Govt must reverse decision on stamps

Govt must reverse decision on stamps

Attempts by the Modi government to justify withdrawal of stamps featuring former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi is devoid of reason, as the move reeks of animosity towards the Nehru-Gandhi family. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be known for dragging politics to a new low by taking decisions that have the intent of undermining the contribution of the Nehru-Gandhi family in the development of India. There is no doubt that both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi committed major political mistakes but that is no reason to wipe them out of the country’s philatelic history. They figured on the stamps as part of the series on “Builders of Modern India” and none can deny that they played a significant part in India’s growth trajectory even if the BJP chooses not to recognise their roles. The government’s contention is that all attention need not be focused on a single family but on the larger gamut of all those leaders who fought for Indian independence and development. But, the point that needs to be remembered here is that Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi may have been mother and son, but they were also the prime ministers of this country. However much one might dislike the family, this cannot be erased from the country’s history. 

In today’s world, postage stamps play only a minimal role in the field of communication given that email and other forms of electronic communication have taken over from the traditional mode of posting letters, dismissively called “snail mail”. For the government to focus on something as marginal as scrapping the stamps featuring the two former prime ministers shows it is part of an agenda to replace the Nehruvian liberal-secular legacy with the Sangh Parivar’s own conservative-Hindutva programme. This is also the reason for the attention on the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in Delhi which the government ostensibly wants to convert into an institution that will focus on governance showcasing contemporary India. Other decisions in the same vein include recasting of programmes like Indira Gandhi Rajbhasha Puraskar and Rajiv Gandhi Rashtriya Gyan-Vigyan Maulik Pustak Lekhan Puraskar in which the names of the two former prime ministers have been dropped.

The point is, were these the reasons for the victory of the BJP and Narendra Modi in 2014 general elections ov-er the Congress? Going by the speeches during the election campaign, Modi and his party leaders projected an economic plan of action that promised to make India a developed nation with jobs aplenty and nil corruption. Instead, we see narrow-mindedness and myopic decisions aplenty. 

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