Ads, Taxpayers’ Money & The Dynasty
This post was prompted by a tweet from Ashik earlier this week. He wrote:
Who has paid money for this? Congress party or Sonia/Manmohan? Isnt this free publicity by taxpayers money?
Before we go any further, here’s a pop-quiz: Can you guess the number of schemes, programmes and institutions in India named after the Nehru-Gandhi family? 100? Wrong. 200? Wrong? 300? Wrong. 400? Now you are getting close…As of 2009, the number stood at 450+. I have no doubt that it must have increased since then.
Of course, we are not just talking schemes and programmes.
Almost exactly a month ago, Churumuri carried a post that counted 108 advertisements in 48 pages spread over 12 news-papers on the occasion of Rajiv Gandhi’s birthday. Thankfully the spend on his death anniversary was more sober: a mere 69 ads amounting to 41 published pages. Who paid for it? We did. You and me – out of our pocket, via the taxes we pay to the government.
Back to the 450-odd schemes. Almost 2 years ago, noted journalist A Surya Prakash wrote a long, well-researched article titled “All in the name of the Nehru-Gandhis“. In the post, he mentioned how:
In a planned and systematic effort to gain unfair advantage over other political parties, the Congress Party has named all major government programmes, projects and institutions in the country after three members of the Nehru-Gandhi family – Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru – who are its icons, and disturbed the level playing field in the electoral arena.
He went on to note:
Over the last 18 years, on a rough estimate about 450 Central and State Government programmes, projects and national and state level institutions involving public expenditure of hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees have been named after these three individuals.
…Among the big ticket programmes that have been cleverly named after members of this family by the Union Government to extract unjust electoral mileage is the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (rural electrification programme), which involves an outgo of Rs 28,000 crore during the Eleventh Plan period (Rs 5500 Cr in fiscal 2008-09).. The drinking water mission, with an allocation of Rs 21,000 crore over three years (Rs 7300 crore in 2008-09 and Rs 7400 Cr in 2009-10) is also named after him and is called the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission. Other schemes, touching millions of people, which bear his name are the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme for Children of Working Mothers; the Rajiv Gandhi Udyami Mitra Yojana ( to promote small enterprises); the Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana and the Rajiv Gandhi Shilpi Swasthya Bima Yojana ( both insurance schemes).
Likewise, there are many mega programmes named after Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru by the Centre…This trend is even more apparent in the states, which have vied with each other to name programmes and schemes after these three members of the Nehru-Gandhi Family whenever the Congress Party was in power. Here is a sample: Rajiv Gandhi Breakfast Scheme, Pondicherry; Rajiv Ratna Awas Yojana, Delhi; Rajiv Arogyasri Health Insurance scheme, Andhra Pradesh; Rajiv Gandhi Computer Literacy Mission, Assam; Rajiv Gandhi Bridges and Roads Infrastructure Development Programme, Haryana; Rajiv Gandhi Vidyarthi Suraksha Yojana, Maharastra; Rajiv Gandhi Tourism Development Mission, Rajasthan; Indira Kranthi Patham Scheme and Indira Jeevitha Bima Pathakam, Andhra Pradesh; Indira Gandhi Niradhar Yojana and Indira Gandhi Landless Agriculture Labour Scheme, Maharastra; Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Vivah Shagun Yojana, Haryana; Indira Gandhi Calf-Rearing Scheme, Andhra Pradesh.
…Obviously, the plan is to ensure maximum recall of Brand Congress among voters at every stage in life. Therefore, nothing is left out. The crèche for children of the working poor is named after Rajiv Gandhi. So is a breakfast scheme for poor children. …Shockingly, even Brand IIM had been tinkered with. While all institutes of management started by the Centre go under the IIM brand, the Congress Party has mischievously named the IIM is Shillong as the Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management.
…Such is the obsession of the Congress Party with three members of the Nehru-Gandhi family that even the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi has been virtually forgotten.
…Equally glaring is the omission of many other eminent Indians including Sardar Vallabhai Patel, India’s first Deputy Prime Minister who undertook the arduous task of integrating 563 princely states into a single nation and Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, who presided over the committee that drafted our Constitution and embedded basic values of democracy and social justice. ..The list of those ignored is a pretty long one. They include Rabindranath Tagore, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Bal Gandadhar Tilak, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojini Naidu, Jayaprakash Narayan, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, C.Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad and every other stalwart of the freedom movement. Also ignored are great saints like Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda; Social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Mahatma Phule; great scientists like C.V.Raman, Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai and Narlekar and great patriots like Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekar Azad.
For the record, here is the whole list compiled by A Surya Prakash and here is the disappointing response he got from the Election Commission on his complaint. In effect, the EC washed its hands off the matter…
Which leaves just you and me and do something about it..How about sharing A Surya Prakash’s list with your friends? along with his article? How about compiling a record of other such egregious attempts at promoting the “dynasty”? How about making them aware about the art of subliminal messaging (a bad example of which can be found here)? And how about reverting to neutral nomenclature in your own conversations/discussions about these institutions and schemes? Comments & thoughts welcome as always.
>> Fun Task for 2nd October: Count the number of ads you see commemorating Lal Bahadur Shastri.