Gurgaon named Gurugram
A supporter of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi waits to leave after a rally in GurgaonAdnan Abidi/Reuters

The northern Indian business city of Gurgaon has been renamed as Gurugram as part of the government's efforts to Indianise names of places. The corporate hub, located on the outskirts of federal capital New Delhi, was rechristened by the Haryana state government.

The government said it was a decision pending for a long time, following requests from local bodies. The city, with a population of about 1.7 million people, is dotted with skyscrapers and malls. The headquarters of more than half of Fortune 500 corporations are located in the city.

The new name, Gurugram, is derived from the Hindu Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata – in which the teacher Dronacharya was given this village by his students. Legend has it that Dronacharya lived in the village along with his wife.

"Haryana is a historic land of the [popular chapter of Mahabharata]. Gurgaon was a great centre of education...For a long time the people of the area have been demanding Gurgaon be renamed Gurugram," said a spokesperson for the Haryana government, which is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Opposition parties have criticised the government's move saying the administration should better focus on improving the state's welfare rather than on renaming places. While the opposition Congress party said it was an act of "pure superficiality", Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man's Party) asked: "What is the government going to achieve with the name change?"

In the recent past, several cities in India have been renamed. The list includes Calcutta to Kolkatta, Bangalore to Bengaluru, Madras to Chennai, and Bombay to Mumbai due to various political and vernacular compulsions.

In the meantime, the vibrant Indian twitterati is having a field day with the latest Gurgaon name-change.