Love him or hate him, there’s no ignoring Narendra Damodardas Modi. India’s globetrotting Prime Minister has managed to create quite the domineering presence across the world and, following Barack Obama’s lead, is the second most followed politician in the world on Twitter. Following his landslide victory in 2014, Modi has seemingly been pulling all the right strings to steel in his cushion on the Prime Minister’s chair.
A calculating diplomat, Modi realised quite early that it was imperative to gain global recognition and resume friendly relations with the World’s superpowers – be it the USA, China or even Saudi Arabia – to help India make its mark on the international market.
Modi was perhaps the first noted Prime Ministerial candidate who used social media to the maximum in his campaign. His promise of “acche din” and the hashtag #NaMO resonate through our minds like it was only yesterday when our newsfeeds spoke of little else. Before we get into the sensitive debate regarding the reality of this “acche din” and the real effectiveness of the many news schemes he has adopted, and the old ones he plans to recycle, here are a few lesser known facts about this vivid technocrat who dominantly occupies all our screens.
- Behind the un-creased and staunch apparel he adorns as per his position, Modi is quite the poet at heart. In his younger days, he wrote many literary pieces in his mother tongue, Gujarati, which were eventually published as a book of 19 poems called Saakshi Bhav. Who would have thought this ruthless diplomat would have a romantic, creative side to him?
- Earlier this year, Modi made a trip to Saudi Arabia, and in the midst of his visit to Riyadh he stopped by an all-woman IT Office, becoming the first foreign dignitary to have met and interacted with the women entrepreneurs of a largely conservative nation.
- For his swearing-in ceremony as the 14th Prime Minister of India, Modi invited the heads of all the SAARC countries to attend the auspicious event, becoming the first ever Indian Prime Minister to extend this invitation. Later, Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa faced severe criticism in their home countries for having attended the event, owing to the decades-long tensions that existed between them and India.
- Modi also managed to take centre-stage in London, where, on his stately visit in November 2015, he became the first Indian Prime Minister to address the British Parliament. Our erstwhile colonisers must have rolled in their graves.
- Modi’s sights hadn’t always been set on politics. When he was younger, he held a more religious zeal for life and led a more bohemian lifestyle. He took off on an unknown journey and ended up at the doorsteps of the Ramakrishna Mission of Rajkot and Belur Math. However, he was advised against taking up this life and was reportedly turned down three times by Swami Atmasthananda.
- While the Indo-Pak War was rampant, a teenage Modi volunteered to serve food and refreshments to the Indian Army, stationing himself in various railway stations. He also reportedly assisted victims of the Gujarat Floods of 1967.
- Although there has been much talk about his estrangement with his family, Modi makes it a point to visit his mother, Heeraben, on his birthday every year. He has four brothers, a sister and even a wife, although he has no contact with the latter considering that the marriage was never consummated and he took off for his climb up the political ladder.
- About a decade ago, Gujarat owed the World Bank a total of almost Rs 50,000 crores. Under his leadership as Chief Minister, it has now deposited about one lakh crore, which goes to show how much the state has developed under his rule. Incidentally, Gandhinagar was named the ‘Greenest Capital City’ in the whole of Asia.
- He is an ardent follower of Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s leadership style. He considers Swami Vivekananda his guru, in a sense, and firmly believes in his philosophy of life.
As the world waits and watches to see what dynamic thing this man with many facets will do next, and he trots off to his mother’s house on the 17th of September to get her blessings on his 66th birthday, we’d like to wish our Prime Minister a very happy birthday!