Recently Rishi Kapoor stirred a hornet’s nest with his remarks on the number of national assets , including many welfare schemes being named after the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. He wanted to know why they couldn’t be named after others, including himself. Can the media with its unconcealed bias towards the said family, let this pass without flogging it to death in its studios in the name of ‘debates’? And how could any Indian worth his or her salt not ‘stand with’ or ‘against’ the ageing star on social media? So the drama played out for a few days in public and then slowly gave way to other trivial topics to debate upon.
But it is a fact that we have over-represented the Mughals and the Nehru-Gandhi family in the naming game – including sports events and stadia, in the process relegating the real giants of our great nation from many fields literally to the backstreets and to their own towns and cities if at all.
So what is wrong with it, ask the loyalists and their media friends. After all, didn’t the Mughals rule us for nearly a millennium and hasn’t a particular family practically ‘ruled’ over the masses of this country for over nearly half a century after Independence and so deserve to have their names commemorated? Changing names smacks of ‘intolerance’, no less!
It does make one feel that Aurangzeb Road renamed after Abdul Kalam, one of the most illustrious sons of India – makes a lot of sense. Believe me, it used to remind me of the despot every time I commuted on that road and I used to wonder why we had a road named after him at all. I remember the angry reactions to this move from our so called intellectuals who stopped just short of doing award wapsi at this outrage!
Memory recall is a strong thing in terms of road names, which makes one wonder if it is a wise decision after all, because even after renaming, people still refer to places with their old names!
In this respect, though it smacks of politics, the Bihar government’s move to name a music university after Ustad Bismillah Khan makes more sense than naming it after a politician who has no connection to music!
Coming back to Rajiv Gandhi, just take a look at the picture below sourced from FB. The late ex PM would appear to be the darling of the ignorant masses if one were to go by the number of things that carry his name!
All this reminded me of the post I had done in 2011, õn this topic of naming everything after Rajiv Gandhi. Sharing it here again in relief that my nightmare at the end of the post has not come to pass after all!!
Back to 2011…..
A couple of days ago, I read about Veer Bhumi, Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial in the Capital, acquiring state-of-the-art lighting equipment imported at a cost of 40 lakhs all the way from Italy. Apparently the lighting is the first of its kind in India and has been inspired by 9/11 memorial in New York. Three 12000 watt xenon lamps will light up the sky and be visible from as far away as 12 kms. Wow!
So why am I cribbing? Shouldn’t I be proud that our country is joining the ranks of the most developed nations in the world in the matters of acquiring the latest technological marvels to pull in tourists? So what if my hard earned money is funding such a caper, I would be less than patriotic if I crib. After all, he is the messiah of modern India who led us into light and without whom you and I would still be wallowing in the dark ages. Talk of being thankless!
I surely would have been thankful too, had I not read in the same paper on the same day about Premchand’s house being in ruins on his 131st birth anniversary. But sad as I was, I was not surprised. Why was the great literary master of the country born with a wrong surname? It was entirely his fault of course. For that matter, the walls of the majestic Red Fort adjacent to the Outer Ring Road, close to Veer Bhumi were destined to remain the public toilet of the homeless masses because alas! Shah Jehan did not belong to The Family either, the poor sod.
A few kilometers away the walled city is choking to death. With its abundance of heritage buildings and monuments, there is no one to come to their rescue and even restore them, leave alone light them up with state-of-the-art equipment from Italy.
Come to think of it, it has become the rule-of-the-thumb for politicians in power to act as if they own the regions they rule. Take the instance of our beloved Behenji. All those humongous statues of hers that adorn her state are testimony of the fact. Succeeding governments would have to pay more than their cost to demolish the ugly creations.
As for the ruling family of this country, the country is their oyster. Don’t be surprised if one day in the not too distant future the capital is renamed Rajiv Nagar or some such thing. The pace at which institutions, buildings and roads are either coming up or being renamed after him and that of his mother — though to a far lesser extent — we might have to find ways of classifying the said buildings and institutions.
We might have to, for instance say, ‘Rajiv Gandhi University of Karnataka’ or Maharashtra. That is fine actually. But what if these states have more than one university named after him or worse, have their names changed to that of the omnipotent family? What then? I shudder to think of it.
You might one day be getting into a flight from Indira Gandhi International Airport to disembark at Rajiv Gandhi Domestic airport in er…Rajiv Gandhi Nagar in the state of Rajiv. You have to rush along the Rajiv Gandhi Marg to meet a client at Rajiv Gandhi building in the Rajiv Gandhi Conference Hall…..Arrrrrrrrrgh…Let me stop before I have to be rushed to a Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Mental diseases…
Coming back to the neglected monuments of our Capital and country, how about renaming all of them in our beloved former Prime Minister’s name so that they may get some well deserved attention? As for Premchand, someone please get in touch with his heirs…
P.S. I think better sense prevailed and the said lighting system didn’t get installed. So what happened to the equipment from Italy that had been sourced?
(Homepage image: Lighting installation at the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, New York. Pic courtesy: spacecannon.com.au)