After dealing a triumphantly Quixotic death blow to the memory of an emperor by renaming Delhi’s Aurangzeb Road as A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Road, the government had all too little time to rest on its laurels. Indeed, it had probably not anticipated the enthusiasm that renaming would raise among the troops, which had been read as the erasure of a “bad Muslim” from the historical record in favour of a “good Muslim”. Now, the restless V.K. Singh has called for unseating the best of them all from Lutyens’ Delhi, proposing that Akbar Road be renamed to reflect the glory of Maharana Pratap, who famously defeated Akbar’s forces in 1576. Armed with street signs, he proposes to re-enact the battle of Haldighati and give credit where it is due. But the Maharana’s horse Chetak, who perished on the field and is immortalised in popular culture, has been callously dis-remembered. Perhaps Race Course Road, which is not far from Akbar Road, and whose residents include the prime minister, the worthies of the Gymkhana Club and the Delhi Racing Club, can be renamed Chetak Marg to make up for this oversight? This is merely a disinterested suggestion, of course, to right historical wrongs before they can even happen.
The stratagem of renaming is so much easier than making anew, and the lure of instant gratification is most alluring. All it takes is to send out some people with brushes and paint to redo the street signs. Besides, renaming Akbar Road has special cachet — it would force the Congress party, whose offices are located on it, to reprint all their stationery. Excellent strategy, but it was not originated by General Singh. Haryana Chief Minister M.L. Khattar first threw up the idea, and the general only recommended it to the ministry of urban development.
Without quite asking V.K. Singh to stand down, Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that he rules the roads of Delhi, and that renaming them would be impractical. Two years into its tenure, the government is being closely watched, and it would seem Make in India is on the brink of yielding to Rename in India. It would be mortifying if in renaming, the government fell foul of its own Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, and had to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore to itself for wrongly depicting the geography of Delhi.