Saturday, 12 May 2007

Bangalore: All in a name

Perhaps a lot of debate has already taken place over the string of new pre-colonial names that have been conferred to our cities. If I remember right, it all started off in 1995 with Bombay (Mumbai), then soon followed by Madras (Chennai), Calcutta (Kolkata), and now Bangalore (Bengaluru).

"Dad, but what does the word Bangalore mean?"
"Well son, it all begins during the Ganga Dynasty in the 9th century when the city got its name as the City of Guards...
...and finally when the name was anglicized during the 18th and 19th centuries by the East India company and the British Raj."

As we await the Central Governments approval on Bangalore's new name, I cannot help but wonder at what we might stand to lose from this march to assert local pronunciation over what we deem as foreign.

Indian author and diplomat, Shashi Tharoor, remarked "Are we Indians so insecure in our independence that we still need to prove to ourselves that we are free?"

I don't believe that this trend is entirely about our insecurity, but more of identity. And its true the we must assert our identity. Yet by attempting to erase our colonial past in this way, generations after us will be deprived of having lessons in our history crystallized so naturally within the name of our cities.

"Dad, but what does the word Bengaluru mean?"
"Well son, it was during the Ganga Dynasty in the 9th century when this city got its name as the City of Guards."

No comments: