Intro : Renaming ‘Aurangzeb Road’ to ‘Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road’ at the heart of national capital New Delhi is rejuvenation of culture.
You can wipe out an entire generation; You can burn their homes to the ground; Somehow they'll still find their way back.
But if you destroy their history; If you destroy their achievements; And it's as if they never existed.
Perhaps, the ‘intellectual’ chaos over renaming a road in national capital as a mark of tribute to the ‘People’s President’ Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the most worthy son of Mother Bharat, has disturbed the so-called secular progressives and leftist intellectuals beyond reconciliation. There can be no other explanation to offer at this moment to the criticism being heaped from all the progressive, modern intellectuals, rationalists, leftists, secular politicians, and the self-appointed prosecutors and judges in the media.
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) acting on a proposal from East Delhi BJP MP Mahesh Giri, decided to change the name of Aurangzeb Road, a 17th century tyrant Mughal ruler of Bharat, after the 11th President the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, popularly known as ‘Missile Man’ as a mark of tribute. This decision was taken with the approval of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who tweeted in endorsement of the move.
This renaming of Aurangzeb Road to APJ Abdul Kalam Road has made them so unhappy, worrisome and restive that they are experiencing nightmares of doom in the broad daylight with their eyes wide open. Some saw in this a conspiracy to ‘rewrite’ history; some like noted (?) historian Irfan Habib described this as ‘foolish, unfortunate and blatantly communal’ act. The communists, who never hid their loyalty outside Bharat, termed this as a ‘first step in a campaign to rename historical places and roads on communal grounds’. The Muslim hardliners objected to this ‘deliberate attempt of distorting history’.
The media were also at the forefront of this ‘pro-Aurangzeb’ bandwagon. They saw in it the Modi Government’s conspiracy to clandestinely accelerate their ‘saffron communal agenda’ by dividing the Muslims into ‘Good Muslims and Bad Muslims’. Kalam, for the BJP is a ‘Good Muslim’ while Aurangzeb is a ‘Bad Muslim’. They termed this as a conspiracy of the RSS and VHP to ‘push for renaming of roads named after Mughals’.
But the common man, the aam aadmi of Bharat, is extremely happy over the decision. All over the country their happiness is visible on the social media. Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels are full of comments praising Modi Government for removing the name of the tyrant rulers who subjugated the people and destroyed the culture of this land in a very ruthless manner. Twitter broke into applause and exhaled a happy sigh. A piece of history was erased for good, some Twitter handles proclaimed.
I was astonished to know that the suggestion to change the name of Aurangzeb Road to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam road came not from a staunch, diehard Hindu leader either of the RSS, or VHP or Bajrang Dal, but from a non-Bharatiya individual, and he is a Muslim!
Yes. He is a Muslim. He is Tarek Fatah. An Bharatiya Muslim born in Pakistan, he is now settled in Canada and works as a journalist with Toronto Sun. He was in Delhi in March this year, when delivering a speech he dared the Bharatiya Muslims to reject the Islamic State (IS) and start living in the ‘state of Islam’. Tarek Fatah when visited Bharat for the first time in 2013 was “shocked” to see the name of Aurangzeb adorns one of the most majestic streets of Bharat’s capital. It was he who appealed to the Bharatiya Muslims to take the initiative in demanding changing the name of Aurangzeb Road, named after the “murderous Mughal Emperor to Dara Shikoh, the more pious brother of the Emperor.
Tarek Fatah reminded Bharatiya Muslims of the religious bigotry, intolerance, cruelty and inhuman approach of Aurangzeb who killed his elder brother, put his own father in jail for life, hanged several Islamic leaders including the head of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslims of Gujarat, executed Sufi mystic Sarmad Kashani and Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur, waged Jihad against Shia Muslim rulers and imposed ‘jizia tax’ on Hindus. In Sindh and Punjab, where many Muslims attended discourses by Hindu Brahmins, he ordered the demolition of all schools and the temples where such interaction took place, making it punishable for Muslims who dressed like non-Muslims.
