Time For The True “Award Wapsi”

A case for undoing decades of the Nehru clan’s revisionist history

Deepak Mehta
3 min readAug 5, 2020

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The Bandra-Worli Sea Link, named after Rajiv Gandhi for reasons unknown. Picture credits: Pixabay

The National Film Awards are India’s highest recognition in the field of cinema. Having started in 1954, they truly celebrate the diversity of Indian film-making by recognizing mainstream Bollywood along with our many flourishing regional movie industries.

Among the various accolades it bestows upon actors, directors, producers, composers, cinematographers, etc., there is a peculiar one that stands out — the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director. No other award is named after a living person, with the exception of the Lifetime Achievement Award, named after Dadasaheb Phalke, one of the towering figures of Indian cinema.

There is no reason why this exception should be there. Moreso considering that Indira Gandhi had nothing to do with Indian cinema. It is not a coincidence that this award was first established in 1981, a year after Indira came to power.

Then comes the highest sporting honor of India, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. This too was instituted in 1991, just after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. The original apex sporting honor, Arjuna Award, was sidelined to make way for another nonsensical honor named after a Nehru scion.

The same year, the Rajiv Gandhi National Quality Award was started by the Bureau of Indian Standards, a government organization.

And the list is neverending.

  1. Two of the four largest international airports in India are named after Indira Gandhi (Delhi, 1986) and Rajiv Gandhi (Hyderabad, 2006). There were also talks to name the Visakhapatnam airport after Jawaharlal Nehru.
  2. The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, the second largest institute of the Department of Atomic Energy was renamed after Indira Gandhi by her son Rajiv Gandhi.
  3. IIM Shillong was initially named Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management Shillong, before being changed in 2017. Again, no precedent to naming IIMs after a particular person, and no relationship between RG and the state of Meghalaya. But again, the college was started in 2008 during the UPA tenure and hence gifted to the Nehru dynasty.

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Deepak Mehta

5x Top Writer on Quora (2014–2018), Over 100 mn content views. Writes about Life, Happiness, Self-improvement, Books, Pop Culture, and Current Indian Affairs.