Podcast | Digging Deeper – Identify change: The secret in Uttar Pradesh

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“Ayodhya is a logo of our aan, baan aur shaan,” stated Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mr. Adityanath not too long ago when he introduced the choice to rename Faizabad to Ayodhya. You’ve received to begin with the fundamentals – whose aan baan and shaan, Yogiji? The nation desires to know.

Mughalsarai prepare station is now Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyay station. Allahabad is Prayagraj. In 1998, he went on a renaming spree in his constituency of Gorakhpur. The previous head of the Gorakhnath Temple took his naamkaran duties extra diligently than the duties he was elected to carry out – Ali Nagar turned Arya Nagar, Humayun Nagar was made to take a leap of religion to Hanuman Nagar, Islampur was christened Ishwarpur, and Urdu Bazaar went from left to proper as Hindi Bazar.

Just lately, the branding maestro proclaimed that if required he wouldn’t hesitate to vary Taj Mahal to Ram Mahal. (One is for certain he meant Ram Mandir, however one is getting forward of oneself.) Mr Adityanath has even gone the place Ambedkar has been – a primary for the person, we’re sure – the Structure of India! He has proposed that Article 1 of the Structure be amended to interchange the phrase India with ‘Hindustan’.

‘Thugs of Hindustan,’ out and about, desirous to information you alongside and drop a pin on each map there may be of the nation. (We imply the movie, naturally. Have you ever seen it but?)

Raam Raam! (Which by the best way is what Adityanath desires to name the airport in Ayodhya – clean landings forward for the Pushpak Vimaan. Naturally, Air Visitors Management should calm down their No Birds rule – the place will Garuda land?! Duh.)

Transfer over Vilas Shekharpur (that’s Yogi for William Shakespeare), there’s loads in a reputation. And that’s we’ll get into on this version of Digging Deeper. My identify is Rakesh (Adityanath approves, I’ve a sense), and you might be listening to Moneycontrol.

“It ain’t what they name you, it is what you reply to,” stated American actor William Claude Dukenfield. Identify-calling typically has to do with bullying and an try and applicable or hurt the self-image and company of one other individual. (Crooked Hillary, anybody? Lyin’ Ted, anybody? Though we should report that he has now gone to Stunning Ted.)

However when cities change their names, is it as a result of they wish to reply to a brand new self-image or id? Or is it as a result of a brand new id is imposed upon them?

Scoopwhoop reported in 2014 that greater than 100 cities and cities in India have been renamed after independence.

Trichinapoly turned Tiruchirapalli.

Baroda turned Vadodara.

Trivandrum turned Thiruvananthapuram.

Bombay is now Mumbai.

Madras is Chennai.

Cochin is Kochi.

Calcutta is Kolkata.

Pondicherry solutions to Puducherry.

Bangalore to Bengaluru, and so forth…

There’s a lot in a metropolis’s identify, it appears.  There’s the previous, and the current and the longer term that it desires to stroll in direction of. So after we change the identify of a metropolis, can we erase its previous, tamper with the way it views itself within the current, and coerce future generations to acknowledge simply one among its identities as a substitute of many?

However first allow us to discover the impulses behind why we do it. Okay, not we… however the powers that be. And what’s achieved or not by doing so.

A futile train?

Many cities up to now have been renamed in an try and sever them from their colonial previous. Rajkamal Rao wrote in The Hindu, in Might this yr, to ask simply what the beneficial properties of adjusting the names of cities are. He wrote, “Has it improved investments, residing requirements?

It has been 23 years since politicians modified the identify of the erstwhile metropolis of Madras to Chennai however the venerable Madras Excessive Court docket has proudly held on to its previous identify. IIT Madras has additionally flourished simply wonderful, thanks very a lot. And years after the Mumbai and Bengaluru identify adjustments went into impact, IIT Bombay and IIM Bangalore retain their colonial names. In the meantime, the world nonetheless transacts with the Bombay Inventory Trade simply because it refers to Bollywood (and never Mollywood).”

The author who’s the Managing Director, Rao Advisors LLC, Texas, is aware of a factor or two about branding and emphasised that simply because the identify and emblem of an organization determine a product, within the case of a metropolis, a reputation connotes a spot like no different. And this distinctive id could within the current have little to do with its previous.

