The Department of Youth Affairs under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has prepared a proposal for the Cabinet to drop “Nehru” from the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, an autonomous organisation set up during the tenure of Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister. And rename it National Yuva Kendra Sangathan.
The Nehru Yuva Kendra (NYK) scheme was started in 1972 as part of the silver jubilee celebrations of India’s Independence. It was envisaged as a vehicle for personality development of “rural non-student youth” given the high proportion of “non-student youth” in the population with relatively low levels of literacy.
Launched in 42 districts across the country, it was expanded to cover 311 districts by 1986-87 when the Rajiv Gandhi government decided to make it an autonomous organisation. It was consequently registered as a society by the name of Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan in 1987.
The proposal seeks to justify dropping “Nehru” on the grounds that the organisation has now “acquired a truly national character” covering 623 districts. Also, it has evolved not only to include student-youth but also those in urban areas. Further, the proposal claims, the scheme undertakes “dissemination of information and advocacy” of the Narendra Modi government’s national programmes likes Swachh Bharat, Digital India, Namami Gange among others at the national level.
The proposal also argues that “re-naming” Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan as National Yuva Kendra Sangathan won’t change the acronym NYKS and so will protect the “brand that it has painstakingly built over last three decades”.
“Yes, the proposal to drop Nehru’s name and name it National Yuva Kendra Sangathan had been informally discussed within the Board of Governors of the NYKS. It has yet not been approved,” a member of the NYKS Board of Governors told The Indian Express. The proposal, in fact, was first mooted within the Board of Governors by some of its vice-presidents associated with the RSS sometime back after the BJP government came to power in 2014.
“When I travelled across various parts of the country as vice-president of Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, I received several memorandums and suggestions from youth clubs to rename the organisation either after Vivekananda or rename it National Yuva Kendra Sangathan. I suitably apprised the Board of Governors,” said Vishnu Duttt Sharma, an RSS full-timer who served as NYKS vice-president during March 2015-December 2016. Sharma is now General Secretary of BJP’s Madhya Pradesh unit.