Dhekiajuli (Assam): We are living in conspiratorial times. The revelation came from none other than PM Modi who on Sunday claimed an international conspiracy has been hatched to malign Indian tea and tarnish the global image of its beverage industry.
Significantly, Modi shared his ‘concern’ on a visit to poll-bound Assam, a major producer of the brew.
The Prime Minister was possibly alluding to a ‘toolkit’ shared by Swedish teen environment activist Greta Thunberg wherein it was suggested that India’s ‘yoga and chai’ image should be dented as part of the pushback against the contentious farm laws brought by the Centre. Some political observers have tried to read between the lines and have decoded the ‘chai-yoga’ combo to see a sinister reference to Modi and Yogi (Adityanath).
Indian tea, in all fairness, has had its detractors in the past, too. A few years back NGO Greenpeace had allegedly exposed in its report the overuse of pesticides in Indian tea industry.
‘‘People who are conspiring to defame India have stooped so low that they're not sparing even Indian tea... Some documents have come up which reveal that some foreign powers are planning to attack India's identity associated with tea. Will you accept this,’’ PM Modi demanded at the political rally.
He added in the same breath that he was sure the tea workers from Assam will give a befitting reply to such a tirade. "No tea garden worker in Assam can tolerate this attack and I am sure they will win this fight against these conspirators; they are stronger than these forces with vested interest," he said.
Modi further said they will seek answers from political parties that are allegedly backing those behind such machinations. "Every tea garden, every tea worker will seek answers from those political parties behind the conspirators."
The Delhi Police had a few days ago lodged an investigation into an alleged online "toolkit," the creators of which had voiced support for the agitating farmers in north India and mentioned yoga and tea. The idea of the toolkit was floated by climate change activist Greta Thunberg; the Delhi Police have joined the dots and allegedly linked it to a Khalistani outfit.
On his second visit to the election-bound state in a fortnight, PM Modi also pitched for setting up at least one medical college and a technical institution in each state that will impart education in the native language.
"I have a daring dream of each state having at least one medical college and a technical institution imparting education in the local language," he said, promising to set up such institutions in Assam after the assembly elections.
In India, teaching and learning have thus far largely been in English but that could change with the advent of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.