Tuesday May 21, 2019
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Digging Indian colonial roots: British newspaper to call Mumbai as Bombay

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New Delhi: In the latest move, The renowned British newspaper and online publication, The Independent, has decided to call India’s largest city, Mumbai with its previous colonial-era name of Bombay.

We give you heads up on what the issue is all about:

  • The newspaper’s India-born editor, Amol Rajan, stated the decision to be in direct response to what he argued were the Hindu nationalist connotations of the name Mumbai. “If you call it what Hindu nationalists want you to call it, you essentially do their work for them,” Rajan told BBC radio.
  • The decision has led to a debate both inside and outside India, sprouting many supporters as well as challengers of the new policy.
  • The city has been officially known as Mumbai since 1995 when it was renamed by the right wing regional party Shiv Sena who advocates the use of the Marathi language, dominant in the state of Maharashtra. Marathi speakers have long referred to the city as Mumbai, after the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, the city’s patron deity.
  • It was argued by Shiv Sena that the previous name Bombay is an Anglicized version of the city’s name and was an unwanted relic, reminding of the British colonial rule in India. The interchangeable use of both names among locals can be witnessed during their casual conversation now.
  • After consulting with senior staff members, Rajan attributes his decision to the general feeling of growing intolerance in India. “I do believe that a spirit of intolerance is spreading through India, with very alarming news about censorship every day,” Rajan added. “That strengthens the case for making this move, in my view, to defend the tradition of a country whose commitment to openness, tolerance and pluralism is both ancient and endangered.”
  • Hoping to not have instigated a fierce backlash back home, Rajan believes that the publication’s standing would not be affected in India. However, no immediate comment could be acquired from the Mumbai city officials.
  • “I don’t know what the reaction will be in India, and wouldn’t want to guess,” he said. “I hope India’s grand tradition of free expression is strong enough for it not to impede our reporting – and believe it will be.”
  • While the involvement of Shiv Sena in renaming Bombay makes it a unique case, there are several other cities apart from Mumbai, which have been renamed in a bid to shake off their colonial links.
  • The city previously known as Madras was renamed to Chennai in 1996. Rajan’s own birthplace of Calcutta is now officially called Kolkata.
  • Rajan hinted towards the newspaper examining other such cases inside or outside India, in the near future. “I am not committing to it yet, but there may well be a case for dropping Myanmar for Burma – the former being the junta’s favored option,” he said. “I wouldn’t call Sri Lanka ‘Ceylon,’ and other cases such as Beijing/Peking don’t warrant a change for now.” (Inputs from Agencies)

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Shiv Sena Dissociates Itself From The ‘Burqa’ Ban Demand

It accused that many Muslims have not understood the true meaning of their religion (Islam) and they have confused it with traditions and customs like burqa, polygamy, triple talaq and resistance to family planning, the edit added.

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All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owais attacked the Sena for its ignorance by seeking a ban on burqa and sought Election Commission's action in the matter.Pixabay

Hours after its party mouthpieces called for a ban on the use of ‘burqas’ like what Sri Lanka is considering, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday evening officially dissociated itself from the demand, following a massive furore on the issue just five days before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins.

Referring to the strong editorial in Saamana and Dopahar Ka Saamana calling for the ban like the measure being mulled by the Sri Lankan government in the wake of the Easter terror strikes which claimed over 250 lives, party spokesperson Neelam Gorhe stressed that every policy decision is discussed in a meeting of top leaders or announced by party President Uddhav Thackeray.

“Today’s editorial has neither been discussed nor been announced by Uddhavji and thus it may be a personal opinion of the editor on the current affairs in Sri Lanka, but is not endorsed by the party President or the party,” Gorhe said in a categorical statement, signalling a dramatic turnaround on the issue.

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“Not all women who wear burqa are terrorists, it is their custom and their right, too. There should not be such a ban on burqa in India,” its President and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale said. Pixabay

State political circles indicated the sudden decision to backtrack may have been prompted by the massive potential political fallout of the Sena’s demand on the Bharatiya Janata Party and allies which are facing the upcoming three phases of elections in this month, barely on the eve of the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

With the demand, addressed directly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, political circles are abuzz with speculation whether BJP leadership and other allies have conveyed their “displeasure” to the Sena, but Gorhe declined to comment on this when asked by IANS.

Another ally, the Republican Party of India-A strongly came out against the Sena on the issue

“Not all women who wear burqa are terrorists, it is their custom and their right, too. There should not be such a ban on burqa in India,” its President and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale said.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owais attacked the Sena for its ignorance by seeking a ban on burqa and sought Election Commission’s action in the matter.

“The Supreme Court judgement on privacy clearly lays down that choice is now a Fundamental Right. Besides, it is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct, aimed at creating polarization before the elections,” he said.

The editorial said that the ban – something similar which the party has proposed in the past — “has already come in Ravana’s (Sri) Lanka, when will it be implemented in Ram’s Ayodhya — this is our question to (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi.”

“This restriction has been recommended as an emergency measure to ensure the security forces do not encounter difficulties in identifying anybody. People wearing face-masks or burqas could pose a threat to national security,” it said.

burqa
“The Supreme Court judgement on privacy clearly lays down that choice is now a Fundamental Right. Besides, it is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct, aimed at creating polarization before the elections,” he said. Pixabay

“If such religious practices or traditions interfere with national security, then it must be ended immediately, and “Modi will have to do it now”.

“This work will require as much daring as a ‘surgical strike.’ The Sri Lankan President had done it by overnight banning burqa or veils or face-covers of any types in all public places. This is a work of great courage and restraint exhibited by (Sri Lanka) President Maithripala Sirisena,” it lauded.

Also Read: Quitting Smoking Reduces Risk of Bladder Cancer in Women: Study

It accused that many Muslims have not understood the true meaning of their religion (Islam) and they have confused it with traditions and customs like burqa, polygamy, triple talaq and resistance to family planning, the edit added.

“When any voice is raised against these practices, immediately there are cries of ‘Islam is in danger’, and it seems religion takes precedence over nationalism among Muslims. Muslim women have been sporting burqas/veils under the wrong impression that it is a Quranic tenet,” the editorial said. (IANS)