So. Farewell then, Rajpath

So. Farewell then, Rajpath

I’m no E. J. Thribb, so I won’t write a poem.

Instead, I’ll confine myself to the bare facts.

Today, yet another deemed colonial vestige was obliterated from the Delhi landscape. Mr. Modi’s government is on a (metaphorical) cleaning up spree, wiping out names and concepts they do not like. And anything perceived to be “colonial” is right up there on the To Do List.

Thus it was that Rajpath, a rather grand road in the heart of Delhi, that runs from Rashtrapati Bhavan (the residence of the president) to India Gate, was renamed this morning.

Rajpath, formerly Kingsway, is now known as Kartavya Path. (That’ll be my Hindi word of the day, obvs.)

Tomorrow, Mr. Modi will inaugurate the refurbished, revamped, redesigned, reconstructed Raj Path Kartavya Path.

Mr. Modi is free to do whatever he pleases.

His writ runs pretty unchallenged, to be honest, and I imagine there are loads of people who are thrilled at the name change, and equally thrilled that a statue of Mr. Bose will be unveiled tomorrow as well.

I fully understand wanting to throw off the shackles of colonialism.

Fully get it.

BUT…there’s always a “but”, ain’t there?…

I’m just surprised that the name change was only announced yesterday (or was it the day before?), and voted on today, a mere 24 hours before the grand inauguration tomorrow of all that revamping. Since the revamp and rebuilding have been going on for well over a year, they could’ve decided to change the name then, so we’d all have had time to get used to it.

Or perhaps that’s just me.

I also can’t help wondering whether the revamp included nice new “Rajpath” road signs…in which case they’ll already be redundant, won’t they?

There is an absolutely fascinating article in The Wire about this renaming and I urge you to read it – here’s the link.

Whatever has been written about this name change refers to Rajpath as a direct translation of the definitely colonial Kingsway, but the article in The Wire puts a rather different complexion on the name, which it translates as State Road.

I speak Hindi (tho’ I admit Kartavya is a new addition to my vocabulary) but even so, I double-checked the translation of “Raj” in good ol’ Wikipedia, and I quote:

“Raj in different contexts means “rule”, “king”, “ruler”, “emperor” or “royalty” and “power”…

Which makes the extract I shared above, with the State Road and People’s Road comparison, very interesting.

But the name change is a done deal, so that’s that.

Farewell Rajpath.

Namaste Kartavya Path.

If mere mortals are actually allowed on this newly revamped road, I’m planning on running there this weekend, so I’ll tell you more then.

I’ll let our honourable Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Meenakshi Lekhi, have the last word:

3 Comments

  1. Sanjeev Chhabra

    Thanks for the lovely blogs. Have left my five pennies there.
    On another note, wish they had used the easier and more colloquial version of Kartavya, I.e. Farz which would have morphed into Farzi Marg

  2. Sanjeev Chhabra

    Yup! With no more worlds to conquer, the Bada Babus are tilting at windmills and splitting hairs.

    I haven’t read the referred article, but as an avid peruser of that place both as an architect and a runner, Rajpath being the King’s Road is pretty obvious as
    A. It leads to the Viceroy’s House
    B. It’s slope was the lifelong bone of contention between Lutyens and Baker (Lutyens wanted a steady slope so you could see Lutyen’s Rashtrapati Bhawan from India Gate. But Baker screwed up and ended up highlighting Baker’s North and South Blocks).
    C. The cross road named Janpath i.e. the Commoners’ Road adds evidence to Rajpath being Kingsway
    D. The road was intended to be River (Yamuna) to Ridge(Raisina Hill), where lay Kingsway camp, the place for the horses and troops to rest and regroup prior the Parade

    P.S. Wish Lutyen’s had got his slope. Then Delhi Runners would have been better trained for blighted Pedder’s Road!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.