New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the civic body looking into the matters of the New Delhi area, recently unanimously approved the amending of the name on 07.09.2022 of Central Avenue from Rashtrapati Bhawan to India Gate along with the Central Vista lawns. The name has been changed to “Kartavya Path.” Kartavya Path will incorporate the former Rajpath and Central Vista Lawns, according to NMDC resolution. The entire distance between Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s statue and Rashtrapati Bhavan will be known as the ‘Kartavya Path.’ In this article, we will discuss the history of Rajpath, how it has been renamed, the reasons behind the name change, its impact, and many more. So, let's get started.
History of Rajpath
The British Imperial Government and the Viceregal administration decided in 1911 that Delhi should become the new venue of the British Indian Empire's capital, which had formerly been in Calcutta. As a result, the district of New Delhi, which would serve as the specifically designed administrative capital of the Indian Empire, started to take shape that year. The British Raj chose Sir Edwin Lutyens to build the new city.
The expansive boulevard presently known as the Rajpath served as the "ceremonial axis" in Lutyens' vision of a great imperial city. Lutyens planned the viceregal palace to have a broad view of Delhi.
As a result, the National Stadium is the sole structure blocking the sight from Raisina Hill, which otherwise extends uninterrupted across Rajpath and the India Gate. Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, the project's second architect, were responsible for most of the structures surrounding the Rajpath. The significance of these structures to the Indian government ensures the significance of the road.
A journey from Kingsway to Kartavya path
Rashtrapati Bhavan, also known as the President's House, is located on Raisina Hill. The Kartavya Path, which translates to "Boulevard of Duty," runs from Vijay Chowk to India Gate. It extends to the Central Secretariat buildings in the west from the National Stadium through the War Memorial arch (India Gate).
The road was given the name King's Way, or Kingsway, when it was first constructed in honor of the Indian Emperor George V, who had visited Delhi during the Durbar of 1911 and had officially announced the plan to move the capital there.
The name was reminiscent of London's Kingsway, established in 1905, was likewise a specially constructed arterial road, and was called in honor of George V's father, Edward VII (as King of the United Kingdom).
After India gained independence, the road's English designation was replaced with its Hindi one, "Rajpath." Since "Rajpath" and "King's Way" have essentially the same meaning in Hindi, this is more of a translation than a significant rename.
Motive/reason behind the name change of Rajpath
Swapna Liddle, a historian and the author of Connaught Place And The Making of New Delhi, claimed that after Independence, Kingsway was renamed Rajpath, the Hindi version. She said, "Many colonial names were changed during that period, and the motivation behind renaming Kingsway was also along the same lines.”
The new name, Kartavya Path, is in conformity with Prime Minister Modi's attempt to eliminate names and symbols indicative of colonialism's latter days and the British Empire. On August 15, 2022, Prime Minister Modi stressed the importance of disposing of the names and symbols from the colonial mindset when addressing the nation from the Red Fort ramparts on India's 75th Independence Day, Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. According to Modi Ji, Kartavya Path denotes “duty.”
Some of the recent road name changes that flashed debates in the New Delhi area comprised of the renaming of Aurangzeb Road to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road in August 2015. In February 2017, the council declared the name change of Dalhousie Road (after the former governor general) as Dara Shikoh Road.
Impact of name change
There was a mixed response from the public on this name change of Rajpath to the Kartavya path. At the same time, some of them greeted the move and called it a ‘positive change’, while others disagreed to the idea and said that the concept of Rajpath and Janpath crossing each other would no longer remain the same.
What's in a name, you Shakespearean might wonder? What we call Rajpath would be just as spectacular as any other name. However, the decision has received much support from the public on social media and across party lines and political ideologies, with netizens praising the new name, Kartavya Path.