The Corner

Mumbai-jumbo

Christopher Hitchens writes:

When Salman Rushdie wrote, in The Moor’s Last Sigh in 1995, that “those who hated India, those who sought to ruin it, would need to ruin Bombay,” he was alluding to the Hindu chauvinists who had tried to exert their own monopoly in the city and who had forcibly renamed it—after a Hindu goddess—Mumbai. We all now collude with this, in the same way that most newspapers and TV stations do the Burmese junta’s work for it by using the fake name Myanmar. (Bombay’s hospital and stock exchange, both targets of terrorists, are still called by their right name by most people, just as Bollywood retains its “B.”)

As does the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, if memory serves, and the High Court. I referred to “Bombay” (with one alliterative exception) throughout my syndicated column at the weekend and I note that certain publications automatically changed it to “Mumbai”. What’s interesting, as Mr Hitchens notes, is the reflexive multicultural cringe that automatically assumes any new, less familiar (and thus less “western”) name must be more “authentic”. It is, like most things in our world, a political decision, and should be evaluated accordingly. And Bombay will always be Bombay to me.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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