Asia-Pacific, India, Opinion, Politics, World

Narendra Modi: TIME Readers’ 2016 Person of the Year

History was written on the evening of May 26th 2014 when Narendra Modi took oath as the Prime Minister of India after a historic mandate from the people of India. This significant event was repeated again when he was selected as the TIME Person of the Year 2016 by the online readers’ poll. Beating famous world leaders like US president elect Donald Trump, ex-US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi won with 18 per cent of the vote when the poll closed.

Although a surprise for many people across the world, it was not a shock for the people of India. As their Prime Minister, many citizens of India see him as the ray of hope for the aspirations of a billion Indians. He is the decisive, development-oriented leader who not only has focus on the development but also has an eye for detail to bring a qualitative difference in the lives of the poor.

However, you’ll be astonished to know that this decisive leader who is an inspiration for billions of people had a very humble beginning. Born to an OBC (Other Backward Classes) family in Vadnagar, he helped his father sell tea as a child and later ran his own tea stall. At the age of eight, he was introduced to the right-wing Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), beginning a long association with the organization. He left his home after graduation from school, partly because of arranged marriage (which he rejected). Modi traveled around India and visited different religious centers. Around 1969 or 1970, he moved back to Ahmedabad, Gujarat and became a full time RSS worker.

During the state of emergency imposed by then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi in 1975, Modi was forced to go into hiding. In 1985, RSS reassigned him to BJP. He held several positions within the party hierarchy until 2001, rising to the rank of general secretary. He came into the limelight when he was appointed Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001 due to Keshubai Patel’s failing health and poor public image. He is credited to have promoted economic growth by creating jobs through his policies.

Similar to his policies in the state of Gujarat, in 2014 Modi promised the same to the citizens of India, a country with low unemployment numbers and a growing economy. With Modi at the helm, BJP won the Lok Sabha election and Modi was sworn as the 14th Prime Minister of India. 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.

His latest policy of demonetization is sure to change the economic as well as the political mock-up of the country. A step towards bringing back the black money and curbing the presence of corruption in the bureaucracy, Modi’s policy of demonetization has stalled the role of currency as a key player in the crime world.

Along with demonetization, his strict stance towards Pakistan and terrorism has made him one of the most respected and revered Prime Ministers. His life story has become a precedent for the people who may have modest beginnings, but have passion and desire to do something great with their lives. It seems to be the reason why, for the fourth year in a row; Modi was also among the contenders for Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ honor, which the US publication bestows every year to the one “who has most influenced the news and our world in the past year, for good or ill”.

About Shagun Benipal

Writer by day, reader by night, Shagun is known for her love of coins, old photographs and books. She loves to share her thoughts on politics, world and space.

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