Here's an offbeat interview with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ahead of his UAE visit next week.
Tell us about your upcoming visit to the UAE.
My visit is in response to an invitation to address the sixth edition of the World Government Summit (February 11-13 in Dubai). This year, India has been designated as the Guest of Honour country. The privilege extended to India is a recognition of the strong friendship between the two countries.
I will hold meetings with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Energy security and infrastructural investments in India will be key topics discussed. A number of initiatives taken in my earlier visit to the UAE and during the visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed last year when he was the Chief Guest at our Republic Day celebrations have come to fruition.
It is a matter of even greater happiness that new Government-to-Government and business-to-business initiatives promise to add even more strength and depth to the bilateral cooperation in various areas of economic activity.
The Indian community in the UAE has acted as a bridge between the two countries and I hope my visit will further strengthen these ties”
The UAE is home to over three million people of Indian origin. The Indian community has acted as a bridge between the two countries and I hope my visit will further strengthen these ties.
Do you get the luxury of a holiday?
I have not been on a holiday either as Chief Minister or now as Prime Minister. However, my work does require me to travel across India and interact with people, learn about their joys, sorrows and aspirations. This is refreshing and rejuvenating for me. Before I became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, I travelled to every district of India. These were enriching experiences as it showed me India’s cultural diversity.
Do you have a special butler who travels with you on your trips out of India?
Not at all. There is no special butler who travels with me on my trips! I happily eat whatever the gracious hosts prepare and enjoy eating everything offered to me.
How many hours of sleep do you manage to get in a day?
My sleep cycle varies from four to six hours, depending on the workload. But I get a sound sleep every night. In fact, I fall asleep minutes after hitting the bed. I do not take any worry with me and wake up fresh every morning and welcome the new day in my life.
Sleep is an absolute essential for the mind and body. Recently, I penned a book for youngsters, Exam Warriors where I have stressed the importance of a good night’s sleep.
What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last before you hit the bed?
My day begins with yoga as I think it is extremely beneficial for the mind and body. It refreshes me and keeps me agile through the day. My morning is also spent scanning newspapers, checking e-mails and making a round of phone calls. I also spend time reading some comments and feedback shared by citizens on the ‘Narendra Modi Mobile App.’ I find it a wonderful way to remain connected with people across India.
I am a firm believer in the power of technology as it empowers people”
Before hitting the bed, I read the documents sent to me during the day. I also prepare for the next day meetings and engagements.
Do you have a favourite dish? What do you like for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
I am not much of a foodie. I enjoy a simple vegetarian meal every day.
India is a great place for food lovers. Every state in our country offers culinary delights. I have had the opportunity to travel across all parts of the India and have had the privilege of tasting all types of cuisines from India.
What is your favourite day of the week and why?
Today is my favourite day of the week! I believe in a simple tenet – make the most of today, live life to the fullest. Today is the only day on our hands to work hard and make things happen.
Who is the one person who inspires you the most?
Several people inspire me and I will surely tell you about some of them.
Since my childhood, I have been inspired by Swami Vivekananda. He had unwavering belief in the values of universal harmony and brotherhood.
Mahatma Gandhi is another person I admire. Be it his commitment to the poor, his unwavering belief in peace and non-violence or his ability to integrate every individual of a nation during freedom struggle are truly admirable qualities.
I also admire Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for his efforts to unify and integrate India. Shaheed Bhagat Singh has left a deep impact on my mind for his valour.
I believe in a simple tenet - make the most of today, live life to the fullest. Today is the only day on our hands to work hard and make things happen”
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is an inspiration to many in India, just as he is to me. He taught us the importance of determination and tenacity.
Last but not the least, I greatly respect Benjamin Franklin for his multi-dimensional personality and for the fact that he served his nation with utmost diligence.
How tech savvy are you in your personal communication?
I am a firm believer in the power of technology as it empowers people.
Technology is a wonderful way to connect with young India and it gives a glimpse of their aspirations.
Personally, I am active on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube) and I find them to be extremely vibrant.
I constantly check messages on my mobile App, the ‘Narendra Modi Mobile App’. There is so much positive feedback, suggestions and ideas on a wide range of issues on the app. I find it very insightful.