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Why all re-namings are not the same?
New York was once New Amsterdam. Its name was changed to erase the bitter memories and atrocities of migrant Europeans-white Catholics.

Turks changed Constantinople as Istanbul to forget the slavery they did for the mightiest Romans and Roman Empire. Myanmar was once Burma and Sri Lanka was Ceylon. They all decided to remove the old names or colonial names from state institutions.

Every now and then, countries, cities, universities, hospitals etc change off their painful pasts and change their names to assert their nationalism. Canton became Guangzhou; Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City. In the late 1990s, with the arrival of Janta pariwar in power, states and cities across India also decided to remove the colonial and linguistic colonial histories and changed the older or original city names. Bombay, Madras and Calcutta, Bangalore, Cochin, Trivandrum, Pondicherry, Orissa etc chose new names.

Although, it is a different issue that most of the old names still grip the tongue; but officially, the new identities are what matter. But now when BJP governments across India are doing the same things, all are very critical of the BJP governments. Gurgaon now became Gurugram, Mughalsarai railway station renamed Deen Dayal Upadhyay junction, Aurangzeb Road became Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road, Allahabad got Prayag Raj, and Faizabad became Ayodhya. These new names are being rebranded to convey and assert a spiritual, mythological and nationalism idea. There is a popular demand to change Ahmedabad as Karnavati. Even the fate of tyrannical names like Hyderabad and Aurangabad are in danger of losing their identities.

The BJP is not the only party to the rash of renamings. Congress and VP Singh in Delhi, Sharad Panwar in Maharastra, Mulayam Singh-Mayawati in UP, and Lalu Yadav in Bihar had indulged in similar renaming sprees. Sharad Pawar was the first name who started this pattern with changing the name of iconic Marathwada University as Ambedkar University to please the Schedule Castes.

But that old rash of remaining was different and nobody objected then because the names were changed to appease the caste and communal considerations. But all are very critical of this new move of renaming as it is different from the former changes based on caste and communal considerations but an honest attempt to Indianise British and Mughal names.

Now, the plan seems to be to remove all repression-sounding names and restore them with names that bring to mind past Hindu glory. It is very clear that these "foreign" Islamic names were forced by past invasions, occupations, and defeats those wrong are now being corrected.

However, the fact is, entire Faizabad always reminded all to the land of Lord Ram, situated very close to Ayodhya, built from scratch by the people in memory by Lord Ram. It was to avenge the historical wrong, an assault on an existing Hindu legacy and mythology. The word Ayodhya itself is a tribute to Lord Ram. So in the case of these cities, there ancient wrong past was being erased.

The new names call up a history of Hindu legacy and mythology. The earlier renaming has disregarded syncretic civilization of both Bharat and Hindus. Hinduism has been the point of origin of Ayodhya's Ganga-Jamuna land that travelled to even Afganistan. Ayodhya has always fostered the custom of Vishwa bandhutwa (global harmony). It is precise by any measure — the physical margins of the epic Ayodhya must have to widen to additional districts of Barabanki, Gonda, Basti, Sultanpur and Bahraich, component of the 84 Kosi parikramas.

Meanwhile, the original city named Prayag refers s to a specific sacred spot, where the twin holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna meet, and the abode of the divine the old city was built on top of that holy side, forcibly rubbing out the Hindu ancient and mythological name. This new name change is a "wilful correction of history and an attack on the past wrong. What is noteworthy, the name we use depends on the background. Critics may say Prayag in a sacrament or ceremonial framework, but say Allahabad to refer to a brutal king. A Marathi would say Mumbai and in English, Bombay. This is just the 'Indic' manner, this is the accepted and linguistically just code-switching from one register to another, the several versions that people are at ease with.

It is not like Islamic and Western, 'Cartesian' way of thinking where they annihilate one culture and imposed their own names and culture. These changes are just like the return to the roots. Pakistan has completely annihilated all the names and symbols related to Hindus and Hinduism. But the opponents of this mission want to cut Indian society to a conflict of religions, to categorize Hindus with the nation, and cast Muslims as foreigners and invaders, calls for ignoring and condemnation. They are just ignoring the historical facts related to the civilization of the land. They see everything with religious motives and electoral benefits. It means ignoring the non-religious motives of rulers, the ancient realities of both Hinduism and Islam, and the erroneous mix of cultures that defines their ideology.

Even in the Gangetic land, such elements are responsible for all the communal conflicts of the last century and the before, it is a very aggressive attempt to annihilate the Hindu culture of thousands of years old — in the names, the language, the laws, the clothes, the food, the music and dance. Hindu veil (ghunghat) is a social evil but burqa and hijab are lawful and good religious practices. A Hindu priest with a knowledge Shikha (Choti) on his head is a subject of mockery in films and everywhere but Muslim skull cap is done by all the political leaders and film stars with a sense of pride.

The Bhakti poets like Surdas, Tulsidas, and Meera etc do not evoke any respect but Sufi poets are honoured by all although Sufi movements are nothing but a copy of Bhakti movement adopted by Muslim poets after renouncing Islam. For them, aadaab is a respectful greeting, a secular gesture but for them, pranam and charan sparsh are religious and Brahmanical. Even the Gorakhnath order (the Nath yogis where UP CM Yogi Adityanath belongs to) is also mocked and criticized by these elements. Now even, Hindustani music and Sanskrit language tell the same story whereas Sufism and Urdu language get state patronage.

There is nothing wrong to rename an existing city. It is an easy and much-needed thing to do to correct the past wrongs. But it would be the real achievement to build a new city to demonstrate the oldest religion and culture of the world. It is very good and very necessary on the part of the UP government to count on the new city names sticking after a generation or two, to erase bitter old memories of brutalities. Although, sixty-two years after its renaming, people still identify Varanasi both Benares and Kashi. Names and signboards may change but it's not easy to heal the scars of the past those produced and brought up us.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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