When Jawaharlal Nehru got request to start a new 'era' named after Mahatma Gandhi

New Delhi:  While numerous streets, places, parks and buildings have been named after him, a few months after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, a rather unusual request was made to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to name an
when jawaharlal nehru got request to start a new...
PTI 12 Apr 2015, 11:52:12 AM IST

New Delhi:  While numerous streets, places, parks and buildings have been named after him, a few months after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, a rather unusual request was made to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to name an “entire era” after the Father of the Nation.

The letter sent in July, 1948, by a man named K S V Rao from Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu, called it a “fitting tribute” to Gandhi, and even proposed a calendar fashioned out of the values and articles associated with him.  While the idea did not meet its desired objective, the letter carrying the proposal, however, ended up in the National Archives here.

“I am suggesting herewith a copy of an Era to be started after the name, Our Bapuji—the Father of our Nation—as a fitting tribute, living monument for favour of kind consideration and approval,” the letter reads.  Among the months suggested for the calendar by Rao are ‘Mohana' (Gandhi's first name), ‘Ahimsa' (non-violence), ‘Sathiya' (truth) and ‘Chakra' (spinwheel) among others.  The letter was displayed at the National Archives (NAI) here as part of an exhibition to mark the historic institution's 125th year celebrations.

The month-long display titled ‘Treasures of National Archives' for which the NAI pulled out its rare and original archives, ended on Friday.

Among other rare archives on display are also the matriculation marksheet of Gandhi as a student at the Kathiwar High School in Rajkot, dated November 1887.  

Gandhi's (Porbandar) total score stands at 247.5 and incidentally another student named Virji Manordas Gandhi (Rajkot) is shown two notches above in the rank with 260.33 marks.

Among the rare records of early post-colonial era is a notification declaring the institution of “Indian Independence Medal” by King George VI.

“The medal which will be circular in shape and of cupro-nickel will bear on the obverse a representation of the Imperial Crown and Asoka's Chakra surrounded by the inscription ‘Georgius VI D: G: Britt: Omn: Rex: Fid: Def' and on the reverse the representation of Asoka's three lions and depicted on the Pillar of Sarnath with the inscriptions ‘Indian Independence' and ‘15th August 1947',” it says.  

The medal was instituted according to a Royal Warrant dated July 21, 1948 and published in the Gazette of India dated September 18, 1948.“We pulled out some of the rarest of the gems from our archival chest of treasure and over this one-month period these documents and images have delighted people as much as they have educated, about India before Independence and after,” a senior official of the NAI's Exhibition Unit told PTI.

The Imperial Record Department, born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on March 11, 1891, it was later moved to New Delhi post the shifting of the imperial capital to Delhi in 1911.  The present building of NAI was constructed in 1926 and the transfer of all records was completed in 1937.


Another interesting post-colonial record pertains to playing of the National Anthem in cinema halls after the end of shows.

The document talks of suggestions made by the government to theatres in Bombay (now Mumbai) and Delhi to “not play the National Anthem at the end of the show, as people shuffle about at that time.” It instead suggested showing the tricolour.

And with the Land Acquisition Bill hogging headlines lately, another rare record on display is the “colour-coded map” titled ‘Delhi & Vicinity' in multiple hues, which displays the regions acquired under the Land Acquisition Act 1894 for planing the new capital city, the cantonment, civil lines, development and firm areas.

Among the priceless documents are some of the historic letters, correspondences and records associated with events such as the one informing about the execution of revolutionary Mangal Pandey (1857).
Incidentally, the exhibition, on April 8 coincided with the revolutionary's death anniversary.  Records pertaining to demise of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1839), death of Napoleon Bonaparte (1839) are also on display.

Other rare documents include first President Rajendra Prasad's 32-page bilingual (Anglo-French) passport, bearing the number “1863” and issued to him at New Delhi on 3rd October, 1947.

The national leader, who became India's first President on 26th January 1950, was then the Minister of Food and Agriculture in the then Union government.  

His national status reads “Indian British Subject by birth” and has been issued by the “Empire of India” Also on display rare coloured images of the Red Fort, map of Delhi Province, history sheet of Annie Besant, among others.

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