The government on a name changing spree!

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In past one year, the Prime Minster Narendra Modi led central government has given green flag for renaming of over 25 towns, airports and villages. By renaming these cities, towns and airports, the government is trying to erase the diverse history and identity of the country.

To change the name of any place, you needs to procure an approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The MHA considers such proposals in consultation with the concerned agencies and according to the laid existing guidelines.  A no-objection certificate is required from the Ministry of Railways, Department of Posts and Survey of India for the consent of MHA. These organizations are required to confirm that there is no existing place in their records with the same name as the name proposed. A Constitutional amendment is required while renaming a state. While, for renaming a village or town, you just need an executive order.

The latest additions to this list are three islands of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that were renamed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 30, 2018. He renamed the Ross Island as the Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Dweep, the Havelock Island as the Swaraj Dweep and the Neil Island as the Shaheed Dweep.

Earlier in October 2018, the government of Uttar Pradesh renamed Allahabad to Prayagraj and Faizabad to Ayodhya.

Prior to this, the name change of the airports of the towns of Bareilly, Kanpur, and Agra were also proposed by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. The names of two of the proposed three airports have apparent Hindu overtones. The Bareilly airport has been propped to be renamed as the Nath Nagri, after the Hindu group to which the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath himself belong. While the Agra airport is set to be renamed after the Hindutva ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyaya.

In August 2018, the name of the historic Mughalsarai Junction Railway Station in Uttar Pradesh was changed to Deen Dayal Upadhaya Railway Station, just on the lines of the Agra airport proposal.

Some of the other name change approvals include: Outer Wheeler Island as Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Island, located in Orrisa; Rajahmundry to Rajamahendravaram in Andhra Pradesh; Arikkod to Areekode in Kerala; Pindari to Pandu-Pindara in Haryana and Samphur as Sanphure in Nagaland.

The list also includes the place the change of names of Garhi Sampla to Ch. Sir Chhotu Ram Nagar in Haryana; Mihgawan Chhakka and Mihgawana Tilia as Mihgawan Sarkar in Madhya Pradesh; Landgewadi to Narsinhagaon in Maharashtra; Khatu Kalan village as Bari Khatu in Rajasthan and Shukratal Bangar as Sukhtirtha Bangar in Uttar Pradesh.

The renaming of places should add an extra significance to the diverse culture of this country. The government needs to make sure that the name changes are inclusive in nature and cultural and religious landscape of the country is not disturbed by such practice, so that all Indians can genuinely feel at home in their homeland.

The fact which many Indians claim that the Mughal rule was colonial is not only historically wrong but also disruptive. Unlike the British, Mughals did not use our wealth to enrich the place of their origin rather they became an integral part of our culture. By this logic, Muslims are the people of this country and should be treated the same way as the Hindus are treated.

Therefore, the names of the places should be a symbol of inclusion and diversity instead of exclusion, marginalization and religious supremacy.

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