Modi's projection as patriot pathetic

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to project himself as a nationalist and a patriot in the mould of national icons who made great sacrifices for the country during freedom struggle, is pathetic, if not laughable. Even conceding, for argument’s sake, that Modi may not have had personal knowledge of the mandarins of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) deciding to use his photo imitating the iconic image of Mahatma Gandhi spinning the charkha on its 2017 calendar and diaries, his immediate reaction on coming to know of it should have been to order their withdrawal. He should have felt embarrassed. On the contrary, the statements of the Prime Minister’s Office that “it was an unnecessary controversy as there was no strict rule about printing the photos on calendars and diaries,” and later, putting the blame on KVIC for using Modi’s photo “without permission,” clearly indicate that the PMO either had prior knowledge that Modi’s photo would be used in the calendar or even after coming to know, it didn’t disapprove of it.

Actually, when one analyses Modi’s performance and attitude ever since he became the prime minister in May 2014, his clever attempt to somehow get bracketed with the nationalist leaders, in howsoever a crude fashion, is unmistakable. He may have only a perfunctory knowledge of the historic significance of Gandhi using the charkha as a powerful symbol of the freedom movement, and except the fact that both were born in Gujarat, there is absolutely nothing to speak of them in the same breath. Modi’s recent attempts to hype the contributions of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and B R Ambedkar to the country and basking in their reflected glory fall in the same category. He, perhaps, sees nothing wrong in finding himself a small back seat among the galaxy of leaders, however fake it might appear. It can reasonably be assumed that his next ‘targets’ could be Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and the like when the right occasion comes.

As far as the KVIC management is concerned, it has a far greater responsibility to lift the organisation out of the morass it has sunk into than playing to the vanity of the prime minister. It should devise a clear strategy to make khadi and village products more attractive to customers and improve the linkages between production and marketing. The government should come to the rescue of lakhs of handloom weavers whose survival is at stake and also take stringent action against the dumping of products from China. Despite the huge amount spent on khadi sector in the form of grants, loans and subsidies by the government, khadi still constitutes only 1% of the Indian textile market. This needs to be addressed.
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