Hi Bengaluru, bye Bangalore

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By ANIL BUDUR LULLA in Bangalore
  • Published 16.10.06

Bangalore, Oct. 16: When Karnataka turns 50 on November 1, its capital will get a new name.

But Bengaluru, Kannada for Bangalore, has not received a thumbs up from citizens who are upset that they did not get to vote for it.

The idea was first mooted by author and Jnanpith award winner U.R. Ananth Murthy, who felt Bengaluru would give the city a Kannada flavour.

A committee of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) had suggested that citizens be allowed to vote if they want the name or not. But while the city waited, a recent BMP meeting saw the civic council passing a unanimous resolution to put a seal on the new name.

Brand domain specialist Harish Bijoor says Shakespeare was right.

“What’s in a name? It’s a minor issue as far as it has got the right forms of usage. In Kannada, it can be Bengaluru and can remain Bangalore in English. It will take a lot of investment to change the mindset of people across the world. So don’t enforce it.”

Bijoor says renaming the city’s name boards would cost at least Rs 25 crore. “It’s wasting money. Feed poor children or tar the roads instead,” he suggests.

Fashion designer Prasad Bidappa is aghast. “This is colloquialism at its best. In Kannada, we have always been referring to the city as Bengaluru. Why waste public money on such an exercise while it can be used to clear all the slums here. And in any case, those who do not know Kannada will still refer to the city as Bangalore.”

He says a new name will not help the city shake off its colonial heritage. “Can you remove Queen Victoria’s statue on MG Road? The statue is a reminder that we should not allow anyone with a silly frock to rule over us ever again. This name-change issue is irrelevant. There are other pressing issues like infrastructure,” Bidappa adds.

The IT industry thinks the name will “downgrade” the brand that the software and outsourcing hub has become.

“For heaven’s sake, we have built a brand out of this city. How can we downgrade ourselves? Can I really tell my clients in the US I am calling from Bengaluru? I think Bangalore establishes an immediate connection,” says an IT head honcho.

Mayor Mumtaz Begum, however, is unmoved. She says foreigners would also have to call Bangalore by its new name soon. “We are all Kannadigas. The BMP has passed a resolution and sent it to the government. As soon as the state government notifies it, we will ask everyone to make the change.”

As for the vote, she says she is not aware which committee had recommended it.

On November 1, the state formation day, Karnataka which is celebrating the golden jubilee of its formation, will rename the city.

In fact, the state government is going to change the names of several towns to give them a local flavour. Mangaluru, Mysooru, Belagavi and Kalburgi will be the new names of Mangalore, Mysore, Belgaum and Gulbarga.