From ‘7 RCR’ to ‘7 LKM’

Looks like 2016 is the year of renaming in our capital city of India, New Delhi. It was not long ago that the renaming of the multinational hub, Gurgaon to Gurugram had drawn so much of criticisms to the government earlier this year, that now the famous Prime Minister’s residential address in the posh Lutyens’ Delhi will now be renamed to 7 Lok Kalyan Marg from 7 Race Course Road.

The Race Course Road was named after the Delhi race Course, part of the Delhi Race Club that was established in 1940 British-era. The BJP lawmaker Menakshi Lekhi, had earlier suggested in a letter that the name of the road should match with the culture of India, and Race Course Road did not. A decision to effect this renaming was taken at a high-level meeting of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) that was presided by the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. A notification will soon be issued to complete the progress. NDMC Chairperson Naresh Kumar also said that the name of the road as Race Course Road on which the official residence of Prime Minister of India is situated does not match with the Indian ethos and value system. Hence, it was decided to rename it as Lok Kalyan Marg so to take the philosophy of public welfare in the mind.

This renaming of a famous road in Delhi is not the first one. Before this one a street very nearby was renamed from The Aurangzeb Road to after former President APJ Abdul Kalam. A number of historians had criticized the decision. In the said meeting, Lekhi had proposed the name ‘Ekatma Marg’ for the ‘Race Course Road’ in honor of the philosophy of the party’s idealogue Deendayal Upadhyay but it was rejected. AAP minister CM Kejriwal had suggested Guru Gobind Singh Marg after the 10th Sikh Guru. Even that got rejected as it didn’t convince the council members as fit for the renaming. Kejriwal even suggested that the council should perhaps consult the PM but members instead decided that on the basis of suggestions received from public, the road should rightly be named as Lok Kalyan(People’s welfare) Marg. The NDMC has also decided to rename the Gurudwara Rakabganj round-about adjacent to the Parliament complex as Guru Gobind Singh Chowk following representations from various Sikh organisations. The change of name of Gurudwara Rakabganj round-about to Guru Gobind Singh Chowk is seen as an effort to woo the Sikh community by both BJP and AAP ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls early next year.

The renaming has drawn mixed reactions from the people. Some political parties and historians welcomed this change, others criticized the move. Delhi BJP Chief Satish Upadhyay welcomed the move saying,“Any name which reflects on the culture and greatness of the nation is good. I don't think there is any scope of making any issue out of it.” While Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken refused to comment on the development, so a senior party leader Manish Tiwari said “Why no Param Vir Chakra winner Abdul Hamid Marg or St Teresa Marg?” Conservation Architect AGK Menon, slammed the strategy behind renaming of roads but described this decision as “harmless” precisely because it has no “historical agenda”. He had not reacted the same with the Aurangzeb road renaming.

Any change brought in the country is always subjected to some slamming and some acceptance. We already saw the reactions of eminent people. The public in general haven’t expressed anything on the change. While I think this change wasn’t necessary as it is being claimed by many because if there was so much to be thought on preserving and matching up with the Indian culture, the change should have been brought years before, may be soon after India got its Independence. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for change now. A good change is always welcomed but maybe the country has more things to focus on than just renaming of roads. We will find out in coming days about this, whether the renaming change done has any affects on anyone as such or not.