'Time's' Person Of The Year: Narendra Modi Wins Popular Vote, But Who Is He?

The people have spoken in the 2016 online reader's poll for Time's Person of the Year. Taking a dominating lead with 19 percent of the vote, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won, beating out the closest rivals, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Julian Assange, each of whom received 7 percent of votes. Other contenders were Vladimir Putin and the whistleblowers of Flint, Michigan, who each got 6 percent of the vote. Hilary Clinton received 4 percent, and Bernie Sanders received 5 percent of the vote. But who is Narendra Modi?

Time's Person of the Year Narendra Modi
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. [Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]

Narendra Modi is the current prime minister of India, the 14th person to hold the position. He was elected to the position in May of 2014 on a platform of anticorruption. He pledged to fight "black money" in India, which refers to the huge amounts of unaccounted cash that fuel both corruption and terrorism. In an age where most Indians expect corruption and dishonesty from their politicians, Narendra Modi exploded onto the stage,

Modi is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India, which is the conservative side of their two-party system. Although they are technically deeply conservative, it's a type of conservative stance that may seem different from the Republican ideals that most Americans are used to at first glance. Upon deeper examination, there are some positions that should seem very familiar.

When it comes to illegal immigration, the BJP opposes illegal immigration from the neighboring country of Bangladesh. It's interesting to note that the BJP only refers to Muslim immigrants as illegal; Hindu immigrants are referred to as refugees and treated as such.

One of Modi's more controversial moves in recent times was the banning of large cash notes, removing the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes from general circulation. This move had been discussed for a long time but almost no one expected him to strike so quickly. The surprise announcement made for very long lines at banks and ATM machines as people stood in line to complete financial transactions before the ban went into effect. The removal of the large notes was designed to make bribery more difficult as well as stem the tide of counterfeit bills.

Time's Person of the Year Narendra Modi
Indians stand in line outside of a bank after the recall of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. [Image by Ajit Solanki/AP Images]

Another of Modi's policies that drew criticism from his Western counterparts was the initiation of surgical military strikes against Pakistani forces across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir in late September. His decision flew in the face of the suggestions of the UN, Great Britain, and the United States, who had all advised Modi to exercise restraint in dealing with Pakistan, while at the same time condemning certain Pakistani state-sponsored militia groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Jaish-e-Muhammad. Essentially, Narendra Modi decided to take matters into his own hands and deal with the problem himself, rather than waiting for the blessing of other world leaders.

Modi also introduced the Goods and Services Tax, which promised to merge the current confusing tax system into one single system of taxation. This indirect tax would replace taxes that are currently levied at the state and central levels. Because the GST is paid at each stage of manufacture and sales, each successive business is able to claim their portion of the GST as a tax credit. This credit would help alleviate the problem of taxing something that has already been taxed.

Time's Person of the Year Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart, Theresa May at the India-U.K. Tech Summit. [Image by AP Images]

The prime minister has also pushed programs to move manufacturing jobs back to India, where goods would be created and exported rather than imported wholesale as part of his Made in India campaign.

This is the second time that Narendra Modi has won Time's Person of the Year online poll. The first time was in 2014 when he was elected as Prime Minister.

[Featured Image by AP Images]