Tolstoy, Ashoka, Joseph Broz Tito, Max Mueller, Nelson Mandela... apart from being historic personalties, they also share the distinction of hobnobbing with each other in a round about manner in the national capital.
Historic identity lost
Named after historic greats from across the world, the roads in Delhi seem to have lost their identities over time, say various experts.
“People living in Safdarjung or Hauz Khas areas in Delhi would not know, why their colonies are known by that name. Roads and colonies have been named after great people, but people living there lack knowledge of their own recent history,” says Pawan K Varma, India’s envoy to Bhutan.
Blue plaques in London outside apartments commemorate the legends who had lived in that area. These are permanent signs installed in a public place to link the location with a famous person or event. “In Russia, the reflection of Tolstoy is just so great but in Delhi which is home to literary greats such as Ghalib, his legacy in the form of the building he lived in remain neglected,” says poet-writer-lyricist Gulzar.
Walled City’s plight
Not only the roads and colonies, the cities at large have been left at the mercy of their historically ignorant inhabitants who have decreased the indicators of Delhi’s heritage to commercial market complexes, points out Varma. “In other states, their old cities are maintained as a point of attraction. In Delhi, the Old City is a picture of neglect” he says. The sovereign city of Mughals with the historic Red Fort now looks more like an abused local market area with its streets laden with rubbish and pavements filled with shops and travel agencies.
“People renovate their houses and take pride in it but haveli of Ghalib is languishing in such a grave neglect. There should be a movement to renovate and complete buildings once occupied by legends like him,” says Uma Sharma, a noted kathak dancer. Sharma who heads the Ghalib Memorial Movement had recently organised a half-kilometre walk from Ghanta Ghar in Old Delhi to the poet’s