More than one objective can be achieved if the timing is right! At any other time, the PM’s decision to rename the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award as the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award would not have received such a euphoric response. On the heels of the Indian hockey teams’ heroic exploits at the Tokyo Olympics – playing well above their rankings – people feel it is an appropriate decision, which indeed it is. That it is also being looked at as political vendetta by the Congress and its allies indicates that a goal has also been scored on another plane. The message is clear – the patenting of so much of India’s achievements, glory and iconic institutions in the Nehru-Gandhi name will be resolutely undone. (No other democratic country has sports awards named after politicians who basically had no achievements in the field.)
The decision would not have got such widespread support were it not for the fact that the Congress overlooked its own stalwarts in this naming game, even to the most inappropriate levels. The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna is a particularly fitting example. One would really need to scrape the bottle of the barrel for important institutions named after Lal Bahadur Shastri, Narasimha Rao, Sardar Patel, Jagjivan Ram and countless others. At least parties with strong regional bases have paid tribute to local icons, but the (new) Congress could not even tolerate a simple plaque in Veer Savarkar’s name outside the cell occupied by him at the Andaman Cellular Jail.
The rectification process was started with a bang by PM Modi with the Sardar Patel statue. It was not just an acknowledgement of the contribution made by India’s ‘unifier’, but also an expression of Gujarati Pride. One can only imagine how many other greats of Indian history that are not so well known have been ignored with this monopolisation and appropriation of credit. India is going through its own phase of the ‘cancel’ culture and, hopefully, those who have been forgotten will be given their due as the process of balancing history picks up pace.