Equating Aurangzeb with Caliph El-Baghdadi of the Islamic State (ISIS), Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar of the Taliban, he asked the Bharatiya Muslims as to what ideal they want their progeny to follow.
When Dr APJ Abdul Kalam died Terek Fatah took the initiative on Twitter to rename the Road in the late President’s memory. The Idea caught on like a wild fire and East Delhi BJP MP Mahesh Giri wrote to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help change the name. When the Road was renamed and Tarek Fatah got the news on phone from ‘friends in India’ he danced to express his happiness.
What is there in name? So said Shakespear. But quite contrary to this, the names inspire, send shivers down the spine and make you raise your heads or hang them in shame. And if the names are related to historical personalities or freedom fighters then they make all the difference. The change of name carries huge significance for any race or nation. It can be a sign of subservience and servitude to a new master or at other times it is one of overthrowing the bondage of a former dictator.
When the Russians discarded communism, they destroyed the huge statues of Lenin and Stalin, changed the names of Stalingrad to Volgograd as a rebuke to the horrors inflicted on the Russian people by Stalin. When the two Germanys got united they let go of the historical Berlin wall that divided them after the World War II.
Similarly, Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka, Burma became Myanmar, and so is the case with many African nations. In our own country, Trivendrum became Thiruvananth-puram, Madras to Chennai, Calcutta to Kolkata, Bombay to Mumbai and so on. Names of many roads underwent change erasing the signposts of the colonial rule and instilling a sense of freedom amongst the Bharatiya. In Pakistan many roads named after a good number of Bharatiya freedom fighters were renamed after Pakistani heroes.
Even in Bharat after Independence, we have changed the names of many places, provinces, roads, and buildings. There was no opposition to these changes then. Why now suddenly there is such a staunch opposition to changing this particular road name?
This is rooted in the psychological divide of the Bharatiya. There are two schools of thought—one believes that Bharat as a nation was born on the midnight of August 15, 1947 and thus a “nation in the making”. They profess the values of secularism, pluralism, and discard all that is Hindu, that which relates to past history of Hindus and Hindu dharma and culture. Another school believes that India is essentially a Hindu nation with glorious history of thousands of years and dream of restoring that past glory of the nation.
Swami Vivekananda, the great harbinger of Bharat’s national renaissance in modern times, had time and again declared in unequivocal terms that this is Hindu Nation and placed before us the great Hindu ideals of Guru Govind Singh and Chhatrapati Shivaji. In fact, he defined our nation as composed of those “whose hearts beat to the same spiritual tune.”
But these secularists and pluralists become restless with the very mention of restoring the traditional glorious culture of this ancient land. For them, Aurangzeb represented the ‘composite culture’ of this secular, modern Bharat. They even tend to ignore the realities of history in their attempt to paint Akbar as harbinger of humanistic religion, they hail Aurangzeb as epitome of secularism, and denounce Shivaji as ‘plunderer’.
But there is no great sin that denying the history of a race or a nation. It leads to absence of national consciousness and discord amongst the people. This can be overcome successfully by reviving the national characteristics, symbols and signs. As MS Golwalkar who was popularly known as Sri Guruji, the second Sarsanghachalak of RSS said, “rejuvenation of eternal and ennobling values of life can never be reactionary”. To dub it as reactionary merely because it is old only betrays intellectual bankruptcy and nothing else. By the term “rejuvenation of our culture” we mean the reanimating in our lives of those eternal life-ideals that have nourished and immortalised our national life all these millennia.
The opposition to renaming the Aurangzeb Road after Dr Kalam is very well in tune with rejuvenation of our culture. Because as Tarek Fatah had said Aurangzeb is a symbol of Bharat’s subjugation and the imposition of an Arabised culture of radical Islam on a land that savours pluralism and secularism. Removing his name and replacing it by Dr Kalam should be welcomed by one and all. This is in the interest of the Bharat. Why can’t the opponents learn their lessons from the history when Tarek Fatah had understood it well?
Virag Pachpore (The writer is Nagpur-based senior journalist and commentator)