Imagine a foreign tourist visiting every stadium, every rail station, every airport, every university and even every public park; what special thing that would strike his mind? Is it all about Nehru and the Gandhi in this vast nation? He would not mind those dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, who is known across the world, not for holding any big post like prime minister or president, but for his strong message of non-violence. But there are much more named after Nehru and the other Gandhis across the length and breadth of this country. The foreign tourist would go back to his own country and tell his friends that India might have run short of leaders to be remembered!
The BJP and Right-thinking people have always raised voice against the rampant naming of public property after Nehru-Gandhi family. Even the Congress has realised this criticism and added ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ as prefix to the UPA’s flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). They even sent a message to the people of Assam that the party has not forgotten the contribution of Gopinath Bordoloi, the first ‘Prime Minister’ and then chief minister of the state. The Borjhar airport was renamed after the tallest political leader of Assam. But the damage control is not a solution. The Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management (RGIIM) is the only IIM in the country named after an individual! All other IIMs are named after the city they are established. The forests are also not spared! The Orang National Park in Assam was added a prefix of ‘Rajiv Gandhi’ in 1992. Established in 1984, Arunachal University was renamed as Rajiv Gandhi University in 2007 when it got central university status. Remembering Rajiv Gandhi became so essential that the Congress had to sacrifice ‘Arunachal’ for it. And the list can go on and on.
All said and done, the BJP’s bid to rename or name institutions after their favoured leaders too will not serve any good. If possible, try to rename a few Gandhi-Nehru institutions as per the place they are located or some local legend. Name them after rivers, mountains – thank God, they are not yet named after the ‘first family’!
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on May 21, 2016)