narendra-modi

Narendra Modi grew up in the town of Vadnagar in India, the son of a street merchant. He entered politics as a youth and quickly rose through the ranks of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist political party. Modi later joined the mainstream Bharatiya Janata Party in 1987, eventually becoming national secretary. In 2002, he was alleged to be responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 Muslims during civil unrest but was later exonerated. In 2014 he was elected prime minister of India.

Narendra Modi was born in the small town of Vadnagar, in northern Gujarat, India. His father was a street merchant who struggled to support the family. Young Narendra and his brother sold tea near a bus terminal to help out. Though an average student in school, Modi spent hours in the library and was known as a strong debater. In his early teens, he joined Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist political party.

Modi had an arranged married at 18 but spent little time with his bride. The two eventually separated, with Modi claiming to be single for some time. He dedicated his life to politics in Gujarat, joining the RSS in 1971. During the 1975-77 political crisis, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency, banning political organizations such as the RSS. Modi went underground and wrote a book, Sangharsh ma Gujarat (Gujarat in Emergency), which chronicles his experiences as a political fugitive. In 1978, Modi graduated from Delhi University with a degree in political science and completed his master’s work at Gujarat University in 1983.

In 1987, Narendra Modi joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which stood for Hindu nationalism. His rise through the ranks was rapid, as he wisely chose mentors to further his career. He promoted privatization of businesses, small government and Hindu values. In 1995, Modi was elected BJP national secretary, a position from which he successfully helped settle internal leadership disputes, paving the way for BJP election victories in 1998.

In February 2002, while Modi served as chief minister of Gujarat, a commuter train was attacked, allegedly by Muslims. In retaliation, an attack was carried out on the Muslim neighborhood of Gulbarg. Violence spread, and Modi imposed a curfew granting police shoot-to-kill orders. After peace was restored, Modi’s government was criticized for the harsh crackdown and he was accused of allowing the killings of more than 1,000 Muslims. After two investigations contradicted one other, the Indian Supreme Court concluded there was no evidence Modi was at fault.

Narendra Modi was reelected chief minister of Gujarat in 2007 and 2012. Through those campaigns, Modi’s hard-line Hinduism softened and he spoke more about economic growth. He is credited with bringing prosperity and development to Gujarat and is seen as a corrupt-free and efficient administrator. However, some say he has done little to alleviate poverty and improve living standards.

In June 2013, Modi was selected to head the BJP’s 2014 election campaign to the Lok Sabha (the lower house of India’s parliament), while a grassroots campaign was already in place to elect him prime minister. Modi campaigned hard, portraying himself as a pragmatic candidate capable of turning around India’s economy. In May 2014, he and his party were victorious, taking 282 of the 534 seats in the Lok Sabha. The victory marked a crushing defeat to the Indian National Congress, which had controlled country politics for most of the previous 60 years, and sent a message that India’s citizens were behind an agenda of radical change.

Having received international attention, Modi has become further known for his meetings with President Barack Obama while also having diplomatic relations with neighboring country Pakistan.