PM Modi has featured in the Time Magazine list four times with contrasting themes over the years.
In 2014, Fareed Zakaria noted PM Modi had a reputation for ‘autocratic rule and encouraging the private sector’, while nothing his ‘dark Hindu-nationalist streak’.
In 2015, US President Obama had written the most mellifluous of praises for PM Modi calling him ‘India's reformer-in-chief’ with an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India's true economic potential.
In 2017, author Pankaj Mishra had called his aura 'undimmed', calling him a ‘maestro of political seduction, playing on existential fears and cultural insecurities of people facing downward or blocked mobility’.
In 2020, Time’s Editor-at-Large Carl Vick claimed his party had rejected not just elitism but pluralism, specifically targeting India's Muslims saying that world's most vibrant democracy feel deeper into shadow.
Read each of the profiles
2014 - Written by Fareed Zakaria
The divisive politician poised to lead the world's largest democracy
Elections are reactions, often negative reactions. That is surely the explanation for the breathtaking rise of Narendra Modi, who — if the opinion polls are accurate — is poised to become India’s next Prime Minister, and thus the world leader chosen by the largest electorate on the planet. India is currently ruled by Manmohan Singh, a mild-mannered 81-year-old technocrat with no political power of his own and a passive leadership style.
Reverse every one of those traits and you have Modi, the charismatic, intense, utterly decisive head of Gujarat, one of India’s fastest-growing states. Most Indians believe that their country has lost its way as its growth rate has been almost halved while inflation has soared. Modi has a reputation for quick action, encouraging the private sector, and good governance. He also has a reputation for autocratic rule and a dark Hindu-nationalist streak. But those concerns are waning in a country desperate for change.
2015 - Written by Barack Obama
As a boy, Narendra Modi helped his father sell tea to support their family. Today, he’s the leader of the world’s largest democracy, and his life story—from poverty to Prime Minister—reflects the dynamism and potential of India’s rise.
Determined to help more Indians follow in his path, he’s laid out an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India’s true economic potential while confronting climate change. Like India, he transcends the ancient and the modern—a devotee of yoga who connects with Indian citizens on Twitter and imagines a “digital India.”
When he came to Washington, Narendra and I visited the memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We reflected on the teachings of King and Gandhi and how the diversity of backgrounds and faiths in our countries is a strength we have to protect. Prime Minister Modi recognizes that more than 1 billion Indians living and succeeding together can be an inspiring model for the world.
2016 – Not there
In May 2014, long before Donald Trump seemed conceivable as a U.S. President, Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of the world's largest democracy. Once barred from the U.S. for his suspected complicity in anti-Muslim violence, and politically ostracized at home as well, this Hindu nationalist used Twitter to bypass traditional media and speak directly to masses feeling left or pushed behind by globalization, and he promised to make India great again by rooting out self-serving elites. Nearly three years later, his vision of India's economic, geopolitical and cultural supremacy is far from being realized, and his extended family of Hindu nationalists have taken to scapegoating secular and liberal intellectuals as well as poor Muslims.
Yet Modi's aura remains undimmed. He is a maestro of the art of political seduction, playing on the existential fears and cultural insecurities of people facing downward or blocked mobility. In March, he won elections in Uttar Pradesh, India's most politically significant state, by a landslide—confirmation that elected strongmen are the chief beneficiaries of a global revolt against elites.
2018 – Not there
2019 – Not there
By Carl Vick
The key to democracy is not, in fact, free elections. Those only tell who got the most votes. More important is the rights of those who did not vote for the winner. India has been the world’s largest democracy for more than seven decades. Its population of 1.3 billion includes Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and other religious sects. All have abided in India, which the Dalai Lama (who has spent most of his life in refuge there) has lauded as “an example of harmony and stability.”
Narendra Modi has brought all that into doubt. Though almost all of India’s Prime Ministers have come from the nearly 80% of the population that is Hindu, only Modi has governed as if no one else matters. First elected on a populist promise of empowerment, his Hindu-¬nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party rejected not only elitism but also pluralism, specifically targeting India’s Muslims. The crucible of the pandemic became a pretence for stifling dissent. And the world’s most vibrant democracy fell deeper into shadow