The mania of renaming places is not old. Many popular states and cities of India have undergone the transition for instance Bombay to Mumbai, Calcutta to Kolkata, and Madras to Chennai.
Most of these changes were made keeping in mind the culture of India before British control. Since the names given to the cities were in accordance with colonial rule, people felt the original identity of their homeland was being buried.
However, the reason for the renaming spree has now shifted. Zila Parishad unanimously agreed to the proposal of the name change for the city of Aligarh to Harigarh.
While the final decision is in the hands of the state government it is important to analyze the possible causes and consequences of such actions.
The man behind the steering here is Yogi Adityanath. He is regarded as the founder of the Hindu Youth Militia and is also known for propagating hatred towards minorities especially Muslims.
As a Hindu nationalist, he wishes to change perceptions as to what it means to be an Indian resident. Following the path of Hindutva, he aims towards making Hinduism the center of Indian culture thereby ostracising other religious communities.
Not only has he tried to erase the Muslim history of India but also made statements pointing towards Muslims as being thieves of Indian culture.
When Allahbad was changed to Prayagraj Muslims felt threatened. Ashraf, a resident of Allahabad said, “by changing the city’s name it’s basically our culture and heritage that is eliminated”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party doesn’t think so. It apparently thinks it is helping India restore what is lost, but this project is ultimately draining more cultural values out of India.
Apoorvanand of Delhi University says, “the nationalist project of the ruling party is based on the idea of making invisible and subjugating an entire population to keep the majority in a permanent state of dominance.”
“We did what we felt was good. We renamed Mughal Sarai as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhayay Nagar, Allahabad as Prayagraj, and Faizabad as Ayodhya. Where there is a need, the government will take the steps required,” Yogi Adityanath proudly said.
These ridiculous measures have put Indian culture at stake. The common belief that India during the times of Hindu rulers was a golden bird and that it lost its charm to Mughal rulers and the Sultanate is an extremely biased take on history.
Factually speaking India was plundered of its wealth with the arrival of the Britishers, the blame being put on Muslims makes no sense.
The Mughals have equally contributed to the rich cultural history of India and their legacy today is under a genocide.
The renaming of cities may seem like a small thing but it says a lot about the views of the leaders and the nation altogether today. As a secular state, the Modi government is failing to comply with the visions of famous politicians of the past like Nehru.
Their agendas are direct towards Hindu nationalism which is becoming toxic with its spread and may even lead to mass communal violence and riots, some have already started.
In 2018, the government approved the change of 25 places of which most of the names had an Islamic tone. Not to forget this is not an easy task.
A great deal of expenditure is also involved and may also cause confusion. Renaming means a change of signboards, public places, and a dilemma for the people when traveling.
Aligarh or Harigarh, perhaps if the brains and money involved in name-changing were put to use in a covid crisis, the situation wouldn’t have been so adverse. The BJP’s focus on religion is harming society, the economy, and welfare altogether.