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Delhi Road Names

June 30th, 2010 · 97 Comments

This is perhaps a seemingly trivial topic to bring up, but during one of my recent Delhi trips I could not help wonder about the roads named after the Mughal rulers of India. These were the conquerors of India, who subdued the local populace and ruled over them. We have given them pride of place in our history by naming some of the most important roads in our capital after them. We might as well name a few after the British governor-generals also.

As a society, we have somehow lost interest in our past. A respect for one’s history is very important – that is one of the things that can bind us together as a nation, and create a national identity. Our history books have become filled up dates and battles rather than talk about the country that once was. Without that deeper understanding for a glorious civilisation, it is hard for us to come together as a nation to face up to the various challenges that we need to face together as a nation.

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97 responses so far ↓

  • 1 pravesh // Jun 30, 2010 at 10:44 am

    There are cities in the name of British Viceroys..

    Dalhousie in H.P and Lansdowne in Uttaranchal.

  • 2 Praveen // Jun 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Hi Rajesh

    very valid points and I completely agree on this.
    is there a practical way to achieve this?

    Praveen

  • 3 Veerchand Bothra // Jun 30, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    A very valid observation indeed that “Our history books have become filled up dates and battles rather than talk about the country that once was.”

    I think it is the media (TV programs, Films, Comics, Books, Newspaper and Magazine articles) through which the masses can become familiar with our glorious Indian heritage and gain a deeper understanding of our culture.

  • 4 Adarsh // Jul 1, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Do you think the names of roads can be changed by the government without annoying a large share of voting population? Do you think the policy makers of the country love India to take the trouble of changing the names?

    I am reading Rajneesh Bible these days and it is an excellent book which explains lot of thing we take for granted in a completely new light …

  • 5 B Shantanu // Jul 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Rajesh, Thoughtful post…
    As you well know, people who forget history are condemned to repeat it..
    I share your angst regarding the utter indifference towards our past – both amongst the powers that be as well as the general population.

    For whatever it is worth, here is a collection of posts on Indian History frm my blog:
    http://satyameva-jayate.org/category/history/
    and here is a post specifically on Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi:
    http://satyameva-jayate.org/2009/07/29/aurangzeb-road-delhi/

  • 6 Mahindra // Jul 1, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Recently I visited Akshardham in Delhi , that really reminds me the true history of India !!

  • 7 Anonymous // Jul 1, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Leave the roads, the cities and have we ever noticed our country is called ‘India’ and why not ‘Bharat’?

    India was the name chosen at the time when India got independent. This name means ‘The other side of Sindhu river’ to which our country was known to the west ages and ages ago.

    Ours is a glorious past and why not tell the world about it, why not make people familiar with our glorious Indian heritage and gain a deeper understanding of our culture. Bharat symbolizes what we are, what our culture is, what our values are.

    We take pride in changing the names of cities from Madras to Chennai, Calcutta to Kolkata.
    If that could happen why not India be called Bharat?

  • 8 Srinivas // Jul 2, 2010 at 12:46 am

    “..roads named after the Mughal rulers of India. These were the conquerors of India, who subdued the local populace and ruled over them.”

    The reality is that a significant portion of Indians take pride in the fact that Mughal rulers subjugated Indians for centuries.

  • 9 Tarun Anand // Jul 3, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Well, may I offer a different opinion – Some people aver that Mughals actually came and settled down here as opposed to British who came with the sole intent of colonization. I think Mughals have contributed a lot to the culture and architecture especially.

    However, there is probably a question – why not use names of other Indian greats – Bhaskara, Charaka etc and name roads after them.

    I dont see this as an “either or” proposition but an “and” proposition.

    Tarun

  • 10 Vik // Jul 10, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I agree with Tarun – why get xenophobic about the Mughals now? On the positive side, they, esp. Akbar, did contribute a lot to the country. And, they *are* an intrinsic part of our glorious history – google images for India & tell me what you see in the first page other than our maps.

    Subjugation is a human thing – “upper” castes have subjugated the “lower” ones for much longer than the Mughals, and things are still horrifying across the country. The political & criminal classes have completely subjugated the common man today – even in a “progressive state” like Karnataka.

    I would rather Amar Chitra Katha be made compulsory reading in schools!! I started re-collecting the lot after turning 30 & today, I can even appreciate some of the rituals my Brahmical family carries out! 🙂

  • 11 Manish Sharma // Sep 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    On the contrary, most of the major streets in New Delhi were indeed named after Viceroys and Governor Generals from the British era. Not surprising, since the conception and building of New Delhi as the capital of British India was a British idea.

    I’m totally against the renaming of streets and place names. History cannot, and must not, be erased simply because we don’t like parts of it.
    Aurangzeb, cruel though he was, was Badshah of a large part of India. He was born in India, and died here. Good and bad, it is all Indian history.
    And trust me, with 1 billion Hindus around, and 3500 year old books, scriptures and rituals still being followed across the land, including in my humble household for generations immemorial, nobody is going to forget the Hindu component of Indian History, or indeed the overwhelming centrality of it.

    Relax.

  • 12 vinod kumar mittal // Feb 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    under rti act i wanted to know how, why and when the names of lutians delhi importent roads were named after mughal intruders from delhi govt. I received 12 letters from dlhi govt. ndmc and mcd but no body was able to give the right information.now i have appealed to state information commission.The history of our ghulami has been spreaded on the roads.Shame Shame.I request to the proper authority to rename these roads after martyers.

  • 13 Venkatesh // Oct 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Why change the names of roads and cities and towns in the first place? What was wrong with Canning Road and in the same breadth what have we achieved by renaming it as Madhav Rao Scindia Road? What are we achieving by changing the names of Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Pondicherry, Trivandrum, Cochin and a score others? I think the present Indian leaders and politicians are a confused lot or they are trying to are hiding behind their incapabilities of clean governance and doing all this nonsense just to divert the attention of the public and confusing them. If at all it is necessary then let it be Madras and Chennai, Bombay and Mumbai so that local chauvinists are happy too! these names wove India into a single nation. There was no trace of regionalism in them. All this is being destroyed by us.

  • 14 David // Dec 28, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I apologise for intruding on this discussion, but I believe that place names are an important part of history, and by changing them you lose something. Names of cities and towns in the UK reflect many waves of invaders over the centuries. For example any town with “Chester” in it, such as Manchester, is of roman origin (from castra, or camp). Any town ending in “by” in it, such as Grimsby or Derby is Viking etc. No one suggested changing these when they left, so now our history can be read from our maps.

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