Narendra Modi, born to a tea-seller in rural Gujarat, hailed as one of the top few powerful people in the world now, is a makeover story like no other.
PM Modi has arrived in Canada for his three-day visit starting April 14 to April 16, as he ends his three-nation trip. He met PM Stephen Harper on Wednesday morning and later attended a community reception in Toronto and Vancouver . Around 10,000 people are expected to attend the community reception at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto.
This momentous bilateral trip marks the visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Canada after nearly four decades, Indira Gandhi's visit to Canada in year 1973.
PM Modi created history by a landslide win in 2014 general elections in the world's largest democracy. He emerged as the last hope of a tired nation, looking for some significant change and real work. As Gujarat's Chief Minister he had garnered quite a reputation as pro-privatization and pro-globalization. However, his role in 2002 inter-communal riots has created quite a controversy, and is something that he can't walk away from quite literally.
As the new leader in-charge, Modi aims to build 100 smart cities in India by 2022 and make India a global manufacturing hub. With a majority government, the chances of reforms are now more than ever. He is insinuating to the changing face of India.
The Making of Modi
The rags to riches story is quite exemplary, born in a humble household, he helped his father and brother sell tea and later opened up his own tea stall. Married at the age of 18, he didn't quite devote his life to the institution of marriage but to a bigger calling of serving as a young cadet in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It was there that he was mentored to be a part of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).
Modi is known for his satirical, always alluring, often churlish and theatrical speeches. In his early days, he was offered to be the Deputy Chief Minister to then Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, he famously declined the offer, saying, he is "going to be fully responsible for Gujarat or not at all."
It was soon clear that his eyes were set for the bigger prize, he swore in as the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001 and served three terms till 2014. After an illustrious campaign, larger-than-life 3D holograms, catchy slogan like "Abki Baar Modi Sarkar" in 2014, he won with a majority government in 30 years and has managed to bring India on the world map.
After swearing in as the Prime Minister of world's largest democracy. The man has not looked back. He has made much evident efforts to remodel and transform his personal image around the world and in India. During his initial speeches, he appeared assuaging and inclusive, as he extended hands of friendship to opposition leaders like Shashi Tharoor. It was a 180-degree turn around from his previous belligerent campaigning self.
He set the record straight from day one, the babus who once enjoyed the perks of the job and hardly showed up in offices, were signing daily attendance registers, which were displayed publicly on official websites, there was no tolerance for corruption and business red-tape was removed; promoting privatization, protecting the farmers rights, promoting girl education were his primary agendas. He invited neighbouring SAARC countries to his swearing-in ceremony and left his personal disputes behind for the overall national interest.
Modi promised to be the knight in armour, saving grace that India so desperately voted for. In the last 10 months, this "aggressive modernizer" has rightly marketed India to the near and neighbouring to the far-fetched giants like America.
Modi's social media success is well known to us all. With over 11.7 million followers on Twitter, Modi is the second-most followed leader in the world.
As a new PM, not all believed him to come up with a stout foreign policy. However, after taking over the office he has proved his acumen at not only the foreign policy, but also economic stability, trade relations and strengthening ties with world organizations like UNESCO.
Last year, despite his previous denied visa status, Modi was invited to visit President Barack Obama and the vast Indian-diaspora there. He managed to sweep off people and President Obama with his charm, not to forget his "rock star" status and fashion sense that did not go unnoticed in the U.S. media.
Modi has so far managed to renovate the "Indian Dream" into a progressive, smart, righteous and innovative one. He has set up several campaigns to market India as the new and improved open-to-business world destination. His biggest initiative so far is creating jobs for the 65 per cent youth in India. "Make in India" offers services in various sectors aiming to be the global manufacturing hub.
During his trip to France and Germany in the last few days, he has bagged numerous treaties and agreements to venture manufacturing and investment in India. He ensured that India is now a changed country, with transparent regulatory regimen and long-term futuristic views.
Canada has been friends with India, long before the West was enticed by his wits. Companies like Bombardier, Magna International and McCain Foods ventured in his ruling state, while the Canadian government opened up trade offices in Gujarat and partnered in Vibrant Gujarat Business Summits.
With India's growing demands in fuel and energy, Canada is positioned to be the perfect partner. On the other hand, India's young skilled workforce ready take on the global markets, is timely resource to Canada's aging population.
To strengthen the bilateral trade between the two countries, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast visited India for the fourth time and second time after Modi took charge. India is Canada's largest trading partner in South Asia with USD 3.1 billion Canadian exports to India.
On the margins of G-20 summit, Prime Minister Harper met Prime Minister Modi for the very first time, where both leaders discussed bilateral relations and opportunities to expand trade and investment in both countries.
Modi governement signed the uranium deal with Cameco corp. today that will be used as fuel for India's nuclear plants. Among other talks, Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and Canada-India free trade will be the primary.
This trip will coagulate Canada-India relations that both governments have been working towards for so many years.
With the evolved image of India and PM Modi, may be it is time to pay attention to the emerging economic giant and forgo the individual qualms.
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