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Monday, June 22, 2015

identifying destination station ! ~ Uzbekistan changes Russian names !!

Imagine, as a Monday-morning commuter, that you kept waiting for the announcer to name your metro station... and kept waiting... and waiting... and  then: you realised you had missed your stop, rather the station !!....... It is often said that people of Madurai are very courteous – if a visitor, were to enquire about a place – they will go out of the way to make you understand where it is and guide you accordingly – in some metro cities, you may get a cold state, rude response or no response at all. 

Chennai Metro Rail is set to change the way Chennaites travel.  In its first phase it covers two corridors of a length of 45.1 kilometres (28.0 mi) of which most is  underground and the remaining corridors are elevated.Upon completion, Chennai Metro Rail would be the first metro project in the country that will integrate other public transportation systems. The project is expected to reduce the commuting time by 75 per cent from one end of the city to another.  The stretch between  Koyambedu till Alandur is almost ready and sooner people will be in a position to travel – albeit on a single track at some points.  …. Does it require any exceptional intelligence to get adapted to such change ?at least in its initial phase ??

As you travel in MRTS plying between Chennai Beach and Velachery, in most compartments, you will see and hear the announcement - : Destination : Chennai Beach; next Station –ThiruMayilai in English, Hindi and Tamil.  Sometimes such well-programmed too can confuse …… for example, one may need to go to Adambakkam; would ask whether the EMU goes there.  Answer would be ‘yes’- then you wait for the Station to come …….. the Delhi Metro graphically shows where the train is, what the next station to be …..

At Delhi, old-timers know Connaught Palace well – it was the former location of the headquarters of the British Raj, developed as a showpiece of Lutyens' Delhi with a prominent Central Business District.  It was named after H.R.H. Field Marshal The 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, construction work began in 1929 and was completed in 1933.  It is one of the most expensive office places.  It is the transfer station between Blue line on upper level and Yellow line on lower level – but the station is named Rajiv Chowk, named after our ex-Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. 

Imagine, as a Monday-morning commuter, that you kept waiting for the announcer to name your metro station... and kept waiting... and waiting... and  then: you realised you had missed your stop, because the station name had changed.BBC reports that this  actually happened last week in Uzbekistan. Disgruntled commuters in the capital Tashkent started expressing bafflement and anger on social media when authorities changed the names of two stops on the Tashkent metro as part of an anti-Soviet renaming campaign.Some were confused and said they had missed their stop, while others urged the government to concentrate on more important things, such as improving infrastructure."You better do something useful rather than renaming the stations," said one Facebook user. "I agree everything should be erased from the earth and be renamed! This way everybody will enjoy 'happy' life!" said another ironic commenter.

Why were the names suddenly changed? It's all about Russian influence and Soviet history. Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov is determined to stamp out all traces of the former Soviet Union, which his country was a part of until the USSR's breakup in 1991.Karimov, who has ruled the country since independence, has on several occasions criticised the "the old repressive regime" and those who are nostalgic for the Soviet era. In recent months, Russian President Vladimir Putin's attempts to woo Central Asian countries into a new customs union and a defence pact have been largely snubbed by Karimov.

The city government of the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, decided to change the name of two metro stations because they were named after national figures who were also pro-Soviet. The stations, named after geologist Habib Abdullaev and the poet Hamza, were changed last week.But the changes happened without warning - the official announcement coming a day after the switch.

Although many vented their frustration online, others defended the move and criticised the poet Hamza for being a sycophantic follower of Soviet rulers. In Soviet times, the poet led an anti-veil campaign in predominantly Muslim Uzbekistan. "It is good to remove the poet's name, which served as a slogan in the campaign to undress our grandmothers," commented well-known blogger Abu Muslim.The metro station name changes were only the latest step in what appears to be a grand renaming plan. Authorities previously changed the name of a station which had been dedicated to World War II general SobirRahimov, and also removed a monument and renamed a city district which bore his name. In 2011, the president signed a law prohibiting places from being named after individuals - instead place names must refer to their geographical position.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd June 2015.

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