Mumbai: In a development that caught most people by surprise, the 2017 wall calendar and table diary published by the Khadi Village Industries Commission or KVIC, had a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, instead of Mahatma Gandhi, who had founded the Khadi movement in the 1920s with an aim to boycott foreign goods in a non-violent protest against the British.
According to sources, most employees and officials of the khadi commission were taken aback to see the cover photo of the calendar and diary showing PM Modi weaving Khadi on a large ‘charkha’, in the same classic pose as Gandhiji.
While Mahatma Gandhi’s historic picture weaving khadi on a simple charkha, wearing his trademark loin cloth, is legendary and imprinted in the minds of the masses for generations, PM Modi comes across in his signature attire of kurta-pyjama-waistcoat, weaving khadi on a slightly modern charkha.
Employees of KVIC at its Vile Parle headquarters had planned “a silent, soul-cleansing” protest wearing black bands on their mouths during lunch hour on Thursday.
When contacted, KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena said this was “not unusual” and there have been deviations in the past. “The entire khadi industry (udyog) is based on Gandhiji’s philosophy, ideas and ideals, he is the soul of KVIC, so there is no question of ignoring him,” Mr Saxena told. He added that Prime Minister Modi has been wearing khadi for a long time, and has made it popular among the masses; even among foreign dignitaries, while developing his own styles around khadi.
“In fact, he is khadi’s biggest brand ambassador, and his vision matches KVIC’s, of ‘Make In India’ by making villages self-sufficient, ‘skill development’ by generating employment among the rural masses, infuse modern technology for khadi weaving, innovations and marketing. Plus, the PM is a youth icon,” Mr Saxena explained.
“We are pained at this systematic easing out of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas, philosophy and ideals by the government. Last year, the first attempt was made by including the PM’s photos in the calendar,” said a senior KVIC staffer told news agency IANS on the condition of anonymity.
In fact, in 2016 the staff unions in KVIC had raised the calendar matter strongly with the management and were assured that it would not be repeated in future.
Incidentally, Prime Minister Modi already has a khadi garment unofficially named after him – the casual and comfortable, half-sleeved ‘Modi Kurta’ – since the days he was Gujarat Chief Minister and sported it regularly in public in various shades and styles.
During the four-month period between Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on October 2 and his martyrdom on January 30, the KVIC launches special promotions and offers special rebates to boost khadi sales across India.