No ‘Father of the Nation’ title to Bapu

Published: 26th October 2012 10:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th October 2012 10:07 AM   |  A+A-


She is the youngest Right to Information (RTI) activist in the country and her query has stumped all alike. Now it has come out that the Centre could not formally accord the ‘Father of the Nation’ title to Mahatma Gandhi due to Constitutional compulsions, something quite contrary to what has been taught in schools across the country for over 65 years and ingrained in the conscience through official advertisements.

It all began when Class VI student Aishwarya Parashar filed an RTI application to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)  in February, seeking details about institution or individual who conferred the ‘Father of the Nation’ title to Mahatma Gandhi.

As the PMO did not have an answer at hand, the application was forwarded to National Archives of India (NAI).

After scanning all the relevant documents, the NAI responded that there were no specific documents regarding the query among the public records in the archive.

Later, the 10-year-old filed an appeal to then President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to issue a notification declaring Mahatma Gandhi as ‘Father of the Nation’. It was forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for legal explanation.

The MHA, in its response, told the RTI applicant from Uttar Pradesh that no action was taken on her plea to the President as Article 18 (1) of the Constitution does not permit any titles, except academic and military ones.

According to Article 18 (1), “no title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the state”.

Aishwarya had also filed an RTI query with the PMO seeking to know who first ordered to print Gandhi’s image on currency notes. After the PMO answered that the RBI took the initiative in 1993, she filed another application in April with the PMO to know who declared national holidays on January 26, August 15 and October 2. The PMO responded in May that the government never issued an official order in this regard.

Aishwarya’s quest to remain informed does not end with RTI queries. She played an active role in ensuring majority participation in UP Assembly elections this year. Through her campaign, ‘Send your kin to polling booths’, she aimed at increasing the voter turnout in the election. She also wrote to hundreds of schools in Lucknow asking students to participate in her endeavour.

While Bapu, in true sense, would remain ‘Father of the Nation’ for getting rid of the British Raj, it seems the UPA Government has made a mockery of itself by wanting to rewrite history with a rejoinder.


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