On the 10th of June 2020, the Tamil Nadu government announced a decision to rename 1,018 places spread across 37 districts in the state (https://theprint.in/statedraft/vellore-now-veeloor-tn-changes-names-of-1018-places-so-you-pronounce-them-the-tamil-way/440184/). Intended to reinforce the Tamil identity and pride, the new names or spellings were to match their Tamil pronunciations. However, this decision was rescinded within a week, citing inconsistencies in the proposed changes (https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/go-on-tamil-name-changes-withdrawn-new-order-in-3-days/article31864964.ece) with a reworked set of names shortly expected.
The move to change the names of places is, by no means, a novel one in the Indian case. Cities have seen their names change from Bombay to Mumbai, Madras to Chennai, Calcutta to Kolkata, and in more recent times, from Gurgaon to Gurugram and Allahabad to Prayagraj. These initiatives might have varied motivations, ranging from rejecting colonial legacies to rewriting local histories. In the time of global movements like Black Lives Matter (https://blacklivesmatter.com/), the importance of identity and history cannot be understated. However, unlike the BLM movement, a commonality that can be observed in the Indian case is that these initiatives have largely been top-down decisions that have been made by government officials without any formal consultation of the citizens who inhabit these places.
To this end, we at Co:Lab, are asking you for your assistance in highlighting important views on names, identities and local pride from a citizen perspective. Thanks for participating!