New Delhi: The decision to rename West
Bengal as Paschimbanga on Friday is part of a trend to erase the
Anglican influence in the naming of states and cities amid
demands for carrying out more name changes elsewhere in the
Alphabetically, West Bengal which is the last in the
order of states in the country can now hope to move up in the
A change in the name of a state however requires
approval of Union Cabinet and Parliament under Article 3 and 4
of the Constitution, and the President has to refer the same
to the relevant state legislature for its views.
The trend of renaming of a state gained momentum after
renaming of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta.
Bombay was renamed Mumbai--derived from name of Goddess
Mumbadevi--in 1995 when the Shiv Sena-BJP combine won the
Maharashtra Assembly elections. In the following year Madras
was renamed to Chennai and in 2001 Calcutta was renamed
"It is a memorable day because we have not only just
freed ourselves from colonial hangover but also rendered
justice to history," said former West Bengal Chief Minister
Buddhadeb Bhattacharya after the state capital got a new name.
But while Calcutta became Kolkata, West Bengal never got a
name change for reasons that are still not clear.
The country`s Information Technology(IT) capital
Bangalore was renamed Bengaluru in 2007 but the younger
generation in the Silicon city did not sound too enthusiastic
about the name change.
It was felt that the image of the city may take a
beating worldwide as the name does not sound too appealing or
`modern`. Bangalore was originally known as Benda Kaluru and
then became Bengaluru following which the British renamed it
The name change of Orissa to Odisha is awaiting
There is a demand in Kerala to change the name of the
state to Keralam to make it conform to the state’s name as
pronounced in Malayalam. A few major cities in Kerala have
already been renamed in the recent past in an attempt to erase
the Anglican influence in their naming.
Kerala`s previous LDF government was of the view that
the state`s name should be written and spoken the way it is in
"We want to change Kerala to Keralam, which is the way
it is in Malayalam. This is actually a rediscovery of our
linguistic ethos," CPI-M leader and former Education and
Culture Minister MA Baby had said.
Ever since the British left India in 1947, many cities,
streets, places, and buildings throughout India were assigned
new "Indian names". Certain old names, however, continue to be
The states whose names have been changed are:
Travancore- Cochin to Kerala, Madhya Bharat to Madhya Pradesh,
Madras State to Tamil Nadu, Mysore to Karnataka and
Uttaranchal to Uttarakhand.
The renamed Indian union territories are Laccadive,
Minicoy and Amindivi Islands to Lakshadweep and Pondicherry to
In Madhya Pradesh, BJP and Congress have locked horns
over renaming of the state capital from Bhopal to Bhojpal.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is in favour of
changing the name of this Nawabi city to Bhojpal, while the
Congress has alleged that the ruling party is citing the issue
merely to distract people’s attention from the real issues.
"If Bombay can be rechristened as Mumbai, Madras as
Chennai, Calcutta as Kolkata and Bangalore as Bengaluru, why
Bhopal cannot be renamed as Bhojpal," according to Chouhan.
Other name changes that have been proposed include:
Ahmedabad to Karnavati, Allahabad to Prayag or Tirth Raj
Prayag, Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar, Patna to Pataliputra,
Mysore to Mysooru and Mangalore to Mangaluru.
The process of renaming of cities in India started
after the end of the British imperial period in 1947 and
continues to date. There were political controversies about
several re-naming. Not all proposed re-naming were actually
implemented. Every renaming of a city in India has to be
approved by the central government.
Besides, Mumbai, Madras, Calcutta and Bangalore, major
cities that have got new names after independence include(old
names in brackets): Vadodara (Baroda), Vijayawada (Bejawada)
Visakhapatnam (Waltair; before that, Vizagapatnam), Kadapa
(Cuddapah), Shimla (formerly Simla), Kanpur (Cawnpore),
Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Pune (Poona), Kochi (Cochin),
Puducherry (Pondicherry), Kozhikode ( Calicut), Udhagamandalam
(Ootacamund), Tiruchirapalli( Trichinopoly) Thanjavur
(Tanjore), Varanasi (Benares) and Tirunelveli (Tinnevelly).
The reasons that have been cited for renaming cities
include: to adjust the spelling in English language to the
spelling in the local language. (Simla to Shimla) and to
switch back to the local name from an English name derived
from the original.