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The curious case of renaming in India, Dragon fruit renamed as “Kamalam” by Gujrat CM; don’t we have other more pertinent issues in the country?

Our political leadership never shies away with playing one of their favorite game – renaming.

Whether it is cities, towns or villages, roads or other establishments, we never shy away from giving our own names; but the ‘renaming game’ is not in innocence or to portray our sentiments but rather hinged on the political arena, the power politics and for those in power – a signature of their power g to change or rename just about anything.

The latest in the “renaming game” is the humble Dragon Fruit, which has had a patent applied for by the Gujrat leadership to be named and called as ‘Kamalam.’

India is the “land of the lotus flower”; our official flower is the lotus, for it symbolizes and has profound significance in our cultural traditions. Perhaps this could be one of the reasons why the political leadership should name it as ‘Kamalam,’ though incidentally is also the BJP parties symbol, and the Chief Minister of Gujrat Vijay Ramniklal Rupani is also from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

However, this time, the move on the Gujrat government’s part to rename the dragon fruit has met with a response from people in the social media, with many taking on Twitter and other social medial channels to highlight the ridiculousness of the renaming game.

Apparently, the CM of Gujrat found it prudent to show the nation the similarities that the dragon fruit has to a lotus. He humbly and scientifically pointed out that the dragon fruit’s outer shape is akin to a lotus.

Speaking at the launch to promote the State’s news scheme to promote horticulture in unproductive land parcels in the State, the Chief Minister Horticulture Development Mission, Mr. Rupani, said, “We have applied for the patent of the dragon fruit to be called ‘Kamalam,’ though as of now it is the Gujrat Government that has decided to call the dragon fruit by the now christened ‘Kamalam.’

His reasoning for the same is that since the fruit is being grown in Gujrat’s Kutch area, the fruit should have a local name.

Looking further into his reasoning is his statement, “Though it is known as dragon fruit, it does not sound appropriate, the word ‘Kamalam’ is a Sanskrit word, and the fruit does have the shape similar to a lotus flower, so we have decided to call it ‘Kamalam,’ also stressing on the fact that the renaming of the fruit has nothing to do with politics.

Another parallel that has been drawn to the renaming of the dragon fruit is the word ‘dragon,’ which is associated mainly with China.

In fact, few in the political arena also commented on the same, suggesting innuendoes, memes, and emojis.

Are we insecure as a Nation?

The spurt in the changing of names, whether it is cities – Bombay to Mumbai, Bangalore to Bengaluru, Madras to Chennai, innumerable number of roads and now the fruits, is this a sign that we as a country are insecure.

Is it that we still, after so many years of independence, suffer from the hangover of our past and our recent tryst in the present that we want to banish everything, including names that remind us of the same?

Any time a specific political party, Central or Regional, comes into power, one of the many things that the ruling party indulges is in the ‘renaming game.’

Whether it is erecting statues (Case in point Mayawati) or renaming roads, the ruling government is quick to put its stamp on all and everything.

The reasoning behind many of these steps is either to remember a prominent personality or to cite nationalism.

However, one is forced to question – do our political leaders have nothing worthwhile to do?

Aren’t they several more critical issues that are begging for attention, problem-solving, and crying out to be heard?

Why are such issues not given the importance they deserve, rather than concentrating and applying a patent for a fruit?

Perhaps, the more appropriate time garnering issues for the Gujarat CM would be

  • Low immunization rates – in 2015 – 2016 – only 50.4% of children below the age of 2 years were fully immunized. This is lower than even the poorest of the states in the country.
  • Gujarat’s Health Indicators are worse than other rich states, and Gujarat is counted as the sixth most prosperous State in the country.
  • Poor Education Quality – the State is six percentage points lower than the Indian average of 80% in terms of enrolment of children in secondary education.
  • Female sex ratio – Gujarat has seen no improvement in the last decade when it comes to sex ratio at birth. It has 906 girls per 1000 boys. The dropout rate of girls at the upper primary level is the third highest in the country.
  • Low conviction rate against crime – the conviction of crime rate is the lowest in the country.
  • Unemployment is another issue that Gujarat faces.
  • Water Shortage – Gujarat has seen massive water crises since 2019
  • Agriculture-related issues – Soil suitability, Seeds, Irrigation, Fertilizers, Agricultural implementation, Electricity are some of the problems faced by the farmers in the State.
  • Drought in the State is a regular incident.

These are some of the issues that the State of Gujarat is currently facing. Along with the problems mentioned above, the State, as is the rest of the country battling and in the middle of the Covid – 19 pandemic.

The pandemic has still not left us; the vaccine given authorization for use is still in stage 3 of the clinical trial. The efficacy of these vaccines is still a question.

Another problem that we face is the mass inoculation drive in the country, a vaccine drive that is not free of cost as mentioned by the government, but the vaccine has already been given a price point.

These are the problems and issues that the government of Gujarat and the equally so the Government of India should be spending time and effort in solving.

Dragon Fruit, whether it is called ‘kamalam’ or anything else, is not on the top list of concerns that are being faced by the citizens of this country. Perhaps, it would mean something worthwhile to the country if the problems encountered were addressed and so much time at hand – that it would make sense to name dragon fruit ‘kamalam.’

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