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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Aurangzeb Road renamed Dr APJ Abdul Kalam ...... in Delhi

In the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and some other States - Streets are numbered,  eg., 11-6-14 Suryaraopeta, ……  Tamil Nadu has names for the Streets. Many Streets are named after National leaders, local leaders who lived in that place and more.. there are some  names of British vestige and names which nobody could now  understand, why and more so ~ why they continue to be so.  

A few  years back,  the then Mayor Mr M Subramaniam mulled a proposal to name 52 Chennai roads after Tamil scholars.  At that time, it was told that roads and streets named after foreigners would be taken up by the Corporation during its council meet and a resolution would be sent to State Govt for renaming.  It was a move to shake the colonial attachment ~ change  British names with the names of Tamil scholars and union leaders.  The road identified included : New Farrence Road, Stephensons Road, Cooks Road, General Collins Road, Frazer Road, Flowers Road, Millers Road,  Pantheon Road, Whannells Road, Montieth Road, Anderson Road, Moore's Road, Haddows Road, Greams Road, Binny Road, Patullos Road, Whites Road, Woods Road, West Cott Road, Murrays Gate Road,  ………………….

In Chennai aka Madras, many roads have been renamed – Mount Road became Anna Salai, Nungambakkam High road became Uthamar Gandhi Road, Edwards Elliots – Dr Radhakrishnan Salai, Beach Road – Kamarajar Salai; Pycrofts Road – Bharathiyar Salai;  Wall Tax Road renamed after Kappal Ottiya Thamizhan (VO Chidambaram Pillai) …… now the decision of NDMC to name a road after our hon’ble Dr APJ really made happy. 

The news in Indian Express [as also many other media reads] : From a Mughal emperor to the “Missile Man”, Aurangzeb Road in Lutyens’ Delhi has been renamed as Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Road in honour of the late President. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) took the decision at a meeting Friday, just a month after East Delhi BJP MP Maheish Girri proposed the move to “correct the mistakes made in our history”.

On July 31, Girri wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, requesting that the road be renamed. His demand met, Girri said: “Whenever we remember Aurangzeb, we think about cruelty and torture. We do not want to be reminded of that. A P J Abdul Kalam, on the other hand, is known for his love for the nation, his loyalty to the country, his generosity and kindness. We need to correct the mistakes made in our history.” The proposal was finalised after a council discussion that lasted a little over 15 minutes with little dissent. AAP MLA and NDMC member Surinder Singh was among the minority who questioned the choice of road. Minutes after the NDMC decision, Kejriwal, who is an NDMC member tweeted, “Congrats. NDMC just now decided to rename Aurangzeb Road to A P J Abdul Kalam Road.”

On the other view, happen to read an article in – which tries to mention minor issues of those living on Aurangzeb Road  having to get new letterheads, and postmen will have to be taught where Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Road is ! . [the postman who knew Aurangzeb – but not knowing Abdul Kalam- sounds incredulous !!!]

That post questions why Aurangzeb ; and adds that  Delhi  has a millennium of history, and many place names go back a long way. New Delhi was designed by British architects and engineers, and each street had bungalows of a standard design and size, was lined by a particular species of tree, and as in Britain, was thought to need a name.  In the late 19th century, children in Britain and in India learned history as political history. The monotony was relieved by the adjectives—Ivan was ‘the Terrible’, Peter was ‘the Great’. So in Indian history we had Ashoka and Akbar as ‘Great’.  Informed debate should be the material of history, neither hero stones nor erasure. History teachers may think street names do not matter. Maybe they do not look at the sky or see the straws in the wind, concludes the article.

Intellectualism – it would sound.  A search on the web gives the following info : - Abul Muzaffar Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb, imperial title Alamgir ("world-seizer")  was the sixth Mughal Emperor and ruled over India, . His reign lasted for 49 years from 1658 until his death in 1707. Aurangzeb was a notable expansionist and during his reign, the Mughal Empire temporarily reached its greatest extent.

Aurangzeb's policies partly abandoned the legacy of pluralism, which remains a very controversial aspect of his reign. Rebellions and wars led to the exhaustion of the imperial Mughal treasury and army. He was a strong-handed authoritarian ruler, and following his death the expansionary period of the Mughal Empire came to an end, and centralized control of the empire declined rapidly.  He was the third son and sixth child of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. His father was a governor of Gujarat at that time. The four sons of Shah Jahan all held posts as governors during the lifetime of their father. The emperor favoured the eldest, Dara Shikoh, and this had caused resentment among the younger three.   There were battles and Aurangzeb took control of the nearby capital of Agra and placed his father under arrest. Aurangzeb then broke his arrangement with Murad Baksh, which probably had been his intention all along. 

He was known for executions – the first prominent one was that of his brother Prince Dara Shikoh; then his allied brother Prince Murad Baksh held for murder, judged and then executed.  He executed Sarmad Kashani a Sufi mystic of Jewish origins; then Sambhaji the leader of the Maratha Confederacy.  The Sikh leader Guru Tegh Bahadur was arrested on orders by Aurangzeb, found guilty of blasphemy by a Qadi's court and executed.

-       Now the road is named after late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, whom the Nation loved.

Concluding renaming is not new to Delhi too.  The place once known as Kingsway, is the now famous Rajpath.  Likewise, the Motilal Nehru Marg, which houses the likes of the Chief Minister of Delhi, was once called York Road when Edwin Lutyens started building New Delhi in 1912. Teen Murti Marg, that houses the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, was once known as Roberts Road and the present day Rafi Marg was known during the British Raj as Old Mill Road.   Canning Road is now called Madhavrao Scindia Marg, after the Congress leader who died tragically in 2001, G B Road is known as Swami Shradhananda Road. The  Connaught Place and Connaught Circus have changed to Rajeev Chowk and Indira Chowk.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

31st Aug 2015.

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