From Nehru-Gandhi to Birsa Munda: The Modi Impact

Our festivals were Gandhi Jayanti & Children Day because we were told that our icons, M K Gandhi & Nehru were born on those days. It was Modi who declared Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary (15th November) as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas (121 years after his death) and to acquaint the mainstream Indians with his sacrifices.

The Narrative World    09-Jul-2024
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General Election – 2024 has come and gone. PM Modi has been sworn in for his third term, the only non-dynastic & democratically elected PM to have achieved this feat in independent India. However, his victory is being made to sound like a defeat, thanks to the pervasive narrative that the Opposition is collectively pushing.
However, as an old Abba song said… “The winner takes it all, the loser’s standing small …”- Modi 3.0 is here to stay, and that is the plain and simple truth. Irrespective of his political wins, the impact that Narendra Modi has had on India and the world has been spectacular & nothing short of extra-ordinary.
For children of my generation and earlier, everything good and glorious centred around the first family of India, the true royals who considered India their fiefdom… the Nehru- Gandhi clan and their fervent supporter, M K Gandhi. We were taught songs like “de di azaadi bina khadag bina dhal, Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamal” (lakhs of Indians lost their live in the freedom struggle, but we were taught that Independence was achieved due to the non-violent means adopted by M K Gandhi). Brave leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose, Tilak and Bhagat Singh were mentioned in passing, often painted as brave, idealist but misguided souls as they dared to defy Gandhi and picked up arms against the British.
We did not ever get to learn about the Chuhar rebellion, the Santhal Hul, or the Cotiote War (all of which were the initial movements to defeat the East India Co. and gain self-rule), many of these happened before the 1857 revolt and in many ways, set the tone of the freedom struggle. Moreover, a martyr like Birsa Munda was unknown to most of us – one of the earlier freedom fighters, he led the tribal movement for self-rule & against religious conversion; and died in prison in 1900. Yet, no history textbook taught us about him, or the many others like him.
Our festivals were Gandhi Jayanti & Children Day because we were told that our icons, M K Gandhi & Nehru were born on those days. Nobody taught us that the second Prime Minister of India, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri was also born on 2nd Oct, and it was under his leadership that India defeated Pakistan in the 1965-66 Indo Pak War. We were never taught that Shastri promoted the White Revolution and the Green Revolution, which helped increase the supply of milk and food grains in the country.
We never ever learnt that Nehru was the first non-elected, non-democratic PM Of India. We never learnt that Congress wanted to propose Sardar Patel’s name for the position of the first Prime Minister of Independent India, but M K Gandhi intervened and pushed Nehru’s candidature through. We did not learn how the disparate states under British rule coalesced to become one country and the role Sardar Patel played in making the idea of India a reality.
It was Modi who declared Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary (15th November) as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas (121 years after his death) and to acquaint the mainstream Indians with his sacrifices. Likewise, it was Modi who took the initiative to get the Statue of Unity made to honour Sardar Patel, who was the architect and builder of modern-day India.

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Keeping politics aside – Modi has re-acquainted Indians with their own history. He has helped us reject vestiges of colonialism with regaining a pride in our own lost glory. By acknowledging the role that leaders like Patel, Munda, Savarkar etc. played in nation building, he has tried to undo the decades of wrong that was done to their memory. He has made us feel proud that we come from a land which gave birth to such illustrious courageous leaders, instead of feeling apologetic and inferior for belonging to a land of self-proclaimed, self-righteous and cowardly politicians.
Nothing illustrates this better than the re-designing of the Indian Navy ensign. The previous ensign with its St. George’s Cross was a reference to India’s colonial past, while ignoring its own rich maritime heritage. The new ensign (launched in 2022) has the Indian flag and a reference to the rajmudra of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Navy and is a befitting tribute to our rich sailing, navigation, and seafaring past.
The International Yoga Day was held earlier in the week, and social media was abuzz with reels, posts, and memes regarding the same. It is easy to forget that Indians had rejected Yoga in favour of other forms of exercise, till the time Baba Ramdev brought Yoga back into popular culture with his camps. The adoption of Yoga got amplified with PM Modi actively promoting it as a path to holistic well-being.
PM Modi took the initiative for ‘Yoga Day’ in his 2014 UN address, where the related resolution received global support and was passed unanimously in the United Nations General Assembly. Today the International Yoga Day is celebrated with fervour, enthusiasm, and vibrant energy across the globe, and it is a testimony to the soft power of India. However, it would not be amiss to recall so-called leaders, influencers and journalists who had mocked PM Modi for his Yoga practice and did their best to dismiss and derail the initiative.
“Likewise, for all those naysayers who predicted that India will be unsuccessful in hosting the G20 summit during its Presidency Year (2023), India did an impeccable job of living up to its tradition of ‘atithi devo bhava’.”
Though it may be that the naysayers remembered the Commonwealth Games Scam in the era of UPA Government, when leading sportsperson were made to stay in substandard conditions, and the same was justified by a ruling party member as Indians having lower standards of hygiene, possibly implying that broken washrooms, stinking toilets, and piles of garbage in the Commonwealth Village were acceptable.
But the successful and innovative hosting of various programs under India’s Presidentship of the G20 has truly helped India shine on the global stage. Instead of hosting all meetings in a staid manner at New Delhi, the Government chose to adopt a different approach and hosted the events at different cities across the length and breadth of India. It, thus, used the opportunity to beautifully showcase the diversity, culture, and heritage of India to delegates by introducing them to India beyond the Government echelons of New Delhi. When the G20 delegates in the 200+ events planned in the run up to the 2023 Summit, met at different places like Shillong, Srinagar, Pune, Indore or Mahabalipuram, they got exposed to the unique arts, crafts, food, geography, history, language, and culture of India. Wasn’t this a masterstroke to bring the true India alive for the visitors and us?
The G20 Summit was a success, as is evident by inclusion of the African Union in the G20 as a permanent member, keeping in with Modi’s inclusive approach. Moreover, the New Delhi Leaders Declaration was adopted with consensus, which was no mean feat. The G20 Summit was also beautifully optimized to showcase India’s theme of the Presidency ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’- One Earth, One Family, One Future. It was inspired from the Maha Upanishad, and fundamentally highlighted the importance and interconnectedness of all life; again, a beautiful way to showcase the Hindu philosophy and way of life.
As India’s 10th Prime Minister, Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee said “sarkarein aayengi, jayengi, partyian banegi, bigadengi, magar yeh desh rehna chahiye “(governments will come and go, parties will be formed and break up; but the country should remain intact). This is Modi’s biggest and most enduring impact – he has taught generations of Indians to love, actively acquaint themselves with their culture and to take pride in it. He has woken up the sleeping giant lion that was India.
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Aditi Hingu
Aditi has more than two decades of experience in the corporate world. She works as a strategic marketing consultant and has done projects across innovation, category & brand development, communication, media and research for Indian and Multinational companies. She has also significant experience in coaching and training across diverse functions. Aditi has also been associated since the past 15+ years with leading Management Institutes as Visiting/Guest Faculty and has been part of many panel discussions. She is an avid observer of human nature & behaviour and believes in being a student lifelong.