Narendra Modi government has banned the use of bouquets to greet the PM during his domestic visits. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), no bouquets should be presented to the PM during his tour within the country. States have been asked to sensitise officials concerned to ensure strict compliance of the instruction. Instead of bouquets, a flower along with a handkerchief or a book can be used to welcome the PM.
The government’s decision has been widely appreciated across the country. While sharing FE Online’s report of the decision on Monday, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, an MP from Kerala, tweeted, “I support @narendramodi on this: let’s not massacre flowers for transient gratification, but give gifts that endure.”
Interestingly, PM Modi was reminded of the need to shun bouquets and use books for greeting during his recent visit to Kerala. In his last Mann Ki Baat programme on June 25, PM Modi recalled, “Recently, I had the opportunity to go to one of my favorite events. A very good programme is being run in Kerala for the past few years, by the P.N. Panicker Foundation, which encourages people to cultivate the habit of reading books and to enhance their awareness towards this, by organising celebrations such as ‘Reading Day’, and ‘Reading Month’.”
He further said, “I had the opportunity to go for the inaugural function, where I was told that instead of bouquets, they gift books. I liked it.” This also reminded him that he had set the tradition of welcoming guests with books and khadi handkerchief in Gujarat, when he served the state as chief minister. “Thus I was also reminded of what had slipped my mind. Because when I was in Gujarat, I had set this tradition of welcoming, by not giving bouquets, but books or handkerchiefs instead. And that too, a ‘Khadi’ handkerchief, so that it promotes ‘Khadi’.”
“Till the time I was in Gujarat, this habit had been ingrained in us, but after coming here, I had lost that habit. When I went to Kerala, it was rekindled. I have already begun to issue instructions in the government.”
PM said that “life span of a bouquet is very short. You receive it in your hand for a moment and then abandon it. But when you present a book, it becomes a part of the household, a part of the family. One can also use a ‘Khadi’ handkerchief to welcome people, and be a support to the innumerable underprivileged. The expenses are reduced as well, and the gift is well utilized too. I say this, thinking of the historical value of such gifts.”
PM Modi also recalled his last meeting with Queen Elizabeth of Britain, which again reminded him to promote use of khadi handkerchiefs for greeting. The Queen had invited him for dinner. PM said the Queen had shown her a hand-spun Khadi handkerchief, which was gifted to her by Mahatma Gandhi. “I was served with great affection. Afterwards when she showed me a small thread-spun khadi handkerchief, her eyes lit up. With great respect and in an emotion filled voice, she said, that Mahatma Gandhi had sent this handkerchief to her as a wedding gift.”
PM said the Queen has “treasured” the khadi handkerchief for so many years. “And she was happy to show it to me, when I went there. As I gazed at it, the Queen encouraged me to touch it. A small gift by Mahatma Gandhi, has become a part of her life and a part of history.”