'This kind of idiotic story in the New York Times confirms the Modi government’s suspicion that foreign newspapers lie about it,' the journalist Tavleen Singh responded on Twitter. In photo: A Banarsi sari. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons) Photograph: (Others)
'Mr. Modi has made traditional dress a priority and, as many in the country want to please him, the fashion industry has followed along,' a New York Times story said
A New York Times article, headlined "In India, Fashion Has Become a Nationalist Cause", has been met with tremendous anger on social media.
The article claims that ever since the current BJP government came to power in 2014, "the Indian fashion industry has been pressed to aggressively promote traditional attire and bypass Western styles."
The article adds that "The effort aligns with the party’s broader political program: to project multi-faith India, a country of more than 1.3 billion, as a Hindu nation."
"Fashion, and how Indians think of it, has not been exempt. Mr. Modi has made traditional dress a priority and, as many in the country want to please him, the fashion industry has followed along," the New York Times story goes on to say.
The story finally hones in on the Banarsi sari -- Varanasi is also Modi's parliamentary constituency -- with the New York Times reporter travelling to the town to check on whether anything has changed for the artisans (largely Muslim) who make the saris in the three years that Modi has been in power.
Nothing much has, he writes, saying that they continue to live in poverty.
He adds that things have got better for the Varanasi's merchants who employ the workers. And that they have reaped the benefits -- demand for the sari has gone up -- of the government's support for the Banarsi sari.
Social media in India exploded with anger -- with most people not agreeing with the NYT article -- after the story began to do the rounds:
This kind of idiotic story in the New York Times confirms the Modi government’s suspicion that foreign newspapers lie about it. pic.twitter.com/Xoj0oeL7Lc— Tavleen Singh (@tavleen_singh) November 13, 2017
Before 2014, no man wore a Kurta and no woman a saree? Because this 'fashion aesthetic' is apparently part of 'pol program of Hindu nationalism' https://t.co/BUMwSZWXss— Padmaja joshi (@PadmajaJoshi) November 14, 2017
Burqa is a sign of GLOBAL women empowerment, saree is a TOOL of Hindu Nationalism. Wearing Saree is communal, so dear Indian ladies if you want to be secular wear jeans, skirts, minis etc as per @nytimes. @narendramodi @vijayrupanibjp @smritiirani https://t.co/a2TvgAPO6J— Aditi Pathak (@AditiPathaak) November 14, 2017
Everyone wears the Banarasi saree @nytimes this is incredibly biased writing. "the Banarasi sari, the traditional garment known for its fine silk and opulent embroidery — and primarily worn by Hindu women."— Kiran Manral (@KiranManral) November 14, 2017
This asinine @nytimes article links the #saree with Hindu Nationalism!— Smita Barooah (@smitabarooah) November 13, 2017
Real issue is that Indians sticking to traditional attire get in the way of pushing Western attire. Pathetic drivelhttps://t.co/UefV1ntwJv