Strange things are happening to our cities in the last two decades. Our cities are booming. Making a great leap towards a ‘great ‘ future. Or at least our media reports say so.
Ironically our cities are going back to their original ‘ Indian ‘ or ‘ local ‘names from their ‘ Anglicized ‘ names. Bombay said good-bye to its stylish name and went back to its local name Mumbai, more than a decade back. Calcutta became Kolkata and Madras became Chennai.
It is now the turn of Bangalore. It is officially Bengalooru from November, 1. (this is the correct spelling. Not Bengaluru). It is not the tale of just Bangalore. Other major cities in my beloved state are also going to shed their ‘Anglicized ‘ versions. Mysore will be Mysooru, Mangalore will Mangalooru, My city Shimoga will be Shivamogga, Hubli will be Hubballi and Belgaum will be Belagaavi.
A great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction for the pro- Kannada organizations and personalities, who fought for it. Is it going to serve any other purpose? Certainly not.
I personally oppose the name-changing business. All these things look ridiculous.
If we can’t change the history, if it is a crime, we can’t also change the names of cities. Name is also a part of history. We can’t distort it.
It has always been Bengalooru in Kannada and other Indian languages. For them the change of name is not going to make any difference. The British who came here 200 years back, could not pronounce the Kannada name ‘ Bengalooru ‘. Instead they pronounced it as Bangalore. Both Bangalore and Bengalooru co-existed for two centuries. Majority of Kannadigas speak both Kannada and English. Just like they use both languages, they used to use both Bangalore and Bengalooru, depending upon the need.
For me Bangalore is also as harmless and local as Bengalooru.
Bangalore has a distinct identity. Even today Bombay and Bangalore are the only two truly cosmopolitan cities in the country.
Bangalore welcomed everyone with open arms. It allowed them to grow and prosper on its soil. It never discriminated between the ‘ insiders ‘ and ‘ out siders ‘. It is not complex and fanatical like its neighboring ‘ Dravidian ‘ cousin Madras.
I wouldn’t be wrong, if I say that the outsiders got more support than the sons of the soil. The ‘outsiders’, whose only aim is to make money and have all comforts in life, in turn are not doing anything for the city. For them it is just another place. No sentiments, no love, no sense of belonging. Absolutely nothing. It is just like a commodity.
For the local people it is not a place. It is a part of their life. ‘ Outsiders ‘ can make money and leave. Where will the local people go?
It has now pitted one against another. The clash of insider and the outsider.
Today’s fad IT and BT are the two newest entrants to Bangalore. They haven’t brought Cosmopolitan culture to Bangalore. It is other way round. Bangalore’s robust Cosmopolitan nature brought all of them here.
Kempe Gowda, the founder of Bangalore had a globalized mind. His idea of diversity is nothing but today’s cosmopolitan culture.
IT and BT sectors’ share is less than 10% in the total population and total wealth of the city. Garments, automobile, services, banking, horticulture, floriculture, hospitality and so many other sectors have also been contributing immensely to the growth of Bangalore.
IT and BT are also a part of this long list. They can’t claim ownership of the city. Bangalore, like Rome was also not built in a day. Then whom does Bangalore belong to?
Difficult question. But it doesn’t belong to these hi-tech people. It belongs to its entire common people, ordinary people. Finally they give character and life to a city. Not the corporate people and their media managers.
These IT, BT, BPO people, the darling of today’s media, created hype over everything. They created an impression that the majority no longer speaks Kannada and launched a systematic media campaign to undo its Dravidian character.
But the FM Radio boom has proved them wrong. Five years back there was only one FM station. Everything was in Hindi. There are now as many as 8 FM radio stations in Bangalore. All of them are doing their programmes in Kannada. Still they are making money and growing. Hindi FM station is on its way out. Kannada TV channels and newspapers have also witnessed a remarkable growth in the last one-decade.
The campaign of the Hindiwallahs that Bangalore is no longer a Dravidian city is also baseless and preposterous. Kannadigas, Tamilians, Telugus and Malayalis in Bangalore are all Dravidians. Majority of them relate themselves to Kannada and its culture. They are more than 80% of the total population.
The ‘ insiders ‘ don’t need to fear for their existence. The mere name changing from Bangalore to Bengalooru will not make them more secure. Even if Bangalore and Bengalooru co-exist like they did in the past, Kannada will not vanish.
Even after 13 years, except the name everything remains the same in Mumbai. It is foolish to think that after the name change the position of Maharashtrians has strengthened in Mumbai. The same applies to Kolkata and Chennai.
The same is the case with Bangalore also. It will make the state poorer by another Rs. 500 crores. If anything, it will only improve the economic status of painters and board makers.
So, when I land in Bangalore next time, the airhostess may announce ‘ We are now landing at the Bengalooru International Airport ‘.
Not a good thing to hear. I am not prepared for it.