Born on September 17, 1950 in a small town called Vadnagar in Gujarat to the late Damodar Mulchand Modi and Hiraben Modi, our Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi is 72 years old today. Modi was born and raised in a modest environment, where he completed his secondary education in the city itself. He has two elder brothers Som and Amrit before him, a sister Vasanti and two other brothers Prahlad and Pankaj after him. They were all eight in the family and lived in a three-room mud-brick house. The Modi family comes from the Ghanchi castes, traditionally producers of vegetable oil. It is a caste that transcends religious boundaries and there are many Muslim Ghanchis in Gujarat.
The neighborhood the Modi lived in was very close knit and mixing with all the communities was normal and the majority of his childhood friends were indeed Muslims. He was introduced by contact to the RSS, a nationalist organization, at the age of eight, while in the evenings after school he helped his father at the tea stand. It was in the RSS that Modi met his mentor and guide Laxmanrao Inamdar affectionately known as ‘vakil saheb’ because he was a lawyer. Inamdar inducted Narendra Modi as a ‘balswayamsevak’ or junior cadet and taught him what it meant to be a volunteer serving the nation and its people.
The tradition of childhood betrothal among the Gujarati Ghanchis was prevalent in the 1950s and was more deeply rooted than today; Narendra’s parents engaged him when he was three years old with a girl from a nearby town who later became known to everyone as Jashodaben Chimanlal Modi. Narendra was not made aware of his first engagement until many years later in his life and when he fully understood the concept of child marriage at the age of seventeen, he abruptly left Vadnagar and is went in search of spiritual knowledge. He however later publicly acknowledged his wife when required by law, but had no contact with his wife since the period he left Vadnagar.
Modi had been traveling in northern India for two years after leaving his parental home, visiting a number of religious centers and spending most of his time in Calcutta. When he returned to Ahmedabad in 1969 at the age of nineteen as a penniless and unemployed youth, he was only certain of what he wanted to do, to work in the RSS and engage in a kind of social service to which he later became a full-time employee for the organization. His arrival in Gandhinagar then coincided with the aftermath and resumption of the horrific communal riots of 1969 which killed hundreds, and then it was in early 1972, just after the Bangladesh war, that Inamdar or ‘vakil saheb ‘ intervened and took Narendra officially into the RSS bends and also orders him to resume his studies. And then it was after 1985 that Narendra started his political journey with the BJP for which there was never a turning back.
At the age of 36, Narendra Modi was given the responsibility of organizing the campaign for the municipal elections in Ahmedabad held in February 1987. He meticulously drew out a methodical planning which made the success of the party which could win two-thirds of the seats in the municipality. His accolades prompted LK Advani, then party leader, to give Modi more duties as Organizing Secretary of the Gujarat BJP unit in the same year. And in 1987, it was the year when the party adopted the theory of “integral humanism”, the brainchild of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, which it pronounced for the first time publicly in 1965. When we learned what this theory, the similarities of what Modi talks about so constantly every time start to make sense?
Upadhyaya wanted to decentralize government with a self-sustaining economy organized from the bottom up rather than the top down. It is important to note that Upadhyaya’s sense of inclusive and inflexible secularism could be expressed in nationalist rather than sectarian terms: “We are committed to the service not of a particular community or section but of the whole nation . Each compatriot is blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh. We will not rest until we are able to give each of them a sense of pride that they are children of the Bharat soil. Later, when Modi became the CM of Gujarat, he was the only one who implemented these values wholeheartedly, although the infrastructural initiatives of the Vajpayee administration are still fondly remembered by all of us as we let’s look at the unfolding national road network.
After Advani again became the BJP’s national chairman, Modi was sent back to Gujarat in 1994 to prepare for elections using the “organisation-centric electoral model”. Modi threw himself into the task and the party won with a two-thirds majority with almost 42.5% of the vote. Internal rumblings within the party prompted Modi to leave the ground and go into exile in Assam to reunite with his former counterparts. Advani stepped in and in November 1995 appointed Modi as National General Secretary and with a base in Delhi, Modi was further tasked with organizing the party in the states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, which could also be called the most fruitful period of his life.
Since his banishment in the year 1995, Modi had only returned to Gujarat a few times to visit the Sanskardham school with which he was closely associated. Then, in January 2001, came the calamitous earthquake in Kutch, and voter discontent prompted party superiors to consider Modi as acting chief minister of Gujarat to replace Keshubhai Patel whose government was reeling from corruption allegations. Modi however declined the offer as he had to submit. in the by-election of the assembly while he was still happy as a leader of the organization. After much persuasion from Vajpayee, Modi gave in to the offer and on October 7, 2001 was sworn in as Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Despite local enemies within the party, supporters of Delhi’s politically assimilated heavyweights paved the way for Modi to spring into action and play the role of CM to tidy up the mess shrouding the party in Gujarat as elections were due. take place in 2003. He linked up with a batsman in a one-day test match and humbly accepted the role of acting CM so that he could return to Delhi for his organizational duties. However, pressure from the party led Modi to continue with the task given to him until he became Gujarat’s longest-serving chief minister from 2001 to 2014.
The year 2014 was a complete game-changer, which saw the rise of the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Since he was projected by the party as the Prime Minister’s candidate, the numbers have naturally transcended seats and the party alone has garnered 282 seats, which has allowed the entire NDA to gain more 340 seats in the lower house. Thus, Narendra Damodardas Modi became the 14th Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world. Prime Minister Modi created his first impact by letting the swearing-in ceremony take place in grandeur by inviting leaders from almost every country in Southeast Asia. He was also the first prime minister in the country to kiss the floor of the entrance gate to the central hall of the Temple of Democracy. Many have criticized these gestures by Prime Minister Modi as a political gimmick or a photo op; but it cannot be denied that he humbly bowed to show respect for the house of the people.
What followed later was the massive introduction of major programs by the Modi-led NDA government, such as the Jan DhanYojna, a program to make the banking sector inclusive for all, Skill India, a program to engage young people in employment-oriented skills development, “Make in India”. to encourage manufacturing units in the country, Swaach Bharat has set up a program to ensure cleanliness nationwide, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao to empower girls, Mudra Yojna to encourage young entrepreneurs and small entrepreneurs, Atal Pension Yojna a program to provide pension to the unorganized sector, PM Ujwala Yojna, a subsidized program to provide gas to BPL families, and all other people centered programs were placed under direct benefit transfer in which the benefits are transferred directly to the beneficiary’s account, thus avoiding the leaks that were at the root of the corruption.
The famous slogan that Prime Minister Modi coined “sab kas sath, sab ka vikas, sab ka prayas” which translates to support for everyone, development for everyone and trust for everyone has formulated a new hope for the compatriots of working together towards a common goal by making our nation great with values. PM Modi is indeed one of the few charismatic leaders the country has ever seen in history, he is not of any particular caste or religion and he sees to the empowerment of all. And as the country celebrates Prime Minister Modi’s 72nd birthday, we wish him good health, strength and zeal to better serve the country so that as a nation we may reach greater heights in the years to come. to come which are truly “Atmanirbhar” or autonomous.