With Narendra Modi as prime minister, the ‘Exhibition of Books on Prime Ministers of India’ at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) could have been a BJP showcase.
However, the NMML management set politics aside and have given equal billing to the works on all prime ministers or works authored by them.
Even prime ministers who served briefly such as Gulzarilal Nanda, HD Deve Gowda, IK Gujral and Chandra Shekhar have been given equal space with their longer serving counterparts such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Manmohan Singh.
Designed by famous British architect Robert Tor Russell during the British Raj, as one enters the Ballroom of the Museum Building—part of the Teen Murti Bhavan in New Delhi, which used to be the residence of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, for 16 long years until his death—the first display of photographs and books on the right is that of Nehru, followed by Gulzarilal Nanda, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and of course, Narendra Modi.
The rich works of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Morarji Desai, VP Singh and Chaudhary Charan Singh are also on display.
Significance of the exhibition
The exhibition is the first-of-its-kind initiative in Delhi.
Through these volumes of work of various prime ministers, the NMML wants to showcase the importance and thoughts of every prime minister.
Speaking to Firstpost, A Surya Prakash, chairperson, Prasar Bharti, who inaugurated the exhibition said, “The first question that came to my mind was why it took 70 years to have such an exhibition on the works of all our prime ministers? Why was this initiative not undertaken before? The reason is because till 2014, only the Nehruvians and Marxists dominated the scene and India's institutes of renown. The prime ministers and leaders of other ideologies were kept out of the system.”
“India’s unity in diversity focuses on the existence of unity amidst differences in cultural, social, religious, political and ideological fronts. A good democracy must embrace all views and opinions. However, the problem was that Nehru-Gandhi (Indira) had little respect for political diversity."
"Even the ones within the Congress fold with diverse views such as PV Narsimha Rao were ignored. Besides, the father of our Constitution BR Ambedkar, Congress presidents like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Subhas Chandra Bose have been ignored for long."
"The Bharat Ratna which was awarded to these individuals—including Vinoba Bhave and Jai Prakash Narayan—was done many years after they'd passed away and by non-Congress governments. The nation must know the truth," Prakash, who is also a member of the NMML's executive council, stated.
The museum authorities have come up with a comprehensive handbook on the books and authors on display.
In all, 494 books in English and Hindi have been showcased.
In a bid to enrich its collection, NMML plans to procure books on prime ministers in regional languages.
“The books in regional languages about prime ministers who came from non-Hindi speaking states—for example, Deve Gowda, who served as chief minister of Karnataka— will shed more light on them,” an NMML source said.
Surya Prakash stated, “In the future, we will hold similar programmes to highlight India’s diversity, democratic values and contribution of others in nation-building who were ignored under the Congress regime."
The largest number of books by and on prime ministers —including compilation of speeches and letters—belong to Nehru and Vajpayee.
According to the NMML handbook, Nehru is credited with writing 32 works. Vajpayee, the NDA's first prime minister who is also a poet of repute, has authored 42 books.
A visitor can also glean the writings of Narendra Modi and his dreams about India in his work Sapno ka Bharat and his collection of poems.
The books authored by Nanda, Gujral, Charan Singh and Chandra Shekhar provides a glimpse of the economics of khadi, India’s foreign policy, India’s poverty and downfall of Lokdal and political economy.
According per the NMML handbook, maximum number of books displayed in the exhibition are on Modi (53) and Nehru (51).
Updated Date: Nov 13, 2017 22:41 PM