Modi tweeted: "Dear @BarackObama your words are touching and inspiring. Thanks".
Stating that Modi is "determined to help more Indians follow in his path", Obama wrote the Indian prime minister has "laid out an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India's true economic potential while confronting climate change".
"Like India, he transcends the ancient and the modern -- a devotee of yoga who connects with Indian citizens on Twitter and imagines a 'digital India'."
Calling Modi by his first name Narendra, Obama recalled that when he came to Washington, they visited the memorial to Martin Luther King Jr."We reflected on the teachings of King and (Mahatma) Gandhi and how the diversity of backgrounds and faiths in our countries is a strength we have to protect."
"Modi recognizes that more than 1 billion Indians living and succeeding together can be an inspiring model for the world," Obama stated in the piece in which Time's 100 most influential people in 2015 were profiled.