New Delhi: A new variety of lotus flower called ‘Namoh 108’ has apparently been developed by the Lucknow Institute CSIR-NBRI (National Botanical Research Institute). A Press Information Bureau release has said that it has 108 petals.
Leaving no doubt whom it was named after, a Union minister commended PM Modi’s “relentless zeal” and “innate beauty”.
“Namoh 108 is a grand gift to the relentless zeal and innate beauty of Shri Narendra Modi coming as it does in the tenth year of his tenure as the Prime Minister,” said Dr. Jitendra Singh, Union minister of state (independent charge) science and technology; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space.
Jitendra Singh also launched ‘Lotus Mission’, a project it is said, being undertaken in Mission mode “like the other priority schemes”.
Dedicating the new lotus to the nation, the Namoh108 lotus variety and its products at NBRI, Lucknow, Dr. Jitendra Singh said, “Considering the religious importance of the ‘lotus flower’ and ‘the digit 108’, this combination gives an important identity to this variety.”
The Namoh 108 lotus variety flowers from March to December “and is rich in nutrients. This is the first lotus variety whose genome is completely sequenced for its characteristics,” says the press release.
Ajit Kumar Shasany, director, CSIR-NBRI, told The Hindu that it was only four years ago that a scientist discovered that this particular lotus has 108 petals, which he called a religiously significant number for Hindus. “Until the apple fell on Newton, no one understood its significance to gravity. However, once this connection (of 108) was made then we undertook a more detailed study of its characteristics and later on sequenced the genome of the flower. This is the only lotus variety in India to have had its genome sequenced,” Shasany was quoted as saying.
“We will be registering as the official lotus variety out of India. After all, this is our national flower,” said Shasany, adding, “We have plans on facilitating an entire industrial and entrepreneurial ecosystem around this.”
Littering his speech with more references to Narendra Modi, Union minister Singh said, “Under the guidance of PM Modi, the Government has now initiated the Lotus Mission after the stupendous success of Aroma Mission. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has reiterated that this Government not only starts a scheme or project, but also ensures that it is capped.”
It is not clear what else the Lotus Mission covers. The minister also released “apparel made from lotus fibre and perfume ‘Frotus’, extracted from lotus flowers and developed by the NBRI under the Lotus Research Programme in collaboration with FFDC, Kannauj”.
The minister released the “NBRI-Goutout, a supplement for gout/gouty arthritis, and a nutri-bar for army personnel deployed in high-altitudes”.
The use of the term ‘Namo’, whether in the NaMo app, when serious issues over leakage of personal data via its use were made, or as a TV channel which just beamed Modi’s speeches in the run-up to 2019, has been controversial in the past. After launching on March 26, 2019, just before the start of the Lok Sabha polls, the controversial NaMo TV simply disappeared from India’s airwaves. BJP party sources said it went off air on May 17 when all campaigns for the Lok Sabha election came to an end.
Shasany claimed to The Hindu said that the naming committee didn’t have the prime minister in mind, as the name was Namoh and not Namo, but added that the science minister linking the flower to Modi was “an act of dedication by him and he fully stood by the minister’s gesture”.
The lotus is an election symbol of the BJP and its use as the G20 logo during India’s routine rotating Presidency of the group of 20 nations was also roundly criticised.