Bengaluru: whats in a name?

If I remember right, the new name will officially come into effect in November this year. Bangalore will become Bengaluru (or Bengalooru). But this isn’t really a name change, it is just saying that hey, please stop translating the proper noun “Bengaluru” for your pronunciation conveniences. Madras to Chennai was a name change. But Calcutta to Koltata wasn’t really one. And so is Bangalore to Bengaluru.

Regardless, what exactly drives these name changes? Mumbai mayor Datta Dalvi recently announced intentions to change names of railway stations, Churchgate and few more. What really motivates these name changes?

If getting rid of colonial hangover is the motive, how about getting rid of “India” itself, shouldn’t it be Bharat? And in similar breath, why don’t we strive to change our national anthem itself?

Are these fueled by ‘Nationalist’ feelings? Proposals to rename Ahmadabad to Karnavati, decision to rename Allahabad to Prayagaraj, these do fall in that category. And getting rid of “Christian” sounding names of Mumbai railway stations could be similar (just a guess, I don’t know the full story).

To me, drives to revert back to Sanskrit-ized or culturally “older” names are similar to the demolition of Babri Masjid (mosque). A meaningless and negative exercise. Names reflect history, and history points to the realities. A reality is, our country was ruled by Muslim invaders for 6 centuries, and then Christian ‘businessmen’ for 2. Another reality is, our country is a religiously diverse place today.

These realities can’t just be wished and ‘cleaned’ away, name changes or whatever. Learning to live with these means two things:

1) We got to learn to live in diverse and secular societies.
2) And we got to keep these names to preserve history, if not for any other reason then just to keep reminding us that this coward nation of ours was stamped and ruled over and over again by outsiders. Past is past, but let us not let that happen again.


5 Comments so far

  1. Sid (unregistered) on August 14th, 2006 @ 3:48 pm

    Nice thoughts. If only our politician friends would think the same thoughts as you.

  2. Kishor Cariappa (unregistered) on August 14th, 2006 @ 4:12 pm

    Renaming is just another waste of tax payers money. It’s pure chauvinism, nothing else.

  3. NParry (unregistered) on August 15th, 2006 @ 7:47 pm

    “bengaloorandrey byangalooru kanappo” If any of you have a chance ready today’s BusinessWeek online for an article about how cities like Stockholm, Orlando are looking at new directions for their cities….Our “city fathers” need to read it. Renaming cities and towns is a joke that is pathetic and pointless!!

  4. Swingingover (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 12:53 pm

    All taken, but what are you asking of us? We should live with it??
    Even Hindu word is not coined by Hindu’s but my muslims, denoting people living across Sindhu.
    India is also a british word.
    Jana Gana Mana is controversially agreed upon, and the eveidence of it not being a non national song is quite reffutable.
    All take but, should we live with it just because the effect is so widespread??
    I think not, lets take pride in calling our motherland, what our people had called it.
    Open the map of Bangalore and have a peek, 70% of the roads have christian names…queens road, brigade road, trinity circle and all we should live with it??
    A small change as calling a chairman as a chairperson had gone a long way in the emancipation of women, why then can’t we take this step?
    Your arguement of not working is that we have a lot more work to do….which is actually all the more reason to make the change..

  5. silkboard (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 6:19 pm

    swingover, I see your point, but you mixed the plot a bit. Brooding over past isn’t the most positive thing to do. It is as simple as that.

    As a nation, we are still searching for our identity. Was pre-colonial India the true India? Was pre-muslim India the true one? Or was ancient and part-mythological India it?

    India isn’t India, Bharat or Hindustan. India is just what it is today, a country named and put together by the British. Live in present, and work to make us a better future. Digging up past to get feel-good feelings isn’t as constructive a thing to do.

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