Children’s Day
An interesting thing is the Children’s Day—14th November, Nehru’s birthday. November-20 was declared by the United Nations as the Universal Children’s Day. However, it was shifted in India to November-14 to coincide with Nehru’s birthday. In the “good” old days it used to be celebrated with much fanfare. It used to be said, and it is propagated so even now, that Nehru loved children, and hence, his birthday was celebrated as the Children’s Day. However, you realise that all love children. There could be a negligible psychic minority who hate children or do not like or love them. Then, what was so special about Nehru? Upon analysis, you conclude that this was yet another way of obtaining free publicity and acceptability for the dynasty. Influence people from the childhood itself to be pro-dynasty! Popularise yourself with a wide audience very conveniently. Make them all—both children and parents—feel positively and lovingly about you.

The fact is, if Nehru ever indeed loved children, they were his own children (rather, only child Indira) and his grand-children . Otherwise, Nehru was distinctly uncomfortable with children. Wrote Rustamji:
“Few would know that his [Nehru’s] attitude towards children was not what people believe—a desire to play with tiny-tots. In fact, the really small ones he never tackled. In my six years with him, I have never seen him taking a baby in his arms; nor were they the receivers of his attention.”
“JN [Jawaharlal Nehru] built up his image in very clever ways. Even after knowing him for nearly six years, I was not in a position to say which was the real Nehru and which was the sham. When he bent down to lift up a child, or throw a garland at a woman, I wondered whether it was for the camera or for his popularity that he did it… He was putting on an act all the time; acting well undoubtedly, but acting all the same and for what?”

Namakarans Unlimited
Then, you have “namakarans” unlimited. Throw a pebble in any direction anywhere in India. The statistical chance of it hitting something named after Motilal or Jawahar or Kamala or Indira or Rajiv are frighteningly high. Sharp dynastic practices indeed, artfully ensuring massive free publicity at government’s cost—a la Kim-Il-Jung of North Korea!

An article by Prof Vaidyanathan on the web provides a detailed list of items named after the Nehru-Gandhi family. As per the same, 12 Central Government Schemes; 52 State Government Schemes; 28 Sports, Tournaments, and Trophies; 19 Stadiums; 5 Airports and Ports; 98 Universities and Educational Institutes; 52 Awards; 15 Scholarships and Fellowships; 15 National Parks, Sanctuaries, and Museums; 39 Hospitals and Medical Institutions; 21 Institutions, Chairs, and Festivals have been named after the Nehru-Gandhis, aggregating to a massive grand total of 356 —and this excludes bridges, roads, traffic-squares, markets and many other items.

Why JNNURM—Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission— after Jawaharlal, under whose regime India was condemned to make do with meagre, rickety infrastructure, and side-lane like highways. Why not name it on someone like Visvesvaraya, the distinguished engineer, who was the architect of Krishnarajasagara dam and Brindavan Gardens, and had many engineering achievements to his credit?

Why JNU—Jawaharlal Nehru University? Nehru’s academic achievements were rather modest. Wrote MJ Akbar: “Eventually when he [Jawaharlal] passed in the second half of the second class, Motilal was relieved enough to celebrate lavishly…Motilal was acutely terrified that his son might fail, so even such moderate results were cause for celebrations…”

Why IGNOU—Indira Gandhi National Open University? She was not even a graduate! You see poor boys and girls in the most backward regions of India doing graduation and post-graduation under trying circumstances, and here you have a person, with all the financial and family support, and even expenses for education abroad, not doing even graduation.

Then, why name these important, national universities after such persons? Why not name them after Ambedkar who earned a double doctorate from abroad despite heavy odds and extremely meagre resources? Or, after other great academics or scientists like say CV Raman, the Nobel Laureate, or SN Bose, or JC Bose, or Panini. Or, after other national leaders like Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr Radhakrishnan, Subhas Bose, Rajaji, Sardar Patel who were also great academics. High time “Nehru-Gandhi Namakarans Unlimited” are reversed, and limited to just a reasonable few.

As per an article on rediff.com: “The Americans named their new, orbiting, X-ray observatory ‘Chandra’ after Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar, the physicist; it occurred to me that if India were to ever send up a space telescope, it would almost certainly be named ‘Jawahar’. Apparently no one else in India matters!”

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