Lindsay Pereira: When governance is for namesake

Published: Dec 24, 2016, 07:59 IST | Lindsay Pereira |

It’s interesting how the government assumes it can con us into believing it is working for us by simply renaming streets and places

Our government spent the week before this making sure the Oshiwara railway station would be named Ram Mandir, pro­mptly meeting its KRAs for the year. File pic
Our government spent the week before this making sure the Oshiwara railway station would be named Ram Mandir, pro­mptly meeting its KRAs for the year. File pic

Guess what the government of Maharashtra accomplished in the penultimate week of 2016? It renamed Elphinstone Road railway station. The place will now be refer­red to as Prabhadevi, presumably by the four or five people who refer to VT as CST. Our government spent the week before this by making sure the upcoming Oshiwara railway station would be named Ram Mandir, pro­mptly meeting its Key Result Areas for the year.

A number of political parties that claim to speak for millions of us are now demanding (it’s interesting how they always demand, never suggest) that the names of three more suburban railway stations — Dadar, Grant Road and Charni Road — be chan­ged. This, after the government spent time and money adding the word ‘Maharaj’ to the names of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Apparently, the name changing proposal was unanimously approved by the state Assembly.

I have absolutely no problem with any of the new names. I’m sure some of them are deserved, and there will be many people in my city who will be pleased. What I fail to understand is how the government has the time, energy and money for exercises like these, when anyone with half a brain can point to a thousand other issues that urgently demand its attention.

It’s also interesting how the government assumes it can con us into believing it is actually working for us by simply renaming streets and places. Maybe it should just create a rule making it mandatory for every street, railway station, landmark and organisation to be renamed every two years, so it can budget for this rebranding well in advance. It can simply take the money it doesn’t spend on building us decent roads.

Maybe the government should also consider renaming places based on the flavour of the month. I propose Kapil Sharma Street in Versova, for instance, as a reminder to everyone living there that mangroves are to be protected. Or change Hill Road to Salman Khan Marg for obvious reasons. I also urge the government to consider renaming all stations every year after ministers in power during that period. This way, their massive egos will be stroked, and it can also be a fun guessing game for us as we try and explain to taxi drivers what a street’s name for a particular week is.

Ministers should change their own names too, to appeal to specific vote banks and show us how much they care about us. They should also rename their children every year, then put up photographs of them on illegal banners across the city, to show us what they’ve been up to while we’re waiting for more public toilets and cleaner hospitals.

The best way for us to then keep track of all this renaming will be to replace all signs with LED boards that can display new names with the click of a few buttons. The government should also invest in a website that allows us all to vote for the new names of streets and buildings. It can run social media campaigns with hashtags like #RenameGoregaon or #MakeVirarVirat and encourage us all to spend a few hours every week thinking up exciting options for these admittedly boring places. I also propose a lottery, with ministers picking out winning names suggested by people across the city, then using these entries to rename parts of Bombay for a week or so. Why not rename parts of the city after the winners of these contests too?

Lastly, I urge the government to consider making it mandatory for all residents of Bombay to get their own names vetted by a specially appoin­ted panel to see if they are Indian enough, and reflective of the great and glorious history of our state.

I expect a notice any day now, demanding that I change my own name soon. The name ‘Lindsay’ is not traditionally Indian, I’m told, and may offend the delicate sensibilities of our honourable ministers, who may insist I change it to something more acceptable, like Narendra, Rahul or Amit. Changing my birth certificate, Aadhar card and passport will involve standing in a few lines, of course, and filling out countless forms in order to get the process underway, but the past few weeks have trained me to stand in all kinds of lines without complaining. I don’t dare protest because, as we have all been told by our great leaders, it’s unpatriotic for us to complain when soldiers are dying at the border.

When he isn’t ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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