Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who turns 72 on Saturday, is known to prefer a working birthday. Like every year since 2014, this year too, PM Modi and the BJP have used the occasion of his birthday to launch ‘Seva’ and development initiatives. On Saturday, PM Modi will release cheetahs brought from Namibia in a Madhya Pradesh national park in a boost to the country’s wildlife, and interact with women’s self-help groups. While he travels to Madhya Pradesh, his party will embark on a fortnight-long nationwide drive of public outreach with initiatives like blood donation, helping the poor and disabled, and cleanliness measures, and also observe a “unity in diversity” programme.
For a prime minister who enjoys a jam-packed schedule, PM Modi has had several memorable moments during his eight-year-old tenure. News18 brings to you a recap:
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
It was a glitzy show of lights, lasers and slogans when Pm Modi delivered a triumphal address to nearly 20,000 Indian-Americans and US dignitaries in New York City on September 28, 2014.
Speaking at Madison Square Garden, a venue more used to hosting big sports events and the greatest names in rock music, Modi urged the Indian diaspora to join his movement for the development of India.
“The Indian-American community has played a big role in changing the way the world views India – from a nation of snake-charmers, to people who are adept at working the electronic mouse,” he said.
Members of fast growing 3.2 million-strong Indian diaspora, cheered and chanted “Modi, Modi!” during his 70-minute address in Hindi at Madison Square Garden, where they made up one of the largest crowds seen in the United States for a foreign leader. Also in attendance were more than 30 members of the US Congress hoping for expanded business and political ties with India’s 1.2 billion people.
PM Modi stunned the nation on the night of November 8, 2016, when he announced that currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination would no longer be legal tender and would be weeded out of circulation. The banned notes, Modi said in a televised address to the nation, could be deposited into bank accounts but deposits over Rs 2,50,000 would be investigated. The government eventually released new currency notes worth Rs 500 and Rs 2,000.
Curbing black money was one of the prime objectives of the shock move to junk old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes, which saw 86% of high value currency going out of circulation.
In the most far-reaching political move in nearly seven decades, the Narendra Modi government on August 5, 2019, moved to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The provisions of Article 370 and Article 35-A were abrogated and the state itself was divided into two Union Territories — Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution, gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, while Article 35-A prohibited people from the rest of India to buy properties in the erstwhile state.
Reaching out to Kashmiris with messages of hope and optimism, the prime minister in a televised address to the nation assured them of all-round development, early and transparent elections and end to terrorism as he defended scrapping of Article 370, which he asserted, has only given separatism, corruption, family rule and was used by Pakistan as a tool to spread terror in Jammu and Kashmir.
MAN VS WILD WITH BEAR GRYLLS
In August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi teamed up with survivalist Bear Grylls to promote causes close to his heart — conservation and cleanliness.
In Discovery channel’s Man Vs Wild with Bear Grylls and Prime Minister Modi, he braved the rain and the cold in the jungles of Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand, and as the host put it, the PM was a “great sport”.
Grylls, who had had celebrity guests before on his show, including former American President Barack Obama, asked Modi about his childhood, dreams as the prime minister, whether he feared anything in life and if he felt nervous before a political rally.
Modi said he never had a good answer about “nervousness” because it was not a part of his experience. “My problem is that I have never experienced such fears. I’m unable to explain it to people what nervousness is and how to deal with it because my in-built temperament is very positive. I see positivity in everything. And because of that reason, I am never disappointed.”
TIGHT HUG TO EMOTIONAL ISRO CHIEF
On September 7, 2019, India woke up to heartbreak when ISRO’s moon mission Chandrayaan-2 failed to make its mark on the lunar surface. The soft landing of the spacecraft’s lander, named Vikram, did not go according to ISRO’s plan as it lost contact with the ground stations.
A video of PM Modi hugging an emotional ISRO chief K Sivan went viral on social media with netizens dubbing it as the hug of over a billion Indians and heaping praises on both.
Modi, in his address at the ISRO centre that morning, asked the scientists not to get disheartened by the hurdles in the lunar mission and asserted that there will be a “new dawn”. No sooner than the prime minister concluded his address, Sivan accompanied him to see him off.
At this juncture, the prime minister, who was on his way to get into his car, gave him a “reassuring” and tight hug, lending his shoulder to teary-eyed Sivan.
Hours after the PM consoling him, the ISRO chief joined the Twitter world by creating an account and shared the photograph of the emotional moment with the PM on his Twitter handle. “Thank you very much for visiting ISRO,” Sivan said.
The Prime Minister’s kind gesture won many accolades across the globe with people appreciating him for boosting the morale of the ISRO team, especially Sivan, and widely shared his video.
On September 22, 2019, then US President Donald Trump and PM Modi shared the stage and showered each other with praise at the “Howdy, Modi!” rally attended by upward of 50,000 people, a rare mass showing for a foreign leader on American soil.
Jubilant supporters dressed in everything from ornate saris to simple dhotis and even a few cowboy hats waved American and Indian flags, chanted “Modi! Modi!” and munched on concession stand snacks that included Indian staples of samosas and naan breads — along with nachos.
Modi began his speech inside the NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans football team, with a loud, “Howdy my friends!”
In his remarks delivered in Hindi, Modi said that he was “impatient to take the country to new heights” and that “today the buzz word in India is development.”
Trump, calling the gathering a “profoundly historic event,” was greeted with a standing ovation by the Indian-American crowd and his speech was interrupted several times by roars of approval.
The event gave Modi a chance to energize his relationship with Indian-Americans who are active political supporters.
Months after the ‘Howdy Modi!’ event in Houston, Indians welcomed the then US President Donald Trump at the huge new Motera stadium in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own political homeland, Ahmedabad, on February 24, 2020.
Dubbed “Namaste Trump”, the event was cheered by 100,000 Indians at the world’s largest cricket stadium.
“There is so much that we share, shared values and ideals … shared opportunities and challenges, shared hopes and aspirations,” said Modi at the rally.
In his speech, Trump extolled India’s rise as a stable and prosperous democracy as one of the achievements of the century. “You have done it as a tolerant country. And you have done it as a great, free country,” he said.
October 21, 2021, was a milestone moment in India’s fight against Covid-19 and for the overall healthcare journey of the country since eradicating polio. India that day surpassed the 100-crore mark in its vaccination programme against Covid-19.
Hailing the vaccination milestone as a triumph of Indian science and enterprise, PM Modi marked the occasion with a visit to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi where he interacted with hospital officials.
From discussing beneficiaries’ hobbies to talking about the experience of healthcare workers, PM Modi touched upon various subjects during his visit to the RML Hospital. The PM also stood beside a differently abled beneficiary who was administered his first vaccine dose.