Renaming for ‘Namesake’

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Does the name-changing madness which is happening in India make any sense? After the recent reports about Karnataka State Government’s decision to rename Bangalore to Bengalooru, Mangalore to Mangaluru, Gulbarga to Kalburgi etc., one wonder when in India we will put a full stop to these kind of phoney nationalism or tub-thumping chauvinism.

Political parties in India have been caught up in a policy crisis where everyone wants to outdo the other on nationalism. However, in most of the cases, either where the names have been changed or where they are on the verge, it is simply not an issue with ordinary people. Even if they want to change the name for the sake of Indianisation, does anyone care about asking people as to what do they prefer? For example, the localite, kannada speakers call Mangalore as Mangaluru, Konkani speakers call as Kodiyal and the tulu speaking people call it Kudla, while the neighbouring Keralites call it Mangalapuram. None of these people ever questioned the correctness or the motive of others, leaving Mangalore on its own to thrive in upward economic growth.

Most of these names under scrutiny which have existed since the colonial days, have historical significance. These names are associated with the early days of democratic India. The meetings and rallies organised by Indian freedom fighters were associated with the old names of these cities. India shook the world bringing the mighty empire down and questioned its moral righteousness and taught the pioneers a lesson in democracy. No one has ever achieved freedom more honourably than Indians. By keeping these names Indians must ensure its enduring legacy motivates the oppressed people throughout the world to fight for self-rule. These names should also be used to remind the generations to come of the past rulers, of their mistakes and should serve as a warning for any despotic regime on earth.

Instead, it seems, every other person is only interested in changing the names of the cities, roads, streets thus hijacking “history” for scoring either personal or political points. The name “Bangalore? is the brand name of generic ?Bengalooru?, a state capital which is globally known and proven to be commercially practical. It is important that the Government of Karnataka does not sideline its prorities with changing names and drive away the all important foreign investment for its lunacy. Does the government of Karnataka hold itself accountable for any consequent decline in the impression about the state, held by people in India and elsewhere? It is a global brand which cannot be rebuilt in a matter of days. Also the fact is that it doesn’t make any difference to the local people since they call it Bengalooru anyway, for years now.

Indians promised themselves to be a worthy democracy on the day August 15, 1947. They didn?t bother about the minor technical hitches here and there rather concentrating on the bigger picture of both economic and social inequalities so apparent by then. It is the same, still. So why do we change the focus to renaming which started with Bombay and which has now reached the threshold of public tolerance.

The main aims of Independent India should be to move forward without disturbing the delicate balance of public sentimentality be it religious, lingual or cultural etc. Political parties should refrain from re-tracing the history of roads, cities and monuments without changing the status quo but for national unity and academic interests only.

Author: Vijay DSouza- U.K.

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