Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Rajiv Gandhi Column

By Gaurav Parab

Let us drop the charade and make it simple. Till further notice, anything that is planned, designed, built or launched in India will be named Indira, Nehru or Rajiv Gandhi.

Perhaps the most expensive branding exercise ever undertaken in any part of the world, at absolutely no cost to itself, this name obsession of politicians has seen every bridge I cross, every government document that I sign, every airport that I land on, every road that I take, almost every education institute of note that I visit, or every government sponsored prize that I read about in a newspaper have the Nehru – Gandhi name behind it.

While we have the same Independence Day as South Korea, it is the North which we have this disturbing trend in common with.

This is a shame. For the contribution of these three individuals, in their own unique ways, towards shaping this country cannot be defined by naming grand government projects after them.

Just like the contribution of Manmohan Singh, E Sreedharan, Sam Manekshaw, Sunderlal Bahuguna, JRD Tata, Narayan Murthy, Sachin Tendulkar, Mother Teresa and every single soldier who put his life on the line cannot be ignored by an ungrateful nation.

Make no mistake about it. Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajeev Gandhi were achievers in their own right, and were largely dignified in the way they conducted themselves. My generation still appreciates Sonia Gandhi's gesture of giving up the Prime Minister's post, when a lesser leader would give anything to come close to power. Which brings us back to the same question, Why this obsession ?

Because it translates directly into votes. Long after elections are gone, years after memories fade away; these structures in concrete stand tall and imposing. And their names become a part of our daily vocabulary. While, say, another political party will have to look for controversies to be in the public eye come election time.

Is there a way out? Of course there is. It is not rocket science. If the defense forces can come up with a robust and proper procedures to name weapon systems and Met departments around the world can come up with ways to name destructive cyclones, the government can certainly come up with an unbiased process to name everything of significance in this country. If it is willing to do so.

In consultation with eminent individuals, the government for starters can create a list of achievers that have made India proud. Without bias, above everything else. For starters, gallantry award winners could be a part of this pool of names. They can be rated on the basis of the gallantry award they have received, and objects can be named after them depending on the government budgets and the location involved.

For example, a massive engineering marvel like the Bandar-Worli Sea Link can be named as Ardeshir Tarapore Sea Link, after the Mumbai born Param Vir Chakra winner. Imagine, young children driving across the sea link and asking their parents – Who was Tarapore? Now, isn’t that the sort of role models we want our children to know about?

Government of India scholarships, or mid day meal schemes can be named after Sunderlal Bahuguna, the sentinel of the Himalayas so that an entire generation realizes the power of non-violent protests.

What’s in a name? Plenty. And I hope the name makers realize that enough has been named after few select heroes, and the contribution of so many others remains to be acknowledged.


Priyanka Khot said...

I agree. Your suggestion of the pool of names consisting of names of soldiers is brilliant. Half of us don't know the contributions of several greats the country has produced over the years.

vipin said...

was going to write on the same in my blog "Perception". But you have written each and everything in a much better way than i could have done.

Good post. Good because, justifies with the logic behind and also proposes the solution as well, not just exposes the problem.

fatoori said...

:) nice thoughts gaurav..wonder how the name-givers would react to this, but ur suggestions do deserve serious consideration.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely with you on this –
However, our defense forces have also erred – naming nuclear submarine on proponent of ahimsa.

BTW, there are smaller roads and gullies that are named after local heroes – but anything of significance is always Rajiv Gandhi!


Anonymous said...

Too Good

-Amit Sonawane

yamini said...

Well said, my friend.
I wish some of these "name-droppers" read this too.

Anonymous said...

liked it.


Anonymous said...

Do you have copy writer for so good articles? If so please give me contacts, because this really rocks! :)