was greatly decreased by the Modi administration.[110] The money spent on social programs declined from 14.6% of GDP during the Congress government to 12.6% during Modi's first year in office.[179] Spending on health and family welfare declined by 15%, and on primary and secondary education, by 16%.[179] The budgetary allocation for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, or the "education for all" program, declined by 22%.[179] The government also lowered corporate taxes, abolished the wealth tax, and reduced customs duties on gold, jewelry, and increased sales taxes.[179] In October 2014, the Modi government deregulated diesel prices,[184] and later increased taxes on diesel and petrol.[179] In July 2014, Modi refused to sign a trade agreement that would permit the World Trade Organization to implement a deal agreed in Bali, citing a lack of protection to Indian farmers and the needs of food security.[179]

In September 2014, Modi introduced the Make in India initiative to encourage foreign companies to manufacture products in India, with the goal of turning India into a global manufacturing hub.[179][185] Supporters of economic liberalisation supported the initiative, while critics argued it would allow foreign corporations to capture a greater share of the Indian market.[179] In order to enable the construction of private industrial corridors, the Modi administration passed a land-reform bill that allowed it to acquire private agricultural land without conducting a social impact assessment, and without the consent of the farmers who owned it.[186] Under the previous bill, the government had required the consent of 80% of the owners of a piece of property before acquiring it for a private project: this requirement was waived.[187] The bill was passed via an executive order after it faced opposition in parliament, but was eventually allowed to lapse.[187]

The government substantially increased the percentage of central revenue directly granted to states, while decreasing the amount granted through various central government programs. Overall, states' share of revenue increased marginally.[110] The criteria upon which individual states' allocation was determined were changed, such that the revenue to 19 states increased, and that of 10 states decreased. Only one of the ten states was ruled by the BJP when the policy was enacted.[110]

The government signed large deals with General Electric and Alstom to supply India with 1,000 new diesel locomotives, as part of an effort to reform the Indian railway, which also included privatisation efforts.[188][189] In December 2015, Modi's government signed an agreement with Japan to jointly build a bullet train system linking Mumbai and Ahmedabad.[190] The Indian government put forward a plan on converting 101 rivers into national waterways for the transport of goods and passengers. The government also began an ambitious program to increase the number of highways in the country,[191][192] allocating 700 billion rupees to the project.[179]

On 25 June 2015, Modi launched a program intended to develop 100 smart cities.[193] The "Smart Cities" program is expected to bring IT companies an extra benefit of 20,000,000,000 rupees.[194] He also launched a "smart villages" initiative, under which villages would be given Internet access, clean water, sanitation, and low-carbon energy, with Members of Parliament overseeing the program's implementation. The program had a stated goal of at least 2,500 smart villages by 2019.[194]

In June 2015, Modi launched the "Housing for All By 2022" project, which intends to eliminate slums in India by building about 20 million affordable homes for India's urban poor.[195][196] Modi launched Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana in August 2014. The initiative aimed to create bank accounts and debit cards for 150 million families, and to allow them an overdraft of 5000 rupees.[179] 125.4 million accounts had been opened by January 2015.[179] The programme also promised accident insurance to each of these families.[179] He launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) on 1 May 2016 to distribute LPG connections to women of BPL families.[197]

In his first cabinet decision, Modi set up a team to investigate black money.[198][199][200][201][202][203][204] On 9 November 2016, the government demonetised ₹500 and ₹1000 banknotes, with the stated intention of curbing corruption, black money, the use of counterfeit currency, and terrorism.[205] The move led to widespread protests throughout the country, including one by opposition parties, which stalled the winter session of parliament.[206] In the days following the demonetisation, banks across the country faced severe cash shortages,[207][208][209] which had detrimental effects on a number of small businesses, on agriculture, and on transportation. People seeking to exchange their notes had lengthy waits, and several deaths were linked to the rush to exchange cash.[210][211] Following Modi's announcement, the Indian stock indices BSE SENSEX and NIFTY 50 declined steeply.[212]