He cites the instance of    IBM or Worldwide Enterprise Machines Company which has held on to its identify for 94 years, though its core enterprise has shifted gears, from machines to software program and providers. Common Electrical (GE) derives solely a small a part of its income from making electrical machines. Identities, he says, do not change as a result of just a few product strains have modified.

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However then, we aren’t taking about merchandise, are we? We’re speaking about cities. And do they profit from a reputation change?

The author appears to assume not. “In a worldwide economic system, altering names after they’ve gained common recognition sows confusion. Many locations recognise and respect this truth and have maintained twin identities for hundreds of years — one, within the language of their peoples and one other, which is directed at a worldwide viewers. This is the reason, we go to Rome though locals name it Roma. Or we do enterprise in Germany though Germans name it Deutschland.

What good did these metropolis identify adjustments accomplish? Do residents of those areas really feel any prouder of their localities now than earlier than? Have they been in a position to shed their colonial previous and reclaim their native glory? Have the adjustments resulted in higher funding alternatives, infrastructure or residing requirements?”

The reply to most of those questions is, clearly not.

Add to this wasteful train, the expenditure of rebranding a complete metropolis full with its  freeway visitors indicators, railway signage and paperwork throughout the nation together with authorities and enterprise stationery and nonetheless the query stays.

Can a metropolis change its id as simply as its identify?

When the “French Riviera of the East” dropped its Francophile identify, Pondicherry, for Puducherry, did it additionally shed its deep ties with all issues French? Panaji dissociated from its Portuguese identify Panjim within the 1960s however can Goa disown its historical past and its influences on its current? Whether or not we squabble about Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam, the very fact stays that to a overwhelming majority of residents and vacationers, Ooty continues to be, effectively…simply Ooty.

There’s additionally the factor about how the residents of a metropolis view themselves. How are they  As Scoopwhoop wrote, “When folks we all know change their names, it’s typically tough to adapt. However when cities change names, they alter their peoples’ identities.”

However we aren’t alone on this identify altering fetish

Many well-known cities all over the world have adopted new names for a number of causes. Ho Chi Minh Metropolis was previously referred to as Saigon. Istanbul was Constantinople, and the change impressed even a witty track known as “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” in 1953. The track was additionally featured within the Julia Roberts starrer Monalisa Smile and even had a line that went,

“Even previous New York was as soon as New Amsterdam

Why they modified it I can not say

Individuals simply preferred it higher that means.”

Transferring on from the track, Oslo was referred to as Kristiania, Toronto was York, and so forth.

In lots of circumstances, the altering of the identify of a metropolis is an try and erase its origins. And erasures might be harmful issues as a result of they make means for handy appropriation of historical past and names which have little or no reference to a metropolis’s previous.

The politics of id

Take the case of Mughalsarai, a city and a municipal board within the Chandauli district of Uttar Pradesh and an necessary railway junction in Uttar Pradesh. Sure, the station that was recognized as soon as because the Mughalsarai Junction and is now referred to as Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction.

Mughalsarai was situated alongside the Grand Trunk Highway, or as Sher Shah Suri known as it Sadak-e-Azam. This highway was one of many corridors connecting North India with the east through the Mughal interval. Google a bit and you can find that previously, Mughalsarai has been referred to as Mughalchak, Mangalpur and even Oven Nagar.

Crucial level on this story is that the township was named Mughalsarai when Indian railways established a junction right here in 1883. The identify was an natural, Indian offshoot that related a spot to its previous, and Indian railways had an enormous half in perpetuating it.

However what did Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya should do with the township or the junction?

Nothing in any respect.

He was an RSS thinker and co-founder of the political social gathering Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner of Bharatiya Janata Occasion, sure, the social gathering in energy in Uttar Pradesh proper now. Upadhyaya performed no position within the historical past of the town or for that matter in India’s independence from its colonial previous. He was, and is, emblematic of a political ideology, and to call a historic junction after him units a harmful precedent.

Absolutism is harmful as a result of it excludes

To take a poetic reference, poet Imtiaz Dharkar as soon as wrote a e-book known as ‘The Terrorist At My Desk,’ the place she wrote about stockpile of prejudices, in regards to the perishability of tradition and all its delicate nuances underneath the hammer of absolutism and terrorism, each State-sponsored and particular person. It’s about what occurs when the dots grow to be extra necessary than the massive image.

