The recent announcement of Gurgaon's name change to Gurugram was met with a mixture of outrage and mirth. The Haryana government claims that the name change of the state's "Millennial City" was brought about following a long-standing public demand and campaign from the people living in the area. The "Guru" in Gurugram refers to Guru Dronacharya, who was the royal teacher to the Kauravas and Pandavas in the epic Mahabharata. Now, I can understand why a section of the public is so upset about this change--it's tough to adjust to a name change for your city, especially when so many of your memories and associations are filed away in your mind under different nomenclature.
But really, is a renaming that big a deal? In this case, I actually think the renaming could be the start to something positive.
Since with the name change, the place is in the news and in the focus of the wider public, now is the time to highlight its urgent needs.
Firstly, the name Gurugram has not been gratuitously chosen. It has plenty of historic and cultural significance and is a nod to our heritage. It is a name that signifies a land of learning. Since the city-formerly-known-as-Gurgaon is the corporate hub of Haryana, that is pretty apt. The name reminds us of the teachings of our epics and scriptures, and all of us would do well to remember some of the values contained therein.
Secondly, I think the name change may have a somewhat tangential benefit for the people of the city. Since with the name change, the place is in the news and in the focus of the wider public, now is the time to highlight its urgent needs. Gurgaon has ambitions to be an international business hub, but the infrastructural problems that beset it are severe impediments to this goal.
To begin with, there's the water crisis. According to a story in the Economic Times, the city, which has 30,000 borewells due to the lack of piped water supply in many areas, has almost exhausted its groundwater supply. Because of this, many people have been depending on water tankers for years. The same report cites a study conducted by Megha Shenoy of the Resource Optimization Initiative, a firm involved with industrial ecology research in developing countries, shows that Gurugram will be able to provide less than half the per capita per day water that is internationally recommended by 2020. That's a cause of very serious concern.
Shakespeare said, "What's in a name, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." So Gurgaon or Gurugram, does it really smell and feel that great?
Another issue that demands urgent addressal is safety. If you compare Gurugram to another growing city in North India, say Chandigarh (a city and UT and the capital of Punjab and Haryana), in terms of the crime index, Chandigarh figures at 37.5 (low) and Gurgaon at 78.23 (high). According to the same Index, the safety for walking alone at night in the respective cities figures at 59.09 (moderately safe) in Chandigarh and 15.52 (very low) in Gurugram.
In addition, as the area gets more concretized and green spaces get lost, not much is being done for sustainable air and a better quality of life.
I think we should capitalize on the attention directed at the name change to highlight these issues to which the government needs to find solutions in an expedient way. Shakespeare said, "What's in a name, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." So Gurgaon or Gurugram, does it really smell and feel that great?
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