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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    December 08, 2005

    Bangalore -> Bengaluru?

    The Karnataka Government is currently coming up with its action plan to celebrate fifty years of the state's existence (as Karnataka).

    One of the suggestions, given by noted Kannada writer UR Ananthamurthy was to rename Bangalore as Bengaluru as part of the celebrations.

    Why on earth would anyone suggest this, if not to rake up a Bangalore v/s the rest of Karnataka issue yet again? Why didn't he suggest renaming Mysore to Maisuru, or even pertinently to Mahishasuru or something like that? The city provides a rare instance of getting its name from a Hindu mythological demon, Mahishasura, slayed by Durga.

    What next? Renaming important roads? Brigade Road to what? Old Madras Chennai Road to what? Perhaps rename Airport Road using the Kannada word for Airport?

    Has renaming cities actually done any good? Bombay to Mumbai, Madras to Chennai, Trivandrum to Thiruvananthapuram, Calcutta to Kolkota, Calicut to Kozhikode, Cochin to Kochi, Pondicherry to Puducheri etc. Has any of these cities seen better living conditions, infrastructure, employment opportunities, lesser riots/chaos etc. because of the name change? Do the people of those cities necessarily feel better because of the name change? Does having the city named in the local language, as opposed to having British, French or Portugese influences in the name, make them feel proud about living there?

    I venture to hazard a guess. No. I can certainly speak for myself. I couldn't see any difference between living in Madras or Chennai. I couldn't understand what the name change meant to peoples' daily lives. Unless threatened at gunpoint, and except in moments of weakness, I continue to refer to the city as Madras. Ditto when I refer to Calcutta or Bombay.

    So what would be gained by renaming Bangalore as Bengaluru or perhaps even Bendha kaluru, given that the apocryphal story about the place's name. Is this paranoia at work again?

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