In an exclusive interview with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, TIME magazine’s cover story this month explores ‘Why Modi matters’. TIME Editor Nancy Gibbs, Asia Editor Zoher Abdoolcarim, and South Asia Bureau Chief Nikhil Kumar interviewed the world leader, who was featured in the magazine’s most influential people last month, as he completes his first year as PM.
In this interview, Modi spoke about everything from his ambitions for India to the global war on terrorism, India’s relationship with China, what personally moves him, and more. Here are some excerpts from that piece.
On Economic Reforms:-
Modi compared his 10-month-old government to the United Progressive Alliance’s decade-long rule. “The whole world is again excited and enthusiastic about India and the opportunities that India represents,” he said. “Whether it is the IMF, the World Bank, Moody’s or other credit agencies, they are all saying in one voice that India has a great economic future.”
On India’s Religious Diversity:-
Modi told TIME, “So far as the government is concerned, there is only one holy book, which is the constitution of India.” Claiming that unity and integrity of the country was his topmost priorities, he said that all religions and communities had the same rights and that it was his responsibility “to ensure their complete and total protection.” He said his government would not tolerate discrimination on the grounds of caste, creed, and religion.
Hitting out at all terrorist groups in the world, Modi said that details like names and geographic location of terrorist groups did not matter, as they would “keep changing.” He called for the passage of U.N.’s Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, so that a central definition of terrorism was followed worldwide.
“We need to delink terrorism from religion — to isolate terrorists who use this interchange of arguments between terrorism and religion….We should see it as something that is a fight for human values,” he said.
On India’s Relations With China:-
Referring to nearly three decade of peace “by and large” on the India-China border, Modi said that not a single bullet has been fired there for over 25 years. “Both countries are showing great maturity and a commitment to economic cooperation,” he said. “We cooperate with China at the international stage, but we compete with China when it comes to commerce and trade.”
On What Influences Him
He recalled his modest beginnings as a tea seller in a railway coach, calling poverty “the first inspiration” of his life. “This touches my deepest core,” he said. “I decided that I would not live for myself but would live for others.”