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Keeping memory alive in virtual world

Keeping the memory of Rajiv Gandhi alive in the hearts of millions was the sole aim of Harish Chander, Editor, Noida News, when he decided to launch a website dedicated to the late Prime Minister. Parmita Uniyal tells more.

delhi Updated: May 21, 2012 14:48 IST
Parmita Uniyal

Keeping the memory of Rajiv Gandhi alive in the hearts of millions was the sole aim of Harish Chander, Editor, Noida News, when he decided to launch the website www.rememberingrajivgandhi.com.

Chander wanted to become a commercial pilot but destiny had some other plans for him. It was after the tragic death of the late Prime Minister that Harish decided to dedicate a website for the distinguished friend, with whom he had an association of just a few months. He went ahead even though he did not have any sponsorship and financial backing to maintain the site.

The website encompasses more than sixty audios of people who were close to Rajiv Gandhi along with the excerpts of a book by Chander - Rajiv Gandhi- Human facet. The colourful caricatures sketched by Harish Chander is one of the USPs of the website, though he took the help of cartoonist Sushil Kalra to give them a professional touch.

The author of two books on the political and personal life of Rajiv Gandhi, Harish Chander says that he didn't recognize the former PM in their first meeting.

"We both were pilot trainees at Delhi Flying Club in Safdarjung. I was waiting for my turn in the queue and he was standing just ahead of me. I thought he was a foreigner because of his reddish complexion. Suddenly, he smiled at me and said - 'Hi, I'm Rajiv'. Then, I remembered he was the grandson of Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru."

"Soon I had to abandon my dream of flying, as I couldn't afford the charges. I later took to gliding," he adds sadly.

But they soon met again and it was Rajiv who started the conversation while Harish Chander was in a gliding session. "Rajiv was in a jeep, when he saw me. He told me that there was an emergency and asked me to step into the jeep. A piper plane that had two people - an instructor and a trainee - had crashed in Chankyapuri," said Harish.

"He also said - I haven't seen you for a long time," remembers the author.

According to Chander, Rajiv Gandhi regarded human life very precious and could even endanger his own security for the same. He goes on to narrate an incident that made him believe so.

"Rajiv was returning from Dehradun after attending the birthday of his relative. A car met with an accident and the people in the vehicle needed immediate medical attention. He asked the security cars to take the injured people to hospital and covered the rest of the journey that was about 200 km, without any security.

The incident had so touched Harish Chander that he is now coming up with an accident rescue service on Gurgaon National Highway that will cover the stretch of 27 km where most of the accidents occur.

The developer of this comprehensive site that has 30-40 hrs of audios and videos along with the anecdotes of prominent people like KR Narayanan, Jagdish Tytler, Farooq Abdullah as well as Rajiv Gandhi's driver Hari Dutt, denies making profit out of the website. "I took loans from banks and financial help from my daughter to maintain the site. But now I feel I have to close it down soon since not many people click on it."

Strangely, this site is visited more by people from the US, China, Japan than from India - a fact that Chander feels should change because Rajiv Gandhi gave India the youthfulness and energy that the country needed at the time when he took charge.

(Log on to www.rememberingrajivgandhi.com)