Friday, November 03, 2006

What's Wrong With Bengalooru ?


Nothing at all. I have no objection to name changes. After all, individuals do it all the time..particularly in Bombay (oops Mumbai) where I stay..remember all those who added alphabets to their name because it was felt to be numerologically beneficial. So, you had Shobhaa and Kiraan and so on. Some of the revised names are downright hilarious. But then who cares, its their choice.

So, do I not have a problem with Bengalooru or is Bengaluru ? Of course I do. And two principal ones. And they are to do with the motivation and cost behind the name change, rather than the name change itself. The first is debated extensively but the second, rarely. Lets talk about motivation first. I would think that regardless of all the political sermonising that accompanies such moves, the motive is very simple - which is to create some connect with a vote bank that is potentially about to drift or already has drifted.

I always have one question when our smart politicians embark on such moves - why now ? Believe me, I am yet to hear an answer that makes logical sense. Its not just Bangalore but Bombay as well. Why was it done when it was done ? I mean, there have been several phases of heightened state-level patriotism over the past few decades in Maharashtra, West Bengal and Karnataka. There have been agitations, protests, demonstrations and legal battles. And yet, no one thought of it earlier. Why ?

Bankruptcy Of Ideas

Let me tell you my answer. For one, because earlier, there were greater, more imaginative causes. It might have been the creation of the state itself or a linguistic issue or something more fundamental to do with preservation of historical identity. What is it now ? Well, nothing but a desperate move by a polity that's utterly bankrupt when it comes to causes.

And if you don't have a cause or you are seen not to have done something for your people, what do you do ? Well in India, try and stoke some local fervour by changing the name. Because that way, you can think you've achieved something grand so that you could return to protecting your wayward children as they run amok with their Hummers (or its equivalent in value and attraction) and beat up innocent people.

To dwell on Karnataka in specific, what comes to mind when you think of how local politicians have performed in the last few years. Let me tell you what I can remember. For one, they tried to stymie every major infrastructure project that was on the anvil. Like the Bangalore-Mysore expressway and the new international airport. Then, they focussed their attention on changing legislation to kill the expressway because their ego was hurt or their dirty games were exposed. And finally, they tried to force schools to teach in Kannada.

Show Me One Fundamental Change ?

If there is anything that Karnataka's politicians have done that reflects stellar political leadership and innovative action that has fundamentally changed people's lives for the better, please let me know. Because I really don't know and I can't see. Yes, they did allow Infosys to stay on and not drive them out of the city or descend on Electronic City with bricks and stones. Though, they did succeed in driving N R Narayan Murthy out of Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL).

But I digress. Now, let me come to the second point about cost. Do you know the cost or effort involved in a name change ? Well, I am not sure myself, but let me make some educated guesses. A name change means that every railway station, government office, airport and road will have to go in for a fresh coat of paint or put up a new hoarding.

It means fresh printing of Government stationary and changes in official gazettes, rule books and what have you. Frankly, I don't even know how vast this effort is. All I know is that it is. So we are talking crores of rupees or millions of dollars. And please don't tell me that the coffers of our respective state governments are so full up that these are just niggling expenditures.

BAN Or BEN ?

In addition to the Government spending crores of rupees of public money, thousands of private organisations have to do it as well. Airlines, shops, companies, bus services, newspapers, books and what have you. Think about it, officials sitting in airports spanning from Singapore and Bangkok to London and Frankfurt have to figure out whether the initials BAN will work in the new dispensation or does it now become BEN. In which case, is it clashing with another BEN.

So, while the likes of writer UR Ananthamurthy (a crusader behind the Bangalore name change to whom I bear no disrespect) may be thrilled at the prospect of having achieved a literary and cultural goal, the politicians of Bangalore have proved, yet again, that they are supremely bankrupt when it comes to political goals.

16 comments:

shikha on 5:46 pm said...

Could not agree morw with you on this one.

And the funny part is that people still address the place with the old name.

To quote some figures..the BOMBAY name change costed the government approximately 78 crores..

Bambaiya on 6:20 pm said...

Nice article. Some more regarding this at Everything is in a name

Sanjay on 6:54 pm said...

Airport codes don't change. I f**king hate the kannada crusaders. Changing a city's name is no small matter but the k'taka govt can't even provide for a decent road infrastructure and it has time and energy to spend on name changes.

Anonymous said...

In case of BengaLooRu. The spelling was wrong. People within city pronounce it as BengaLooRu always and spelling was Bangalore. This led to lot of confusion. If you read any Kannada document, it is clear writes as BengaLooRu. Better late than never we have corrected the spelling...Some lazy onces want to continue the mistake..For outsider. what they need is international airport code which is still BLR

Unknown Indian on 12:06 pm said...

Of course the philosophy behind the name changes (starting with Poona becoming Pune via Calcutta becoming Kolkata and down to Bengalooru) is ridiculous - its an attempt by village hicks who belong to the local region to appropriate cosmopolitan cities to themselves. But it need not affect us. I still use Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Poona in all my correspondance - and so should you. Lets show the bloody politicians that they don't count

Anant Rangaswami on 1:18 pm said...

Govind,

Lost your co-ordinates -- serendipity (and the name change) brought me here.
Check out my take on www.pigsandwings.blogspot.com

KM on 9:33 am said...

There was an old saying "Yatha Raja tatha Praja". Now it is the other way "Yatha Praja tatha Raja". People get the leaders they deserve.

When People do not care about the quality of the Poliicians they elect, this is what they get. Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkatta, Bengaluru, Water scarcities, Power cuts and Congested Roads with Potholes. May be tomorrow we will get Hastinapuri and Bhagyanagar and Pataliputra!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Shikha, the figure is useful..I presume this is the Government expenditure and not the private cost ! Govindraj

Malavika said...

I really wish that the likes of Ananthmurthy would find 'cultural goals' that go beyond superficial things such as name changes

shikha on 8:16 pm said...

what say...have another post on saddam hussain's verdict!!

bombay_girl on 12:34 pm said...

Hasnt bangalore created a brand for itself internationally??

Wonder how much this is going to confuse them??

Amit said...

Well, the change in the name is merely ceremonial.
But it does represent a REAL issue. Many persons in Bangalore who are not part of the IT industry are having a tough time. Land/house prices are out of reach, prices of food is much higher than in other cities, traffic is bad etc. They are really angry with the IT industry. This sentiment is fanned by Devegowda and co.
While there are many winners from the economic boom, there are also many losers.

sand_dunes on 7:58 pm said...

see mate govind ehitraj i cant say i disagree with u ... abt change .. but when local kannada population is less than 33% i guess goin the bombay way ...with marati population ratio then guys like deve gowda will always come up with things like this With regards to UR anatha murthy may i flip the question and ask u mate .. why does karnataka not have regional party .. who dont blackmail the centre like AP ,TN etc ..whether its cavery or anything its always kannada thts evil isnt it Mr govind ethiraj ... look at urself in mirror there many u have not been part of boom its this sentiment that expolits

The Teacher on 1:08 pm said...

I'm not sure if Airlines changes codes for the cities if their names change. Chennai's code is still MAA (Madras), Mumbai's code is still BOM. Well, these are for domestic codes. Not sure about international airlines.

A nice post anyways...

Naveen on 10:46 am said...

Bengalooru is cool,If you want to locate places in bengalooru you can visit Bengalooru India

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