Why renaming Mumbai railway stations is an exercise in futility

In 1995 Bombay became Mumbai, 23 years later Bombay still remains to be an emotion and Mumbai just the name. The state government however is going to rename a few more railway stations in the city.

Few days back Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus became Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Elphinstone Road station Prabhadevi. Stations including Currey Road, Sandhurst Road, Reay Road, Cotton Green, Marine Lines and Grant Road could also now be renamed.

The logic behind taking this decision? Get rid of the colonial names given by the British or in other parts of the country get rid of the Mughal names because they ruled us. Alright, I get that bit. Go ahead and rename everything that you can but how far is the government going to push it?

Are we going to ignore all the world history because Mughals and the British ruled us? Are we now going to get rid of all the heritage structure that stands tall in South Mumbai and adds to its beauty because it was built by the British?

Mumbai became Bombay, Pedder Road will have markings of Gopalrao Deshmukh Marg, Marine Drive became Netaji Subhas Bose Road and how many do actually relate to these names? We can rename all the places we would like but what is the use if I say Netaji Subhas Bose Road and nobody knows where it is.

Rename places go ahead do it, but can we at least be a little logical? One of the BJP leaders wants Marine Lines station to be renamed as Mumbadevi. Mumbadevi to being with is nowhere close to the station and it is a known fact to all the Mumbaikars and Marine Lines got its name because of the nearby Marine Battalion Lines, which now belongs to the Indian Air Force.

BJP is not only looking to rename names of the stations which are named after the British officers but is also ignoring the strong local history which was why the stations were given the name in the first place.

Charni Road Station got its name because of the gazing ground which was closer to the station which in Hindi translates to ‘Charna’. The politician want Charni Road Station to be renamed as Girgaum. Elphinstone Road recently got renamed as Prabhadevi, Prabhadevi is nowhere close in the vicinity, a Mumbai traveller would prefer getting down at Dadar Station if one has to go to Prabhadevi.

Rename the places but at least keep the absurdity in check? If you called colour red, red all your life and suddenly someone tells you call it blue from tomorrow on wards it is not going to make sense, at least rename the colour red in the family of red? Maroon maybe?

And if history is such a serious problem after all, then how far back are we going to go back in History? We are going to rename Red Fort and Taj Mahal too which were built by the Mughals?

The Railway Stations in Mumbai are named after the British officials because they actually contributed for the betterment in that area, at least some of them, why take away their legacy? Government can rename Elphinstone to Prabhadevi or Pedder Road to Gopalrao Deshmukh Marg but it may or may not be a popular choice.

If renaming Marine Line Station as Mumbadevi is really going to help the Western Railway ease out the congestion in the peak hour and provide better service then lets rename all the stations. Maybe this is a political move maybe not, but politicians should really concentrate on the real issues.

(The views expressed by the writer are personal)

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