In a statement on Monday, the Ministry of Home Affairs has announced that flower bouquets cannot be presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his tours within India.
The ministry in guidelines released also listen things that can be gifted to him:
No bouquet may be presented to the PM during his tours within India: MHA to all states— ANI (@ANI_news) July 17, 2017
At best will be a flower among with a khadi handkerchief or a book may be presented to welcome the dignitary: MHA to all states— ANI (@ANI_news) July 17, 2017
The MHA also wants that the rules be strictly adhered to:
All states/UTs are requested to suitably sensitise all concerned to ensure strict compliance of the above instructions: MHA— ANI (@ANI_news) July 17, 2017
And why the sudden change in rules of what to gift to present to the prime minister? The answer lies the Mann Ki Baat episode with Modi in June.
During his monthly radio address to the nation Modi had stressed on gifts that stay, rather than flowers that are thrown away a few days after it was gifted.
"A very good programme is being run in Kerala for the past few years, by the P.N. Panicker Foundation, which encourages people to cultivate the habit of reading books and to enhance their awareness towards this, by organising celebrations such as 'Reading Day', and 'Reading Month'. I had the opportunity to go for the inaugural function, where I was told that instead of bouquets, they gift books. I liked it. Thus I was also reminded of what had slipped my mind. Because when I was in Gujarat, I had set this tradition of welcoming, by not giving bouquets, but books or handkerchiefs instead. And that too, a khadi handkerchief, so that it promotes khadi. Till the time I was in Gujarat, this habit had been ingrained in us, but after coming here, I had lost that habit. When I went to Kerala, it was rekindled. "
He also said that he would give instructions to the government officials to bring in this change. He said that gifting Khadi handkerchiefs would also bring profits to the underprivileged who make the product.
"And the life span of a bouquet is very short. You receive it in your hand for a moment and then abandon it. But when you present a book, it becomes a part of the household, a part of the family. One can also use a 'Khadi' handkerchief to welcome people, and be a support to the innumerable underprivileged. The expenses are reduced as well, and the gift is well utilized too. I say this, thinking of the historical value of such gifts," Modi had said.
Modi had elaborated on his meeting with Queen Elizabeth to show how unlike flowers, a khadi handkerchief would stay with the person forever.
He had said, "During my past UK visit, in London, the Queen of Britain, Queen Elizabeth had invited me to dine with her. The atmosphere was imbued with maternal warmth, and I was served with great affection. Afterwards when she showed me a small thread-spun khadi handkerchief, her eyes lit up. With great respect and in an emotion filled voice, she said, that Mahatma Gandhi had sent this handkerchief to her as a wedding gift. So many years have passed and yet, Queen Elizabeth has treasured the handkerchief gifted by Mahatma Gandhi. And she was happy to show it to me, when I went there. As I gazed at it, the Queen encouraged me to touch it. A small gift by Mahatma Gandhi, has become a part of her life and a part of history."
However, PM Modi had also said that if he were to be given flowers, he would not refuse it, but would be happy if the practice of gifting books and handkerchiefs were put into practice.
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