Does the Changing the Name of a City Alter its Identity? What Happens to Development?

The government is now contemplating of renaming Allahabad as Prayag Raj. “What’s in a name?” Sounds simple. But it triggers several complicated questions, argues Zeba, exclusively in Different Truths.

A city is recognised and known for its heritage (culture, language, buildings, traditions etc.). Parallel to the increasing number of malls, shopping complexes, and fashionable eateries, attempts are being made to safeguard what is old.

Having realised the need to preserve the old identity of Allahabad, Sanchaari is all set on a mission to revive, relive and restore the glory of this ancient yet thriving city, Allahabad. A city which still takes pride in talking about its early mornings. The panoramic view of the sun rising from the rippling waters of the Ganges enthralls everyone.

When it comes to restyling a city to embrace modernity, the trend of renaming it is fast picking up. Mughal Sarai has been renamed Deen Dayal Upadhaya Nagar. The government is now contemplating of renaming Allahabad as “Prayag Raj”.

“What’s in a name?” Sounds simple. But it triggers several complicated questions. First of all, it leaves the people unsettled. When people living far away from the city talk about Allahabad, they refer to ‘Allahabad Ke Amrood’, ‘Allahabadi Zuban’, ‘Allahabad University’, ‘Allahabad High Court’, etc. Their tongue would certainly falter in trying to replace the name “Prayag Raj” with the words to which the name Allahabad is attached. This is so because the name Allahabad evokes a feeling of belongingness and attachment.

Here I would like to refer to a popular quote from Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Tis but thy name that is my enemy”. The argument might sound reasonable for the name of a person but places have an emotional, social and cultural connections. The people of Allahabad strongly identify themselves as ‘Allahabadis’.

The name means so much to us. It resonates even above the noisiest of an environment and where ever we are.

‘Change’ is inevitable in the midst of rapid technological developments. But we need to balance heritage with development. Singapore is a good example to cite here. Authorities there have still retained little India to connect with the past Indian identity.

On a final note, I would like to state of words of our an erstwhile President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, “We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with civilisational heritage.”  

©Zeba Abdin

Photos from the Internet

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