On Friday, September 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated his 71st birthday. He also happens to share his birthday with social activist Periyar EV Ramaswamy and artist MF Husain.
From Gujarat CM To PM
Modi was born in Vadnagar on September 17, 1950, in a small town in the Mehsana district of North Gujarat. Modi grew up in an environment that instilled him with social service and values of generosity. His rise to the top has been phenomenal.
In his youth, he ran a tea stall at Ahemdabad bus terminus. His political journey started with his joining ABVP and later became an RSS pracharak. RSS sent him to BJP in 1987, where he became a key organiser for L.K Advani's Somnath-Ayodhya Rathyatra in 1990.
His Gujarat model was a development journey that has received tremendous praise across India and the entire world. When he became CM of Gujarat, he made it very clear that his government would be development-oriented. He said that people from all areas would be made active partners and stakeholders in the development journey.
In 2013, the BJP named Modi as its candidate for Prime Minister in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The Picasso of India
A member of the Progressive Artist's Group, a group that was known to promote the avant-garde movement widely across India after Independence, Maqbool Fida Husain Husain was also born on September 17, 1915. Hussain's contribution to the development of modern Indian art is immense. He is, in fact, one of the strong and important pillars of India's Modern Art History. His art is undoubtedly contemporary, conforms to an international artistic language and yet endowing it with a touch of Indianness.
Nicknamed the 'Picasso of India', he was able to depict human circumstances in bold and vibrant colours and executed diverse topics in series. He treated his canvases in a very different Cubist style. He was also known as a brilliant photographer and filmmaker. He won several national awards as well for his brilliant artistic work.
His first painting teacher was NS Bendre, Husain met him in the Indore School of Art. He was later sent to Gujarat, where he started writing poetry. A big fan of Madhuri Dixit, he is said to have watched Hum Apke Hain Koun, which featured the actor, more than 50 times. He also reportedly booked an entire theatre in Dubai to watch Madhuri's Aja Nachle film.
He became the highest-paid painter in India as one of his canvases has fetched up to $2 million at a Christie's auctions. Husain won several awards like Padma Bhushan in 1973, Padma Vibhushan in 1991, and an award in 1947 at the annual exhibition of the Bombay art society. Many of the famous paintings of MF Husain was based on the British rule, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Mahabharata and Ramayana.
However, he was not a man without controversies. His portrayals of nude Hindu deities and a nude photo of Bharat Mata, earned the ire of many right-wing organisations, who called for his arrest, and many lawsuits were filed against him for hurting religious sentiments. He remained in self-imposed exile from 2006 until he died in 2011, accepting the citizenship of Qatar in 2010.
Father of Social Justice
September 17 also happens to be the birth anniversary of social activist and father of Dravidian movement Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy popularly known as Thanthai Periyar. Ramaswamy was against caste and gender inequalities and Brahminical dominance. In 2021, the Tamil Nadu government decided to celebrate his birth anniversary 'Social Justice Day'. He promoted the principles of rationalism, self-respect and women rights. He opposed the exploitation of and marginalisation of the non-Brahmin Dravidian people of South India.
He began his political journey with the Indian National Congress. He then quit the party and participated in non-violent agitations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Europe and the Soviet Union.Periyar headed the Justice Party in 1939, and in 1944, he changed its name to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and M G Ramachandran, forming the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)