What’s in a name? Renaming spree as politics takes over the ground

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“WHAT’S IN A NAME? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The present political dispensation does not seem to agree with William Shakespeare’s observations in Romeo and Juliet. A few weeks ago, the UP Cabinet approved the proposal to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj. The Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath defended the name change as the undoing of the “wrong” committed by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1575. 

Earlier, the name of the historic Mughalsarai railway station, among busiest railway junctions, was changed as Deen Dyal Upadhyay junction. As a Diwali gift, Faizabad was renamed Sri Ayodhya. A medical college to be set up at Ayodhya would be named after king Dashrath, father of Lord Rama. While making the announcement, the chief minister said that “Ayodhya is a symbol of our ‘aan, baan aur shaan’ or honour, pride and prestige. 

Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel has said the State government was willing to rename Ahmedabad as Karnavati. So Ahmedabad could be renamed as Karnavati, Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar, Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar while Taj can be trivalised. The Haryana government has already renamed Gurgaon as Gurugram. Going through the atlas to identify cities and changing their names would serve no purpose as such moves only reflect a jaundiced view of history and disregard for our plural identity. The year 2019 when the country goes in for general elections is just around the corner and it will be the time of reckoning. 

Changing names of cities and roads that asserted British imperial was okay Cawnpore becoming Kanpur was a welcome move, but what is being done today is different. It is stepping out of the secular frame. What should matter to us most today is the astonishing survival of India as a secular state. We are not a monochromatic nation but a secular democracy. We should, in fact, make further efforts to protect and strength the secularism of which we people and India as a nation feel proud. There is a need to foster individual liberties. 

Similarly, the government should do well to drop its plans to ban meat and liquor in Ayodhya district. Criminalizing or changing dietary habits of people is not the job of a progressive nation. Such moves only aggravate schism and divide between communities and are undemocratic. There seems to be no other justification than the prejudice in these moves, which only undermine our stature in the world. It is not an attempt to restore the glory of the Indian past, but a retrograde step.