Decision to change the name of NTR University of Health Sciences unhealthy

Changing the names of places, monuments, institutions or even policies is not new to the governments.

Decision to change the name of NTR University of Health Sciences unhealthy

AMARAVATI: After all, what's in a name? Politicians act in an oxymoronic manner when it comes to naming or renaming. When an institution or a road or an award or any thing significant is christened after something or the given name is changed, a political hue and cry ensues and there will always be naysayers. There will always be a section that opposes the move, some want that an undo button be hit. Proponents, however, always try to have their way, and, if luck favours, even the say.

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly became the dais for a controversial decision by the YSR Congress Party which proposed to rename the Dr NTR University of Health Sciences as Dr YSR University of Health Sciences.

Changing the names of places, monuments, institutions or even policies is not new to the governments. There are umpteen justifications suggested by the parties and politicians as to why the renaming is valid. Be it for claiming credit for the establishment, or political or religious reasons, renaming has been a 'motif' for leaders in Indian politics. The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium was renamed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February 2021. The BJP-led Government of India did not hesitate to change the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award to Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, places like Allahabad, Gurgaon and Faizabad were also renamed as Prayagraj, Gurugram and Ayodhya. Madras became Chennai, Bombay became Mumbai.

In Andhra Pradesh too, changing of names has been prevalent. The Vijayawada Bus Stand, which had been christened as 'Telugu Satavahana Prayana Pranganam' by NTR in his first stint was changed to Pandit Nehru Bus Station by Congress Chief Minister Dr Marri Channa Reddy. Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy also renamed an entire district after NTR. Schemes by AP Government were given NTR's name after his demise whenever the TDP was in power. Dr NTR University of Health Sciences is one such institution which was named after NTR in 1998, for the university was founded by him. The domestic terminal in Begumpet airport was named after NTR after his demise and the whole airport was christened after Rajiv Gandhi by P V Narasimha Rao Government.

While only Rajiv Gandhi's name was retained after the first greenfield airport was built in Smashabad, the TDP meddled with it when Ashok Ganapati Raju was Minister for Civil Aviation between 2014-18. However, it's not in practice now.

After the bifurcation of the State, Chandrababu Naidu began naming scheme after himself. And few of Naidu's schemes were renamed after YSR when Jagan came into power. To quote a few, the Anna canteen scheme was changed to Rajanna canteen and the marriage financial assistance scheme was renamed to YSR Kalyanamasthu. Jagan also named some schemes after himself,

including Ammavadi and Gorumudda prefixing his name. Medical kits for pregnant women is called as KCR Kit in Telangana.

The changing of Dr. NTR Health University's name into Dr YSR Health University was a decision which is explained as 'a mark of respect' (to YSR) by the YSRCP and 'a mark of disrespect' (to NTR) by the TDP.

The TDP leaders said that the renaming of the University would mean to dishonour the work done by N T Rama Rao and his contribution to Andhra Pradesh and said that the University of Health Sciences was first set up in 1986 when he was the Chief Minister.

TDP Chief Chandrababu Naidu also spoke against this. "How can he (Jagan) rename the University after his father? It was our government that honoured NTR by naming the university after him after his death in 1998. They have no right to change it. Afterall, it was his idea and effort that he had established the University," he said.

In the Assembly, leaders from the YSRCP pointed out that the TDP and Chandrababu Naidu were staging a show by speaking about respecting the founder of the TDP. They said that the TDP leaders backstabbed NTR and were now demanding retention of the name only because they were the Opposition.

Andhra Pradesh Minister for Health and Medical Education Rajini Vidadala played a video in which ABN Andhra Jyothy channel MD Radhakrishna and Chandrababu Naidu were seen speaking of removing NTR's name for Aarogya Sri, which was originally christened after Rajiv Gandhi by the late YSR Reddy in his regime.

"The decision was only to respect YSR and not to disrespect NTR. We have named a district after NTR and are ready to name other establishments after him too. The University is being named after YSR because in his regime eight medical colleges were set up and in his son's, 17 more medical colleges have been sanctioned. Moreover, it was the TDP and Chandrababu which were indirectly responsible for NTR's death. They have no right to speak against the name change or for NTR as they are backstabbers," said YS Jagan.

The video clip glaringly highlighted the word "vaadu" (he, in an oblique reference to NTR) and Minister Rajani specifically highlighted it and sought to know who they're referring to as 'vaadu'.

Official languages chairman Yarlagadda Lakshmi Prasad resigned in protest and Gangavaram MLA Vallabhaneni Vamsee appealed to the Chief Minister to reconsider the decision of renaming the university.

While there were a myriad occasions when names were changed, the decision to remove NTR's name to the Health University is derisive and exposes the obduracy of Jaganmohan Reddy Government. This asinine decision doesn't augur well for the state and it's image.

The credit scored by Jagan in naming a new district after NTR was annulled by himself with this decision. After all, it was NTR who had idea red and created the University of Health Sciences. The decision to rename this institution is not only petty and insane, but totally uncalled for and crass.

Since it's done through an Assembly resolution, the government might have its way. It has to be seen whether courts would strike it down. But, surely it's in bad taste.

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