Friday, 14 August 2020

Name Changing is a Political Game

Updated: May 3, 2016 11:53 am

The denizens of Gurgaon, literally a satellite of New Delhi, were shocked when they woke up and discovered they were no longer in the city, known as India’s Manhattan, but in some Guru’s abode—Gurugram. The bewildered foreign executives in multi-nationals were asking: Has the government changed? What danger lurks, asked a sweet executive working in a Japanese company. She has now reconciled to the explanation that the chief minister wanted to be blessed by Guru Dronacharya. She was told by the city wag that the guru was an instructor of the art of archery. Her impression of Khattar has gone up several notches.

The change, claim the chief minister’s hangers-on, is because the city is the land of Dronacharya, who taught the Pandavas the art of archery. A metro station is already named after him. Gurugram, ironically, is dotted with housing estates called Ridgewood, Mayfield, Regency and Beverly, Hamilton Court and Malls and from seven to five star hotels are all in Californian image. They are so much in contrast to Gurugram. But Chief Minister Khattar’s name is now part of the history of the land of Dronacharya. And who knows the Guru might have blessed him?

The social media started its own usual sardonic and satirical campaign. The social media has concluded from such rechristening that Telengana will become Telegram; Kerala could be Kilogram and Sonepat, Sonogram.

The name-changing game with distinctively political tinge has been going on for sometimes, but without much publicity. Recently many Trusts and Institutes named after the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty have been changed or their committees exorcised of the Family’s faithfuls or its hangers-ons.

A few changes encountered no opposition or politicking but some did. In any case with over 400 streets, bridges, highways, institutes and government buildings named after Nehru-Gandhi family, it will take very long time and strong political will to rechristen all of them. Often locals objected and wanted name of some locally famous person to be honoured and the institute or bridge or whatever to be named after the person.

08-05-2016But now with Gurugram, the latest change, anything can happen. How would the Lucknowites feel if one morning they woke up to find that they had become denizens of say Lohianagar or Lakshamanpur. Akhilesh Yadav might like to perpetuate his reign by renaming the capital. He would not be the first to do so.

A wave of nostalgia and devotion to Mumba Devi made the then government to rechristen Bombay as Mumbai. Bombay was perfectly nice name and known all over the world as the business capital of India.

The devotees expected that Mumba Devi would be pleased and bless and bestow Mumbaiwallahs with great fortune. But that hope has died. A wag said there is so much sin in the city that the residents should be thankful that Mumba Devi has not cursed them so far.

But politicians in India have suffered from change-o-mania since the advent of Independence. A huge number of streets, buildings and institutions were renamed, after erasing the names our Gora rulers gave. It was done without much thought and with such haste that the noted historian Sir Jadunath Sircar wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru that changing names would not change history. But such arguments don’t wash with thick-skinned netas. Except that, a shocker must have given headache to  Khattar who bewildered us thick-skinned or thin skinned. In-trouble Himachal Chief Minister Vir Bhadra Singh cut short a journalist when he asked whether the name of Shimla would be changed. Singh curtly said: No.

He must be in real trouble to not think of making his name etched in history. The Bard, William Shakespeare, whose 400th death anniversary is being remembered in Britain this year and is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world, showed amazing perception of life and character of people in his works which went, wrong only when he said what’s in a name. Just see how effective is the name Gandhi.

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