Hindutva and social policies

During the 2014 election campaign, Modi expressed hopes for a tenure without communal violence. The BJP sought to identify itself with political leaders known to have opposed Hindu nationalism, including B. R. Ambedkar, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Ram Manohar Lohia.[110] The campaign also saw the use of rhetoric based on Hindutva, however, by BJP leaders in certain states.[213] Communal tensions were played upon especially in Uttar Pradesh and the states of Northeast India.[213] A proposal for the controversial Uniform Civil Code was a part of the BJP's election manifesto.[163]

Several state governments headed by the BJP have enacted policies aligned with Hindutva after the election of Modi as prime minister. The government of Maharashtra banned the killing of cows in 2014.[213] The government of Haryana made changes to its education policy that introduced Hindu religious elements into the curriculum.[214] External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj suggested after the election that the Bhagvad Gita be adopted as India's "national book".[213] The Modi administration has generally avoided directly supporting policies related to a Hindutva agenda.[213] There has been an increase in the activities of a number of other Hindu nationalist organisations, sometimes with the support of the government.[110][213] The incidents included a campaign against "Love Jihad", a religious conversion programme, and attempts to celebrate Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, by members of the Sangh Parivar.[110] The attempts at religious conversion have been described by the VHP and other organisations involved with them as attempts at "reconversion" from Islam or Christianity. There have been a number of reports of intimidation or coercion of the subjects during these attempts.[213] Officials in the government, including the Home Minister, have defended the attempts.[213] There were additional incidents of violence targeted at religious minorities by Hindu nationalists.[110] Modi refused to remove a government minister from her position after a popular outcry resulted from her referring to religious minorities as "bastards."[110] Commentators have suggested, however, that the violence was perpetrated by radical Hindu nationalists to undercut the authority of Modi.[110]

The Modi administration appointed Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, who had previously been associated with the RSS, chairperson of the Indian Council of Historical Research.[163] In reaction to his appointment, other historians and former members of the ICHR, including those sympathetic to the ruling party, questioned his credentials as a historian. Several stated that the appointment was part of an agenda of cultural nationalism.[163][215][216]

The government began formulating a New Education Policy, or NEP, soon after its election. As of March 2016, this policy had yet to be implemented.[214] This was the third education policy introduced by the Indian government, following those of 1968 and 1986.[214] The policy was described as having overtones of Hindutva.[214] The RSS had a role in its creation, and it did not explicitly mention the goals of "socialism, secularism and democracy" that had been mentioned in the first two policies.[214] The policy emphasized the education of minority students, as well as those of economically backward groups, in particular on improving enrollment in schools among those groups.[214] The policy proposed bringing religious educational institutions under the Right to Education Act.[214] There was also a debate about removing caste-based reservation in favor of reservation based on income, a move supported by the RSS, but which was criticized as being discriminatory on the basis of caste.[214]

Health and sanitation policies

Modi participates in the cleanliness drive in his constituency of Varanasi.

In his first year as prime minister Modi reduced the amount of money spent by the government on healthcare.[143] The Modi government launched a "New Health Policy" in January 2015. The policy did not increase the government's spending on healthcare, but placed emphasis on the role of private healthcare organisations.[217] In its budget for the second year after it took office, the Modi government reduced healthcare spending by 15%.[217] This represented a shift away from the policy of the previous Congress government, which had supported programs to support public health goals including reducing child and maternal mortality rates.[217] The National Health Mission, which included public health programs targeted at these indices received nearly 25% less funds in 2015 than in the previous year.[217] 15 national health programs, including those aimed at controlling tobacco use and supporting healthcare for the elderly, were merged with the National Health Mission, and received less funds than in previous years.[217] Modi initially appointed Harsh Vardhan, a doctor and an advocate of tobacco control, minister of health. However, Vardhan was removed in November 2015.[217] The government also proposed introducing stricter packaging laws for tobacco, but this effort was postponed because of the efforts of the tobacco lobby.[217]

Modi's government developed a draft policy to introduce a universal health care system, known as the National Health Assurance Mission. Under this plan, the government was to provide free drugs, diagnostic treatment, and insurance coverage for serious ailments, although budgetary concerns have delayed its implementation.[218][219][220]

On 2 October 2014, Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ("Clean India") campaign. The states goals of the campaign included eliminating open defecation, eliminating manual scavenging, and improving waste management practices.[221][222] The campaign was announced on the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, and was planned to achieve these aims in five years, or in time for the 150th anniversary of his birth.[222] As part of the programme, the Indian government began the construction of millions toilets in rural areas, as well as efforts to encourage people to use them.[223][224][225] The government also announced plans to build new sewage treatment plants.[226] The administration plans to construct 60 million toilets by 2019. The construction projects have faced allegations of corruption, and have faced severe difficulty in getting people to use the toilets constructed for them.[223][224][222]

Modi has generally emphasized his government's efforts at sanitation as a means of ensuring good health.[217] He has also advocated yoga and traditional forms of medicine.[217] An article in the medical journal Lancet stated that the country"might have taken a few steps back in public health" under Modi.[217]

Foreign policy

Foreign policy played a relatively small role in Modi's election campaign, and did not feature prominently in the BJP's election manifesto.[227] Modi invited all the other leaders of SAARC countries to the ceremony where he was sworn in as prime minister.[228][229] He was the first Indian prime minister to do so.[230] Observers have stated that due to Modi portraying himself as a strong and nationalist leader during his election campaign, he would be politically unable to follow a policy of restraint that India had previously followed after terrorist attacks, and is more likely to have a military response.[228]

Modi's foreign policy focused on improving economic ties, improving security, and increased regional relations, which is very similar to the policy of the preceding INC government.[227] Modi continued his predecessor Manmohan Singh's policy of "multialignment."[231] This involved the use of regional multilateral institutions and strategic partnerships to further the interests of the Indian government.[231] The Modi administration tried to attract foreign investment in the Indian economy from several sources, especially in East Asia.[227] The Modi government also upgraded several of India's military alliances, although it was unable to conclude negotiations for a trilateral defense agreement with Japan and Australia.[227] As a part of this policy, the Modi government completed India's application to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which is led by China and Russia. (SCO). It also joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank founded by China.[231] Together with the US government, it created a "Joint Strategic Vision" for the Indian and Pacific oceans.[231] The government also tried to improve relations with Islamic republics in the Middle East, such as Bahrain, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as with Israel, with the intent to also "link west."[231] Modi added five bilateral strategic partnerships to the 25 that had been agreed by his predecessors Singh and Vajpayee.[231]

During the first few months after the election, Modi made trips to a number of different countries to further the goals of his policy, and attended the BRICS, ASEAN, and G20 summits.[227] During these visits, Modi attempted to draw further foreign investment in the Indian economy,[227] with the use of slogans such as "Make in India" and "Digital India," put forward during a visit to Silicon Valley.[231] One of Modi's first visits as prime minister was to Nepal, during which he promised a billion USD in aid.[232] Another early visit was to Bhutan.[232] IModi also made several overtures to the United States, including multiple visits to that country.[229] While this was described as an unexpected development, due to the US having previously denied Modi a travel visa over his role during the 2002 Gujarat riots, it was also expected to strengthen diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries.[229] As of July 2016, Modi had made 51 trips to 42 countries with the intent of strengthening diplomatic relations.[233][234]

In 2015, the Indian parliament ratified a land exchange deal with Bangladesh about the India–Bangladesh enclaves, which had been initiated by the government of Manmohan Singh.[187] Modi's administration gave renewed attention to India's "Look East Policy", instituted in 1991. The policy was renamed the "Act East Policy", and involved directing Indian foreign policy towards East Asia and Southeast Asia.[235][231] The government signed agreements to improve land connectivity with Myanmar, through the state of Manipur. This represented a break with India's historic engagement with Myanmar, which prioritized border security over trade.[235]

Defence policy

Wikinews has related news: Prime Minister Narendra Modi accuses Pakistan of waging proxy war.

