Kazakh girls love to be named after Indira Gandhi


Charmed by the former prime minister during her visit to the erstwhile USSR in 1955 with her father Jawaharlal Nehru, several people named their daughters after Indira. "The name Indira struck a chord with most of the people. Every other household decided to christen a newborn girl after the Indian leader," says 82-year-old Satarhan, a preacher at the central mosque here, whose granddaughter is named Indira.

"It is not that everyone got to see Indira and Nehru during their half-day stay in Almaty. Whoever saw the lady was mesmerised by her looks, her eloquence and her behaviour. People wanted their daughters and granddaughters to be like her and started naming them after her," Satarhan told reporters. "Such was the trend that almost every tenth Kazakh girl was named Indira," he says.

Indira Ospanova, a receptionist at a four-star hotel here says, "My grandparents insisted that my name should be Indira." According to Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan Ashok Sajjanhar, even today, young girls and those born in the 80s and 90s continue to be named Indira.

"This is a demonstration of the deep bonds and linkages of love and affection among the people of Kazakhstan for India," Sajjanhar said. Indira Smagulova works as a flight attendant in Air Astana, Kazakhstan's national carrier. "It's great to share a name with one of the world's greatest women leaders. I have seen Indira Gandhi only in photographs and is very much impressed by her persona and her grace," says Smagulova. Rima Karmysova, a guide and interpreter, however, is more impressed by Indira Gandhi's son Rajiv.

"In my teens, I had a crush on Rajiv. He was so handsome," Karmysova says and adds she will love to name her son after the former prime minister. The Nehru-Gandhi family is a well-known in the former Soviet countries. In Kazakhstan, there is a Mahatma Gandhi Street, where there are some residential apartments and a few business centres.

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