Thursday, May 22, 2014
MAY 21 MEET INDIA'S NEW PRIME MINISTER, NARENDRA MODI
Here is a story you might have missed: Last week, the biggest election in the history of mankind took place. OK...every national election in India sets this record...but this one is of particular interest. See, the result was the largest landslide since 1984. The winning BJP Party now has 332 of the 543 seats in Parliament. But..forget the numbers...the real story here is Narendra Modi. This charismatic new Prime Minister has taken the subcontinent by storm. Let's cover five important topics:
Humble Childhood. Born in 1950, Modi is the first Prime Minister not born during the British Empire. Although three years independent, India was still dreadfully poor, especially in rural Gujarat. The son of a tea peddler, Nerndra went to work before he went to school. At age 18, he married a fellow villager, as arranged by their parents five year prior. (It didn't work out and they divorced.)
Modinomics. Asia's third largest economy needs a boost. The solution? MODI-NOMICS. It's a combination of market reforms, increased foreign investment and road and rail projects. Sounds pretty slick, doesn't it? It is. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) modeled the program after American concepts. In fact, the BJP is credited with launching India's first modern political campaign. Modi flew 300,000 kilometers to attend 457 rallies. In short, the media-savvy Modi ran circles around his opponent.
Hindu Nationalism. Since the landslide victory, the Indian Stock Exchange has jumped a resounding six percent. The Rupee broke the elusive 59 mark to the dollar for the first time in eleven years. However, forgotten in all this pandemonium are Modi's links to the Rashtriya Swayamsvak Sangh (RSS). This pro-Hindu paramilitary group is at odds with India's 120 million Muslims. In 2002, religious riots killed 1,000 people in Gujarat. As governor of the state, Modi did little to stop the bloodshed. In response, the US refused to grant him a travel visa. NOTE: Obama has since lifted the ban.