Lucknow, July 23: The Akhilesh Yadav government today restored the original name of the 100-year-old King George Medical College, a prestigious British-era institution that had been renamed after a Dalit icon by the earlier regime.
The college, which had been upgraded to a university, was renamed Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University by the Mayawati government in 2007.
The decision to restore the original name was taken at a cabinet meeting Akhilesh chaired today. “The restoration of its original name is an act of correction in the aberration of history that had taken place during the Mayawati regime,” a senior minister told The Telegraph.
This was the fourth time that the institute’s name had been changed since 2002, the alterations mirroring the political changes in Uttar Pradesh.
In 2002, the Mayawati government had changed the varsity’s name for the first time to Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University. But in 2003, when Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav took over as chief minister, the original name was restored.
After Mayawati returned to power, her government had again changed the name of the university back to Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University in May 2007.
Both times, students and teachers of the college had resisted the move. The students had argued that they would lose their identity as “Georgians”, a name a student has automatically acquired after admission to the medical college since 1911.
The Mayawati government had said the name King George Medical College smacked of colonial vestiges and needed to be adjusted to the contemporary realities in India and, hence, should be renamed after Shahuji Maharaj, a Dalit icon.
Set up originally with donations from many royal families, the hospital’s foundation had been laid by the Prince of Wales in December 1905 on a plot gifted by the provincial government.
The medical college was formally opened in October 1911, the same year King George V and Queen Mary visited India. It was announced then that the medical college had been opened to “Georgians”, its students.
Many academicians today welcomed the government’s move to restore the original name even as Mayawati reacted sharply, calling it “a starkly anti-Dalit step” taken to distract attention from the controversies the Akhilesh government had been caught up with over law and order.