Marora Village in Mewat district of Haryana had fallen off the map, say its residents. A search on Google Maps showed another village, also named Marora, near Hodal, in the same district, about 30 kilometres away. But the village got a new identity last month, when it was renamed “Trump Village” — reportedly in honour of the friendship between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump — at a function organised by Sulabh International on June 18. A new signboard was put up outside the village. “Welcome to Trump Village,” it said.
The change, however, was shortlived. Ten days later, the district administration removed the new signboard, saying the rules for changing a village’s name had not been followed. “Permission was not sought before changing the name. As per the rulebook, this cannot be done,” says Mani Ram Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, Nuh. But the 140-odd families living in the village — mostly farmers and labourers — want to retain the new name. They say that it gave them a “new identity”, “recognition” and hope for “development”. And toilets.
Mukesh Lumberdar, a farmer, says the government declared the village “Open Defecation Free” in 2016. “Nobody from the government visited the village or carried out any survey before declaring it open defecation free. Till about a month ago, we would go to the fields to relieve ourselves,” he says.
But that changed, with the change in name. As announced at the June 18 function, Sulabh initiated a project to build toilets in the village and a skill centre for the women. “We now have toilets,” says Lumberdar. “Nobody knew about our village. When we said Marora, everyone thought it was the other village near Hodal,” says Mohammad Irshad, a 19-year-old college student.
For now, the village has returned to its old name. The new signboard has been stored away. Another signboard has been painted blue, but left blank. Sulabh International has written to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, asking him to allow the name change. “We are not changing the name, just giving it a nickname. This will attract government and private entities to the village and bring in development,” says Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh.
“I did not know about the rule (for changing the name of a village). But if the Collector says so, he must be right… Every home now has a toilet, so we are happy,” says Shaukat Ali, the pradhan of the village. The villagers have some new development goals now. “I hope we start getting regular electricity supply. In 24 hours, we get just eight hours of supply,” says Lumberdar.
“Trump Village gaon ka naam banjata hai toh shayad Google Maps mein bhi naam aajata (If the village is renamed as Trump Village, maybe we will figure on Google Maps too),” says Irshad. Meanwhile, Abdul Hai, a Class 10 student, is ready with his homework. “Donald Trump America ke rashtrapati hai. Unki patni ka naam Melania Trump hai (Donald Trump is the President of America. His wife’s name is Melania Trump,” he tells a group of elders. “I learnt this last month after the name of the village was changed, so that if anyone asked, I would be ready to explain the origin of the name,” he says.