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Posted at: Feb 17, 2017, 2:03 AM; last updated: Feb 17, 2017, 2:03 AM (IST)

What’s in a name? A lot it seems

Why Rose Garden creator MS Randhawa was unhappy with its present name

Amaninder Pal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16

Was the legendary Dr Mohinder Singh Randhawa, creator of Zakir Rose Garden in the city, unhappy with the present name of the garden that he himself developed after years of bureaucratic hassles?

Even as the state capital is all set to hold the 45th edition of the Rose Festival from Friday, this question about Asia’s largest rose garden has been relegated into oblivion, much like the creator of the garden.

Now known as Zakir Rose Garden (named after former President Dr Zakir Husain), the garden was named Rose Garden by Dr Randhawa when it was inaugurated in 1967.

Although Rose Garden, all these years, has quietly metamorphosed into Zakir Rose Garden, the addition of just one word had caused immense pain to Dr Randhawa, who termed the decision a result of “culture of sycophancy” in the country.

Today, hardly anyone around is able to recollect as to when the authorities decided to mention the garden with its present name. Even Dr Randhawa was unaware about when the decision was taken. However, he lamented it and brought his pain on record in his autobiography, “Aap Beeti”.

Ironically, he took along the pain with himself as Randhawa died in 1986 shortly after writing his autobiography in 1985.

In a chapter, dedicated to his stay at Chandigarh as the Union Territory’s first Chief Commissioner, he wrote, “After shifting the Shastri Market out of Sector 22, I had prepared a blueprint for developing Rose Garden in the city. It took just two years to develop the garden. I don’t know who named it Zakir Rose Garden after I was transferred out of Chandigarh.”

He further wrote: “When this garden was named after roses, it was not justified to prefix a name of any individual with its name. Par iss mulk vich khushamad da rivaz hai. Jo mauke da hakam hove, lok us nu jayaz-najayaz tarike naal khush karna chahunde han (culture of sycophancy prevails in this country. People want to make rulers happy by adopting all justified and unjustified means).”

Giving the verdict in favour of its original name, Dr Randhawa concluded his remarks while writing that “This garden should be named Rose Garden.”

Veteran journalist Shingara Singh Bhullar had assisted Dr Randhawa in writing his autobiography. In the opening remarks of his autobiography, Dr Randhawa had even bestowed gratitude to Bhullar for the help he had extended to him while writing the book.

Talking to The Tribune, Bhullar said, “I can’t recall when the name of the garden was changed. But a fact that Dr Randhawa shared with me while writing the book is that he had named it Rose Garden after consulting a section of the citizens of the city. He never wanted to give an impression that he decided the name on his own. It occurs in our country that people forget valuable contributions of eminent persons once they are out of office.”

Dr Randhawa also mentioned about another problem he faced while developing the garden. It was regarding a poem by eminent Punjabi poet Bahi Vir Singh, which even today welcomes visitors at the entrance to the garden.

He said when the poem in Gurmukhi script was engraved at the entrance to the garden, some eminent citizens of the city approached him and demanded that instead of Punjabi, a poem in Hindi should be there at the entrance.

“I told them to dig out such a poem in Hindi. I promised them that I would engrave it at the entrance. I gave them a month’s time. However, nobody among them could find a poem in Hindi on roses,” wrote Dr Randhawa, who promoted Punjabi writers, both in Delhi, while serving as the Deputy Commissioner there immediately after 1947, and in Chandigarh as its Chief Commissioner after 1966.

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