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it's all in the name
contrary to the spirit of shakespeare's assertion, the big cities in india seem to be as much affected by their names as by the people who inhabit them. in the past few years three of the larger metropolises have had their names changed, calcutta became kolkotta, madras chennai and my beloved bombay became mumbai. i remember being fairly agitated at the name change as was a large portion of the people of my age and class(upper and lower middle). the shiv sena was then in power, a sometimes extremist and unnecessarily violent political party the members of which think nothing of taking the law in their hands as and when the need arises to stir up the masses or to launch a new leader. bombay has been the name of this city for hundreds of years now but was changed, ostensibly, because it was a legacy of the british raj. there are theories on the origin of the name, one being it is an anglicized version of mumbai, the city's current name, which is plausible. the name mumbai is derived from the goddess mumbadevi, deity of the kolis, fisherfolk who were the first settlers of the islands that now constitute bombay.

i'd thought the controversy surrounding the name change, though it was never really consequential, was over but was a little surprised to learn shiv sainiks, grass roots workers of the shiv sena, had protested a prominent mumbaikar's use of the term bombay for the city by stripping in front of his house. the shiv sainiks have perfected the art of intimidation in a way, they use force or the implication of force against law abiding citizens without any real risk of legal persecution. an ad campaign featuring a male and a female model wearing just shoes invoked a similar form of protest, they stripped to their undergarments and protested against vulgarity!!

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