Saturday, August 20, 2011

What's In A (Re)name?

Genre: Current Affairs

No, this is not about the Anna Hazare-Lokpal issue. Everybody and their pet dog have presented enough and more views and counterviews on it by now.

Apart from cricket, India has another favorite pastime. It’s called Change the Name game. Many Indians, most of them in power, believe that the names given to streets, monuments, villages, towns, cities, even states of the country are not good enough and it is their sacred duty to rename anything and everything that has a name. Initially the argument put forward to indulge in this activity was that it is a sin to call places built by the British in India by the names the British gave, so they should be renamed. Accordingly Victoria Terminus became Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Connaught Place became Rajiv Chowk and so on. Not satisfied with just this, came the second round or arguments- that the British “spoiled” the original names of our cities, so they should be renamed to their original pure form. In the process Bombay became Mumbai, Madras became Chennai, Calcutta became Kolkata, Trivandrum became tongue-twisting Thiruvanatanthapuram, Bangalore will soon become Bengaluru, Mangalore will become Mengaluru and so on and so forth, in the process wasting millions of rupees of taxpayer money in repainting all signboards, reprinting new stationery and updating all maps and databases.

After renaming of cities was done, someone thought, hey wait, this is not enough. We can go one level higher. Let’s rename our states too. And so it began. The ministers of the newly formed state of Uttaranchal felt the name was not good enough, and in the most expensive Backspace operation in history, decided to tweak the name to Uttarakhand. No, don’t ask me how this is any better. It just is. Because they said it is. Next to grab this opportunity was Mamata Banerjee, (who anyways has a penchant for grabbing many things including attention and cabinet ministry), who came up with the most unbelievable argument in the history of renaming- West Bengal is alphabetically last among Indian states, so its turn comes last in roll call and by that time the audience falls asleep, and to correct this catastrophic problem, passed a bill to rename the state to Paschim Banga (which she pronounces Poschim Bongo thereby making it feel like the name of a tribal village in central Africa) which brings her state’s roll number up to 21 from 28. Huge improvement! Now Uttarakhand becomes the last-in-roll-call. Now it will be fun if they decide to re-rename their state using the same argument. And then Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh should do the same and boom! We are back to square one! And then Paschim Banga can think or renaming themselves further up in the alphabet. This cycle can go on and on and on. And millions of rupees of tax money can be spent on it. Meanwhile does it matter that the state has one of the worst road infrastructure in the country? Does it matter that the Naxal movement has resulted in night-travel ban on the important Mumbai-Howrah rail route resulting in trains being detained for upto eight hours inconveniencing thousands of travelers every day since the last fifteen months? Do these things need attention and money of the government? No, they can wait. More important is ensuring that the state’s name is not called out last during roll-calls.

Before these folks come up with the idea of changing the name of India itself, I will go and search for a new name for my blog because this one comes too late in the alphabetical order, so what if it doesn't matter anywhere.

1 comment:

  1. I think its more to do with personal ego..proving a point! I think its a sheer waste of public money. And I dont get this..the damn Supreme Court intervenes these days even when someone goes to the loo! Wonder why its not doing anything about this? Truly sucks!

    P.S. Btw you write quite well!


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