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She stated as soon as in an interview, “We’re stronger after we  open our doorways to totally different folks, cultures, concepts and after we really feel assured sufficient as a nation and a tradition to offer freedom to totally different viewpoints.’’

The query is that this, after we rename cities, can we display confidence in our id or can we adhere to a restricted view that excludes key elements of our collective id?

A political ploy?

The Gujarat authorities stated this week that that it was contemplating renaming Ahmedabad as Karnavati. That this concept has been floated earlier than the Lok Sabha elections could be a coincidence, however there isn’t a doubt that id politics play an enormous half in gaining, controlling, and exercising political energy, and altering the identify of a metropolis is an enormous a part of it.

This intention after all was proclaimed proper after the BJP authorities in Uttar Pradesh introduced renaming of Allahabad and Faizabad as Prayagraj and Ayodhya, respectively. To not be left behind, Shiv Sena lawmaker Sanjay Raut tweeted: “Yogi Adityanath has renamed Allahabad and Faizabad to Prayagaj and Ayodhya. When will CM Devendra Fadnavis rename Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar and Osmanabad to Dharashiv Nagar?”

Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel stated the identify Ahmedabad is a “image of slavery” and must be modified. The identical argument was repeated whereas renaming Allahabad as Prayagraj.

Paramita Ghosh, in an eloquent Hindustan Occasions piece, debunks this notion by way of analysis and the quote of a younger pupil Avinash Kumar, who cites sure chapters of an previous colonial-era gazette of Allahabad to ascertain that Akbar had made Allahabad right into a province round 1575 by becoming a member of three subahs, and named it Ilahabas.

In Ilahabas, Akbar maintained social, political and spiritual established order. Of the 11 forts he inbuilt and across the province to regulate the financial largesse from the heartland, seven have been managed by the Brahmins; Rajputs, Kayasths and Muslim landholders managed the remainder of them. Avinash says, “So whom did the Mughals deprive or disempower? The British, actually, razed villages and constructed a British city. They hung folks from the timber, killed pregnant girls….”

Fascinating, is not it, that historic oppression by the British isn’t raised as a difficulty earlier than a key election?

Allow us to discover this notion that some names enslave whereas others empower

If we simply discuss Ahmedabad, traditionally talking, based on info out there within the public area, whereas the realm across the metropolis has been inhabited for the reason that 11th century, and Karna, the Chalukya ruler of Anhilwara (trendy Patan), established a metropolis known as Karnavati on the banks of the Sabarmati, it was Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1411 A.D. who selected a forested space the banks of Sabarmati for a brand new capital metropolis. It was he who laid the muse of a brand new walled metropolis close to Karnavati and named it Ahmedabad.

Dynasties got here and went however Ahmedabad remained the provincial headquarters of the Mughals till 1753, after they surrendered the town to the Marathas.

In 1818, the town got here underneath the rule of the British East India Firm.

When the British left India in 1947, all traces of colonial rule or enslavement went with them however to say that Ahmedabad is a logo of our slavery, and Karnavati represents our satisfaction, self-respect, tradition and autonomy, implies that we’re disowning as soon as once more the origin of a metropolis, and connecting it to an “us vs them” narrative that erodes the inclusive, robust, and quintessentially Indian id, the place the sum consists of its components and doesn’t exclude them at comfort.

Whose cities are these anyway?

Vikas Pandey wrote for the BBC a poignant piece in regards to the sense of loss he skilled when Allahabad was renamed as Prayagraj as a way to restrict its id to only a main Hindu pilgrimage centre.  In full disregard of the truth that in India, it’s attainable for a metropolis to be each a serious Hindu pilgrimage centre and to have a Mughal emperor as its founding father and each identities can co-exist with out being severed from one another.

He writes, “BJP leaders have taken concern with the truth that the town’s 435-year-old identify was given by a Muslim ruler. It was an administrative, army and cultural centre for the Mughal Empire, which dominated most of India and Pakistan within the 16th and 17th centuries.

