New National Emblem: Modi, BJP nexus wringing changes to Indian identity

The four lions atop the Central Vista, inaugurated by Modi, looks like they stand for aggression, violence, being scary, and attacking anyone who dares to come in their way


Muhammad Haroon Abbas

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 11, 2022 unveiled a new national emblem at the new Parliament building.  India seems to have unveiled the new approach to make Indians in general and those following the Hindutva ideology feel that the new roaring lion represents the New India. The Naya Bharat. Modi and his aides believe that for far too long Indians have been content to live peacefully and placidly at home and abroad but now with new going ‘gung ho’ approach since coming into power in 2014, the BJP has legislated to target Muslims over food, namaz, marriage, divorce, citizenship, dress and azaan and now the, the Prime Minister performed a puja on the occasion of unveiling the new emblem for the nation. There is a clear  message in the act. India is for Hindus and Hindutva to stay.  They are  hell bent on wringing changes to Indian identity by tarnishing an iconic figure and disfiguring it with their new Hindutva ideology.

It is ironical to note that the Constitution of India gives the right and protection to all Indians to practice and profess their faith.  This is an inalienable right.  At the same time, the Constitution of India clearly stipulates that the State does not profess or practice any faith/religion.

The Prime Minister unveiling the national emblem on top of the new Parliament building is a clear violation of the Indian Constitution as well. The Constitution unambiguously separates the three wings of Indian democracy – the Executive (government), the Legislature (Parliament and state assemblies) and the Judiciary.  The President summons the Parliament.  The Prime Minister is the head of the Executive. The Legislature has its independent role to perform, amongst others, to legislate laws, keep the Executive accountable and answerable.  This Constitutional separation of powers between the three wings is being subverted by the head of the Executive.

Opposition parties say the national emblem unveiled looks ‘ferocious’ with its exposed fangs and is  different from the original depiction. Indian National Congress (INC), India’s largest opposition party in Parliament, said that the inscription ‘Satyamev Jayate’is missing from the new structure atop the Parliament building.

The four lions of the Ashoka pillar, originally excavated from Sarnath, stood for power, courage, pride and confidence. The symbolism was equated with the authority of the Mauryan emperor who used all his resources in upholding law and justice, and spreading the message of Buddha in the four directions of the world. The newly independent nation of India had adopted this as its symbol, pledging equality and social justice in all spheres of life.

The four lions atop the Central Vista, inaugurated by Modi, looks like they stand for aggression, violence, being scary, and attacking anyone who dares to come in their way. Furthermore, unnecessary detailing had also robbed the structure of the Mauryan artistic features one finds on the original. I don’t expect modern builders to correctly replicate the wonder of ancient Indian art and architecture, but this just looks more like Godzilla than the Ashokan lions.

I don’t know a thing about metal sculpting but I know for sure if they would have made panels of wax, assembled them to make it look like a wax statue of the Saranath version of Ashoka stambh, then made a casing around it, and then would have poured bronze in the casting (so the metal would evaporate the wax and what you’re left with is a pure good looking bronze sculpture) then the result would have come out way better than what we have now. The technique is formally called the ‘Lost Wax Bronze Statue’.
I guess folks who excel in this trade probably knew more than me? Right?

A parody account on Twitter commented that the gravitas from the old statue had been replaced, with what Prashant Bhushan called “Modi’s new India”. Another user also quipped that changing the national emblem equated treason.

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