The Name Change of Allahabad to Prayagraj

  21-Nov-2018 03:36:11

Allahabad Yogi Adityanath UP

On 16 October 2018, the Yogi Adityanath led UP Government took a monumental decision to change the name of the culturally rich city of Allahabad to Prayagraj. The proposal was made by the Deputy Chief Minister of UP, Mr. Keshav Prasad Maurya back in May 2018. Due to immense criticism of the opposition parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the Indian National Congress, the move was halted for the time being. However, when the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath passed the Government Order regarding the name change, he said, “In the meeting called to review the preparedness of Kumbh, a proposal was given by Akhada Parishad and others regarding changing the name of Allahabad district. UP Governor Ram Naik has also given his consent to the proposal.” Thus, it is very clear that changing the name of Allahabad was not a politically initiated move.

Even if this had been a politically motivated move, it couldn't have been said to be wrong because of the actions of the predecessors of Yogi Adityanath, that is Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. Ms Mayawati abruptly changed the names of various cities of Uttar Pradesh when she became the Chief Minister in 2007. She changed Amethi to Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar, Kanpur Dehat to Ramabai Nagar, Sambhal to Bhimnagar, Shamli to Prabuddha Nagar, Hapur to Panchsheel Nagar, Kasganj to Kanshiram Nagar, Hathras to Mahamaya Nagar and Amroha to Jai Prakash Nagar. One can easily spot the amount of political motivation in changing the names of the aforementioned cities – all are names of Dalit leaders who gave in their efforts for the wellbeing of the country. But, when Mayawati's successor, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav restored the names of all the eight districts mentioned above, there was no hue and cry. Thus, one cannot simply accuse the Yogi Adityanath Government of taking politically motivated decisions even if they are taking politically motivated decisions because that's how politics works. The rules of human morality do not apply in politics – they never did.

William Shakespeare, the legendary author has said, “What's in the name ? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But, the author does not hold this opinion to be true. It is because according to the author, “A name is an identity, which an individual carries till eternity. And for a city, a name signifies its geographical, cultural and historical importance and is instrumental in propagating that importance through generations that follow.” If names had no significance, then there was no reason to rename Bangalore to Bengaluru, Mangalore to Mangluru and Trivandrum to Thiruvananthapuram. These names were being followed and used by the commoners as well as the elites from a long time. But, when the need arose of reviving and recognising the roots of the city, the names were changed. It has now generated a stronger bond of the people with the city, without any hard decisions. Some other cities that have undergone a change in name include Bombay to Mumbai, Calcutta to Kolkata, Madras to Chennai, Shahjahanabad to Delhi, Benaras to Varanasi, Baroda to Vadodara, Poona to Pune, etc.

It is not that only cities have changed their names. Various states in India have changed their names according to their culture and language. For example, the state of Uttarakhand was earlier known as Uttaranchal, but owing to its geographical state, it decided to change the name to Uttarakhand. Similarly, the state of Odisha was earlier known as Orissa, but it was in English language. Hence, the people of Odisha decided to change the name to Odisha, which is a name of the Odia language. They take pride in their culture and so should everyone else do. Even the island country of Sri Lanka changed its name to Sri Lanka from Ceylon after independence from the British. It did it because the people take immense pride in their culture.

There have been many arguments saying that the name change will involve a lot of money because the names of everything with Allahabad will be changed. Unfortunately for them, this isn't true. Institutions such as Allahabad Bank, Allahabad University and the High Court if Allahabad will retain their names just like the IIT Bombay, University of Calcutta and Madras High Court have retained their past names. So, if somebody feels too much attached to the name Allahabad, he can still see it at various places and take pride in that name.

In short, the author strongly believes that the names should be changed whenever required to recognise the roots of the city.

Sumit Kumar