Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ashis Nandy on Bengalooru

Much of Ashis Nandy's ToI op-ed is a celebration of the many-sided splendours of cities. Towards the end, he gets back to the point:

like the recognition given to Bengalooru. It corrects and compen-sates for the sanitised, 'de-vernacularised' image that Bangalore has always projected first as a city of retired bureaucrats and army officers, then as the capital of Indian science, and now as a citadel of information technology.

Bengalooru, unrecognised by the rest of the world, has always been a living criticism of Bangalore and, outside our range of vision, powered and added colour to Bangalore's rise to eminence. The Bengalooru that has lovingly nurtured Kannada and protected vernacular literature, art, theatre and cinema must be granted its dignity.

For too long it has survived as the underside of Bangalore. But the answer to that is not to turn the situation upside down and pay homage to the new officialese.

The time has come for us to recognise Bengalooru's counter-self in the Bangalore that is being superseded. Now that Bengalooru is official, let us learn to celebrate the charisma of Bangalore.


  1. Anant said...


    I think all that you quote has to be read in conjunction with the last
    paragraph that I attach below (appearing
    at the end of your exceprt):

    ``Novelist Anantha- murthy belongs to Bengalooru and that is his first identity, but many of his other selves are intermeshed with Bangalore. To disown them is to abrogate not only a part of his creative self but also to maim Bengalooru.''

    Nothing more needs to be said


  2. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    I never understood why we can't use multiple names in multiple languages for cities. Why can't it be "Bangalore" in English and "Bengaluru" in Kannada? The Europeans don't thrust "Den Haag", "Muenchen", "Firenze", etc down our English-speaking throats (or down each others' throats). In Belgium, most towns have two names, Flemish and French (Brussel/Bruxelles, Antwerpen/Anvers, etc), and the English name is different from both. We ourselves live with "India" in English and "Bharat" in Hindi.

    The odd thing is that "Chennai" was always the official name for "Madras" in Tamil, but I hear Tamil speakers (who don't know English) talk about "Madras" even today. And hardly anyone I know says "Thiruvananthapuram".

  3. Abi said...

    Anant: Thanks for quoting that last paragraph. I'm sure Ananthamurthy would agree with Nandy's views expressed in the article.

    Rahul: Multiple names will continue to be a reality, no matter what the official notifications say or decree. Politicians and bureaucrats can't change or control what people calls their cities.

    Having said that, the new name will take root with time, when it's used extensively in all the media -- news media, in particular.

  4. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    Here's an excellent article on name changes in this week's Economist.