During the 2014 election campaign, Modi and the BJP pledged to revisit India's nuclear weapons doctrine, and in particular India's historical policy of no-first-use.[236] The pressure to revise the doctrine came from a desire for assertiveness among Indian government and defence officials. Soon after being sworn in as Prime Minister, Modi said that no revision would take place in the immediate future.[236] The election manifesto of the BJP had also promised to deal with illegal immigration into India in the Northeast, as well as to be more firm in its handling of insurgent groups.[237] During the election campaign, Modi said that he would be willing to accommodate Hindu migrants who were being persecuted in Bangladesh, but those that came with "political objectives" would have to be sent back to Bangladesh.[237] The Modi government issued a notification allowing Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist illegal immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh to legalize their residency in India.[237] The government described the measure as being taken for humanitarian reasons. However, it drew criticism from several Assamese organizations.[237]

Modi continued the previous INC administration's policy of increasing military spending every year, announcing an increase of 11% in the military budget in 2015.[238][239] This increase was larger than the average growth under the Congress.[238]

The Modi administration negotiated a peace agreement with the largest faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCM), which was announced in August 2015. The Naga insurgency in northwest India had begun in the 1950s.[237][240] The NSCM and the government had agreed to a ceasefire in 1997, but a peace accord had not previously been signed.[240] In 2015 the government abrogated a 15-year ceasefire with the Khaplang faction of the NSCM (NSCM-K). The NSCM-K responded with a series of attacks, which killed 18 people.[237] The Modi government carried out a raid across the border with Myanmar as a result, and labelled the NSCM-K a terrorist organization.[237]

Modi has repeatedly stated that Pakistan was an exporter of terrorism.[241][242] Modi increased the monetary compensation for victims of terrorist attacks, and stated that citizens of Azad Kashmir could also apply for this compensation.[243] In September 2016, he urged the BRICS to target and destroy funding channels of terrorist groups.[244] On 29 September 2016, the Indian Army stated that it had conducted a surgical strike on terror launchpads in PoK,[245] although Pakistan denied the claim, and the details of the confrontation are still in dispute.[76][246]

Environmental policies

In naming his cabinet, Modi renamed the "Ministry of Environment and Forests" the "Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change."[247] In the first budget of the government, the money allotted to this ministry was reduced by more than 50%.[247] The new ministry also removed or diluted a number of laws related to environmental protection. These included no longer requiring clearance from the National Board for Wildlife for projects close to protected areas, and allowing certain projects to proceed before environmental clearance was received.[247][179] The government also tried to reconstitute the Wildlife board such that it no longer had representatives from non-governmental organisations: however, this move was prevented by the Supreme court.[247]

Modi also relaxed or abolished a number of other environmental regulations, particularly those related to industrial activity. A government committee stated that the existing system only served to create corruption, and that the government should instead rely on the owners of industries to voluntarily inform the government about the pollution they were creating.[179][248] The changes were made with the aim of accelerating approval for industrial projects. Other changes included reducing ministry oversight on small mining projects, and no longer requiring approval from tribal councils for projects inside forested areas.[248] In addition, Modi lifted a moratorium on new industrial activity in the most polluted areas in the countries.[247] The changes were welcomed by business people, but were criticized by environmentalists.[248]

Under the UPA government that preceded Modi's administration, field trials of Genetically Modified crops had essentially put on hold, after protests from farmers fearing for their livelihoods.[249] Under the Modi government these restrictions were gradually lifted.[249] The government received some criticism for freezing the bank accounts of environmental group Greenpeace, citing financial irregularities, although a leaked government report said that the freeze had to do with Greenpeace's opposition to GM crops.[249]

At the CoP21 Climate Conference on 30 November 2015 Modi announced the founding of an International Solar Alliance (ISA). The headquarters of the ISA would be located in Gurgaon, and would receive support from the Indian government for a few years. All tropical countries were invited to join the alliance.[250]

Governance and other initiatives

Modi at the consultation meeting on replacing the Planning Commission with Chief Ministers of various states.

Modi's first year as prime minister saw significant centralization of power relative to previous administrations.[110][251] Modi personally selected the civil servants who served under his ministers, frequently giving them instructions without involving the ministers themselves.[110] Modi's efforts at centralisation have been linked to an increase in the number of senior administration officials resigning their positions.[110] Although the government has a majority of seats in the Lok Sabha, it does not have one in the Rajya Sabha, which led to its policied frequently being stymied there. Thus, Modi resorted to passing a number of ordinances, or executive orders, to enact his policies, leading to further centralisation of power.[187] In 2014, the Prime Minister's Office prevented Gopal Subramanium from being appointed to the Supreme Court. The stated reason was that his conduct in the 2G spectrum allocation scandal had been suspect: commentators stated it was because he had been the amicus curiae in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case, which had implicated BJP leaders including Modi's aide Amit Shah.[179] The government also passed a bill increasing the control that it had over the appointment of judges, and reducing that of the judiciary.[88]

On 31 December 2014, Modi announced that the Planning Commission had been scrapped. It was replaced with a body called the National Institution for Transforming India, or NITI Aayog.[252][253] The Planning Commission was a legacy of the Indian Independence movement, although critics said that it was slowing economic growth.[254] The new body includes the leaders of all 29 Indian states, but its full-time staff report directly to the prime minister.[252] The move had the effect of greatly centralizing the power previously with the planning commission in the person of the prime minister.[252][254][253][187][179] It also reduced the extent of control individual states had over their financial allocation from the union government,[254][253] and unlike the planning commission, it does not have the power to allocate funds.[253] The planning commission had received heavy criticism in previous years for creating inefficiency in the government, and of not filling its role of improving social welfare: however, since the economic liberalisation of the 1990s, it had been the major government body responsible for measures related to social justice.[253]

As Prime Minister, Modi announced the abolition of a number of regulations previously placed on Indian businesses, such as a complex permit and inspection system. The move was aimed at reducing red tape and making it easier to do business.[255][256] Modi also ordered reform among the bureaucrats of the Indian Administrative Service to ensure a more efficient government bureaucracy.[257][258]

The Modi government launched a crackdown against a number of civil society organisations. Several tens of thousands of organisations were investigated by the Intelligence Bureau in the first year of the administration, on the grounds that they were slowing economic growth.[110] International humanitarian aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres was among the groups that were put under pressure.[110] Other organisations affected included the Sierra Club and Avaaz.[179] Cases of sedition were filed against individuals criticising the government.[110] This led to discontent with Modi's style of functioning within the BJP, and drew comparisons to the governing style of Indira Gandhi.[110][187]

Modi repealed 1,159 obsolete laws in first two years as prime minister, against a total of 1,301 such laws repealed by previous governments over a span of 64 years.[259][260] He started a monthly radio program titled "Mann ki Baat" on 3 October 2014.[261] Modi also launched the Digital India programme, which has the goal of ensuring that government services are available electronically, building infrastructure so rural areas get high-speed Internet access, boosting manufacturing of electronic goods in the country, and promoting digital literacy.[262][263][264] Under the programme, 400 railway Stations across the country are being equipped with Wi-Fi technology.[265]

Personal life

In accordance with Ghanchi tradition, Modi's marriage was arranged by his parents when he was a child. He was engaged at age 13 to Jashodaben, marrying her when he was 18. They spent little time together and grew apart when Modi began two years of travel, including visits to Hindu ashrams.[19][266] Reportedly, their marriage was never consummated and he kept it a secret because otherwise he could not have become a 'pracharak' in the puritan Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).[267][42] Although Modi kept his marriage secret for most of his career, he acknowledged his wife when he filed his nomination for a parliamentary seat in the 2014 general elections.[268][269]


