Leave Chandni Chowk alone
The announcement by the Delhi Mayor renaming the main road, which runs through Chandni Chowk as the Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar Marg, is blasphemous. Why should any attempt be made to rename an area, which has been synonymous with the city’s life and culture and is considered by Delhiites like me as the Soul of Delhi? Chandni Chowk has a huge history and it even precedes the Mughuls who made Delhi as their Capital subsequently. I strongly feel that so far as Chandni Chowk and its roads are concerned, there can be no compromise even if the Mayor’s response was to a campaign run by a Radio Channel to get a street in the capital named after Tendulkar.
I have no problem with a road being named after this legendary cricketer but not Chandni Chowk or areas, which have a historic value. Even Tendulkar, I am sure will not back such a move if he gets to know of it. The more apt way of honouring this Cricket hero would be to name a stand in the Ferozeshah Kotla ground after him. Or build a new Cricket stadium or Academy with his name. If that does not satisfy his fans, some Road in the city can surely be found to be named after him.
The Delhi Mayor who teaches in the Delhi University should have greater sensitivity about how people would feel after her announcement. If she does not feel so, she should not represent any segment of this city. It is as plain and simple as that. Getting cheap popularity with this announcement is least one would expect from a City Father. The decision is as ridiculous as renaming Connaught Place as Rajiv Chowk or Indira Chowk was. Till today, barring the Delhi Metro, no body refers to Connaught Place as Rajiv Chowk. Delhi has had its share of foolish administrators taking decisions in renaming various roads and streets. Most of the roads named after British rulers have been changed and a feeble attempt was made to wish away history. These things do not happen as people like me continue to refer to some landmarks by their original names not because there is no respect for the new names but because they are easier to remember and are etched in memory. For instance, Kasturba Gandhi Marg continues for me as the Curzon Road and Baba Kharak Singh Marg as Irwin Road like Ram Manohar Lohia hospital will always be Willingdon hospital and LNJP hospital will always be Irwin Hospital.
In two days time, over such anomaly of a change in name is being corrected. Delhi College where I studied and is perhaps the oldest education institution in North India was renamed as Dr Zakir Hussain College in 1975-76 during the Emergency. This had not gone down too well with both the students and the staff who could do nothing over this decision, which aimed at rescuing the cash starved institution at that time. Suggestions were made that as a tribute to Zakir Sa’ab, Jamila Millia Islamia should be named after him or some new University should be founded in memory of the great educationist and India’s third President. Nothing happened for so many years.
However last year at a meeting of the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust of which I am a member, I along with the present principal, Dr Aslam Parvaiz moved a proposal for renaming the College as Zakir Hussain Delhi College. The Trust Chairman, Dr Manmohan Singh and other Trustees accepted the suggestion. The college will get its new name on January 7th thereby doing a little bit of course correction.
I sometimes find it extremely silly to see roads named after those who have nothing to do with those areas. I do not know what are the views of the Delhi Congress Chief Jai Prakash Aggarwal whose family has lived in Chandni Chowk for several centuries or those of Vijay Goel of the BJP who is obsessed with the area. The present MP, Kapil Sibal must also come out in the open to stall this move even if his association with Chandni Chowk is not too old.
Chandni Chowk is an area, which does not need any other name associated with it. Its Katras and Kuchas are all centuries old. From Dariba to Chippiwara to Katra Neel to Jogiwada, Chandni Chowk symbolizes the walled city and its unique culture. It will look very odd to have Tendulkar Marg associated with say Ghantewala sweets or the Kumar and Moti Cinemas. The MCD must reconsider its decision and leave Chandni Chowk alone. All those who care for the city should likewise not allow the desecration of the walled city. It amounts to blasphemy. Rename a Road after Tendulkar but please do not touch Chandni Chowk.