PM Narendra Modi Turns 72: A look at his journey from chaiwala to prime minister

A total of 18 states are under the BJP rule since Narendra Modi took over the mantle of prime minister and going by the election trend, the saffron wave is set to continue

FP Staff September 17, 2022 09:00:27 IST
PM Narendra Modi Turns 72: A look at his journey from chaiwala to prime minister

Not only did Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to undo the errors of the past by abrogating Article 370 but also chalked out a brighter future for the country by bringing about several policy changes. Image courtesy: narendramodi.in

Narendra Modi’s life and career can serve as a great source of inspiration to the people of India. His journey dispelled the concept that one has to come from privilege to be successful in life.

Narendra Modi was born on 17 September 1950 in the small town of Vadnagar in Gujarat. His father, Damodardas, earned his living from a tea stall set up on the platform of the town’s station. Modi helped out his father at the tea stall after school hours. He served tea to railway passengers, “but young Narendra wanted more than most others: to be involved in a larger, more grown-up world beyond the classroom,” writes Andy Marino in Narendra Modi: A Political Biography.

Here’s looking back at his journey from chaiwala to India’s prime minister.

Youth leader

In 1958, when Modi was eight years old he began to attend the local shakha of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). An organisation where he honed his leadership and organisational skills to an extent that he was tasked with the organisation of Murli Manohar Joshi’s ‘Ekta Yatra’ in 1991.

PM Narendra Modi Turns 72 A look at his journey from chaiwala to prime minister
Narendra Modi during Ekta Yatra. Narendramodi.in

General Secretary of the Lok Sangharsh Samiti in Gujarat in 1975

One of the first acts of the RSS under the Emergency was to establish a coordinating committee of this resistance, the Gujarat Lok Sangharsh Samiti (GLSS). At that time, Lakshmanrao Inamdar, popularly known as Vakil Saheb among Sangh circles — one of the founding fathers of the RSS in Gujarat — who headed the RSS in Gujarat appointed him GLSS’s general secretary.

Modi played an active role in resisting Indira Gandhi’s Emergency restrictions. Impressed by the role he played during the Emergency, he was, in 1978, promoted to the rank of ‘sambhaag pracharak’ or a regional organiser.

From national secretary to chief minister

In 1995, he was appointed the national secretary of the party and given the charge of five major states in India. In 1998, he was promoted as the general secretary (organisation), a post he held until October 2001, when he was chosen to be the chief minister of gujarat.

Gujarat chief minister (2001 to 2014)

Modi got his big break when Keshubhai Patel, the former chief minister of Gujarat, was forced to step down following the fallout from the January earthquake that killed around 20,000 people. He was selected as Patel’s replacement.

PM Narendra Modi Turns 72 A look at his journey from chaiwala to prime minister
Narendra Modi was sworn in as the chief minister of Gujarat on 7 October 2001. Twitter/ @ajitdatta

Longest serving chief minister

Before Modi took on the reins of the state in his hands, Gujarat was known as the state of drought and natural calamities. “However, the image was transformed to a state synonymous with development. And, the credit goes to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. The development of the state has become a talking point not only within India but across the world. Gujarat had never earned such a reputation and popularity before as it has during the last twelve years,” read a detailed officials statement issued by the state government in 2013.

“Gujarat’s image has become that of a growth engine of the country. The state has clocked a growth rate of 13 per cent in industrial and 10.7 per cent in agriculture sectors apart from contributing 22 per cent to India’s overall exports,” claimed the statement.

Modi becomes prime minister

Given his success as Gujarat chief minister and his reputation to “fix mess”, Modi in 2013 was named BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. Andy Marino writes, “The BJP’s choice of Modi reflects a change of tactics: unleashing a daring cavalry charge against the Congress instead of sticking with the safer, attritional trench warfare, advancing and retreating yard by yard. It may be seen as a revolution of youthful optimism – or impatience – and perhaps a sign that the Indian people, if not its politicians, crave change. It is also a sign that the centre of
gravity of Indian politics is shifting from Delhi to the states.”

Under his leadership a new India began to emerge. Not only did he tried to undo the errors of the past by abrogating Article 370 but also chalked out a brighter future for the country by bringing about several policies, starting from Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to the National Education Policy, and Jal Jeevan Mission to the GST, that have had a demonstrable effect on how Indians live. His diplomatic skill has put India on the global political map. Today, it is the fifth largest economy in the world.

PM Narendra Modi Turns 72 A look at his journey from chaiwala to prime minister
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Friday. AP

In August, Ajit Ranade, vice-chancellor, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economy, said that he expects the India economy to get six times bigger. “I think India will be $18-20 trillion economy by 2047, six times bigger than what it is currently,” Ranade stated.

A total of 18 states are under the BJP rule since Narendra Modi took over the mantle of prime minister and going by the election trend, the saffron wave is set to continue.

With input from agencies

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