PM Modi greets people in Visakhapatnam

A vegetarian,[270] Modi has a frugal lifestyle and is a workaholic and introvert.[271] Adept at using social media, he has been since September 2014 the second-most-followed leader in the world (with over 17.9 million followers on Twitter as of February 2016), behind only Barack Obama.[165][272][273] Modi's 31 August 2012 post on Google Hangouts made him the first Indian politician to interact with netizens on live chat.[274][275]

Modi has also been called a fashion-icon with his signature, crisply ironed, half-sleeved tunic-shirt (dubbed the "Modi kurta"), brand-name accessories, and a suit with his name embroidered repeatedly in the pinstripes that he wore during a state visit by US President Barack Obama, drawing particular public and media attention, and sometimes criticism.[276][277][278]

Although he is considered a controversial, polarising and divisive figure,[279][280][281] British economist Jim O'Neill blogged that Modi is "good on economics" – one of the things "India desperately needs in a leader".[282] In August 2013, financial analyst Chris Wood of CLSA wrote in his weekly "Greed & fear" report: "The Indian stock market's greatest hope is the emergence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate".[282]

As prime minister, Modi has received consistently high approval ratings; at the end of his first year in office, he received an overall approval rating of 87% in a Pew Research poll, with 68% of people rating him "very favorably" and 93% approving of his government.[283] His approval rating remained largely consistent at around 74% through his second year in office, according to a nationwide poll conducted by instaVaani.[284] At the end of his second year in office, an updated Pew Research poll showed Modi continued to receive high overall approval ratings of 81%, with 57% of those polled rating him "very favorably."[285][286]


In 2001, Modi co-authored Setubandh, a biography of the RSS leader Lakshmanrao Inamdar.[287] In 2007, a collection of Modi's poems was published as a book titled Aankh Aa Dhanya Chhe (Our Eyes Are So Blessed) .[288][289] Modi also authored Karmayog, a 101-page booklet discussing manual scavenging. In it, Modi argued that scavenging was a "spiritual experience" for Dalits.[290][291][292][293] However, this book was not circulated that time because of election code of conduct.[294] His Gujarati book titled Jyotipunj was published in 2008. The book contained biographical profiles of various RSS leaders that had inspired Modi. The longest profile was of M. S. Golwalkar, under whose leadership the RSS expanded and whom Modi refers to as Pujniya Shri Guruji ("Guru worthy of worship").[295] According to The Economic Times, his intention was to explain the workings of the RSS to his readers and to reassure RSS members that he remained ideologically sound. Modi has authored eight other books, mostly containing short stories for children.[296]

Awards and recognition

Modi was named Best Chief Minister in a 2007 nationwide survey by India Today.[297] In March 2012, he appeared on the cover of the Asian edition of Time, one of the few Indian politicians to have done so,[298] and made the 2014 Time 100 list of the world's most influential people.[299]

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.[300][301]

In 2015, Modi was one of Time's "30 most influential people on the Internet" as the second-most-followed politician on Twitter and Facebook.[302] That year, the magazine also ranked him eighth in its Person of the Year list.[303] In the same year he was ranked fifth on Fortune magazine's second annual list of 'World's Greatest Leaders'.[304]

State honours



  1. The exact number of people killed in the train burning is variously reported. For example, the BBC says it was 59,[65] while The Guardian put the figure at 60.[66]


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  • Guha, Ramachandra (2008). India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy. Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0060958589. 
  • Kochanek, Stanley; Hardgrave, Robert (2007). India: Government and Politics in a Developing Nation. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0495007494. 
  • Marino, Andy (2014). Narendra Modi: A Political Biography. HarperCollins Publishers India. ISBN 978-93-5136-218-0. 
  • Mukhopadhyay, Nilanjan (2013). Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times. Westkabd. ASIN B00C4PGOF4. 

Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Narendra Modi.
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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 parliament
for Varanasi constituency

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