Political parties have always cached in on the Marathi Manoos agenda and Mumbai of the Marathis 'wrongly' conceptualized philosophy. In 1995 when Bal Thakeray lead 4 decade old Shiv Sena came into power in the state, the first thing the party did was to rename Bombay as Mumbai and the controversy has never stopped since then. Now, his nephew Raj Thakeray's MNS party is harking back to the '60s trying to outdo the Shiv Sena. Like how the British Raj named every street of the old Bombay after a colonel officer, Shiv Sena and MNS are trying to rename all those streets as after either Chhatrapati Shivaji or vir Savarkar. Imagine 15 different places in the city being named after Chhatrapati Shivaji.
However, if the change of names is cultural, so be it. There is nothing wrong in calling 'our' places by 'our' names but what the Sena and Raj Thakre (or Thakeray)'s MNS are violently trying to do here is to call 'their' places by 'their' names and 'their' means only Marathi and meant for Marathi Manoos and hence everybody else living in the city are outsiders. I mean, wow, by foolishly trying to force these on everyone, they are ignoring the history and the facts. Like Vir Sanghvi says, after perhaps a few decades or a generation, nobody even remember that the city was once called Bombay. But, time has to take it's own course. You can not force everybody to call it 'Mumbai' and 'Mumbai' only within a due course of time just because you have got no other broader issue to campaign in the upcoming elections.
I am personally not against the renaming of places if they are done for cultural purposes. Being a Gujarati, I also call it 'Mumbai' like Marathis also do. North Indians call it 'Bambai', Parsis, Christians and many others still prefer to call it 'Bombay'; and so on everybody call it by their own way of pronouncing the city. However, the official name of a place should belong to the people living in there and hence if we combine Marathi and Gujarati speaking population in the city, it will be about 70% of entire city's population. However, some 'extremist' parties, as Sonia Gandhi recently pronounced them so, prefer to do this for their violent political motives and for no other 'positive' cause.
I have tried to pen down some interesting misconceptions (I call them 'Myths') about the city versus with what is the actual truth. I am not against or with any community or regional beliefs but what I've written here are pure facts and hence they should be treated so as well.
1. MYTH - Mumbai was built by Maharashtrians.
TRUTH - Bombay/Mumbai, the city, was built by the Portuguese and the British. Before them there were Koli fishermen who used to live in a village near the temple of Mumbadevi (Maha Amba) and the village was called Mumbai.
2. MYTH - The original name of the city is Mumbai and not Bombay.
TRUTH - The city as to what we know as today's Mumbai was originally architect by Portuguese and later on renamed as Bombay by the British Raj. Portuguese used to call the town - Bombaim (meaning 'good bay'), still common in Portuguese use.
3. MYTH - Maharashtrians alone have played a key role in the development of what is today's mega city Mumbai.
TRUTH - Bombay's economic growth and development mainly can be credited to Parsis and Gujaratis.
4. MYTH - Mumbai is a part of Maharashtra even since it's birth.
TRUTH - Till 1960, Bombay city was a part of the erstwhile Bombay state and there was no Maharashtra into existence. Bombay state included the Western Gujarat (including Ahmadabad, Surat, Baroda) and Bombay city and hence the city was originally a part of Gujarat. Maharashtra state was formed after a violent movement lead by Samyukta Maharashtra Movement in 1960 and the Bombay state was partitioned into two parts - the Gujarati speaking parts were merged into the state of Gujarat and the Bombay city and some surrounding area including Thane were merged into the newly found state of Maharashtra. 5 districts from Hyderabad State (Now Andhra Pradesh) were also merged into the newly found Maharashtra state and one city from Madhyra Pradesh, Nagpur, was also merged into the new state of Maharashtra. Bombay Citizens' Committee, an advocacy group comprising of leading Gujarati industrialists lobbied for Bombay's independent status. On May 1, 1960, after a movement for a separate Marathi state turned violent (105 people were killed by police at Flora Fountain which itself got renamed later on at Hutatma Chowk), the State of Bombay was partitioned into the States of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
5. MYTH - Mumbai is a Maharashtrian name and hence we should call the city Mumbai and not Bombay.
TRUTH - Bombay city was a part of the erstwhile Bombay state which included Western Gujarat and Gujaratis used to call the city Mumbai and not Bombay.
6. MYTH - Mumbai has the highest number of migrants in entire India.
TRUTH - Delhi has the highest number of migrants in India. 4 out of every 10 residents in Delhi are migrants - the highest in the country.
7. MYTH - The majority of migrants coming to Mumbai city are from North India.
TRUTH - The majority of migrants coming to Mumbai city everyday are from Maharashtra's other parts itself. Maharashtra accounts for 37.5% of the city's migrant poopulation whereas Uttar Pradesh acounts for 24.3%.
8. MYTH - Marathis do not live outside of Maharashtra in a vast number.
TRUTH - Surat and Baroda (Vadodara) have approx. 10% Marathi residents.
9. MYTH - Majority of Indians migrate only to Mumbai.
TRUTH - 42 million Indians live in a state different from where they were born. 100 million Indians have left home over the last 15 years. 40% of India's migrants come to West Bengal, Delhi and Mumbai.
10. MYTH - Majority of people living in Mumbai are Marathis.
TRUTH - Approx. 50% of Mumbai residents are non-Marathis including about 20% Gujaratis.
11. MYTH - Marathis are the sons-of-the-soil of Mumbai.
TRUTH - The original residents of this place were Koli fishermen. Then came the Portuguese and the British and along came Parsis, Gujaratis and then Marathis.
Kunal Pandya is an internet marketing expert and CEO of NCrypted Technologies (http://www.ncrypted.net), a web development company having offices in Mumbai and Rajkot, India. He is also the co-founder of Social Media site MetroJoint.com Pvt. Ltd. and Lead Consultant of Chanakyas Consulting. He can be reached through his blog he maintains at http://www.kunalpandya.com.