The buzzword these days, in the subcontinent is “be vocal about local”. Forefathers of Indian Independence movement like Naoroji, Tilak, Gokhale, Ranade and many more anonymous souls who laid down their lives for the country , who used Swadeshi movement in early 1900’s as a whiplash against our colonial rulers must be a bunch of proud men this day, and yeah even our father of the nation, who took this movement to another level, nationwide must be proud of the current Indian government. For millions, Swadeshi movement is not a movement which begun on May 12,2020. It has just been invigorated, by our PM, with a new name and good intention of stimulating local businesses and to wake us consumers, from our brand and materialistic slumber- a much needed wake up call.
As soon as the Indian Prime Minister, wrapped up his sober speech, only one thing was running in my mind- local…. Vocal.
I am a proud Indian, and I decided to take stock of how Indian I was, just in case, someone asks me for proof. This isolation had given me enough time to carefully track my Indianness. Sitting comfortably in my study, millions of miles away from millions of migrants on the roads, struggling for a morsel of food, I decided to ponder on the PM’s call for the modern Swadeshi movement. I decided to check how Indian was I, when I visit my homeland for 30 days in a year.
Considering a routine day, the first thing I did as soon as I woke was to watch my phone, just like millions of others. Alas- my phone is a Finnish brand, made in China. Such a shame! With anti-Chinese sentiments increasing, presently, this is enough to make me anti national, in any country.
After a quick browse on my foreign phone, I squeezed a foreign paste onto my foreign toothbrush and rubbed my teeth white. I am not a loyal customer of any toothpaste brand, and believe in rotation of pastes. One Swadeshi, local baba’s paste, without doubt , scrubbed my teeth white, but bled my gums red (do not want to name the brand here).I honestly think there are many good Indian brands which I have used and keep using, but I am not so sure about the toothbrushes, though. We could possibly have a couple of good quality brands which could give Oral B’s or Aqua fresh’s a run for their money.
After scrubbing my teeth, I usually have a hot cup of tea- fully Indian. Wait… Where is Lipton from? Ahh, our colonial masters. I have now decided to switch to Tetley, one of the proud acquisitions from our most beloved brand TATA. Breakfast was completely Indian- idly, dosa, puri bhaji, pez, pappad, paratha and butter.
Not that I eat all of the aforementioned at once., but with extended lock down my stomach has been stretching its boundaries.
So far, I was Indian only in my palate. Globalization had not ruined my taste buds yet, just enhanced them.
My dressing was entirely western- when I mean western, a pant and a shirt. My desi laundry wala just can’t get my shirt as crispy as our PM. One thing which impresses me about the current PM is his penchant for dressing well. I think, after his nemesis and so-called root cause of all our country’s problems, he is the only PM with such neat sense of dressing. Of course, Manmohan Singh and Vajpayee had their own styles, but they lacked the variety our beloved PM has.
Coming back to my wardrobe, I wear a Titan watch on my wrists, gifted by my sister in law and carried a Cross pen, gifted by my wife. The cross pen is only for show and if someone asks me to lend it for a signature, I always have the other one in my bag.
So far, I ranked very low in my Indianness. Except for my watch, everything else was “Pardesi”. No. I had an Indian make, an original Indian Maruthi 800 (courtesy my brother in law). As I drove around our town in my very Indian Maruthi 800, a sense of pride engulfs me, when I look around and see our local politicians zooming past in their foreign brands.
I hardly eat KFC or Mc Dolands (pun intended) or Baskin Robins, at home, as I prefer local Shetty Lunch homes Chicken Ghee Roast and the world famous, yet still very local Ideal ice cream. A franchise model of these two will definitely put India on the culinary world map. Hope the present stimulus package helps them think about expansion.
One of my favorite pastime activities is dipping Parle G in chai and then savoring the moist biscuit. There is knack to it. The biscuit should be dipped just once, so that enough amount of chai has seeped through it. I don’t mind not having enough chai to drink after this mind refreshing exercise. Parle is, according to me is one of the few brands which has been able to reach far and wide across our vast nation.
Most of the appliances at home, were foreign brands assembled in India. These kinds of companies, I heard provide employment to droves of people in our country. Hence, I consider these to be a positive point in my proof of Indianness.
As I step into the shower, my Indianness shows its true colors. No dirty thoughts please. Soaps I use and have been using since I joined VTU have always been the ones manufactured by factories set up by Sir M Visveswaraya, the engineering genius of India. Mysore Sandal Soap is not only extremely fragrant, but is also good for your skin. Trust me. I always try different Indian made soaps, for some unknown reason- a reason which I cannot fathom- probably to wash away the guilt of using too many foreign brands.
At twilight, sipping a Kingfisher beer (we can’t get more local than this, toddy is the next option) I began thinking about what the PM actually meant when he said about using local stuff. Did he mean we have to boycott foreign brands, like how I had thought previously? Did he mean our industries should start making copies of all those foreign brands like the Chinese? I don’t think he said that. He himself is such a big advocate of good tasteful foreign brands such as Movado, BMW, Apple, Bvlgari, Mont blanc, and many more. Did we miss reading between lines? Did this crisis change the man? That was a possibility. A closer look at this speech, showed no wrist watch that day.
Even after half a beer, I was still thinking. What did he really mean? In my mind there were a thousand answers to his open statements.
No doubt we need a spur of growth in the cottage and medium industries, so that we have more and more essentials coming out locally. No doubt we need local brands to gain international fame. No doubt we need strong local industries for employment. Well, at these tough times, after all, local was the only place we could go. I am still thinking and only time will tell, how the guidelines in his speech are implemented.
Enough food for thought to last until his next address. Isn’t it?