While names of statesmen are spelt wrong on some road signs in Delhi, in other cases they are misleading and confusing

The practice of naming roads and streets seems to be a fairly recent development. In most medieval towns, localities were identified by the name of resident communities or through the crafts practiced there. Take Shahjahanabad for example, stone masons lived in Gali Sangtarashan. Jewellers operated out of Dareeba Kalan, Punjabi Phatak and Kashmiri Katra were localities inhabited by specific ethnic communities, so on and so forth.

The Street naming committees constituted by our present-day city fathers would therefore seem to be a newly acquired tradition and yet every party that comes to control the municipal administration tries to outdo its predecessors in finding the most obscure streets and naming them after ever more insignificant party functionaries. If this keeps our city fathers out of harm's way, I would say, by all means, let them rename every door bell. My only request is get someone with a better understanding of the four languages in which the signs are written. We might still have to put up with horrible looking sign boards but they will not be full of spelling mistakes, of terrible styles of writing and will not confuse people instead of guiding them.

Some of these are so glaring that they compel you to hang your head in shame. The road that connects Lodi Road to Subramaniam Bharti Marg through Golf Links was named after Archbishop Makarios -- a leader of the Non Aligned Movement and of the anti colonial struggle of the people of Cyprus. We have changed his name to ‘Archbishop MAKARIUS'. In Urdu he is ‘ARCHBISAP'.

Justice Sunanda Bhandare who did pioneering work in the field of building judicial sensitivity on gender related issues was honoured by naming a road that connects Pandara Park to the Delhi High Court, but the word Justice is written as ‘JAS NAS' in Urdu.

The name of Najaf Khan, the builder of Najaf Garh and commander of the Mughal armies during 1772-82, though written correctly as Najaf Khan in English, becomes ‘NAJPH' in Hindi and ‘NAZAF' in Urdu. Moti Lal Nehru Marg becomes ‘MATI Lal Nehru Marg' in Hindi and Safdarjang Road is spelled in two totally different ways in Urdu at the Mustafa Kalam Ataturk crossing.

Writing one name in two radically different fonts, half the name in computer generated fonts and the other half in an extremely childish scribble, is a hall mark of many sign boards in Urdu, examples include Aruna Asif Ali Marg, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk Marg, Maulana Azad Road, Shaheed Jeet Singh Marg.

There are many examples of misleading signage as well. A road that runs between the old JNU campus and Ber Sarai has a sign board identifying the road as Vedant Desika Mandir Marg. Desika is spelled differently in each language - ‘Desika' in English, ‘Deshika' in Urdu, ‘Dashaka' in Urdu and ‘Desika' in Punjabi. Incidentally there is no temple bearing this name along this or any nearby road, this road turns into Aruna Aif Ali Marg after half a kilometre. Another road connecting Andheria Mor to Mahipalpur is known as Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan Marg up to the Fortis Hospital traffic signal and then become Vasant Kunj Marg.

Is there no one in these much vaunted and sought after road naming committees, who can be asked to check spellings of names of leaders of other nations from their embassies?

Is their not even one person in the employ of these bodies who can read and write Urdu, English, Hindi and Punjabi? Can't they employ one Urdu calligrapher who will write all these names for them correctly? Is there no one to point out to these worthies that a straight road cannot be given a different name every half a kilometre. Who runs these establishments? Does anyone care?

Keywords: SignageDelhistreet names