Saturday, January 6, 2018

Why fashion has become a nationalist cause in India?

In the last 20 years India’s economy has taken some strides and moved ahead at an appreciable speed. This has got plenty of the top brands of the world interested even as they have attempted to make a space for themselves in this market. At the forefront of India’s economic growth have been factors like the high percentage of youth in the country’s population and the increased spending power and propensity of the middle class. India is in fact said to have one of the highest number of youths in its population. This is why they would have hoped that India would be their next big market but sadly for them that has not been the case.

Protectionist policies?
A number of prominent media houses such as the New York Times have blamed this on what they have perceived to be protectionist policies being adopted by the national government. They have pointed out how India has stalled talks of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union since 2007. They have also pointed out that the growth of Hindu nationalist politics, enshrined by the likes of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that came to power in the 2014 national elections, has put paid to what could have a promising growth story for India.

Is BJP to blame?
These entities have further stated that ever since BJP ascended to power it has forced to promote traditional Indian styles of clothing over their Western counterparts and that too in an aggressive manner. They have pointed out that these efforts are in keeping with the greater political program of the party – to project a picture of India, a country with many faiths and 1.3 billion people, as a Hindu nation. These media houses have also blamed Narendra Modi in this regard. They have also critiqued Modi for the role that they think he has played in all this.
Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi with Indian Attire
The opinion on Modi
These media houses feel that with Modi, whom they have termed a “strongman of Hindu nationalism”, as the Prime Minister of India, the fears have come true to a large extent – the fears that under Modi and BJP India would enter a phase of in your face nationalism. In order to substantiate their claims these entities have also pointed out the instances of minorities being lynched just because of the perceived disrespect they have shown to cows, an animal sacred to Hindus. They have also pointed out how the critics of Modi have been demarcated as anti nationals.

Dealing with the anti nationals         
These media entities have also stated that some of these so called anti nationals have been killed by Hindu nationalists. In some of these cases the victims have been shot dead. They have stated that fashion has not been left out in this case either. Modi, according to them, has changed how fashion is thought of in India. He has made traditional dresses well nigh mandatory and since so many people are willing to please him the fashion industry has followed suit as well.

Link between nationalism and fashion
Tereza Kuldova, a noted social anthropologist, has stated that there is a rather clear connection between the aesthetic production being done by the leading fashion designers of India and the rising tide of nationalism that seems to be sweeping the country right now. In fact, Kuldova, who in 2016 wrote a book named Luxury Indian Fashion: A Social Critique, has stated that this is applicable for the wider luxury industry of India as such. According to her, there is always an inherent tendency of aesthetic production to follow the dominant ideology in any given society.    

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