The rechristening of Gurgaon to Gurugram may have drawn criticism on the social media, but the phenomenon is not a recent one.
Though renaming cities started soon after 1947, it gained prominence in 90’s — when Bombay became Mumbai. Later, Madras became Chennai, Calcutta became Kolkata and Bangalore became Bengaluru.
History bears witness to the fact that whenever a city’s name is changed, it’s seldom welcomed by its residents. The citizens of Mumbai and Kolkata still prefer to have their cities called Bombay and Calcutta.
The Haryana government spokesperson said that Gurgaon was renamed Gurugram after taking a “long-running demand of the people” into consideration. According to the district’s official website, the city was originally called Gurugram — a name that was distorted to Gurgaon over the years.
Among the other names changed over the years are Vadodara from Baroda, Vijayawada from Bejawada, Visakhapatnam from Waltair, Kadapa from Cuddapah, Shimla from Simla, Kanpur from Cawnpore, Thiruvananthapuram from Trivandrum, Pune from Poona, Kochi from Cochin, Puducherry from Pondicherry, Kozhikode from Calicut, Varanasi from Benares and Tirunelveli from Tinnevelly.
There is also a demand that the name of Kerala be changed to Keralam, as pronounced in Malayalam. In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP and Congress have locked horns over renaming the state capital from Bhopal to Bhojpal.
The name Bengaluru has its roots in a ninth-century Western Ganga Dynasty inscription in Begur, where it is referred to as the place in which a battle was fought in 890 CE. Mumbai is a combination of the words Mumba (Maha Amba or goddess Mumbadevi) and Aayi (meaning ‘mother’ in Marathi).
While some say that the Tamil Nadu capital was named Chennai after Telugu ruler Damarla Chennappa Nayakudu, others hold that it comes from the Chennakesava Perumal temple in the city. Kolkata is considered the shorter version of ‘Kolikata’, one of the three villages that existed in the city before the Britishers took over.
Several state names were changed in the post-colonial era. Some of these changes coincided with the States Reorganisation Act-1956, a major reform that marked the boundaries of Indian states and territories along linguistic lines. In subsequent years, the state name changes included the reorganisation of Madhya Bharat into Madhya Pradesh (1959), renaming of the Madras State to Tamil Nadu (1969), Mysore State to Karnataka (1973) and Uttaranchal to Uttarakhand (2007).
Changing the name of a state, however, requires the approval of the Union cabinet and Parliament under Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution, and the President has to refer to the relevant state legislature for its views.