Singapore, Dec 5: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was today named "Asian of the Year" by a leading Singaporean press group for being focused on India's development and getting the world "excited" about the prospects of the country again.
Singapore Press Holdings Limited, the publisher of The Straits Times, said "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 China and Tony Abbott of Australia."
"Mr Modi has got India and the world excited about his country's prospects again," Warren Fernandez, editor of the daily said in a statement.
"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."
It said Modi has had a highly successful visit to Japan for a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 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 USD2 trillion economy and provide welcome ballast to the region when the top Asian economy China is slowing, and Japan is in recession, the statement said.
The 64-year-old leader has promised to reform the economy by cutting on the red tape and attracting foreign investments. Modi has energised India with his stirring calls for a development focus, it said.
"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," editors said in their citation.
The citation said in January US President Barack Obama would be the chief guest at India's annual Republic Day celebrations -- the first time a US leader will attend the function. "We look forward to presenting the award to Mr Modi in person at his convenience," said Ravi Velloor, Straits Times foreign editor.
The editors' choice was based on several factors: Modi was picked for being development-focused Prime Minister who fashioned an impressive victory for BJP in the polls. 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 past 12 months.
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.