Outsourcing: Bangalore by any other name would be…Bengalooru

The multinational technology and offshoring hub of India is changing its name. Bangalore officials today said they would change the cities well-known name to Bengalooru, its original vernacular name, in an attempt to appease locals disturbed by the tremendous influx of outsiders to the city in the past few years. The name change also came to mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of Karnataka state, where Bangalore is the capital.

The multinational technology and offshoring hub of India is changing its name. Bangalore officials today said they would change the cities well-known name to Bengalooru, its original vernacular name, in an attempt to appease locals disturbed by the tremendous influx of outsiders to the city in the past few years. The name change also came to mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of Karnataka state, where Bangalore is the capital.

The name change needs to be approved by India’s federal government, a process that could take more than a month. Other large Indian cities have changed their names in recent years to appease local groups -- Bombay became Mumbai and Madras became Chennai. Bengalooru is derived from Bendakalooru, meaning a town of boiled beans, and was founded in the 14th century.

Critics wonder if the name change coupled with recent political events in the area could put a dent in the city’s outsourcing machine.

Reuters reports that while it has traditionally been among India’s more cosmopolitan centers, the increased migration over the last decade has alienated some locals and led to the resurgence of regional chauvinistic groups. Their campaign seeking primacy for the local Kannada language -- which they say is threatened by the influx -- has seen shops and businesses in Bangalore removing English signboards and instead prominently displaying Kannada signs. Kannada activists and writers have also opposed a state government move to introduce teaching English in primary government schools across the state, Reuters says.

Political strife led to a shutdown Oct. 4 of most major outsourcing companies in Bangalore, the heart of India’s business community. The 12-hour strike closed most offices of Indian outsourcing giants Infosys and WiPro, and also affected work at IBM, Intel and EDS, reports say. Bangalore is home to more than 1,500 businesses.

In April, Bangalore shut down for two days when citizens rioted following the death of Indian film icon Rajkumar. Published reports said the country’s software companies lost $40 million in revenue during that time.

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