How Nehru-Gandhi’s Built a System to Immortalize Themselves!

Every Indian, whether a teenager or an octogenarian, is aware of the Nehru-Gandhi name & its relevance to Indian history & politics. But this awareness isn’t necessarily righteous or justified. It is in fact to a great extent a forced remembrance, a deliberate & elaborate effort to thrust it on our parents, us, & even our coming generations.

For those who don’t know (as many wouldn’t, I’m sure), the following will enlighten you about the extent to which the Nehru-Gandhis tried to eponymously ‘immortalise’ themselves –

  • Central government schemes (17) –

These included naming schemes primarily after Indira & Rajiv Gandhi & spread wide from the Ministry of Power to the Ministry of Urban Development, from pension schemes to rojgar yojana’s.

  • State government schemes (49) –

One of the schemes is named INDIRAMMA (yes, you read it right!) which stands for ‘Integrated Novel Development in Rural Areas & Model Municipal Areas’. I wonder how much thought & time went into the effort of arranging a scheme name into that abbreviation.

  • Sports/Tournaments/Trophies (26) –

Rajiv Gandhi dominates this list. From kabaddi tournaments to road races, from boat races to judo championships – nothing was left out. But the boundaries of outlandishness were crossed with this – ‘Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Jhopadpatti Football Tournament’!

  • Universities/Education Institutes (99) –

IIM’s to IIT’s, law colleges to pharmaceutical universities – they enjoy a pan-education pan-India presence in this sector. Although, what made them stop at 99? I’m sure that had someone reminded them of this fact he/she would have been given some civilian award as a gesture of appreciation!

  • Peaks & Geographical Landmarks (4) –

Not only was the southernmost point of the country renamed ‘Indira Point’, but Rajiv Gandhi has a peak in the Himalayas named after him – Mount Rajiv! Seems like the Gandhi’s not only had their eyes on man-made entities but even the natural ones.

  • Awards (41) –

Irony dies a violent death when an award for promoting communal harmony, national integration & peace – the National Sadbhavana Award – is named after Rajiv Gandhi, the same man who had infamously quipped, “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes.”

  • Roads/Buildings/Places (70)

Indira Gandhi Square, Rajiv Chowk, Nehru Nagar (to name a few) – the Gandhis were truly connected to the ground!

(This number 70 doesn’t include the thousands of roads named after them across India.)

  • Stadia (17)
  • Airports/Ports/Aviation Academies (9)
  • Power Plants (4)
  • Scholarship/Fellowship (17)
  • National Parks/Sanctuaries/Museums (17)
  • Hospitals/Medical Institutions (37)
  • Institutions/Chairs/Festivals (35)

The total comes to a mind-boggling 442 events, buildings, awards & what not named after them! I bet Sonia Gandhi has enough power even now to get few things named after her before it’s too late politically.

This also goes to show that not only were these people self-obsessed but also the ones around them were sycophants of the highest order as they believed in keeping the top leadership pleased by naming things after them.

The need for the Nehru-Gandhis to do this was simply one – a sense of insecurity. They weren’t sure enough of their good work & didn’t believe in the genuineness of their fame. They wanted people to remember them forever not through their work but instead through placing their names on buildings & events & awards so that the common Indian is kept constantly reminded of them. But the good thing is, it seems that we are finally out of that sycophantic phase – both politically & as a people!

Vinayak Jain


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