Goodbye, Calcutta

Will renaming the city get rid of a lingering colonial hangover?

Arose by any other name will smell as sweet. Calcutta by any other name will be as chaotic." These words in the lead story of a Calcutta daily summed up the mood of an immobilised Calcutta held to ransom by a Mamta Banerjee political rally on 21 July, a day after the self-anointed champions of Bengali culture rechristened Calcutta "Kolkata", following the example set earlier by Bombay and Madras.

One would have expected that given the Bengali's well-known language chauvinism, the renaming would have generated considerable enthusiasm among the people of Calcutta. This was not the case. A few gawky Calcuttans approached by television channels on the streets said that they were happy about the 'change. But a more scientific opinion poll conducted for The Telegraph newspaper showed that 52 percent of the city's denizens are against the name-change. More significant was the fact that an overwhelming number of those surveyed were young.

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Himal Southasian