Tuesday, January 21, 2020

What is in a name?

In the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand Indian railway officials announced that the signboards of all railway platforms which have names of railway stations written in Hindi, English and Urdu will now be written in Hindi, English and Sanskrit.

According to 2011 census data, the exact number of Sanskrit speakers in the state is 386, while Urdu speakers are more than four percent of the population at 425,752 persons.

Critics say is part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) attack on Muslim cultural heritage.

Professor Chandan Gowda, who teaches sociology at the private university Azim Premji in the southern city of Bengaluru, said the BJP "is hell-bent on Hinduising India".

"I am actually shocked to see this. How are these Sanskrit signs going to help when you have so few speakers in the state?" he said. "This government started with changing Mughal names or Muslim-sounding names, now they are going after the language, it is highly unfortunate," he told Al Jazeera.
In October 2018, the BJP government in neighbouring UP state renamed the cities of Allahabad to Prayagraj and Faizabad to Ayodhya, saying it was "correcting wrongs" made by Mughal rulers during the medieval period.
In the same year in August, the UP government renamed the iconic Mughalsarai railway station near Varanasi – the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya station.

There have already been calls to change the name of Agra, where the famous Taj Mahal is located, to Agravan, or Agrawal and Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat state, to Karnavati.

The BJP has also been accused of attempting to distort history by either removing or rewriting the Islamic past and Muslims' contribution to nation building.


No comments: