A year ago, the Government of Pondicherry joined the unfortunate trend of Hindufying the names of Indian cities, formally changing the name to “Puducherry.” This renaming was seen as a repudiation of the colonial past, and played well to the politics of the right-wing Hindu nationalists. Leave aside the fact that the place had been called “Pondicherry” since the late 17th Century.
I am delighted to report that the Government of Puducherry has now partially reversed course, all for the better. “Puducherry” will remain the designation of the Union Territories — those four non-contiguous bits of India, colonized by France rather than Britain, collected together for the purpose of non-statehood governance withn India’s republican structure. The name “Pondicherry” will once more refer to the wonderful town in which we make our home, which is also the capital of the Union Territories of Puducherry. Got it?
A couple weeks ago, in a comment to an article about the Hindufication of Indian place names, I wrote: “Pondicherry then, Pondicherry now, Pondicherry forever!” I guess I was prescient, as well as obstinate.