Constitution Doesn’t Permit ‘Father of the Nation’ Title, said Congress Government
It was in 2012 that a simple query by a Lucknow girl, Aishwarya Parashar, wanting to know whether Mahatma Gandhi was conferred the title ‘Father of the Nation’ stirred up a storm.
The class VI student had filed an RTI plea on the matter. But the then government had no answer to the question. The query was forwarded to the National Archives of India, the body that claims to be the repository of the non-current records of the GOI. As it so happened that the NAI couldn’t find an answer after elaborate searches & requested the student to come & search the records & library material herself!
The Congress government then told her that Article 18(1) of the Constitution does not permit to confer any titles on anyone other than educational & military ones.
Aishwarya wasn’t satisfied with the answers. She then went on to appeal to the Central Information Commission (CIC), whose Commissioner stated in response, “There is no order/document on record by which Gandhiji was given the title of ‘Rastrapita’. Gandhiji was reverently called the ‘Father of the Nation’ by the entire country. The title is not dependent on the presumed presence or absence of official records.”
He also said, “His supreme role in the freedom struggle of our nation is an incontrovertible part of our proud legacy. Needless controversies in such matters are hurtful & should be avoided by all. We say no more.”
Never been official
In 2004, a similar demand to confer the title of ‘Father of the Indian Constitution’ on Dr. Ambedkar was made. In response Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani had said in a letter to then Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit: “It is not, however, feasible to formally confer the title of ‘Father of the Indian Constitution’ on Dr. Ambedkar, since Article 18(1) of the Constitution specifically provides that ‘no title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the state’”.
He also went on to clarify in context to Mahatma Gandhi that he also is popularly known as the ‘Father of the Nation’ & has never been conferred with any such title.
Origin of the title
- On 6th July 1944, Subhash Chandra Bose made a radio address (on Singapore radio) where he addressed Mahatma Gandhi as the ‘Father of the Nation’.
- In 1947, during a conference Sarojini Naidu also referred to Gandhi using the same title.
- Also, when Gandhi was assassinated, Jawaharlal Nehru had announced that the ‘Father of the Nation’ was no more in his radio address. The title stuck from then on.
— Vinayak Jain