I was privileged to take part in the ceremony this morning when the BUST of India’s former PM, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, was inaugurated in University of Technology, Sydney. The BUST was donated by Indian Council of Cultural Relations, [ICCR], Govt of India, New Delhi.
The gathering included Mr Arun Goel, Consul General of India in Sydney, Prof Ross Milbourne, VC of UTS, Prof William Purcell, Deputy VC of UTS, Neville Roach, Dr Daniel Chandran from UTS, myself and a few dozen more distinguished people.
Rajiv Gandhi was a popular PM of India, at least in the beginning of his rule. He had a lot of goodwill on his side when he took over as PM of India, after Mrs Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her security guards. He remains the youngest PM of India and his victory in 1984 election gave him the biggest majority in Indian Parliament.
He lost some of that goodwill when he passed a constitutional amendment to negate the verdict from Supreme Court in Shah Bano case. His name was dragged into Bofors scam too.
His decision to intervene in Sri Lankan civil war was also controversial. Indian Peace-keeping force suffered unnecessary loss of lives because the whole strategy was not well thought in the advance.
Unfortunately, the matters from IPKF disaster ware largely responsible for the killing of Rajiv Gandhi by a LTTE’s suicide bomber, which forced India to harden its stand against LTTE. LTTE later realized that killing of Rajiv Gandhi was their biggest blunder, from which they never recovered.
On the plus side, he brought Sam Pitroda back to India to start the telecommunication revolution, including Public Call offices [PCOs], thus making telephone facilities available even in remote area of India.
He acted to reduce the control of “licence Raj” which was giving too much power to bureaucracy, thus stifling the economy.
He also initiated the process of improvement in USA-India relations.
His doctrine for nuclear disarmament and his efforts against Apartheid were his other noteworthy things.
After his assassination, Congress Party formed the Govt with PV Narsimha Rao as the PM.
There is an increasing presence of Indian philosophy and thought in Australian Universities either in the form of BUSTs or Chairs. Mahatma Gandhi’s Bust is in UNSW where people assemble on Gandhi’s birthday, 2nd October and Rabindranath Tagore Bust is in Macquarie University in Sydney. University of Melbourne hosts Australia India Institute, which is chaired by Prof Amitabh Mattoo.
Yadu Singh/Sydney/18th October,2012