Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been lauded as development-focused leader by editors of Singapore's leading daily, The Straits Times, and honoured with the 'Asian of the Year' award.
"Despite being relatively new to the job, he has already made a mark on Asia, reaching out to neighbours and receiving national leaders including Xi Jinping of Chinaand Tony Abbott of Australia," said the Singapore Press Holdings, publisher of the daily. It said Modi has had a highly successful visit to Japan for a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
"Mr Modi has got India and the world excited about his country's prospects again. He has given his people a renewed sense of direction and purpose, and there are hopeful signs that he is minded to using his strong mandate to good effect in one of Asia's major powers. We wish him and India every success," Warren Fernandez, editor of the daily said.
Every December, editors of the Singapore daily pick an Asian whose actions have significantly impacted his own society or the wider Asian continent in the 12 months past. Last year, the award was shared by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The inaugural award, in 2012, went to President Thein Sein of Myanmar.
The editors' choice for 2014 was based on several factors. Modi was picked for being development-focused Prime Minister of India who fashioned an impressive victory for BJP in the polls.
On the economy, Modi's call for a Make in India campaign, if pursued to its logical conclusion with a friendlier investment climate and less rigid labour norms, could help fire up the growth engines of the $2 trillion economy and provide welcome ballast to the region when the top Asian economy China is slowing, and Japan is in recession.
Economists project that as early as next year, India could pick up the growth baton from China. "Given its huge market, its travellers who fill up hotel rooms and cruise ship cabins from Singapore to Sydney, its hunger for capital goods and commodities, a resurgent India will be a boon for the region and the world," the editors said in their citation.
"Politically and socially, Modi has energised India with his stirring calls for a development focus. In January, he will receive US President Barack Obama, the first time that a US leader will be the chief guest at the annual Republic Day celebrations in India," the citation said.
"We look forward to presenting the award to Mr Modi in person at his convenience," Ravi Velloor, Straits Times foreign editor, said.
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