Modi, Modi, Modi... scream calendars

After hogging all 12 pages of the Government’s 2017 calendar, the PM’s photograph has now replaced Mahatma Gandhi at the charkha in the calendar released by Khadi & Village Industries Commission

Photo courtesy:
Photo courtesy:

NH National Bureau

Think of the Father of the Nation and the image of Mahatma Gandhi weaving khadi on a simple charkha while clothed in his trademark loin cloth is what comes to mind. That memory may become history soon, courtesy the Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC), which has “evicted” the famous photo of the Mahatma from its latest calendar and diary for 2017, replacing it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi wearing kurta-pyjama-waistcoat and weaving khadi on a latest version of a charkha.

“Is this the way to treat the Father of our Nation?” asks D Raja, senior CPI leader and Rajya Sabha MP. “It is atrocious and condemnable. The BJP should have some respect for our history and our great freedom fighters,” adds Raja. One may recall that the latest calendar of the Government of India has Modi’s picture on every month. The calendar which was released on December 22, 2016 did have the PM’s photo on the charkha.

While KVIC employees and officials were apparently taken aback—some organised “a silent, soul-cleansing” protest wearing black bands sealing their mouth at the Mumbai headquarters of KVIC on Thursday—agencies quoted KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena not just justifying the action, but also tacitly comparing PM Modi to the Mahatma. While he did say that the soul of KVIC was Gandhiji and the entire Khadi udyog (industry) was based on his philosophy, ideas and ideals, he went to project PM Modi as a “youth icon”, who has been wearing and popularising khadi for long. In fact, Saxena called Modi “khadi’s biggest brand ambassador.”

Rajagopal PV, former Vice Chairman of Gandhi Peace Foundation and founder of NGO Ekta Parishad, says that wherever he travels to in the world, he has seen people look for answers in the Mahatma for the problems engulfing all, such as from wars, hunger to global warming. “Any effort by anybody to belittle Mahatma Gandhi is a dangerous trend. When the world is looking towards Gandhiji for today’s problems, it is disappointing if his own countrymen disrespect him. Nobody should do such a thing.” Strongly disapproving of the KVIC move, he says: “Let us not behave in a foolish way by replacing Gandhiji with present day politicians—be they of any political party. The Mahatma had an enlightened political perspective, which our present day politicians do not possess.”

However, perhaps others have resigned themselves to the hypocrisies in our system.

“I am happy that they (KVIC) have done so. It does away from the hypocrisy from these ‘sarkari’ institutions; rather than Gandhiji’s image being sullied. The change, in fact, reflects the new reality,” says Yogendra Yadav, leading activist and Swaraj Abhiyan member. That, of course, is a sad state of affairs.

The Telegraph in December reported on the 10-fold hike in the Prime Minister’s image used in the Government’s calendar for the year 2017. “In 2015, Modi occupied half the page for January, but had only a tiny passport-size image at the bottom on the calendar for the other months. The next year, Modi was present each month — wearing different coloured jackets. Each month’s image was larger than the passport-size photo of Modi at the bottom of the 2015 calendar, but much smaller than the half-page January 2015 photo and the total area occupied by the PM in the calendar dropped marginally. Come January 2017, Modi will more than make up,” The Telegraph report said.

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