Narendra Modi Had a Fascination For America, China

A new book titled Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation by Adam Roberts has revealed some unknown facts about Narendra Modi.

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Narendra Modi travelled to America multiple times as a young man

Adam Roberts, the former South Asia bureau chief of The Economist, has revealed some unknown facts on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his recent book Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation.

Roberts had the rare opportunity of interviewing Modi multiple times during the five years he spent in India. Some of the interviews were recorded when Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, but several after he became Prime Minister.

Here are some excerpts:

A young Narendra played kho kho and swam in a nearby lake.

He enjoyed cooking and theatre and won prizes for acting.

Modi’s friend Dasharathbhai Patel is quoted as saying: “Modi would always be the Captain … we were his underlings.” A trait that he still holds.

Modi family had no attic, no proper roof, just a tin roof. He would never get beaten by other children, he would beat others. He did not work, not regularly on the tea stall. His mother wanted him to help, but he didn’t. This according to Kamuben Modi, a next door neighbour of Modis in early days.

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Modi had a great fascination with America. He visited the US many times as a young man, many like a backpacker. “You could buy a ticket for $500 that lasted a month and allowed you to take as many trips as you like….” Modi told Roberts in one interview. “I used to book long journeys to travel at night, so I could sleep on the plane and avoid the cost of hotels … I travelled and travelled, I explored America. I visited 29 states.”

After America, Modi loved going to China. On his trips to China as a young man, Modi told Roberts:  “That was a spiritual journey which will leave an indelible mark on not only this life but also on my next.”

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On Pakistan, Modi sounded a bit frustrated. “I keep trying to find new pathways, new avenues, to reach out to Pakistan.”

On why he is silent on some burning and sensitive issues, Modi said: “I do speak quite a lot on these issues. Maybe not in the exact words that people want to hear it in, but I am absolutely committed to the integrity of the country, to the harmonious relations in society”.

Well known journalist Karan Thapar, in his reaction to the multiple interviews that Roberts got, says: If Modi can speak so often, on so many subjects and frequently engagingly, to the lucky Roberts, why can’t he speak just a little bit more to Indian journalists?

Raj Shankar

Shankar Raj is a senior journalist with more than 30 years experience, mostly with The Indian Express and The New Indian Express. He was the Editor for Karnataka and Kerala editions of The New Indian Express, and former Managing Editor of the Nyusu Digital Media P Ltd. Bengaluru.

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