Naming airports or landmarks all over the world and particularly in India has been a thorny issue and has many a time led to a huge political controversy. The government has given in-principle approval for setting up greenfield airports across the country, and once these are completed, the main problem will arise with their names.
Naming airports or landmarks all over the world and particularly in India has been a thorny issue and has many a time led to a huge political controversy. The government has given in-principle approval for setting up greenfield airports across the country, and once these are completed, the main problem will arise with their names. Will these airports be named after personalities or the cities they serve? The current controversy is over the naming of Chandigarh International Airport that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016. While Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government wants the airport to be named after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak Mangal Sein, the Punjab government wants it to be named after freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. So the big question is, should Indian airports be named after personalities? One can understand naming airports to differentiate them from other airports which serve the same city or town, but in India that is not the case.
Recently, Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy had said that the Left Front government was planning to rename Nedumbassry airport in Kochi after Congress leader and former chief minister K Karunakaran. K Karunakaran? How many remember him outside the state of Kerala?
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Though there is no clear policy on this, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha told the Indian Express that the government was considering naming and renaming airports after cities and towns. The story quoted former Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma’s reply to a query in Rajya Sabha on May 3, 2016 on the issue. He had said, “Due to lack of any firm and explicit instructions/guidelines for naming/renaming of airports in the country and considering the convenience of the passengers in general and especially foreign tourists who are not familiar with the local history of the area, a view has emerged to name the airports by the name of the city in which they are located/served and the terminals of the airports after eminent personalities.”
For millions of foreigners, a new country starts with an international airport. Naming airports after towns and cities would certainly help travellers and foreign tourists from any inconvenience on their port of call. Reports say that state governments have suggested that terminals in airports can be named after personalities, which is a very good idea. While internationally, there are many countries that name their airports after prominent individuals, India can set an example by making things easier for those coming to visit the country. Also, there is no dearth of infrastruture projects in India – so why name airports? Roads, bridges etc are already named after locally famous people. To conclude, airports should be named after cities and towns they serve and there would be no debate on this.