Renaming CST is lip service, doesn't truly honour Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

How does one honour the great Maratha warrior, Shivaji?

There are many ways than merely naming places after him. First, it was Victoria Terminus that was renamed in his honour and then the airports at Santa Cruz and Sahar. Now, they have decided to add the title of 'Maharaj' to the two transport hubs.

Merely renaming a building, road, landmark, travel hub etc is not enough. It never can be. There are better ways to commemorate the great founder of the Maratha empire, who sent chills down the collective spine of the Mughals. For instance, we could respect him by going by his ideals and his conduct.

A couple of years after his coronation, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had written to a subedar of in Prabhavali, on how he wanted his administration to function:

Go from village to village. Conduct meetings with farmers and take stock of the prevailing situation. Determine if the farmers have the capability and human resources for cultivation of land. Those who have the capability and the manpower but do not have the necessary agricultural implements, bulls, or do not have adequate food grains for sustenance can be provided with funds to purchase two to three bulls and a few sacks of grains. Once the farmers attain a certain level of self-sufficiency, the principal the principal amount of funds given to them can be gradually recovered. In this effort, even if 2,00,000 lakh laris are spent, as long as wasteland is brought under cultivation, taxes increased and farmers made self-sufficient, such expenditure is acceptable to us.

(Source: Maharashtra Human Development Report 2002)

The cited report interpreted it thus: Investment has to be made in the present for the future, welfare or the well-being of the people had to be the cornerstone of governance, create a new order sensitive to the needs of the common people. “Latter day social reformers and political leaders drank at the fountain of his wisdom”.

 Renaming CST is lip service, doesnt truly honour Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

File image of Mumbai's soon-to-be Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. PTI

Apparently, the “political leaders” of back then are nothing like contemporary ones, who like to tilt at the windmills. Or use smoke and screens to build images. Or give a spin to just about everything and keep the citizen as the lowest priority. If you see how the state of Maharashtra has built up huge public debt and has the country’s largest share of farmer suicides, misgoverned cities and towns, and malnutritioned children in tribal areas, we know where the state stands.

Icons are remembered, cults are built, but their values are forgotten except for trite references to them in public speeches. Jyotiba Phule, BR Ambedkar, Sahu Maharaj are some of those. There’s a political purpose behind these. Instead of reaffirming even an intent to work as they did, the addition of 'Maharaj' is seen as politics: To win Maratha votes.

Back to the renaming of renamed places, let me use a quote — quite clichéd, it comes from the great William Shakespeare: “What’s in a name?” from his Romeo and Juliet. This had come to my mind when the grand Victoria Terminus in Mumbai was rechristened Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in 1996. It was done to honour the Maratha warrior.

Such renaming meant little, because even the most ardent devotee of Shivaji began to use it in its abbreviated form — CDT; just like he or she had with Victoria Terminus — VT. Both Victoria and Shivaji went into the background. So much for giving names of the greats, if they are to be reduced to two or three letters.

The renaming of Mumbai’s Sahar airport which served the city came about around the same time, and the Shiv Sena was leading the Maharashtra government. It may be recalled that the state’s capital had been also renamed Mumbai. To many a user, it is even now the ‘Mumbai airport’. Earlier, the domestic wing was known after the village in which it was situated, Santa Cruz.

Now, the honorific 'Maharaj' has been added to the names, making it more respectful. And cumbersome for use. CST becomes Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, or in its abbreviation, CSMT. Likewise, the airport. What this means is while commemorating Shivaji the first time around, Shiv Sena had fallen short. Now the BJP, in saddle, has added 'Maharaj', and the BJP was the Sena’s partner in power during 1995-99.

This is not the Sena and the BJP’s predilection. In 2000, when the Sena-BJP was ousted from power and Congress-Nationalist Congress Party occupied the seats of power, they announced the Prince of Wales Museum's renaming. It recalled that a promise to pack of ‘Prince of Wales’ into oblivion and bring in Shivaji with Maharaj included was made in 1993, when the Congress was at the helm.

What's in a name, indeed?

Updated Date: Dec 09, 2016 16:18:16 IST