What if, instead of naming our public areas after kings, netas, and nobles of varying types, we looked to India’s incredibly rich flora and fauna, its magnificent rivers, and its majestic mountains? A public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a renaming commission focused on “ancient India” was properly dismissed by the Supreme Court. India, however, need a fresh approach to naming that is not constrained by any one particular interpretation of the country’s troubled past.
The urban population share is projected to rise to 50% by 2050, with an increase of 416 million people to urban areas. That calls for a massive investment in new facilities. Whenever anything new is built or a new street or plaza is created, it naturally requires a new name. Without a new approach to names, this problem will continue to drain resources and tie up the court’s time.
If you take a look at the world’s best airports, you’ll notice that most of them have names that are based on their locations. Similarly, several countries only use the street’s number and its general direction as its name. This whole setup is not only user-friendly, but also helps lessen arguments. Whether it’s the tribute to a famed tree at Singapore’s Changi Airport or the three hundred or so streets in California that share the name “Oak,” it’s clear that when utilitarianism isn’t the primary concern, paying respect to Nature is far more appropriate than paying respect to man.
Why do we still have a bipartisan fixation on the past when naming public spaces like streets, squares, and airports? Try to picture the world without Champa, Chinar, Jamun, Jacaranda, Koel, Myna, or Mahua. Peacock Roads and Elephant Roads are less rare in other countries.
Names are powerful because they convey meanings. What sort of street name, one honouring a leader or one honouring a flower, would you choose to call home? If prominent persons who have since passed away are to be considered, then why not honour cultural and athletic icons from those fields in the naming of public spaces? By the way, attractive names are a powerful economic force.
According to US Census data, the average home value on a ‘Lake’ street is 16% more than the national median. Names like “Riverview” and “Camellias” signify the most desirable neighbourhoods in India. Brokers who are really paying attention to their clients have caught on to what they want. Certainly the administrations that the people have elected should.