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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 12:18 GMT
City plan for 'boiled beans town'
Software company in Bangalore
Bangalore accounts for a third of India's software and outsourcing exports
India's hi-tech capital, Bangalore, may soon get a new name that is a variation of the original, meaning "the town of boiled beans".

The proposed name is Bengaluru which is close to the original name, Benda Kaal Ooru, in the local Kannada language.

During the Raj, the British simplified the name to Bangalore.

Legend has it that a king, Vira Ballala, got lost on a hunting expedition. Tired and hungry, he was offered boiled beans by an old woman.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, he named the area after the meal she had served him.

There is mixed reaction in Bangalore to the proposed change.

We have spent 15 years building Bangalore as an international brand and going back to the native name could hurt that brand
Bob Hoekstra, Philips

Present-day Bangalore is a city of 6.5m people, often referred to as India's Silicon Valley.

It is home to more than 1,500 info-tech companies and accounts for a third of the India's $17bn software and business process outsourcing industry.

'Confusing'

The decision to change the city's name was announced this week by the chief minister of Karnataka state, Dharam Singh, in response to a demand from a group of Kannada-language writers.

Correspondents say the original name, Benda Kaal Ooru, is hard to pronounce, which could explain why the authorities have chosen the phonetic variation, Bengaluru.

Noted writer UR Ananthamurthy, who supports the name change, says the local people call the city Bengaluru, anyway.

But some critics say the change would confuse international travellers.

"It is not a healthy trend," Rajinder Pai, of the Travel Agents Association of India told the Associated Press news agency.

Bangalore pothole
Critics say the government should fix the city's creaky infrastructure

"Bangalore is a lovely name. Why confuse tourists?"

Others like Kiran Karnik, head of National Association of Software and Services Companies, India's largest software organisation, says the name change proposal is "no big deal".

"Fortunately, the new name is phonetically similar to the current name. If it makes people feel good, I don't have a problem."

Bob Hoekstra, who heads operations in the city for the electronics giant Philips feels the Bangalore "brand" could be hurt by a change in the name.

"We have spent 15 years building Bangalore as an international brand and going back to the native name could hurt that brand. It is like going from Philips to Philippos," he told Associated Press.

Other critics say a change of name is hardly the most important thing the city has to deal with.

They want the state government to take measures to improve the city's potholed roads, its unruly traffic and its erratic power supply.

They also want work speeded up on building flyovers, hotels and an international airport near the city limits.

The name change would have to be cleared by the state legislature, the federal government and India's president before it become effective.

Bangalore would be the just the latest Indian city to change in name - India's financial capital, Bombay, changed its name to Mumbai, the southern city of Madras changed to Chennai and Calcutta, the first British capital, changed to Kolkata.



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