What’s in a name?

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  • Updated: Jul 04, 2010 01:27 IST

Parents of SSC students today filed a petition in the Bombay High Court, claiming that the geography paper in which students were asked to identify districts in Maharashtra was prepared according to their old names and not the new ones decided by the state government after it was elected to power.

The state education department, however, claims that it was not given a list of the new names and there was a communication gap between departments. “If students had learnt both sets of names, there would not have been any problem,” said one senior official at the department, visibly miffed at the controversy. 

This is the latest in line of problems that have sprung up because of the growing trend of political parties and governments changing the names of districts, railway stations and even airports every time they come to power.

The first instance of this was when Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati renamed Amethi — the stronghold of the Gandhi family — after Dalit icon Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj. The Congress, who had been waiting to rename Amethi after Rajiv Gandhi, found themselves scrambling to find an alternative subject to rename, and pounced on the Mumbai airport.

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport became Rajiv Gandhi Inter-national Airport within the next couple of days.

This angered the Shiv Sena, with the party supremo writing an editorial in which he said the Gandhis are feudal in nature and wanted to claim all the airports in the country as theirs — the Delhi airport, after all, is already named after Indira Gandhi.

The Sena further blamed the influx of north Indians in the state that was influencing such decisions and demanded the Gateway of India be named after Bal Gangadhar Tilak. This, of course, sent the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena into a tizzy as they were unable to find a landmark significant enough to rename.

There have been rumours that the Left government in West Bengal was toying with the idea of rename the Kolkata airport after Jyoti Basu, but Mamata Banerjee then threatened to rename Howrah Station on Mother Teresa. Arundhati Roy, meanwhile, wrote in a column that it is high time the West Bengal government recognised the contribution of the Naxalites to the development of rural Bengal and consider one their slain leaders while renaming the station.

The issue is being debated. 

The Airports Authority of India has called for a meeting with the Directorate of Civil Aviation and representatives of the different airlines to decide on a permanent solution to the ever-changing names of airports. Sources said there are high chances that all flight operations will henceforth mention airports simply by the name of their cities. So, Rajiv Gandhi International Airport would be called Mumbai Airport.

The issue of renaming districts with every change in government, however, remains unsolved. An all-party meeting has been convened next week to discuss them matter. A senior NCP member said that there is a proposal to distribute renaming rights according to the seat-sharing formula between alliance partners. He, however, did not comment on whether Sharad Pawar was willing to rename Baramati.


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