What's In A Name?

In India last week, the high-tech boomtown of Bangalore was wiped from the map. No, it wasn't hit by a nuclear attack or a natural disaster. Instead, the city simply ditched its British colonial--era moniker in favor of Bengalooru, which, in the local Kannada language, means "town of boiled beans." Other big Indian cities have already taken new names--Bombay is now Mumbai and Madras became Chennai. According to Kannada writer and Bengalooru advocate U.R. Ananthamurthy, such moves are a long-overdue reassertion of local identity. "It was the colonizer who changed the name first," he says.

India's cities aren't alone in rebranding themselves, and there...

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