NEW DELHI (AFP) – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made an entry into the halls of global music with a song featuring him and his passion for millet nominated for a Grammy.
Abundance In Millets by Falu and Gaurav Shah, a tune the musicians say was “written and performed” with the prime minister, features speeches by Modi expounding the benefits of his favourite grain.
India is the world’s largest producer and second-largest exporter of millet, a gluten-free grain which can grow on marginal land with limited water, and Modi’s government has been working to boost its production and consumption since coming to power in 2014.
“Millets are a wonder,” Falu and Shah sing, pondering “what if we could change the world?”
The tune was nominated Friday in the Best Global Music Performance category, alongside six others, ranging from Nigerian Afrobeat star Burna Boy and Davido, to Mexico’s Silvana Estrada and Franco-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf.
Grammy-winning Indian-American singer Falguni Shah, popularly known as Falu, has said the song was a “smart idea” from Modi himself who collaborated in its making to realise his “vision” of helping overcome hunger and alleviate poverty in the world.
The song was “written and performed with Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help farmers grow millets and help end world hunger”, Falu said on X in June.
Modi, 73, has called the tune “very creative” and said he believes it “will inspire more people to embrace millets for healthy living!”
It was India’s suggestion that the United Nations declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets, and at the G20 summit in September in New Delhi world leaders were served an all-vegetarian dinner dominated by millet.
Millet was a staple food in many regions of India for thousands of years, and was eaten as porridge, flatbread, dosa pancakes and with lentils.
But the “green revolution” that started in India in the 1960s saw the production of millet fall as hybrid high-yield varieties of wheat and rice gained prominence.