City Pulse

An attempt to tether our city’s past with its present


Have you ever wondered why or how certain roads in Bangalore got their names? Raghav, a ninth grader was faced by this question every time he stepped out with his parents. While some questions of obvious, rather famous names were answered, there were quite a few names of roads whose history his parents were oblivious of. This pushed Raghav to want to put together a repository of various road names for which he would gather information.

“There are many public places (streets, parks, etc.) that bear the names of prominent people who have contributed to society in different ways. But often we forget the contributions and just the name remains. In order to truly honour them, we can find innovative ways to recognise their contributions”, says Raghav.

Since a sole person cannot take up the job of finding the background of so many roads in a vast city such as Bangalore, Raghav decided to rope in his school. An extremely supportive Deepa Sridhar who is the Principal of Sri Kumaran Children’s Home, allowed Raghav to turn this into a month long activity. Students from various classes will be coming together to gather information who will ably supported by two established scholars Prof. Chandan Gowda and Prof. Sharmadip Basu, who currently teach at the Azim Premji University in Bangalore.

Prof. Sharmadip Basu (PhD from the Social Science Program at Syracuse University) will orient participating students on how to conduct such research

Prof. Chandan Gowda who holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and another PhD in Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, says that this activity goes beyond being just another information retrieving exercise.  “This is more about deepening one’s relationship with the city. Students will get to cultivate the memory of Bangalore in a certain way and make the city come alive in interesting ways”, he opines.

According to Gowda, this activity has both pros and cons- while the intention to bring to fore the prominence of the individuals after whom the roads have been named is harmless, there could be a backlash from a certain section of the society who would best prefer to erase the part of the city’s history that glorifies our colonisers. “Students will treading on waters that are both interesting as well as being controversy laden”, says Chandan.

Setting aside the possible outcomes of this initiative, one has to admit that this exercise is a great way to reconnect with our city’s past and deepen our relationship with, says Chandan Gowda.