The Modi govt is going to spend Rs 150 cr on the Mahatma’s 150th birthday

Narendra Modi with a statue of Mahatma Gandhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying homage to Gandhiji at Constitutional Hill, in Johannesburg | Wikimedia Commons Photo

Union Budget 2018-19 has allocated funds for the commemoration programme that a committee is expected to finalise. 

New Delhi: In his final full Budget before the next election, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earmarked Rs 150 crore for activities to prepare for Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary year.

A national committee chaired by the Prime Minister, chief ministers of all states, representatives from across the political spectrum, Gandhians, thinkers and eminent persons from all walks of life, has been constituted to work on a commemoration programme, Jaitley said.

“My Government has earmarked Rs 150 crore for the year 2018-19 for the activities leading to the Commemoration,” Jaitley said in the Budget speech.

Interestingly, Narendra Modi has used the same date as a deadline for his cleanliness campaign in Gujarat in 2013, when he was still Chief Minister.

Inaugurating the ‘Healthy Gujarat’ conference in Ahmedabad in 2013, Modi said that he will carry out the campaign for cleanliness till the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in 2019.

This isn’t even the first time the government has allocated a large sum of money for a project connected with a historical figure. In the 2014 Budget, the Modi government’s first, Jaitley had announced the allocation of Rs 200 crore for the world’s tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, also to be built in Gujarat.

At the time, the Indian economy was also trying to recover from an economic slowdown and manage inflation. The beti bachao, beti padhao campaign on the other hand, only received Rs 150 crore. The government came under severe criticism for what was seen as a wasteful allocation of taxpayer’s money.

While the details of the activities planned in the 150th year of Gandhi’s birth anniversary were not mentioned, it is perhaps worth acknowledging that one of Mahatma Gandhi’s central tenets was to let go of the desire for material things, and embrace simple living.

 

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