What’s In A Name You Ask Mr. Shakespeare? Turn To India, Wait, ‘Bharat’ For An Answer

Posted on April 26, 2015

By Kainat Sarfaraz

Renaming places seems to be the new favourite thing to do. When bored, change names. The demand that India be renamed as Bharat has led the Supreme Court to ask for comments from the Centre and State on the matter.


Drafted by Niranjan Bhatwal, who claims to be a social activist from Maharashtra, the plea mentions that the public should have a “unambiguous understanding” that the country’s name is ‘Bharat.’ It suggests that even non-government organisations and corporates should be directed to use ‘Bharat’ for all purposes.

Bhatwal has further mentioned in the PIL that while naming country, the prominent suggestions in the Constituent Assembly were “Bharat, Hindustan, Hind and Bharatbhumi or Bharatvarsh and names of that kind“, and that the name India was termed in the colonial era.

Social activists are not the only ones to make such demands. Even our leaders are indulging in renaming just about everything. Be it roads, railway stations or even cities.

Recently, Mamata Banerjee was in the news for the same reason. The Chief Minister of West Bengal decided to rechristen six Bengal townships. Reactions to this have been varied across the spectrum; while some showed amusement, many in the virtual world expressed strong resentment.

According to reports, Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poetry anthology has lent its name to the twin cities of Durgapur-Asansol. Even cities like Bolpur and Siliguri have been renamed to Gitabani and Teesta respectively.

However this isn’t anything new. When Banerjee first came to power in 2011, she had put forward a suggestion to rename the state itself. The proposed name, Paschim Banga, did not resonate with the masses though. The name West Bengal stayed. But on 24th April, Kalyani became Samriddhi, Garia became Uttam City and Gajaldoba in Malda district became Mukta Tirtha.

It is ironic that in a country like India, which is plagued with various problems, some amid us seek to preserve our culture by going on a renaming spree. Often ignoring the perils that come along with it.

If we change the name of a city or a road, we alter its identity. This often leads to confusion among people who belong to that place and tourists who go by official names. Apart from this, other institutions too need to change their names if they want to keep up.

While the decisions may appeal to those who claim to be ‘saviours of our culture’, it won’t make much of a difference to most who still grapple with daily problems of basic livelihood. These steps only add to another insignificant change in the lives of masses who look towards their government with lesser hope and increasing despondency with each passing day.

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