The other day, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was in Hyderabad to campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Telangana elections, announced that his party would rename Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar, if voted to power. His proposal did not go down well with most people and drew flak on social media. Here is what intellectuals, historians and sociologists from the city have to say about the proposed rechristening of their beloved Hyderabad.
Nadeem Shah, historian and expert in medieval Indian history says that changing the name of the city cannot change its character. “The culture and practices of the people and the true character of the land remain unchanged, even if you change the name. Hyderabad is a society of multiple cultures, and medieval history has contributed to a great extent in making this a heritage city. It has garnered a rich diversity, culturally and politically, so Hyderabad’s name just cannot be altered in a stroke,” he says.
Professor Aparna Rayaprol, Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad is of the opinion that politicians should not waste their time in making such announcements, especially when no one has even asked for it. “Instead, they can focus on several other serious issues like poverty, child education, etc. Moreover, even if you rebrand the city, people will still call it Hyderabad,” asserts Aparna, adding, “The announcement looks like a political vendetta as their party is facing some identity crises here.”
Shalini, a research scholar in Sociology, feels that renaming a city has a lot to do with the emotions of the people.
“Renaming cities is a lot more than simply changing a word. Place names are an important element of a country’s cultural landscape, as they naturally document and reflect a locality’s heritage and identity,” Shalini says, adding, “Place names should be symbols of inclusion and diversity; not of religious supremacy. The history and culture of the land is always imprinted in the hearts of the people and not just on signboards.”
While there has been a growing criticism from various quarters about the announcement, BJP leaders seem to be unperturbed and determined to keep on course for it. Apparently, BJP leader Raja Singh seems to be in no mood to back down. He explains that the proposal to rename Hyderabad wasn’t an overnight one, and that the city’s original name was Bhagyanagar. “Hyderabad was earlier called as Bhagyanagar, but Quli Qutub Shah renamed it. Now we want to get back the old glory if we come into power in Telangana,” he says adding, “We also want to rename several places after freedom fighters and people who have scarified their lives for Telangana.”...