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British daily dares ‘Hindu nationalists’, reverts to using Bombay

Amol Rajan, editor of The Independent, says he wants to project the cosmopolitan image of the city.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2016 20:41 IST
Bombay,Mumbai,The Independent
An Army officer takes photographs of a cultural program on Army Day celebration at Gateway of India in Mumbai. The city’s name was changed in 1995.(HT photo)

British newspaper The Independent will switch back to using Bombay rather than Mumbai when referring to India’s financial capital, its editor said Wednesday.

Amol Rajan, editor of The Independent, said the move was a stand against what he said was the closed-minded view of Hindu nationalists.

The city was officially renamed Mumbai in 1995, a change forced through by Shiv Sena. However, within the city, the old colonial name and the Marathi-language name are often used interchangeably.

“The whole point of Bombay is of an open, cosmopolitan port city, the gateway of India that’s open to the world,” said Rajan, who was born in Kolkata--formerly known as Calcutta--and raised in London.

“If you call it what Hindu nationalists want you to call it, you essentially do their work for them,” the 32-year-old told BBC radio.

“As journalists, as someone who edits The Independent, it’s incredibly important to be specific about our terminology.

“I’d rather side with the tradition of India that’s been open to the world, rather than the one that’s been closed, which is in ascendance right now,” he said, referring to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP governs Maharashtra in coalition with the Shiv Sena.

Rajan said post-colonial India had the “open, secular, pluralist and tolerant” tradition of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

It also had a “slightly nastier strain of Hindu nationalism” and it was important to “venerate the tradition of India which shows the best of India -- an open metropolis”.

Shiv Sena renamed the city after the goddess Mumbadevi, the protector of fisherman who were the area’s original inhabitants.

First Published: Feb 10, 2016 19:36 IST