India's new names are not just restricted to cities alone. A number of roads, railway stations, airports and public places have been renamed. The capital New Delhi is conspicuous for the number of roads named after prominent politicians notably of the Gandhi clan. But most Indians still refer to places and especially roads by their original name. The 'Father of the Nation', Mahatma Gandhi holds the record for having the most number of roads named after him.
The decision to change the names of cities is rather perplexing. Most Indians use two varieties of city names in daily conversation. Citizens of the capital would use the term Dilli when speaking in Hindi and New Delhi as part of official correspondence. Both survived and flourished side by side. The same was true of Calcutta, now Kolkata and Bombay, now Mumbai. The changing of names is thus perhaps, an immature attempt to wipe out India's colonial legacy. Moreover, it is often associated with nationalistic, chauvinistic and sometimes communal motives. However, what has been forgotten in this 'name game' is that colonialism left behind far more devastating legacies in the form of poverty, a decimated rural economy, lack of infrastructure which are problem that are yet to be tackled. Changing the names of cities is usually a short term publicity stunt, often causing much confusion and bringing material benefit only to signboard painters! For 40% of the country that lives below the poverty line life continues in pretty much the same vein.