Modi replaces Gandhi as face of India’s homespun cotton, raises furore

Published January 14, 2017
Pictures of Modi seen on a calendar and a diary.
Pictures of Modi seen on a calendar and a diary.

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has replaced independence hero Mahatma Gandhi as the 2017 face of the government’s traditional handloom and cotton industry, triggering fierce criticism.

The image of the bespectacled Gandhi, wearing a loincloth and sitting cross-legged at a spinning wheel, is one of India’s most iconic and has long been used to promote the khadi, or homespun cotton, industry.

The government-run Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) defended its decision to use a photo of Modi, sitting in an almost identical pose while spinning cotton, on the cover of its 2017 calendar and diary.

“He is khadi’s biggest brand ambassador,” Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena told media.

He said figures other than Gandhi had been used as the faces of the calendar before, and that Modi deserved the honour because he had helped boost cotton sales.

Some KVIC workers staged a silent protest after seeing the new calendar, media reported.

Opposition leaders were quick to ridicule the image.

“Becoming Gandhi requires years of self-sacrifice,” Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and a political opponent of Modi, tweeted in Hindi.

“You cannot become Gandhi by acting as if you can spin the charkha (spinning wheel) — this will only make you a laughing stock.”

Modi, who stormed to power in 2014 in the biggest election victory in 30 years, has long played up his humble roots as the son of a railway station tea seller. But he has also been accused of self-aggrandisement and being out of touch — he auctioned a controversial tailored suit in 2015 that bore his name in gold pinstripes. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party said the row over the calendar had been overblown.

His minister for micro, small and medium enterprises, Kalraj Mishra, said there was no question of Modi or anyone else replacing Gandhi.

Published in Dawn January 14th, 2017

Opinion

Editorial

Wise counsel
Updated 04 Jul, 2022

Wise counsel

Fuelling the fires of communalism for petty political gains is dangerous and can have a long-lasting impact on India’s stability.
Hazardous waste
04 Jul, 2022

Hazardous waste

GIVEN we have not yet developed streamlined systems for managing locally produced hazardous waste, we are inviting...
Mob ‘justice’
04 Jul, 2022

Mob ‘justice’

OVER the past few days, a string of deadly incidents has been reported from Karachi in which enraged mobs have...
Skyrocketing prices
Updated 03 Jul, 2022

Skyrocketing prices

Some sellers are seeking to take advantage of the prevailing disorder by creating artificial shortages or jacking up prices.
Flooding alert
03 Jul, 2022

Flooding alert

THE Gilgit-Baltistan government has issued an alert about the possible flooding of areas along river banks and...
Assaulting journalists
03 Jul, 2022

Assaulting journalists

ANOTHER day, another citizen roughed up for speaking his mind. The assault on veteran journalist Ayaz Amir by...