14 February 2006

Name change

At the risk of sounding like Seinfeld, what is the deal with place name changes? I can kind of understand changing the names of cities right after the former colonial masters have gone but 50 years later? That's a bit much. So Bombay becomes Mumbai, Calcutta becomes Kolkata, Madras becomes Chennai and countless other places that don't come into my radar. Do the ruling parties of these states really think that they will get more votes if they change the name? It's just confusing to people who want to talk about the place and get there. "Are you going to Mumbai, sir?" "No, I'm going to Bombay." It's amazing how much local politics plays into such issues. The whole Mohammed cartoon thingi, to pick a recent example, wouldn't have gotten to where people get killed without some local politicians deciding that they can get a few more votes by misinforming the generally uneducated / miseducated public about what is or is not an insult to their religion.

Those guys who run the show in most countries would disagree with me that an educated public is a better public. I think education brings empowerment, the power to seek your own destiny, the power to realise when things are going wrong, as well as the power to speak out against anything that seems to go against the interests of the current rulers. Inevitably, those countries that have succeeded have been those that were able to determine the truth, as well as challenege existing misconceptions with that knowledge. That is the recipe for success today, the ability to create, to innovate, and those things cannot exist in the absence of government sanction, even if the knowledge that is gained brings down individuals in that particular government. Again, we come to the paradox that in a democracy, the people who want to rule most are the ones that are least suited to rule.

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