India’s New Prime Minister Worked as a Tea Vendor – Need to Know

What tea professionals need to start the week of May 19, 2014 —

India’s Narendra Modi, a childhood tea vendor, will be the next prime minister. Modi’s pro-business platform and decisive leadership is welcome according to tea industry executives but his uneasiness with Congress Party’s tea worker subsidies make the future unclear… World Tea Expo begins Tuesday May 27 with Tea Business Boot Camp… it’s not too late to join in the fun and take part in a superior educational program in Long Beach….Would you enjoy being sent to Summer School in Montreal? You will if you love tea. Retailer Camellia Sinensis shares its wealth of information during weekend courses.

Tea Vendor Elected India’s Prime Minister

India has elected the son of a poor tea vendor its next prime minister.

Narendra Modi, 63, has long set his sights on the highest elected office in the world’s largest democracy. His election last week uplifted hopes in the business community where he is expected to encourage value-added manufacturing and exports and lower trade barriers as well as modernize finance while opposing a continuation of the welfare laws that underpin the existing plantation system.

Marendra Modi
Narendra Modi

Modi, a Hindi born into a low-caste, symbolically selected a tea vendor as one of four persons to formally nominate him PM.

In February during a campaign swing through Assam he called the living conditions of tea workers “deplorable” with “no improvement over four to five generations,” according to accounts in the Economic Times.

“The industry earns crores (tens of millions) of dollars in foreign exchange and the product reaches every home but both Central and Assam governments have paid no attention to the workers,” he said, promising if elected to assist their cause.

Specific policies have yet to be revealed but the tea industry executives I correspond with in Kolkata are optimistic.

In April I was traveling through Kerala and Karnataka India during the month-long national elections. Those I spoke with told me the sitting government led by the ruling Congress Party was ineffective and unpopular. Unemployment was high, the economy sluggish. Business executives spoke of their frustration dealing with a corrupt system. There was a pronounced sense of change in the wind.

As it turns out this is a very significant ballot. Modi’s victory is the most decisive election in 25 years. There were 120 million more votes cast than the previous election.Voting is a matter of civic pride and there were many reminders to vote. Balloting took many weeks with 537 million votes to count in the world’s largest democracy.

TEABIZ_NTK_140519On Election Day in Bangalore the people I met proudly displayed a henna mark on their left thumb indicating they had voted. Turnout was very high. At 65.85%, the overall vote was the highest ever recorded by India in the 16 general elections held since 1951. 

“Modi is widely seen as the darling of India’s corporate world and a decisive, 21st-century administrator expected to revive job creation and economic growth,” according to The National Post. Born in 1950, he will be India’s first prime minister born after the country’s violent 1947 partition and independence from imperial Britain. His rise marks a paradigm shift for the secular democracy after decades of welfare policies that have emphasized lifting the country’s impoverished. Modi has extolled the merits of trickle-down economics through industrialization.”

So far there have been 7,566 articles published on the election and its ramifications. In general the response is positive.

Modi was the third of six children. He is the son of a chaiwalla, a tea vendor earning 17-cents per cup from a stall at the Vadnagar railway station in Gujarat. Modi would walk the station and train cars with a kettle pouring chai. He joined a youth program of the Rahtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at eight. His marriage was arranged by his mother at 12 but five years later after the wedding ceremony to Jashodaben Chimanlal he left to join the RSS and never consummated the marriage. Mentored by leaders of the powerful Hindu nationalist group which rejected secularism he rose steadily in the ranks to become the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001.

During his three terms Gujarat’s economy has grown 8.6%. The state accounts for 16% of industrial output, despite having 5% of its population. The western state boasts uninterrupted power supply and the finest road infrastructure in the country.

Modi is a gifted orator who lives alone, writes poetry and practices yoga.

WTN140217_Shri Narendra Modiji_headshot“Celibate, vegetarian and a teetotaler, Modi earned a reputation for ruthless efficiency, pushing aside party stalwarts with whom he clashed and taking charge of nearly all the key departments in the state government,” according to an account in the Los Angeles Times.

“Good days are coming,” Modi told a huge crowd of supporters in Vadodara, the western city where he won a parliamentary seat Friday. “From today, for the next five years, the journey has started.”

Source: The National Post, Los Angeles Times, Economic Times

Tea Training

Montreal’s Camellia Sinensis Tea School will open its doors for two weekend programs in English this year.

Camellia Sinensis Summer School 2014 offers two different programs, both based on a 3-day weekend.  Tea enthusiasts, visiting from far and wide, will be offered a packed two days of tea related activities and a chance to enjoy the magical ‘joie de vivre’ of summertime in Montréal. All teas for the duration of the course will be fresh spring arrivals or vintage, aged classics selected at source by Camellia Sinensis’ four tasters for their World renowned catalogue: camellia-sinensis.com

The CS Team have compiled a list of accommodation possibilities, favorite restaurants and suggested activities to help visitors enjoy Montréal’s passion for good living and to ensure a memorable stay in their wonderful city.

Learn more: http://camellia-sinensis.com/en/summer-school

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Editor | Publisher | Podcaster | Consultant | Journalist Dan is the founder of Tea Journey Magazine, the Tea Biz Podcast and Blog, and a contributing editor at STiR coffee and tea. He is the former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine, former editor and publisher of World Tea News, and former editor-in-chief at Specialty Coffee Retailer, then headquartered in San Francisco. Dan has traveled the tea lands, speaking on retail beverage trends in Canada and the United States and at conferences in Europe, China, India, Australia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa.