Bombay has changed to Mumbai. Madras to Chennai. Calcutta to the much less evocative Kolkata. Now, it looks like Bangalore is jumping on the renaming bandwagon. It intends to change its name to Bengaluru, which means “the town of boiled beans” in the local Kannada language.
Is this really necessary?
When a friend sent me the headlines for this story, I thought surely it was a joke concocted by the editors of The Onion. I have no problem with people wanting to get back to their roots, but this whole renaming trend in India comes at a big financial (changing street signs, maps, and tourist materials) – as well as an emotional – cost. Imagine changing New York’s name back to New Amsterdam…
I think Rohinton Mistry summed it up best in a dialogue featured in his novel Such a Long Journey. In this dialogue, two characters are discussing the renaming of Bombay streets and landmarks: