Gandhis and Bachchans






Recently there was a buzz in the media when reportedly Sonia Gandhi came for the Rescue of Bachchan family when some antisocial elements dragged them into a controversy and tried to ban their films illegally. The buzz was about thawing the ice between the relations of the two families. But what’s so special between the two families that media is so obsessed with?


It’s well known that once Bachchans and Gandhis were as close as a family. The two families are among the most respected in India, and both belong to Allahabad city, it was where their relationship started. Harivansh Rai Bachchan is regarded as one of the greatest writers of Hindi Literature and was the professor of English at Allahabad University, also he was the first Indian to pursue doctorate in English literature from Cambridge University.His son Amitabh Bachchan is among the greatest actors of Indian cinema and is regarded as the biggest superstar of all time.Whereas Gandhis are the most influential political family in India and have given three Prime Ministers to the country so far, and have traditionally lead Congress, the biggest political party of India.


The relations between the two families started with Dr Harivansh Rai Bahchan working in India’s foreign ministry as a Hindi Officer, where he joined after quitting from the university. Nehru was very impressed with him, and respected him for his literary genius. Also, while living in Allahabad, the families of Nehru and Harivansh came close.Harivansh’s wife Teji became close friend of Nehru’s daughter Indira.  Later when Bahchans moved to Delhi, Teji Bahchan, got fame as a social activist, and her friendship with  Indira Gandhi became deeper, their friendship remained very close till Indira’s assassination in 1984.Their relationship continued in the succeeding generations too, Amitabh and Rajiv Gandhi were childhood friends.When Sonia came to India in 1968 as Rajiv’s fiancée, she was put up  at Bachchan’s residence and Teji acted as Sonia’s god mother and made her accustomed to Indian culture. Also during marriage of Rajiv and sonia, as the bride is not supposed to live with the in laws before marriage, Sonia used to live at Bachchan residence in New Delhi.Teji  was like mother to Sonia Gandhi, and did  “Kanya Dan” of sonia in her marriage with Rajiv. 


But what happened that now that when Taji Bachchan passed away few months ago, Sonia didn’t even attend the funeral. The relations between the two families are sour and it all started with Amitabh joining politice in 1984, mainly to support Rajiv Gandhi.That time congress desperately wanted the Allahabad constituency and wanted to defeat H N Bahuguna, which seemed impossible.

Rajiv Gandhi convinced Amitabh to contest. Amitabh contested and won the election with record margin (he got more than 68% votes) in the history of independent India.But Amitabh quit politics and resigned after three years when a newspaper reported his involvement in Bofors scam, this was the beginning of soaring of relations between the two families, though later Amitabh was declared clean by the supreme court. The relationship between the two families worsened after Rajiv Gandhi’s assessation in 1991, when Gandhis felt, Bachchans left them alone in distress, and when they relied on bachchans for taking every decision after Rajiv’s assassination. Also it’s said that Sonia didn’t take it kindly when Amitabh consistently advised her not to join politics.


Whereas Bahchans have point that Gandhis brought them in politics and left midway in trouble and also didn’t help them during the financial crisis after collapse of his company ABCL. And this was the time when Bachchans came close to Amar Singh, of Samajvadi Party. It’s not that Bachchan was not acquainted with Amar Singh before. In fact Amar singh was a very old friend of Bachchan , but when he helped Amitabh during financial crisis, the two became very close and later Jaya Bachchan was nominated to Rajya Sabha as a Samajvadi party member. As congress used to be rival (it has changed very recently) of Samajvadi party in Uttar Pradesh, the relations between the two families were bound to worsen.


In 2004 Jaya Bachchan remarked about Gandhi family not helping them during crisis and left them midway after bringing them into politics. She even said that  Gandhis betrayed bachchans. Then Rahul  Gandhi replied to Jaya’s remarks and said his family didn’t deceive any one, and termed Jaya’s remarks as bundle of lies.Finally Amitabh came to control the situation and said the the relations between the two familes stood on strong emotional ground and struck deep roots from the time of Nehru and Harivansh Rai Bachchan, and when  neither Jaya nor Rahul nor Paryanka were around and hence they don’t understand it. Amitabh said he could neither forget those relationships nor tolerate any comment on them.Those relationships were between the two families. He said, he has nothing but respect and goodwill for the Gandhis.


Above is the all I could write about the subject. I don’t think there is going to be any change between the relations of the two families now, and of course it doesn’t matter to any of us general public other than writing a post about it 🙂 I wish all of them good luck in their future endeavours.




Is India a soft state?


The nuclear deal between India and the US has been finalized, finally. The other day I saw news that, Pakistan is also willing to have a similar deal with the US, but the US denied it (So far at least 🙂). US secretary of state Ms Condoleeza Rice said that India’s case was unique, and that’s because of  India’s history.


So, what’s about India’s history that Ms Rice is talking about, I guess it’s about India’s record as a non aggressive state, rather a soft state. No one can imagine India attacking another country for any purpose. Even during the Kargil war of 1999, when Pakistani troops invaded India; in the process of fighting with them, Indian armed forces had a clear-cut instruction not to cross the LOC. So India avoided crossing borderline even for self-defense.


Second thing is that India is a successful democracy; the democratic values have been firmly embedded in the culture of our country. There has never been any fuss in the power exchange after the elections. The armed forces and intelligence are under very much control of the union government, and them taking any step without Government orders is beyond imagination.  


