The renaming of Gurgaon as Gurugram is the apotheosis of BJP-style governance. It is premised upon the belief that words have power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi says Make in India, and investors from all over the world will queue up to set up factories in our country. He says Swachh Bharat, and Bharat will become spick-n-span. He says Digital India, and e-governance becomes a fact of life. And his crony Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar says Gurugram, and all the glories of ancient India spring up miraculously in his state. Or so the ruling party believes.
Lost in this reverie is something called karma, the central doctrine of Hinduism. It was expected of the government under Khattar, supposedly a Hindu, would be focused on karma and would address most important issues like education, employment, agriculture, industry, corruption, and adverse sex ratio. The people of Haryana voted his party to get better administration, sound infrastructure, professional policing, and so on. Before coming to power, the BJP had talked ad nauseam about the venality of the Congress and others, about Robert Vadra’s dubious land deals, and other abominations associated with the non-BJP parties. But what have they got instead? A nonplussed chief minister who behaves like a babe in the woods, a cowardly and callous administration that succumbs to the violent Jat agitation, the Murthal outrage.
Like the class-bunking students who go to temples for divine intervention to clear exams, Khattar and his followers are indulging in gimmicks to somehow keep the people in good humor. This explains the relevance of the likes of Parminder Kataria, BJP leader and deputy mayor of the Gurgaon Municipal Corporation. The guy fought for a decade for the change of name.
He moved a resolution in the corporation on August 6, 2014, proposing the name change. He told a newspaper: “I’ve worked for almost 10 years to see this day. We went from colony to colony, explaining to people the rationale behind the name,” said Kataria, while most residents got convinced by his arguments, there were people who objected to his cause. “Some said we should instead focus on issues like sewage and water, but I told them it’s important to focus not just on kaam [work] but also naam [name].”
But a good BJP leader as he is, he has ignored kaam or karma; otherwise, civic amenities in Delhi’s satellite town would have shown some improvement. What really matters to him, and his party, is naam; a rose by any other name would… well it would be a lotus. Let Shakespeare go to hell.
Tradition has it that Gurgaon is a corruption of Gurugram—literally, Guru’s gram or village, the guru in question being Dronacharya, the teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas in the Mahabharata. Whatever may have been the belief of Khattar & Co, Dronacharya could scarcely be considered an ideal teacher, for he indulged in favoritism and casteism. He refused to teach Eklavya because he was not from the kshatriya or warrior caste, and yet he secured his fee from him in the form of the young man’s thumbs. This was done to ensure that his favorite pupil, Arjun, remained peerless. For this reason, the name change that is really required is that of the Dronacharya Award. The award is presented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, government of India for excellence in sports coaching.
Further, the renaming of Gurgaon is also a huge political gaffe. At a time when the BJP is earnestly trying to woo Dalits against the backdrop of the Rohith Vemula suicide, when it is striving to appropriate B.R. Ambedkar, it is tawdriness of the highest order to commemorate a mythological personage who epitomizes everything antithetical to the modern concepts of equality and fairness.
But then little better could be expected from Khattar. While contesting Assembly polls in 2014—he was not announced a chief ministerial candidate by the BJP—he had said, “If a girl is dressed decently, a boy will not look at her in the wrong way.” On the issue of the freedom of choice for youth, he offered more gems of wisdom, “If you want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked? Freedom has to be limited. These short clothes are western influences. Our country’s tradition asks girls to dress decently.”
The Khattar government is beset with every possible ill—a medieval mindset, misogyny, gross incompetence, moral hollowness, intellectual bankruptcy. Perhaps it thought that renaming Gurgaon would make it appear good. The fact, though, is that it looks even more ridiculous now.