Explained: How Indian Railways names stations, and decides on languages to use

On Monday morning, BJP national vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe retweeted an anonymous handle called Eagle Eye that posted two pictures. One picture showed an old railway station signboard of Dehradun in which the name of the station was written in Hindi, English and Urdu.

Another picture, supposedly of a new signboard, showed the Urdu script replaced by Sanskrit. /“Dehradunam”/ it said in Devnagri script. Sahasrabuddhe said in the tweet: “Thanks for sharing with us this important initiative of @RailMinIndia”. His tweet was retweeted by party spokesman Sambit Patra 10 minutes after that with just the comment: “SANSKRIT”. It got around 90,000 ‘likes’ and over 16,000 retweets and comments from BJP supporters hailing the move.

Controversy over the names of railway stations is nothing new. One would think that the name of a railway station and how the name is displayed on the signboards would be a no-brainer. But not quite.

Just like everything in Indian Railways, the naming of railway stations is also based on a set of codes and manuals that has evolved over a century. It even prescribes what colour, shape and size the names are to be written on the boards.

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