The Prime Minister of India – Shri. Narendra Modi
Shri. Narendra Damodardas Modi (born in 17 September 1950) is an Indian politician who is the 16th and current Prime Minister of India, in office since May 2014. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014, and is the Member of Parliament for Varanasi. Modi, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is a Hindu nationalist and member of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Born to a Gujarati family in Vadnagar, Modi helped his father sell tea as a child, and later ran his own stall. He was introduced to the RSS 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. Shri. Modi travelled 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.
Shri. Narendra 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 considered complicit in the 2002 Gujarat riots, or otherwise criticised 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. His administration has been criticised for failing to significantly improve health, poverty, and education indices in the state.
Shri. Narendra 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 tried to raise foreign direct investment in the Indian economy, increased spending on infrastructure, and reduced spending on healthcare and social welfare programmes. Modi has attempted to improve efficiency in the bureaucracy, and centralised power through the abolition of the planning commission. He has begun a high-profile sanitation campaign, and weakened or abolished environmental and labour laws. Credited with engineering a political realignment towards right-wing politics, Modi remains a figure of controversy domestically and internationally over his Hindu nationalist beliefs and his role during the 2002 Gujarat riots, cited as evidence of an exclusionary social agenda.
Governance and other initiatives
Shri. Narendra Modi’s first year as prime minister saw significant centralisation of power relative to previous administrations. Modi’s efforts at centralisation have been linked to an increase in the number of senior administration officials resigning their positions. 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 policies frequently being stymied there. Thus, Modi resorted to passing a number of ordinances to enact his policies, leading to further centralisation of power. The government also passed a bill increasing the control that it had over the appointment of judges, and reducing that of the judiciary.
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. The Planning Commission was a legacy of the Indian Independence movement, although critics said that it was slowing economic growth. The move had the effect of greatly centralising the power previously with the planning commission in the person of the prime minister. It also reduced the extent of control individual states had over their financial allocation from the union government, and unlike the planning commission, it does not have the power to allocate funds. 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.
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. International humanitarian aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres was among the groups that were put under pressure. Other organisations affected included the Sierra Club and Avaaz. Cases of sedition were filed against individuals criticising the government. This led to discontent within the BJP regarding Modi’s style of functioning and drew comparisons to the governing style of Indira Gandhi.
Modi repealed 1,200 obsolete laws in first three years as prime minister, against a total of 1,301 such laws repealed by previous governments over a span of 64 years. He started a monthly radio programme titled “Mann Ki Baat” on 3 October 2014. Modi also launched the Digital India programme, which has the goal of ensuring that government services are available electronically, building infrastructure to provide high-speed Internet access to rural areas, boosting manufacturing of electronic goods in the country, and promoting digital literacy.
Awards and Recognition
Shri. Narendra Modi was named the Best Chief Minister in a 2007 nationwide survey by India Today. In March 2012, he appeared on the cover of the Asian edition of Time Magazine, one of the few Indian politicians to have done so. He was awarded Indian of the Year by CNN-IBN news network in 2014. In 2014, 2015 and 2017, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. He was also declared winner of the Time magazine reader’s poll for Person of the Year in 2014 and as well as in 2016. Forbes Magazine ranked him the 15th-Most-Powerful Person in the World in 2014 and the 9th-Most-Powerful Person in the World in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, Modi was ranked the 13th-Most-Influential Person in the World by Bloomberg Markets Magazine. In the same year he was named one of Time’s “30 Most Influential People on the Internet” as the second-most-followed politician on Twitter and Facebook. Modi was ranked fifth on Fortune Magazine’s first annual list of the “World’s Greatest Leaders” in 2015. In 2016, a wax statue of Modi was unveiled at Madame Tussaud Wax Museum in London.