Modi on Khadi Gramodyog 2017 Calendar is height of appropriation (the act of taking something for your own use)! But Gandhi or his legacy is more than just a photo event. Gandhi and his legacy will survive even if all of his visible depictions are appropriated.
Have you seen the Khadi Gramodyog Calendar 2017? I haven’t either. Courtesy various media reports, the Khadi Gramodyog calendar 2017’s cover photo and the diary shows PM Modi weaving khadi on a large ‘charkha’, in the same classic pose as Gandhiji. Both the calendar and the diary are published by Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
What’s important here’s to note that not only PM Modi’s pose appears to be a copy of Gandhiji’s style, the ambiance of the photograph is also very similar.
A section of Indians are unhappy with the cover photo. To what extent the displeasure is, cannot be known. But one can safely say, there’re certain people out there who’re not pleased with the picture.
As far as my view is concerned, I’m not much happy with the cover photo either. Although I’m not surprised.
The reasons for my unhappiness are these.
It’s one thing to wear Khadi but quite another to replace Gandhiji, the father of the Nation, as the face of Khadi in India, and the World. If someone tries to replace Gandhiji from Khadi, then it’s very similar to someone trying to replace Martin Luther King Jr. as the face of equal rights for Blacks in America, Mother Teresa as the face of compassion & empathy, Mahatma Gandhi as the face of non-violence in India & the World, Nelson Mandela as the face of non-violent fight against apartheid in South Africa, or… Charlie Chaplin as the face of Happy funny mute movies.
Lets see why Gandhi is the face of Khadi in India.
Gandhiji not even wore Khadi, he denounced every piece of cloth for Khadi. This distinction doesn’t apply to most of our politicians of today and the past. That’s although they adopted Khadi as their preferred attire (in Hindi, ‘pahnava’), they have no objection to wearing non-khadi clothes if the need be.
Gandhiji made Charkha a part of his life. He weaved as much thread every year, as was necessary for his clothing requirement. If a metre, or a metre & a half was enough for his clothing requirements, then he weaved only that much. Thus the primary philosophy of him making charkha a part of his life, was self reliance. This explains why he said: ‘There is enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed’.
For Gandhi, weaving Khadi was not some eccentricity or a daily regimen. It was part of his broader philosophy of self reliance. Something which he believed in and practiced till his death. He connected Khadi to the poorest of Indian’s self reliance, who he believed lived in a village. He used Khadi to show this poorest of man, how simple acts of self-reliance can make him and his village self reliant. This explains why Khadi to this day is known as Khadi Gramodyog and includes all sorts of products which can be made with least resources within a village.
Some people are justifying PM Modi’s picture on Khadi Gramodyog Calendar 2017, as he being someone who popularized Khadi among Youth in India. This justification is not correct. Simply because the amount of sales or surge in business is not the objective of Khadi Gramodyog in India. As envisioned by Gandhiji, Khadi is just a vehicle of self reliant and prosperous villages in India. Gandhi never told women folk in India to keep weaving Khadi so that the surplus could be sold in market. The idea was simple: Become self reliant. Thus even if Khadi Gramodyog sales multiply many folds, they will not result in self reliant and prosperous villages in 2016. Why? as Khadi is just a symbol of Village-focused or deprived-focused philosophy for the Governments. Hence instead of Khadi, it’s the schemes such as MNREGA job security, Food security, better-economic support to farmers etc. which will make villages self reliant and prosperous in 2016. Replacing Mahatma Gandhi with Narendra Modi will not bring much change. It’s just a marketing ploy of very bad taste.
I also wear Khadi sometimes. But most of my wardrobe is non-Khadi as Khadi is expensive. In addition I can’t dedicate my life to Khadi philosophy. With no disrespect to anyone, most people cannot dedicate their lives to Khadi. Only legends can do that. They have the greatness to make such sacrifices.
The good thing is, most of us know about this distinction. We don’t assume ourselves as the face of Khadi merely because 30 or 70 percent of our wardrobes constitutes of Khadi. Unfortunately though some of our politicians don’t have such a Wisdom.
To conclude, when you see a sketch of a ‘hat with a walking Cane’, you instantly know it depicts Charlie Chaplin. When you see a ‘horizontal striped border of a white saree covering a head’, you instantly recall Mother Teresa or Empathy. When you see ‘round reading glasses or half a silhouette of bald man with a walking stick’, you are instantly reminded of Mahatma Gandhi or non-violence. It’s not you alone, anyone who has some awareness about these personalities, has similar recollections.
Unfortunately though, although Gandhi is being preserved the World over, as the face or mascot of non-violence, our own leaders are destroying this global recognition. This destruction began when Gandhi’s round glasses were appropriated in recent times as a symbol of Cleanliness!
But fortunately though, Gandhi or his legacy is more than just a photo event. Gandhi and his legacy will survive even if all of his visible depictions are appropriated.