Narendra Damodardas Modi ,born 17 September 1950) is an Indian politician who has been the 14th Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat since 2001. He is a member of the
for the upcoming 2014 Indian general elections.
Modi was a key strategist for the BJP in the successful 1995 and 1998 Gujarat state election campaigns, as well as a major campaign figure in the 2009 general elections won by the Indian National Congress. He first became chief minister of Gujarat in October 2001, being promoted to the office upon the resignation of his predecessor, Keshubhai Patel, following the defeat of BJP in by-elections. In July 2007, he became the longest-serving Chief Minister in Gujarat's history when he had been in power for 2,063 days continuously. He is currently in his fourth consecutive term as Chief Minister.
Modi is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and is a Hindu nationalist. He has been praised for his economic policies which are credited with creating the environment for the high rate of economic growth in Gujarat.
Modi was born on 17 September 1950 to a family of grocers in Vadnagar in Mehsana district of what was then Bombay State (present-day Gujarat), India. He was the third of six children born to Damodardas Mulchand Modi and his wife, Heeraben. Whilst a child, he helped his father sell tea at Vadnagar railway station and on trains. While a teenager, Modi ran a tea stall with his brother around a bus terminus. He completed his schooling in Vadnagar, where a teacher described him as being an average student but a keen debater.He began work in the staff canteen of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation,where he stayed till he became a full–time pracharak (campaigner) of the RSS. After Modi had received some RSS training in Nagpur, he was given charge of Sangh's student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), in Gujarat. Modi organised agitations and covert distribution of Sangh's pamphlets during the Emergency.During his years in the RSS, Modi came in touch with Vasant Gajendragadkar and Nathalal Jaghda, leaders of the Jan Sangh,who later founded the BJP's Gujarat state unit. Modi remained a pracharak in the RSS while he completed his Master's degree in political science from Gujarat University.
Modi became the General 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. Vaghela, who had threatened to break away from BJP in 1995, defected from the BJP after he lost the 1996 Lok Sabha elections. In 1998, Modi was promoted to the post of National Secretary of the BJP.
Patel's failing health, allegations of abuse of power, corruption and poor administration, as well as a loss of BJP seats in by-elections, prompted the BJP's national leadership to seek a new candidate for the office of chief minister. Patel's position was also damaged by the devastating Bhuj Earthquake of 2001, the effects of which his administration struggled to handle. Modi, who had aired his misgivings about Patel's administration, was chosen as a replacement. L. K. Advani, a senior leader of the BJP, however, did not want to ostracise Patel and was worried about Modi's lack of experience inthat he was "going to be fully responsible for Gujarat or not at all" and declined the proposal. On 7 October 2001, Modi was appointed the Chief Minister of Gujarat and was assigned the responsibility to prepare the BJP for elections in December 2002. As Chief Minister, Modi's ideas of governance revolved around privatisation and small government.
On 27 February 2002, a train with several hundred passengers including large numbers of Hindu pilgrims was burned near Godhra, killing 58 people. The arson had been carried out by a Muslim mob, there was widespread Anti-Muslim violence throughout Gujarat. 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. In April 2009, the Supreme Court of India appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to inquire into the Gujarat government and Narendra Modi's role in the incidents of communal violence. The SIT reported to the court in December 2010 submitting that they did not find any incriminating evidence against Modi of willfully allowing communal violence in the state. In April 2012, the SIT absolved Modi of any involvement in the Gulbarg Society massacre, one of the many riots that occurred in 2002.
In the aftermath of the violence, there were calls for Modi to resign from his position as chief minister of Gujarat. The opposition parties stalled the national parliament over the issue. Both the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), allies of the BJP, also asked for Modi's resignation, as did Jayalalithaa, the then-Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).Modi submitted his resignation and the state Assembly was dissolved. In the subsequent elections the BJP, led by Modi, won 127 seats in the 182-member assembly.But now these Political Parties wants blessings from Modi in 2014.
During his second term, Modi's emphasis on economic development of Gujarat. The changes brought by Modi in the period 2002–2007 has led to Gujarat being called an attractive investment destination. Aditi Phadnis, author of Political Profiles of Cabals & Kings and columnist in the Business Standard, 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". Modi instituted financial and technology parks in the state. During the 2007 Vibrant Gujarat summit, real estate investment deals worth 6.6 trillion were signed in Gujarat.
In the lead up to assembly and general elections in 2007–2008, the BJP stepped up its rhetoric on terrorism. 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.Around this time Modi frequently demanded the execution of Afzal Guru, a collaborator of the Pakistani jihadists who had been convicted of terrorism for his involvement in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack.Modi had completed 2,063 consecutive days as chief minister of Gujarat in July 2007, making him the longest-serving holder of that post. The BJP won the 2007 election, gaining 122 of the 182 seats in the state assembly, and Modi continued in office as chief minister.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 authorising construction of 30 high–speed surveillance boats.
Gujarat is a semi-arid state and, according to Tushaar Shah, was "... never known for agrarian dynamism" but in recent years has improved its agricultural output substantially, in large part due to projects relating to improvement of groundwater supplies in Saurashtra, Kachchh and the north, as well as efforts to increase the use of micro-irrigation and to provide more efficient power supply to farms. Public irrigation measures in the central and southern areas, such as the Sardar Sarovar Project, have not been so successful in achieving their aims.
The system of supplying power to rural areas has been changed radically and has had a greater impact on agriculture than the irrigation works. While states such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu provided free electricity to farms, and most other states provided subsidised power, the Gujarat government between 2003–2006 reacted to concerns that such measures result in waste of the power supplied and of groundwater itself. With the Jyotigram Yojana,scheme, based on ideas developed by the International Water Management Institute, agricultural supplies were rewired to separate them from other rural supplies and then the electricity used by farms was rationed to fit with scheduled demand for irrigation and consequently to reduce the amount of subsidy being paid. The farmers objected to this at first but came to realise that the outcome was that they were receiving a supply that suffered less from interruption, was of a more consistent voltage and was available when they most needed it for irrigation purposes. Other states have since begun to adopt similar, although not identical, strategies.
Modi's government has worked to brand Gujarat as a state of dynamic development and economic growth and prosperity, using the slogan "Vibrant Gujarat". However, critics point out that Gujarat has a relatively poor record when it comes to human development, poverty alleviation, nutrition, and education. The state is 13th in India for poverty, 21st for education and 44.7% percent of children under five are underweight and 23% are undernourished putting the state in the "alarming" category on the Hunger Index. However, 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 state that dropout rates declined from 20% in 2001 to 2% in 2011, and maternal mortality declined by 32% from 2001 to 2011.
Political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot states that the development in Gujarat has been limited to the urban middle class, whereas rural dwellers and lower castes have become increasingly marginalised. He cites the fact that Gujarat ranks 21st among the 28 Indian states in terms of its Human Development Index, due to the lack of development in rural Gujarat. He states under Modi the number of families living below the poverty line has increased, and that particularly rural adivasi and dalits have become increasingly marginalised.In July 2013, Economics Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen criticised Narendra Modi's governance record and said he did not approve of it, under his administration, Gujarat's "record in education and healthcare is pretty bad". However, economists Arvind Panagariya and Jagdish Bhagwati state that Gujarat's social indicator improved from a much lower baseline than other Indian states. They point to Gujarat's superior performance in raising literacy rates when compared 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."
During late 2011 and early 2012, Modi undertook a series of fasts as part of a Sadbhavna Mission (Goodwill Mission), meant to reach out to the Muslim community in Gujarat. Modi announced that he believed that his fast would "further strengthen Gujarat’s environment of peace, unity and harmony."
The mission started on 17 September 2011 in Ahmedabad with a three-day fast aimed at strengthening the atmosphere of peace, unity, and harmony in the state. He observed 36 fasts in 26 districts and 8 cities. In 2011, the Gujarat state organisation of Congress banned the Gujarati-language TV 9 television channel from covering its events and prohibited access to its press conferences. Modi criticised this decision, saying that Journalists on Twitter who spoke against Congress, were blocked. Here they banned a TV channel. Their crime is that they exposed cracks in the ghar nu ghar (own your home) scheme of the Congress. Yet this party talks about democracy.
