Paschimbanga or PB. Still early days but that’s how the state now known as West Bengal could be called if New Delhi gives the green signal. It’s apparently a move to rise in the pecking order, to believe Team Mamata, from bottom-placed WB up to PB.
But why not just B, as in Banga or Bengal. Doesn’t have the same ring as PB, which also could be the Anglicized acronym for Paribartan, Mamata Banerjee’s slogan number one during the successful election campaign.
As a wag suggests, it also stands for Politburo — listen up, Comrades!
So welcome to the first tangible suggestion for paribartan, or change in good ol’ English, thought up by Team Mamata in an all-party meeting. In fact, that Banerjee sat down for an “all-party” meet, as emphasised more than once by her political Man Friday and Cabinet colleague Partha Chatterjee more than once to the media after the meeting, is a nice change in itself. But more about that in a later post.
Now, I must clear my stand here: I am not in favour of PB or any B that wants to move away from WB. I believe there is little point in aiming for such superficial change. And there is little logic in flaunting our love for the local lingo and all that jingoistic balderdash in these days of globalisation.
Lest anyone forgets, English is ALSO the “associate official language” of the country.
While I was irate at names of places like Trivandrum and Bangalore changed officially to Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru, respectively, I was equally dumbstruck when former WB chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee changed Cal to Kol; and cutta to kata.
As a friend once remarked after the Shiv Sena changed the name of Bombay’s (ugh, sorry Mumbai’s) wondrous VT station to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus: the train would arrive and leave VT for Thane again by the time you pronounce it. But that’s how most aam janta looks at such trite attempts at political one-upmanship.
But I also find it inane about a section of English-speaking Bengalis opposing the change just because non-Bengalis purportedly cannot pronounce the words Paschimbanga. Paschim is a word in Hindi as well as many other Indian languages, and if the national anthem can have the word Banga (Dravida Utkala Banga…), then they bloody well should get on with pronouncing it.
Nonetheless, it’s a senseless move. Besides the expenses it would incur in terms of changed stationary etc, how does it help the average resident of West Bengal? In their attempt to go back to the roots (Maati, or earth, in Trinamool Congress’s famed Maa, Maati, Manush slogan), will Team Mamata next rename Writers’ Building as ‘Lekhak Bhavan’ ?
That, too, may come with time. Perhaps. For now, in a lighter vein, here are five things that would definitely be a bit of a problem:
1) Imagine the confusion of licence plates of vehicles. While PB would be the obvious choice, it’s already up and vrooming in the state that Pashimbanga got one up on in the pecking order by coming up with the suggestion that might outdate WB number plates: Punjab. The alternatives are a trifle funny. Try them: PA (reminds you of the film of the eponymous name), PS (well, what’s the postscript?), PM (is the CM gunning for that acronym?), PG (right, what’s the rent?).
2) Suddenly all the WBP batches on West Bengal Police personnel will change to PBP (not to be confused with the other PBP claimant — Paschimbanga Paribahan, or state transport corporation). At least that’s better than the eventuality had the all-party rechristening meeting zeroed in on Banga or Bengal. The cops would then have had a high BP badge!
3) The Royal Bengal Tigers might begin a mutiny at the suggestion of being called Banga tigers. There might be chances of emigration to the Bangladeshi side of the Sundarbans, where they would still be officially called Bengal tigers — they would have to forego the royal-ty, though!
4) Howsoever distant their regimental centre might be at Roorkee, even the brave souls of Bengal Sappers, or Bengal Engineer Group, of the Army might also be a bit nervous. Banga Sappers? Who will take them seriously?
5) Much easier days foreseen for my friends — fellow headline writers in Kolkata newspapers. Only the World Bank would merit a WB then. Anyone putting forward the motion to change the names of either ‘Supreme Court’ or ‘Scheduled Castes’ would then get the votes of all Kolkata headline writers. SC, too, would have just one claimant.
PS: Bengal Lamps is already going all guns to make the changes, it is learnt from reliable sources. The joke being that since bulbs from Bengal Lamps never light up, the management now plans to completely do away with everything with a touch of Bengal, and get all Bengali. Irony? Sources say they plan to reinvent themselves as Pradip, or diya.