The government's decision to change the English spellings of five district names has received mixed reactions across the country; while some appreciate the move, others believe it will create unnecessary confusion.
The decision came on Monday at the meeting of the National Implementation Committee for Administrative Reorganizations-Reforms (Nicar), under the Cabinet Division, which took place at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as chair.
NM Ziaul Alam, secretary of co-ordination and reforms at the Cabinet Division, confirmed the matter to reporters later in the day.
“Spellings of some districts date back to the British period, and they needed to be updated in accordance with their Bangla pronunciation,” he told reporters.
On March 29, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam announced that the government was planning to change the English spellings of Chittagong, Barisal, Comilla, Jessore and Bogra in line with their Bangla accents and spellings.
As per the decision, Chittagong will now be spelled as Chattogram, Barisal as Barishal, Comilla as Cumilla, Bogra as Bogura and Jessore as Jashore.
This administrative change received a lukewarm welcome from people.
Dhaka University Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam criticized this initiative, and termed it unnecessary.
“This decision will erase the traditionality of these district's names. It will cost us a huge amount of public money that we cannot afford to spend,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
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Locals and businessmen based in Chattogram said this move might negatively affect the trade sector as international communities recognize the port city by its former name Chittagong.
Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Ltd and chief executive officer of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE), said business is often affected by name changes.
“Changes such as this take time to get used to. People will get confused when they come across the new spellings as most people are still unaware of such development,” he added.
However, Mir Nasir Hossain, former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), believes the impact would be temporary.
“Changes like this are not new. If we look at our neighbour India, they have changed the spellings of a number of their cities, such as Mumbai and Kolkata. The confusion will not last for long and everyone will get used to the new spellings,” he added.
It is to be noted that the English spelling of capital city Dhaka used to be Dacca before former military dictator HM Ershad changed it in the early 1980s.