History or Politics, What’s the Real Reason for Changing City Names?


History or Politics, What’s the Real Reason for Changing City Names?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam


f Shakespeare thought like the Indian government, he’d have never written the immortal words “what’s in a name?” For the BJP, names of cities and monuments are of utmost importance, almost as vital to our nation’s welfare as making sure cows are better protected than humans. Allahabad has had its name changed to Prayagraj, Faizabad has become Ayodhya, and Ahmedabad might soon be known as Karnavati. We’ve all heard the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but the Centre and state governments seem to be going a step further and following a policy of “if it’s broken, just call it something else.”

Apologies to the residents of the three cities for suggesting that their hometowns are “broken”. They might be wonderful, warm, and welcoming places to live, but to those who think the Taj Mahal should be renamed Tejo Mahalaya, there is a fundamental flaw in their nomenclature. The problem is that the cities’ names didn’t sound Hindu enough, or rather, sounded too Islamic. Never mind that thousands of Indian Muslims reside in each of those cities, or that those Muslims’ roots to the region can be traced back centuries, having names that point to India’s real history is an embarrassment to those who wish to rewrite the past.