US President Barack Obama would be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in India, this year. After Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Bill Clinton and George W Bush, Barack Obama becomes the sixth US President to visit India. Of course, he will be the first US President to be the chief guest in our Republic Day parade. There were many leaders to grace the occasion as Chief Guest from other countries like Presidents/ top leaders of USSR/ Russia, Presidents of France, PMs of UK and Japan besides many other important nations. Obama will be the first United States president to be the guest of honour on the occasion, in a move that signals India-US ties are moving in the right direction following Modi’s visit to Washington. This will be Obama’s second visit to India, also a record of sorts as no US president has been to India twice while in office. His first was in November 2010, during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s tenure, at the invitation of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He had addressed a joint session of parliament. Obama would be accompanied with his wife Michelle Obama.
She is known for her own fashion statements. From crisp cardigans to arm-baring shift dresses, Michelle Obama’s style and fashion sense has been copied and coveted. At several international events, the US First Lady has been spotted wearing Jacquard silk dresses designed by international bigwigs Tracy Resse, Naeem Khan and Alexander McQueen. Jacquard silk is a speciality of weavers of Banaras, which is now PM Modi’s constituency. Looking at her love for silk, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to gift her 100 Banarasi sarees and Banarasi silk dress material. I hope, she would be impressed with this Indian attire and one day she will don Banarasi saree for Indians.
Of course, she can be fashion statement as she is the wife of the 44th and current President of the United States and the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, she is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and spent the early part of her legal career working at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met Obama. Subsequently, she worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Throughout 2007 and 2008, she helped campaign for her husband’s presidential bid. She delivered a keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and also spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She and her husband have two daughters together. As the wife of a senator, and later the First Lady, she has become a fashion icon and role model for women, and an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition, and healthy eating. She is adored by many for her iconic personality. Modiji is making sure that the lady returns with abundance of love and respect.
During his election campaign, Modi offered a business plan for weavers in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi – making the famous Banarasi saree available for the weddings of 20 crore girls who will get married in the next few years. He also asked the weavers to use opportunities offered by e-commerce to tap a global market and to modify the industry to do that effectively.
“Every mother wants a Banarasi saree for her daughter on their wedding day. Twenty crores girls will get married in the next few years. So, 20 crores sarees will be needed. Such a big market waiting for you,” the PM told weavers, adding, that an assured market means they must increase production and ensure quality, good design and service.
Now, there is an opportunity and how Modi can leave this opportunity to promote Banarasi sarees? The Varanasi Vastra Udyog Sangh, a body of silk traders of Varanasi, has been tasked with the responsibility of selecting and packaging Modi’s gift. Everyone in the world knows about Varanasi’s textiles. He strategically plans to reach the global consumer adding that the textile sector provides vast employment to the poorest and needs comprehensive vision and modern technology. He promised he would ensure that there is no dearth of funds for various projects. Most of the Varanasi’s 40,000 weavers are Muslims who have engaged in the traditional craft, now floundering for generations. In his election campaign, the Prime Minister had promised to improve their lot with modern technology, branding, designing and marketing. With this gift, Banarasi silk market has reached in news again, and would be discussed across the world. Earlier, when our PM went to Japan, he gifted the Kyoto mayor an ancient map of Varanasi. India is being known for treating their guests as gods “Athiti devo bhava”. Definitely, taxpayers’ money is not his own, but if the guest goes happy then it’s ok.