Here are 6 surprising facts about one of India’s strongest personalities:
- From Tea Seller to Statesman:
Narendra Modi has an uncanny ability to relate to his contingencies, particularly because he came from humble beginnings as a tea seller. As a teenager, PM Modi ran away from home to visit the Ramkrishna Ashrams of Belur in West Bengal and wandered to the Himalayas where he stayed with
. After two years, he ran out of money and returned home where he opened a small tea stall near the bus station in Ahmedabad with his brother. Here he became involved with activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the paramilitary voluntary movement of Hindu nationalists marking his first foray into politics.
- Separating the Personality from the Personal
Prime Minister Modi is well known for his “came, saw, and conquered” personality; however, his personal life is much less well known. Prime Minister Modi is not a bachelor, even if he is married to his job. His wife, Jashodaben is a teacher and little is known about her publicly as Modi has made great efforts to separate his work life from his private life. In fact, his wife does not even live with him choosing to live rather only with his personal chef Badri. His separation of work and his private life go even further as not one relative holds an office or is politically active.
The only family member, to whom he openly has a close private relationship, is his mother Heeraben. He visits her almost every day and tells her about his day’s work. She then gives him her blessing and a kiss on the forehead. And when he speaks publicly about her hard life, he can become very emotional as demonstrated recently during a meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
- “A Good PR Story is Infinitely More Effective Than a Front Page Ad” – Richard Branson
Narendra Modi is vain and his personal image has been a close focus for him during his time in politics. His beard is always trimmed precisely and neatly. Every day the 65-year-old wears typical Indian clothes from the same brand: Jade Blue from Ahmedabad. Its image that is so important to him: He even completed a three-month course on public relations and image management in the US. It has been said that he begins each day on his computer, first reading every word that was written about him.
- Yoga, Yogurt, and a Yearning to Work
No booze, no beer, no cigarettes; Narendra Modi has devoted himself to a healthier lifestyle. During a state visit with Barack Obama he sipped only hot water and ate greens, because to him meat is even worse than alcohol. Narendra Modi is a fanatical vegetarian and workaholic. He sleeps four hours per night and in his 13 years as Chief Minister of Gujarat he did not take a single day off and attributes his ability to stay fit to yoga and eating yogurt.
- Barred from Entering the USA
Before his election last year, Narendra Modi was persona non grata in the United States of America. During his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he failed to prevent the deaths of more than 2,000 people in the pogroms as a result of the 2002 riots against Muslims. This drew the anger of the United States resulting in his ban from entering the country. However, when he was elected as a Hindu nationalist in May 2014 with an overwhelming majority, the United States hastened to issue visas and invited the Prime Minister of India to America where he has now visited numerous times. Now he visited arch-enemy Pakistan as first prime minister of India in ten years.
- Technology Fiend
“I dream of a digital India” is one of Modi’s favorite phrases. He dreams big, with his campaign “Digital India”, he wants to bring 1.2 billion Indians in the most remote villages of the subcontinent to the Internet. The social media platforms are a main focus of his government.
After Barack Obama, he is the politician with the second most followers: his followers on Facebook alone amount to more than 30 million and at Twitter more than 15 million people follow him. It is no wonder that he took part as the first Prime Minister to ever appear on a panel discussion at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. On his Silicon Valley tour he also paid visits to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.