Indian state renames dragon fruit to 'lotus' over association with China

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Matthias Ang | January 21, 2021, 05:04 PM

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The Indian state of Gujarat has decided to rename the dragon fruit to 'lotus' as a result of the original name's association with China, the BBC reported.

According to the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani, the dragon fruit will now be called "Kamalam", which is the Sanskrit word for lotus, according to Indian media Livemint and The Indian Express.

In denying that politics was involved, Rupani said,"(The) Gujarat government has decided that dragon fruit is not a suitable word. Across the world it is known as dragon fruit and one thinks of China. So we have given the name Kamalam. It is a fruit like the lotus."

The lotus is also the symbol of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the country's national flower.

Name change was suggested by farmers

Reuters reported that the name change was supposedly suggested by farmers in the region of Kutch within Gujarat state.

The BJP Member of Parliament from Kutch, Vinod Chavda, said that after the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had praised the state's farmers for cultivating the fruit, one of them approached him to suggest the name change to Kamalam.

A farmer was further quoted as saying, "The Indian name of the fruit will bring more happiness to us. We feel that the acceptance level of the fruit will also increase if it is looked upon as an Indian fruit."

Move to change name draws ridicule online

The move subsequently drew ridicule online for the "strong message" it supposedly sent to China, over recent tensions between the two countries.

India's opposition party, Congress, has also slammed the move as an attempt to divert attention from "real issues."

What are the tensions about?

India and China are currently locked in a military standoff along their border in the Himalayas.

In June 2020, soldiers from both countries clashed, reportedly resulting in the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers and a Chinese PLA commanding officer.

Both sides contend that no shots were fired, according to the de facto border code.

But in place of firearms, they resorted to attacking each other with their fists and highly improvised weapons, such as batons wrapped in barbed wire.

The incident sparked anger in India, with some calling for a boycott of Chinese goods.

India then banned over 200 largely Chinese apps in the following months, including TikTok, CNN reported.

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