The outrage over PM Narendra Modi’s “charkha” spinning image on the 2017 calendar of Khadi India is a classic case of much ado about nothing! Mahatma Gandhi is inseparably linked with khadi, however, that shouldn’t stop new mascots – why just PM Modi alone – from promoting its sales and use. But first things first, let’s tell you what all this hullabaloo is about. Khadi Village Industries Commission or KVIC prints the New Year calendars and diaries, and this year instead of an image of Mahatma Gandhi, we can see the Prime Minister sitting in the classic pose of the former, spinning khadi. This has sparked off a furious and unnecessary debate.
The image, it seems, has deeply pained political parties, with Rahul Gandhi and various Congress Twitter handles furiously expressing displeasure over it. This whole political ruckus to the extent of calling Modi a “chor” reeks of hypocrisy, especially when it comes from Congress. In all these years, Congress governments have done little to promote the use of khadi in the country and abroad. Also, the party that has survived on the Gandhi name finds it difficult to digest that people may indeed see PM Modi as the new-age icon of khadi.
It would be different to argue that PM Modi himself may not be as effective in pushing up khadi’s popularity – but facts suggest otherwise. PM Modi wants everyone to see khadi products as items of fashion. Without disrespecting Mahatma Gandhi, whose role in the whole khadi movement can never be forgotten or overstated, let’s face the fact that sale of khadi products has surged after PM Modi took special interest. He has been propagating its use in various Mann ki Baats, at townhalls and functions – appealing to people to use khadi products. The Prime Minister himself is most often seen wearing a khadi kurta with a special jacket. The kurta is commonly known as the “Modi kurta” – another association that shows that people are perfectly okay seeing Modi as a brand ambassador for the indigenous product.
Watch: PM Modi’s pitch for khadi and handloom sector
Indian Railways is also revamping its staff uniform and they are slated to be made of khadi. According to KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena, the sale of khadi products has recorded a quantum jump. The sales of khadi goods shot up by about 29% to Rs 1,510 crore in 2015-16 and he hopes to easily achieve the sales target of Rs 5,000 crore by the end of 2017-18. Saxena says that khadi is also witnessing high demand from US and UK – another indicator of its growing popularity under the current government.
Khadi movement was founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920 with the aim of boycotting foreign goods. Khadi, the cloth and the indigenous industry, has always been associated with the father of the nation. Indeed most of us have grown up seeing images of the Mahatma spinning the charkha and that’s an automatic association that our mind has come to make whenever the word khadi comes up. But, that doesn’t mean that no one else can be associated with its promotion.
If PM Modi, and his image on those calendar and diary covers, is able to make khadi popular and compel people to buy it then we believe that the happiest would be Mahatma Gandhi himself. In the end, if khadi wins, then Bapu surely wins!