What’s in a name? Juliet had opined in Shakespeare’s famous play – Romeo and Juliet referring to the fact that the importance of a person or a thing is not due to what it is called. But for the Union and state governments in India, names mean a lot. The governments have been on a name-changing spree and the past couple of years have seen names being changed to what the governments think reflect Indianess or Indian culture. So, Calcutta became Kolkata, Bangalore was christened Bengaluru, Bombay was indianised to Mumbai, Madras was given the more appropriate tag of Chennai, to name just a few cases.
The latest to join the bandwagon is Gurgaon and Mewat districts. Very soon, the city will bid adieu to the age-old name of Gurgaon and would adopt Gurugram. Meanwhile, Mewat, too, will change to the new name of Nuh.
What was wrong with the name Gurgaon?
So, why the name change? Going by the government’s claim, people residing in the region wanted the name to be changed to Gurugram and as per officials, the decision was taken following representations that had been received from several forums.
In fact, the name of Gurgaon was a distortion of the word Gurugram, which had links back to the days of the Mahabharata. As the story goes, Dronacharya was a great teacher who taught both the Kauravas as well as the Pandavas. The Pandavas, as a gurudakshina, gifted the village to their teacher Dronacharya. The village came to be known as Gurugram. However, in later years, the name got distorted to Gurgaon. It is believed that Dronacharya used to reside here along with his wife Mata Sheetla in an ashram (hermitage).
Mewat gets a new name
Haryana Minister Captain Abhimanyu is of the contention that Mewat is not a town but a geographical and cultural unit. The region is not only limited to Haryana but extends well into the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The district headquarters is at Nuh and for quite some time people and the elected representatives were demanding the name to be changed to Nuh.
Will the name change stick?
There have been instances where people have easily adapted to new names and have completely discarded the old ones which can now only be found in history books; prime examples are Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai which have became an integral part of people’s vocabulary. But in other cases, name changes have not been that successful with people still referring to the old ones. People are still getting used to calling Bangalore as Bengaluru and Connaught Place is still referred to as CP rather than Rajiv Chowk, except when one has to take the Metro.
So, in case of Gurugram, it remains to be seen what the outcome would be. Will people call it Gurugram or still refer to the city as their beloved Gurgaon.
Impact of the name change on the city
Home to multinational firms, banks, financial institutions and leading real estate firms, Gurgaon is a popularly known as the Millennium City. What will be the financial impact of the name change is yet to be seen but the social media is already abuzz with some people supporting it while others outright rejecting it. One twitter user has expressed displeasure by saying that Gurgaon was not a bad enough name, while another has supported the move saying that Gurugram seems much better than Gurgaon.
Many people have also questioned the government’s decision to change the name citing the fact that the new name is in contrast to what the city is aiming to become at the global level and will have an impact on the city’s brand image. There has also been criticism from some quarters that instead of paying attention to infrastructure; funds are being spent on name change.
Name change seems to be a favourite pastime in India, and Gurgaon is the latest casualty. But Gurgaon stands apart from the rest due to the fact that unlike other name changes, which have been from European to Indian, Gurgaon is the first Indian name to be changed by the government.
So, what is next in store? Will Delhi be changed to Dili or Indraprashtha!