It begins with his name. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last name is short enough to easily fit in headlines and tweets, yet for much of last  year, he was referred to by a more evocative moniker: NaMo.

The epithet is characteristic of the PM’s approach to rhetoric: find a way to turn a simple concept or phrase into something pithy and appealing to his core constituency. Over the course of the election campaign and since his ascendance to the peak of Indian politics, NaMo has continued to add to our growing lexicon of acronyms, abbreviations and pithy phrases that define the Modi Sarkar.

As we wait for the next bon mot, let’s take a look back at only some of the scores that have come before.

*FDI: First Develop India

It’s supposed to mean Foreign Direct Investment and it is expected to go up tremendously during Modi’s tenure. But he wants to make it clear – considering his government hasn’t been tremendously happy with all the foreign money entering India – that these funds will go towards developing the country. Unfortunately, this has also got news outfits that are generally favourable to him suggesting that such a tagline might actually turn foreign investors away.


There are lots of "G" groupings of nations, from the G5 to the G20 to the G33, the last of which actually contains 46 nations and is usually led by India. Modi is having none of it, however. At his maiden United Nations General Assembly speech, he asked for the groupings to be dispensed with.  “Today, we still operate in various Gs with different numbers," he declared. "India, too, is involved in several. But, how much are we able to work together as G1 or G-All?”


Here’s where things start to get a bit sketchy in terms of usability, or even coherence. The first part of the phrase, INCH, just puts together India and China (after CHIN was rejected). The second however, in an attempt to graft the phrase into a snazzy metaphor, insists on MILES referring to a “Millenium of Exceptional Synergy”. There’s also the little matter of India being a metric country that doesn’t actually use inches or miles, but we’ll put that down to creative licence.

*P2G2: Pro-People Good governance

The grand old chestnut of Modi phrases, P2G2 has been around since the Gujarat days, when Modi first began building his “maximum governance” narrative. Despite its awkward phrasing, the simple short-form was simple to use and, importantly, easy for supporters to parrot without having to explain.

*3Ds: Democracy, Demography and Demand

The mix of letters and numbers is something Modi is particularly fond of, especially when he knows it’ll make for an easy talking point. Of late, he’s been fond of the the 3Ds that he believes make India a promising investment destination, whether he is trying to market the country to the Japanese or to the Americans. (He didn’t, however, bring up the first of the 3Ds when Chinese president Xi Jinping was in New Delhi).

*5Ts: Talent, Tradition, Tourism, Trade and Technology

At some point if you pack too many of these things in, they end up being more like a listicle than a simple phrase. In this case, Modi used the 5Ts, which cover a rather large range of objectives, to explain his vision for India in a speech that also included a “rainbow” formula covering the seven points he wants to focus on (family values, agriculture, women, geography, youth, democracy and knowledge) as well as the 3Ss: skill, speed and scale.


It’s not all good governance and development with Modi, though. The rhetorical muscles were also exercised with some negative campaigning, most prominently with two sets of short-forms that are usually expanded to mean something else but in this case referred to “Adarsh, Bofors, Coal and Damaad" or son-in-law, as well as “Rahul, Sonia, Vadra and Priyanka.”

He later also spoke of the destruction of everyone, SABKA, which he used to mean the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress party in UP.

*B2B and HIT

Foreign policy appears to give Modi’s speech writers lots of fodder for these phrases, which the prime minister pulled out early on into his tenure. In Thimpu he promised to promote Bharat to Bhutan ties, B2B, while in Nepal he advertised his HIT hope: Highways, i-ways (for information technology) and trans-ways (for electricity transmission).

*Look East and Link West

If you’re not getting tired yet, there’s also this little formula from the Make in India unveiling, with the Prime Minister updating the old Indian Look East policy to include the West as well. This was accompanied by other familiar phrases from his recent manufacturing pitch to the world, including “red tape to red carpet".

At this point we're scraping the barrel. Here is Modi allowing the Gujarati uncle in him to use a full-form of a word an a lecture to India's police personnel.

S for strict but sensitive
M for modern and mobile
A for alert and accountable
R for reliable and responsive
T for techno-savvy and trained