PM Modi gives Obama rare Rogan paintings made by Gujarat-based Muslim family

Media Post

PM Modi gives Obama rare Rogan paintings made by Gujarat-based Muslim family

PM Modi gives Obama rare Rogan paintings made by Gujarat-based Muslim family

NEW DELHI: PM Narendra Modi has made gifts, which essentially capture the essence of India, the hallmark of his outreach to world leaders including President Barack Obama but what’s not known is that his choice of these may not be as lopsided as was originally thought.

While he again gifted a Bhagavad Gita to Obama, or Gandhi’s take on it, Modi also used the extremely rare Rogan art form practiced only by a Muslim family in Gujarat to woo? the US president, who seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed Modi’s company at the White House dinner and at the bilateral. TOI has learnt that Modi gifted a couple of exquisitely handcrafted Rogan paintings to Obama.

The 400-year-old Rogan or oil-based art in India is the sole preserve of a Khatri Muslim family based in Kutch region of Gujarat. The paintings, which have a heavy Persian influence, are by Gafoorbhai Khatri, the head of the family and a national award winner.

Gafoorbhai, originally from Sindh, has managed to pass on the Rogan art form to his children even though all other Rogan artisans failed to sustain themselves after India’s partition. As much as it is a special gift for Obama with a subtle political message, the paintings are also being seen as a tribute to Gujarat and to Gafoorbhai and his family for keeping a dying art form alive.

Sources told TOI that Modi also gifted a Pashmina stole to Michelle Obama, an exclusive J and K product symbolizing luxury and elegance.

After he gifted Gita to Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, and also to the emperor of Japan, Modi said Gita was the best gift one could hope to give or even receive. He have a Gita in Mandarin even to Chinese President Xi Jinping but he has shown now that there is a lot of thought, pragmatic and not necessarily unidimensional, which goes into the choice of gifts.

The US revoked Modi’s visa in 2005 banning him from travelling to the country because of his alleged sectarian past, or more specifically, for his alleged failure to protect Muslims in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Interestingly, the same visa was given to him in 2003, a year after the riots but when Atal Behari Vajpayee government was in power. Unlike EU, Washington was also late in responding to the surge in Modi’s popularity last year but Modi, to the surprise of many, did not allow it to come in the way of his accepting an invite from Obama for a bilateral meeting. He has insisted that India-US relations are of highest priority for him.

While Modi may not have said anything to take the wind out of love-jihad sails, he did tell CNN before his US visit that Indian Muslims were going to live and die for India in the face of threat from al-Qaida. He followed it up in the US when he told an audience that indian Muslims were going to “fail al-Qaida”.