Thanks to the Maharashtra Elections which has brought Mumbai/Bombay controversies back to the headlines. Trust me this is the best time to examine the whole incidents that has taken place because of naming and renaming of places. Ok let me put this Bombay/Mumbai thing out of the track for sometime. What I believe is that this controversy can be better termed in three different ways.
First, Mumbai is the original name of the city and Bombay was originated from the Raj era corruption. Second, the controversy of Bombay/Mumbai was created by Maharashtrians themselves and third, we should use only their name for their city. As per me all these three reasons are very controversial.
Mumbai people believe that the word Mumbai has been originated from the goddess Mumbadevi whom the koli fishermen used to worship in their village which they considered to be Mumbai at that time. But the historical accuracy says that Bombay word has come from the Portuguese word “Bom Bahia” which means a beautiful bay. But we should not forget that the original city of bombay was established by the British people.
I guess Maharahtrians should not forget that they are not the only originators of Mumbai. The city of Bombay was built by Parsis and Gujaratis including both Hindus and Muslims. Till 1960 there was nothing called as “Maharashtra” and Bombay was the capital of the Bombay state. I am sure most of us are not aware of this. We should stop believing the fact that only Maharashtrians are the creators of Bombay and the rest are outsiders.
You know what Gujaratis call Bombay? They call it as Mumbai. I believe that Maharashtrians alone does not have any monopoly on the name Mumbai. Trust me the day is not far when all the Gujaratis will reject the real identity of the cities of Maharashtra. So this clearly indicated that Mumbai is not at all a Marathi name, I see it as a Gujarati name too. If I call Mumbai Bombay that doesnt mean I am disrespecting Maharashtra.
But my main concern, my main point of writing this post is that do we really need to change the name of our cities?
To some extent I believe “Yes” it is important. There may be different thoughts of different people on this. New York was called New Amsterdam, Singapore was originally called Temasek. I am sure whether you know this or not, the Russian cities often keep changing its name. The thing is the new name gets stick to your mouth after sometime. Have you seen anyone calling Sri Lanka Ceylon? Who calls Myanmar Burma today? (Until and unless there is a change in the regime). Nobody calls Thailand Siam anymore.
Lets talk about the changes that has taken place in our own country. There was nothing called Tamil Nadu earlier. Madras was the original state that was later renamed to Tamil Nadu. Similarly, Karnataka was called as Mysore. Do you know Arunachal Pradesh was called NEFA (North East Frontier Agency) earlier. Not only this the name of streets of many cities of India has been changed. Who calls Connaught Place Rajiv Chowk anymore? Nobody.
If there were never any controversies when these names were changed, so why people are raising so many issues with Bombay/Mumbai? Madras became Chennai, Calcutta became Kolkata, Bangalore became Benagluru. Nobody raised any question at that time. Then why now?
The answer is very simple. No other Indian city is as terrorized as Mumbai/Bombay. In all the cites except Mumbai the change was very cultural. But in Mumbai the change is very violently political. Though when Bal Thackeray first raised this change in name issue in 1979, he called for the press meeting. There he said to Media that he wanted the change only on the cultural grounds. I read in the newspaper that one of the journalist asked Bala sahab that if he wants the change in the name on cultural grounds then the name given by British people was the best choice. He argues with Bala sahab that why don’t he change his name from Thackeray to Thakre. Bala Sahab stood up and said “I guess you don’t want the name of your newspaper to be changed tomorrow”. The reporter smiled and calmly took his seat.
Not only this recently Karan Johar, the famous Bollywood director apologized to Bala Sahab because of using the word Bombay instead of Mumbai in his recent flick “Wake up Sid”. I think the best way to stop this is that all the Mumbaians stand and unite together and shout Bombayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Jokes apart. Seriously I don’t find any reason of punishing people only because they call Mumbai as Bombay.
I staying in Kolkata have full rights to call my city as Calcutta. Do you think CPI(M) people will come and beat me for this. Never. If Raj Thackeray is so in love with Bombay or Mumbai where was he when the terrorist attacked the Taj Bengal? Where was he when the terrorist fired gunshots on the railway station? I don’t feel this is love, its a fair game of Politics. Only Politics and this is ruining the life of people staying in Bombay. Oops Mumbai.
Please note that all the views expressed here by the author are personal.