This legacy continued throughout British colonial rule, and after independence in 1947, the town remained a serious political and cultural hub in northern India. It nonetheless performs an enormous position within the Hindu religion. It hosts the Kumbh Mela each 12 years close to the confluence of two holy rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna. The occasion, which attracts tens of hundreds of thousands of devotees, is commonly described because the world’s largest non secular gathering.”

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The unsaid level right here is that it’s the intermingling of the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb, the confluence of each numerous stream of tradition that makes a metropolis, its folks and by default a rustic entire. There is no such thing as a integration in isolation.

As Vikas says, “Allahabad’s historical past is shared by Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike.

And each nook of the town has its personal share of historical past: from Anand Bhawan, the house of Nehru; to Sangam, the confluence of the 2 rivers; to the enormous fort constructed by Akbar, which prevented flooding and helped entice folks to settle within the metropolis.”

The premise that historical past might be in some way rephrased and “corrected” is poisonous as a result of nothing can change what occurred, although we could rewrite a model that’s politically handy and worthwhile. The try and applicable Taj Mahal as Tejo Mahalya was one other instance of the urge to delete the id of a world-famous monument named after a beloved Mughal queen.

The declare that it was Akbar who modified Prayagraj’s identify to Illahabad in 1583 too is questionable based on historians. Vikas quotes Professor NR Farooqui, former vice-chancellor of Allahabad College, who says that a number of historic paperwork and books show that Prayagraj was a well known pilgrimage vacation spot however was by no means a metropolis.

It was Akbar who laid the muse of a brand new metropolis in 1574 and named it Ilahabas. He constructed an enormous fort and used it as an administrative and army centre to rule northern India, says the Professor and provides that the following era of Mughal rulers began calling it Illahabad, and at last, the British began calling it “Allahabad” for ease of pronunciation.

From a Mughal energy centre, it turned a buzzing hub throughout India’s freedom motion because of the presence of Jawahar Lal Nehru’s home, Anand Bhavan. Subsequently, many outstanding Hindi writers, politicians, actors, scientists and civil servants from the town went on to grow to be legends of their fields. And known as themselves proud Allahbadis, together with Amitabh Bachchan. And poet Akbar Allahabadi.

As an academician posted within the piece says, “It is wonderful that such a small metropolis gave so many legends to the nation. It did not matter whether or not an achiever from the town was Hindu or Muslim – it celebrated all people.”

There are extra anguished voices. Skand Shukla, a state authorities officer, says within the Hindustan Occasions piece, “Prayagraj evokes just one side of the town’s spirit that’s legendary and spiritual. Allahabad brings forth an image of the realm’s political, historic, authorized, literary and spiritual vastness.”

Paramita signifies that past its non secular or historic identities, Allahabad is the quintessential metropolis of Nehruvian liberal modernity however it has additionally yielded house to Lohiaiite socialism after which its offshoots, Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Occasion. It has additionally been a centre of RSS politics; Rajendra Singh or Rajju Bhaiyya, the fourth RSS head, and its first north Indian sarsanghchalak, was a professor of physics at Allahabad College.

Allahabad is, and has all the time been, a vibrant, multi-faceted metropolis with many identities. Conservative, liberal, romantic, realist, progressive and modernist voices alike have debated Hindi and Urdu literature, nationwide politics and a composite selfhood, within the realm that’s Allahabad.

The divisions are inorganic, and based on Urdu critic and novelist Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, they have been initiated by artificially dividing a language into Hindi and Urdu on the premise of two scripts – Nagari and Perso-Arabic – and two vocabularies, suggesting that one was unique to the Hindus and the opposite to the Muslims.

It is very important observe right here that Premchand who fathered realism and progressivism in Hindi literature, additionally settled in Allahabad and made seminal contributions in shaping the fashionable Hindi literary discourse. However he too had an abiding love for Urdu and noticed the 2 languages as sisters.

For a lot of, because the piece says, the renaming of cities is a sort of symbolic gratification which is in a means futile as a result of actual change within the social stability of energy would require greater than a change of signage. The renaming of locations assumes a particular significance in a rustic like ours. Our panorama comprises range that wants illustration, sure, even at a nominal degree.

The crucial points in Uttar Pradesh it appears aren’t related to regulation and dysfunction, spiralling toddler mortality charges, railway infrastructure submit a collection of accidents, mob and gender violence or unemployment. They most necessary preoccupations appears to be discovering cities that may be renamed.

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