Narendra Damodardas Modi

Narendra Damodardas Modi ( born 17 September 1950 ) is an Indian politician serving as the 14th  and current Prime Minister of India since 2014. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014 and is the Member of Parliament for Varanasi. Modi is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)and the Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist volunteer organization. He is the first Prime Minister outside of the Indian Nationalist Congress to win two consecutive terms with a full majority. And the second to complete five years in office after Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Born to a Gujarati family in Vadhnagar, Modi helped his father to sell tea as a child and has said he later ran his own stall. He was introduced to the RSS at the age of eight, beginning a long association with the organization. Modi left home after he completed his High School in part due to arranged marriage to  Jashodaben Chimanlal, which he abandoned and publicly acknowledge only many decades later. Modi traveled around India for two years and visited a number of religious centers before returning to Gujarat. 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 2001due 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 Riot or otherwise criticized for its handling of it. A Supreme Court appointment Special Appointment Team found no evidence to initiate prosecution proceedings against Modi personally. His policies as Chief Minister, credited with encouraging economic growth have received praised. His administration has been criticized for failing to significantly improve health, poverty and education indices in the state.

Modi led the BJP  in the 2014 general election which gave the party a majority in the Indian lower house of Parliament, the Lok Sabha, the first time for any single party since 1984. Modi’s administration has tried to raise foreign direct investment in the Indian Economy and reduced spending on health care and social welfare programs. Modi has attempted to improve efficiency in the bureaucracy; he has centralized powers by abolishing the Planning Commission. He began a high-profile sanitation campaign and weakened or abolished environmental and labor laws. He initiated a controversial demonetization of high denomination banknotes. Described as engineering a political realignment towards right-wing politics, Modi remains a figure of controversy domestically and internationally over his Hindu’s Nationalist beliefs and his role during the 2002 Gujarat riots, cited as evidence of an exclusionary social agenda.

In accordance with the Ghanchi tradition, Modi’s marriage was arranged by his parents when he was a child. He was engaged at the age of 13 to Jashobden, marrying her when he was  18. They spent little time together and grew apart when Modi began two years of travel. Modi kept his marriage a secret for most of his career. He acknowledge his wife for the first time when he filed his nominations for the 2014 general elections. However, Modi maintains a good relationship with his mother, Hiraben.

Modi is a vegetarian and teetotaler, Modi has a frugal lifestyle and is a workaholic and introvert. Modi’s 31 August 2012 post on Google Hangouts made him the first Indian Politician to interact with citizens on a live chat. Modi has also been called a fashion- icon for his signature crisply ironed, half-sleeved kurta, as well as for a suit with his name embroidered repeatedly in the pinstripes that he wore during a state visit by US President Barack Obama, which drew public and media attention and criticism.

 He had published a Gujarati book titled Jyotipunj in 2008, containing profiles of various RSS leaders. The longest was of M.S. Golwalkar, under whose leadership the RSS expanded and whom Modi refers to as Pujniya Shri Guruji (‘ Gur worthy of worship”). According to the Economic times, his intentions were to express the working of the RSS to his readers and to reassure RSS members that he remained ideologically aligned with them. Modi authored eight other books, mostly containing short stories for children.

The nomination of Modi for the first Ministership drew attention to his reputation as “ one of contemporary India’s most controversial and divisive politicians.” During the 2014 election campaign, the BJP projected an image of Modi as a strong, Masculine leader, who would be able to take difficult decisions. Campaigns on which Modi has participated have focussed on Modi as an individual, in a manner unusual for the BJP and RSS. Modi has relied upon his reputation as a politician able to bring about economic growth and “ development”. Modi’s hardline Hindutva philosophy and the policies adopted by his government continue to draw criticism, and have been seen as evidence of a majoritarian and exclusionary social agenda.

As a prime minister, Modi has received consistently high approval ratings; at the end of his first year in office, he received an overall ratings of 87% in a Pew Research Poll, with 68% of people rating him “ very favorably” and 93% approving his government.

Moreover, Modi was named the Best Chief Minister in a nationwide survey by India Today. He was also declared the winner of the Times magazine reader’s poll for the Person of the year in 2014 and 2016.

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