What is it about us Indians and names? We don’t just love our names ( and in some cases hate them, especially if they are a tad too long, somewhat like Parvati Venkata Nag Vijaya Rajyashree . err.. the full name of a person well known to the amblingindian), we adore, glorify and worship them too. And too what an extent!
No sooner does the Party in power change hands than kicks in the “Ministry of renaming conventions”. All hands to the deck, the invisible ones that is, get busy at spotting and listing all the names of the hitherto politicians, wherever they may be. So, starting from the airports, the roads, the innumerable schemes, the schools, and perhaps even the slums, nothing is to
be left behind. For all this naming and shaming is important business you see.
I thought the new Government would have enough up its sleeve to sit and work through without actually worrying about these sorry names everywhere. But, how wrong was I in my understanding of the Indian political psyche. This naming is serious business man, especially if you have a history of 50 years of near uninterrupted single party rule (by which nearly every lampole in sight has been named after the party leaders), it demands a lot of hard work to undo all that naming and glorifying business. And not just undo the old ones, but to find new ones too. So, an entire team of historians and researchers is needed to get going, and find all the leaders of yore, and of today too, some of who, need to be kept in good standing by virtue of the fact that they command complete votebanks now. That being their claim to fame, they must share in the spoils or the glory for sure.
To quote Abhijeet Majumdar,the Hindustan times : “Only, this is no ordinary change. It is not just about bringing down old photographs and nameplates and putting up a new set. It is far bigger in scale, far-reaching in ambition, profound in its desired result.So far managing to keep the media noise low, the Modi government has set out to unfix the nuts, bolts, nails, dowels, hinges and fixings of the Nehru-Gandhi architecture.It won’t be easy. The family has been in power for about 50 of India’s 67 years of Independence, the last 10 of which with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi as the real power centre watching over her party’s PM. This is excluding PV Narasimha Rao’s days in office, on which the family had very limited influence.
After the BJP came to power in May, it had said it would review the use of Nehru-Gandhi family names in 650 schemes, projects and institutions. From roads, parks, colleges, ports, airports, sanctuaries to stadiums and tournaments played therein and trophies distributed, perhaps no part of the country is untouched by these signs of what is variously explained as gratitude and servitude.Of the many mysterious ways the family exercised and perpetuated its power over nearly seven decades, signage was the most visible but, paradoxically, the most subliminal. One encountered it almost at every turn of everyday life.Rajiv Awas Yojna for slum development is going to be named after Jai Prakash Narayan, a socialist and India’s best known anti-corruption activist. In the Union Budget, finance minister Arun Jaitley spoke about setting up the Jai Prakash Narayan National Centre for Excellence in Humanities in Madhya Pradesh. Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi Airport is likely to be named after former Andhra Pradesh CM NT Rama Rao”, and so on and so forth.
Hurrah to the name changers- some innovative ideas there. With the new party in power in new India, it sure is time for change. The only thought that comes to mind now, is, why not name all the potholes on the roads too- in memory of some of the politicians who let them live in peace, for all this while.
Whichever ministry is in power can surely claim that glory. So, here’s to the potholed road to be named after the ” Transport Minister”; a new innovation for new India.