On 25 August 2011, the Governor of Gujarat, Kamla Beniwal, appointed Justice R. A. Mehta to the post of Lokayukta of Gujarat, a critical anti–corruption post that had been lying vacant since 2003. Mehta was recommended for the post by the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court in June 2011. Beniwal made this decision without consultation with and approval from Modi and his council of ministers. This marked the beginning of a strained relationship between Modi and Beniwal. On 25 September 2011, Modi accused the Governor of running a parallel government in the state supported by the Indian National Congress party and demanded that she be recalled.The appointment of Mehta was challenged in the High Court by the Gujarat government. The two-member high court bench gave a split verdict on 10 October 2011. In January 2012, a third member upheld Beniwal's decision.Modi has also accused Beniwal of delaying a bill for reservation of 50% of seats in local government for women.Modi interacted with netizens on Google+ on 31 August 2012. The chat session was also broadcast live on YouTube.The questions were submitted before the chat, and those broadcast were mostly based on issues about education, youth empowerment, rural development and causes of urbanisation.The hashtag #ModiHangout became the most trending term in India at Twitter on the day of the session, whereas #VoteOutModi, used by Modi's opponents, became the third most trending term in the country. The event made Modi the first Indian politician to interact with netizens through live chat on the internet.
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.The BJP as a whole won 115 of the 182 seats; it has formed the government in Gujarat since 1995 and has had an absolute majority throughout Modi's time in office.
Later in the by-elections for six seats, the BJP won all the seats in Gujarat which consisted of four assembly seats and 2 Lok Sabha seats. Interestingly, BJP won all these seats although Modi never campaigned for its candidates and all the seats were held by the Congress prior to the by-elections. This brought up the number of seats held by the BJP in the state assembly to 119.
In March 2013, Modi was appointed as member of the BJP Parliamentary Board, its highest decision-making body, and also as a Chairman of the party's Central Election Campaign Committee.Modi was selected to head the poll campaign for 2014 parliamentary election, at the national level executive meeting of BJP on 10 June 2012. The party's senior leader and founding member L.K. 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".In September 2013, BJP announced Modi as prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
In 2013 Uttarakhand floods, Modi personally visited the sites and had assisted 15,000 flood victims of several states.
To attract foreign investment in Gujarat during his time as chief minister, Modi has made visits to countries such as China, Singapore and Japan.Modi visited China in November 2006 to study the Special Economic Zones that were planned to start in Gujarat. He also visited in September 2007 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 described as being the consequence of his diplomatic efforts and statesmanship.
In 2005, Modi was denied a diplomatic visa to the United States. The United Kingdom refused to deal with Modi for a decade following the 2002 violence but lifted its diplomatic boycott in October 2012. Later, in March 2013, the European Union, of which the UK is a member, also ended its boycott, saying that talking with Modi was a separate issue from that of protecting human rights and those of women.
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, due to the historical cultural and economic relations between the two regions of Gujarat and Sindh. Modi wishes 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.
In July 2013, BJP president Rajnath Singh visited the US and gave a speech urging that Modi should be given a visa to visit the country. In response to Singh's visit, 65 Members of the Indian parliament allegedly signed a letter to US President Barack Obama requesting that the policy of denying Modi a visa be upheld.
In all the opinion polls conducted by news agencies and magazines, Narendra Modi was declared the preferred choice for the post as Prime Minister in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. In September 2013, Nielsen and The Economic Times published results of a poll of 100 Indian Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya stated "We are impressed by Modi's economics." Spiritual leaders Ramdev and Morari Bapu have supported Modi's Prime Ministerial candidacy. Modi is likely to be contesting from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency in the election.
Modi is a vegetarian. He is known for leading a frugal lifestyle and has a personal staff of three. He is known to be a workaholic and an introvert. He also writes poems in Gujarati. He is a crowd-puller as a speaker. He wears "business suits to business meetings, instead of homespun tunics. He still lampoons the urban, English-speaking elite, but he is also honing his English skills."Modi has been labelled by the media and some articles in peer reviewed journals as a controversial, polarising, and divisive figure.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".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".
Awards and Recognitions
1) Gujarat Ratna by Shri Poona Gujarati Bandhu Samaj at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch on celebration of centenary year;
2) e-Ratna award by the Computer Society of India ;
3) Best Chief Minister – In a nationwide survey conducted in 2006 by India Today magazine, Narendra Modi was declared the Best Chief Minister in the country;
4) Asian Winner of the fDi Personality of the Year Award for 2009 by FDi magazine ;
5) In March 2012, Modi appeared on the cover of the Asian edition of Time ,one of India's few politicians to have done so .