Only time when I felt exception was in 1998 when India conducted nuclear tests despite international pressure. And before that in 1975 when Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India announced emergency in the country following a judgment by Allahabad High court banning her from contesting any election for next 6 years. But, she called off the emergency in 1977, and announced fresh elections and that election of 1977 was the biggest defeat of her party (Congress) in the history of independent India. Democracy was in India to stay, and all that was the result of  the democratic traditions and values, which were entrenched in the political culture of India and which is the legacy of Indira Gandhi’s father and india’s first Prime minister Pt Jawhar Lal Nehru. Nehru in his tenure of 17 years as first prime minister of India made it sure that India is always going to follow the path of a responsible democracy.   


Everything about India being non-aggressive, and democratic country is fine, but many feel that India is a very soft state, which means just too non aggressive, which sometimes is not good for the country.

We have faced terrorism sponsored by nearby countries for a long time and still it continues. Kashmir, once known as heaven on earth is today among the most insecure places in the world, India’s Punjab state has faced terrorism for over a decade, and today terrorism is spreading in many major metros of India but still there is lack of any aggression on part of India to do something about terror camps flourishing in our neighbor country. Then there has been incidence of Kandhar plane hijack where we very calmly released the terrorist as per the demand of the hijackers. Also there was an incidence of our soldiers being humiliated by Bangladesh and there was no strong reaction from India.These are just some of the examples which come to my mind, and i’m sure there are many other such incidences.


It seems, on international level, India has developed an image of a very soft state, a state that can never become aggressive. It has it’s benefits and losses both, but I wonder whether benefits more or losses??


The Legacy of Allahabad

Anand Bhawan

I have a close connection with Allahabad, this is the place where i studied for my degree, this is the place  where some of my best friends come from.

I have very fond memories of the place from my childhood….every morning we used to walk on the footpaths of civil lines which were broader than the 4 lane roads….we used to go to a beautiful church called “patthar girja”…….Civil Lines of Allahabad always reminded me the Connaught Place of Delhi, there is a sheer similarity between the two, in both the places, side walks are broader than the roads, the Architecture of the buildings is identical…and why not?..both the places were designed by the English in the same era, and meant to be ONLY for the English..few people know that during the English rule, Allahabad was one of the most important cities in India and was the capital of the North west province, and it even served as the capital of India for 6 months, after the 1857 rebillion…that’s why one can find a huge number of Punjabis, Bengalis, Gujaratis and Parasis in Allahabad who migrated to the city in that period….and also the husband of Indira Gandhi, Firoz Gandhi too was a Parsi from Allahabad

Now that i rarely happen to go to Allahabad, i becomes nostalgic at times, the charm of Allahabad was special…….moreover, that time i learnt something more about the place like its contribution to Hindi literature, Indian politics, freedom movement etc. 

The legacy of Allahabad is unmatched, this is the place which has produced the best prime ministers of India, this is the land of Nehrus Gandhis and Lalbabadur Shastri ( 6 out of 14 prime ministers of India belong to Allahabad). Allahabad has given new hights to Hindi literature with almost all the big names of the Hindi literature hailing from the city, this is the land of Firaq, Suryakant tripathi Nirala, Mahadevi Verma, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Akbar Allahabadi, Pt Upendra Nath Ashq,Munshi Premchand and Pt Madan Mohan Malviya among many more…Rudyard Kipling too made Allahabad his home who worked in “The Pioneer” a famous newspaper published from the city. This is the land of legendary Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia & Shubha Mudgal. Famous scientists like Meghnad Saha and Harish Chandra also hail from the city..It’s home to Legendary film actors Amitabh Bachchan and Nargis too.The city has produced some of the best legal minds in the country… the former chief justices of India R S pathak and V N Khare belong to Allahabad, the previous one went on to become judge at the world court.

No wonder, the “Rock Street Jounrnal” the first magazine in the south Asia devoted to the rock music started from Allahabad only (Though nowadays it’s publishing from Delhi)..Once the art oozed from the air of Allahabad…the legends of the Literature used to sit at the Coffee House in civil lines  and discussed about the world literature and politics…it’s said that even the waiters of the coffee house developed the good knowledge about these subjects

This city has been  the nerve centre of Indian independence movement…It was the place where Chandra Shekhar Azad the legendary freedom fighter breathed his last at the Alfraid Park (Now Azad park) during an encounter with the English, and at the Anand Bhawan the home to Jawahar Lal Nehru, the major decisions were taken regarding the freedom movement.

Moreover, it’s the land of Triveny Sangam of Ganga, Yamuna and mythological saraswati, it’s religious and mythological importance draws millions and millions of people here every year. Allahabad University has traditionally produced highest number of civil servants and even today it’s at third position in producing maximum number of civil servants after Delhi University and IIT Kanpur

I feel sad that today people are forgetting about Allahabad and it’s legacy…it has become just another town in the state of Uttar Pradesh (and that is the reason behind this post)….and due to the bad rule by Mulayams and Mayawatis…Uttar Pradesh is loosing it’s sheen and Allahabad is not an exception……….But All is not lost….. today the city continues it’s age old legacy with producing maximum civil servants, great musitians, artists and publishing unique and high profile publications……Nowadays i am away but Allahabad will always be close to my heart..

While surfing on net i found an article or sort of memoir by Ms Jawahara saidullah, who is a native of Allahabad, she speaks with passion….only a true Allahabadi can write like that..This is a poignant piece of work full of nostalgia which has touched me …as I understand Allahabad and it’s legacy

Following is the link

Following are some of the pictures of Allahabad’s posh civil lines market , the photos were taken on the eve of Diwali hence market is not open..