Controversy and Indian politics have always shared a hand and glove relation since time immemorial. In fact, one cannot do without the other. The recent Naamkaran of West Bengal to Pashchimbanga / Poshchimbongo (whatever! it gives me a real headache) has once again sparked off comments, protests, dissatisfactions across the state (Lokpal is not the only issue which has taken the country by storms). From politicians to film stars, officers to hawkers, students to homemakers, everyone seems to dislike this “useless” new name.
“ISSHHHHH (the word made famous by Mr.Bhansali , Mrs. Junior Bachhan and Miss Shreya Ghoshal in Devdas, with the famous Bangla taan to make the pronunciation longer), ki pochaa naam!!” was the common response when this new name for the old state was declared on August this year. In fact, no body, I mean no body except (may be) Mamata & friends is happy with the not so Posh Posh-chim-bongo (this is supposed to be the exact bangla pronunciation). ! “A state in the east of India is being called Pashchimbanga?” mocks an eminent personality of the state.
The apparent reason quoted behind this transformation was “to lift the state up”, not literally but in the alphabetical order from’ W’ to ‘P’.
“But if that was the case, why not lift it up among the first five letters of the alphabets between A – E, just as was done in the case of Madras, from M to C?” ask the frustrated and annoyed citizens (the Awpheesh goers and all Maa Maati, Manush of the state) who (literally) broke into tears after watching the news on telebhishon or reading the newspapers, fearing that this might make the state lose its identity. In fact, most of the ‘Bangalis’ of the state had wished their state to be called just BENGAL, without any sense of direction or region or baangaliyana (just as the English have a tendency to Anglicize, Bengalis do have the same tendency to Benglicize, no offense to my dearest Bengali friends, I will come to this in the later part of this write up) imposed on it. But who will bell the cat? I mean who would tell Mamata that?
The non Bengalis of the state and the foreigners must have had a tough time pronouncing KOL-KATA, when in 2001 the name of the capital was changed from Calcutta to “Kolkata”, reflecting a prevalent Bengali pronunciation and pride. This time, I guess, they are going to have a tougher time pronouncing POSHCHIMBONGO in the way it should be. But the most important question of the hour is: was this name game really needed? Would the people and the place be any better off with such “transformation”? Or simply, if it can be put in straight words, “does the change in the name of a place really bring a positive change as far as the development and prosperity issues are concerned? Is it the only issue that the Govt. needs to resolve? Well, with the disappointed Poshchimbongoans, who are anything but happy with the “unfortunate” decision of the lady in blue and white, the answer seems to be a big NO.
Commenting on this, one of my friends says,
“ Aar koto dekhbo, Aamader Fuldir Rongo
Kolkata ke korben London, West Bengal ke Poshcimbongo!!!”
William Shakespeare had said in Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
I wish the Bard of Avon would be living in the present times to see this naamkaran utsav, which has literally victimized many state capitals and cities of the country including Bombay, Madras, Calicut, Cochin, Trivandrum…the list is rather long ! How I wish we could now make Shakespeare understand, “Everything is in the name, old man!”
Now I wish to share a mail that was sent to me from a Bangali friend of mine who’s working with Times of India, Ahmadabad. With no offense to my dearest Bengali friends and well wishers across the country, here it goes. (Just read it, enjoy and forget!!!)
What does a Bengali say if the phone disconnects? – Kol- Kata
A talkative Bengali? - Bulbul Chatterjee
An enlightened Bengali? Jyoti Basu
A stupid Bengali girl? Balika Buddhu
A Bengali marriage? Bedding
An awful place? – Awe pheesh
A mad Bengali? In Sen (insane)
A dark Bengali who lives in a cave? Kalidas Guha
A perfumed Bengali? Chandan Dass
A Bengali goldsmith? Shonar Bongla
What’s bigger than the Bay of Bengal? The Bengali Ego
When does a Bengali sound like a dog? When he says Bow (wow)
Also when he bharks! (Works).