India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Narendra Modi became the fourteenth prime minister of India in 2014 as head of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a mainstream national party.  Modi’s victory came after a career in politics, including a ten-year stint as the chief minister of Gujarat.  Modi first entered politics as a member of the student-wing of Rashtriya Swayameskvak Sangh Party (RSS), a Hindu nationalist party.  Modi was driven underground along with other members of RSS during the political crisis of 1975. While underground he wrote his first book, Gujarat Under Emergency, beginning his second career as a prolific writer.  Moti served as chief minister of Gujarat beginning in 2002.  Although he was implicated in a series of human rights abuses to Muslim citizens of the region, he was later absolved of any guilt.  Throughout his tenure as chief minister, Modi softened his stance on Hindu nationalism and refocused his policies on economic growth, a focus he has continued throughout his term as prime minister.

During his reign as Prime Minister Modi has heavily emphasized increasing Indian economic growth and transforming India into the global manufacturing epicenter.  To attract foreign investment capital Modi has opened up over 90% of India’s industrial base, including its defense and railroad industries.  Modi has also increased the privatization of state-owned enterprises.  Also in an attempt to boost the economy, Modi demonetized India’s two highest currency marks to eliminate untaxed and black-market currency from the money market. Recently, Modi launched a campaign to provide easy banking access to all Indian citizens.  The policy is aimed at helping boost poverty-stricken citizens.  Prime Minister Modi has attracted some criticism for his more lax on environmental policies. He has decreased Indian environmental protection laws, especially where they conflict with manufacturing growth.  In regards to foreign policy, Modi favors multilateral agreements. He has participated in BRICS, ASEAN, and the G20 Summit.

At the G20 Summit last year in Hamburg, Prime Minister Modi emphasized the importance of the Paris Climate Agreement, saying that it was “mandatory to implement the consensus of the agreement.” This was shortly after the Trump pulled the U.S. out of this deal. Modi stated that India would be implementing the accord fully and go beyond the agreement in fighting climate change. Modi has expressed the need for collective action against protectionism. Modi’s has also placed economic growth and anti-terrorism as central themes of his agenda. As the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement in June of 2017 and has since then implemented aluminium and steel tariffs, these are two actions starkly contrasting Modi’s goals and values. However, as the G20 Summit is an international forum, it is likely sustainable economic growth and sustainability will be strong themes of discussions between Prime Minister Modi and other world leaders.

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