Reviving Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas and thoughts is clearly high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wishlist. Having already appealed to the nation to “gift” a Swachh Bharat (Clean India) to Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary in 2019, Modi has now asked the Information & Broadcasting Ministry to dig out all archival footage on the Mahatma and make it ready to be aired in time for October 2 — Gandhi’s birth anniversary — this year.
During a recent interaction with I&B Ministry officials, the PM is learnt to have conveyed he would like to see archival material on Gandhi — rare audios and videos of him speaking on a range of subjects — retrieved, restored, and packaged as short capsules and aired on state-run broadcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio.
The PM, sources added, told I&B officials that despite there being so much archival material available on Gandhi, what was visible on Doordarshan about him was grossly “inadequate”.
“The Prime Minister is of the view that a lot of what Gandhiji said is relevant in today’s times and needs to be highlighted. He has conveyed to us that he would like Gandhiji’s messages to be aired as well-packaged capsules,” a source in the I&B ministry told The Indian Express.
While the I&B Ministry has already uploaded on its YouTube channel some archival material — a two-minute excerpt of a speech delivered by Gandhi on March 21, 1947, another two-and-a-half minute capsule, sourced from DD News and titled “Making of the Mahatma — Life Story of Gandhiji” — ministry officials said much more material on the Father of the Nation remain to be culled out from its archives.
Modi’s keenness on Gandhi has been visible from Day One. On the day he was to be sworn in, he started his day with a visit to Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat. On his first day in office, the PMO released a photograph of the Prime Minister paying tribute to Gandhi’s picture in his South Block office.
While replying to the motion of thanks on the President’s address in Lok Sabha on June 11, the Prime Minister invoked Gandhi in his speech recalling how he had turned the freedom struggle “into a mass movement”. “We need to make quest for good governance a similar struggle,” he had said.
It was in the same speech that the Modi asked people “to resolve to present a clean India — Swachh Bharat — to the memory of the Mahatma on his 150th anniversary in 2019”.