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November 2, 2006

India Has Its Own Beantown Today

Bangalore Utility BuildingYesterday, India's city of Bangalore was renamed , which historically means, "a town of boiled beans" (are you listening, Boston?)

Bengalooru is India’s tech centre, home to 1500 computer-related firms and traditionally the favorite summer spot for Colonial British rulers who enjoyed its temperate weather. Now, this ultra-hip city is returning to its 14th century namesake in an effort to promote the local Kannada language. City name changes are nothing new in India — this one was preceded by Bombay when it became Mumbai and when Madras became Chennai.

The name is part of a larger effort to reclaim numerous Indian place names from their colonial origins. Bangalore's original, precolonial name was Bendakalooru, and today's updated version is a nod to the Kannada language and to the city's history, it seems.

More cities are slated to have their names changed as well to the Kannada origins: Mysooru (Mysore), Mangalooru (Mangalore), Chikmagalooru (Chikmagalur), Shivamogga (Shimoga), Belagaavi (Belgaum), Kalburgi (Gulbarga), Hubballi (Hubli), Hosapete (Hospet) and Tumakooru (Tumkur).

But Bangalore is India’s IT face and many Indians are worried that the strange sounding name — and its odd meaning — may hurt the city’s valuable techie brand name overseas. In fact, some Indians are very much against these name changes, calling them a "home-grown folly."

At least one Bengaloorian blogger predicts the city will lose millions of dollars by adopting this unpronounceable name.

The debate seems to be raging over whether this will affect the image of the city overseas, or if it will make any difference at all.

What do you think?

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Posted by William Lozito at November 2, 2006 1:36 PM
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