India Insight

Rajiv Chowk: that’s Rajiv Gandhi, not Goswami, Wikipedia

Rajiv Gandhi was the former prime minister of India. Rajiv Goswami was a Delhi student who set himself on fire in 1990 to protest job reservations for India’s so-called backward classes. Gandhi has a place named for him in the middle of New Delhi: Rajiv Chowk.

This is true everywhere but on Wikipedia. The online, user-maintained site’s entries for Rajiv Chowk (formerly Connaught Place), which is in Delhi’s central business district, and the city’s busiest metro station, say both were named after Rajiv Goswami.

The colonial-era Connaught Place, designed to resemble two concentric circles with a manicured park in the centre, was renamed by a Congress-led government in 1995. The inner circle was named Rajiv Chowk after Rajiv Gandhi, the former Congress prime minister killed by a suicide bomber in 1991. The outer circle was called Indira Chowk to honour his mother Indira, who had been assassinated nearly a decade earlier.

Regardless of the errors on the two Wikipedia pages, Rajiv Gandhi is in no danger of losing his status as India’s most commemorated political figure – at least in terms of government schemes.

Although the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Hyderabad looks set to be named after a former regional leader, the newly elected government under Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party is apparently not interested in renaming government schemes that carry the Gandhi or Nehru names.

What is Indira Gandhi’s legacy?

It is former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s 25th death anniversary on October 31. 

What was her legacy?

She was associated with events like the Emergency, which briefly made Gerald Ford head of the largest democracy in the world, and decades of militancy in Punjab.

Her policy of nationalising banks was mentioned as a reason why the Indian banking sector weathered the global financial crisis.

How should we ‘celebrate’ the Kargil war?

Sunday was the tenth anniversary of the conflict between India and Pakistan in Kargil.

The fighting ended with a ceasefire on this day, ten years back.

As a college student I witnessed Captain Manoj Pandey’s body being brought into the Command Hospital in Lucknow cantonment before his cremation later.

He died a war hero while recapturing the Khalubar ridgeline, a dominating feature, and was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest gallantry award, posthumously.

Women wield power in election wrangling

With the wrangling for allies in earnest ahead of election results due Saturday, women leaders hold an inordinate amount of power in deciding who will form the new Indian government.

Women leaders have always had a role in the rough and tumble of Indian politics, from Sarojini Naidu and Annie Besant in the independence struggle to Indira Gandhi, the second woman in the world to become prime minister.

Women leaders are perhaps at the peak of their influence now, with Gandhi’s political heir regarded the most powerful of them all — indeed, the most powerful political leader in the country.

Will the Gandhi magic work again?

The countdown has begun in India. As political pundits peer into their tea leaves before the results of another marathon election, the question on everybody’s lips is: will the Gandhi magic work again?

Exit polls show the coalition led by Sonia Gandhi will fall short of an outright majority, but her Congress party has a slight edge over its rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
But then exit polls in India have been way off the mark in the past. Like the last election.

In the 2004 election, the Congress scored a shock victory over the BJP, which many said was a result of Sonia Gandhi’s tireless campaigning and, more importantly, the magic of the Gandhi name. Nobody, just about nobody, had expected the BJP to lose? Or the Congress to win. Not even the Congress itself.

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