The Indian state of Gujarat has decided to change the name of dragon fruit, claiming that the original name was associated with China, which drew derision from the country's opposition on Wednesday.
Indian state renames dragon fruit to avoid association with China
"The Gujarat government has decided ... the word dragon fruit is not appropriate, and is associated with China. The fruit's shape is like a lotus, and hence we have given it a new Sanskrit name, kamalam. There is nothing political about it," Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani told media on Tuesday.
Gujarat is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The lotus, or kamal as it is called in Hindi, is the symbol of Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The spiky fruit will henceforth be known as kamalam in the state, said Rupani, who is from the BJP.
The development comes a few months after Modi had praised farmers in a radio programme for cultivating the dragon fruit in the arid region of Kutch in Gujarat.
"After that the farmers had approached me, and suggested changing the name of dragon fruit to kamalam," Vinod Chavda, the BJP Member of Parliament from Kutch, told Reuters. "I am happy that the state has accepted the proposal."
There are more than 200 farmers in Kutch alone who are growing dragon fruit over 1,500 acres, said Haresh Thakkar, a farmer from the region.
"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," said Thakkar, who has been growing dragon fruit for five years.
The fruit is also grown in neighbouring Maharashtra state and in northeastern India. There was no sign that local governments there were planning any name change.
The opposition Congress called the name change a gimmick.
"The government has nothing worthwhile to show as achievements, and is trying to divert attention from real issues," Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.
India and China are currently locked in a military standoff along their contested Himalayan border, after a bloody clash between troops left 20 Indian soldiers dead last June. New Delhi has responded by banning Chinese-made apps and curbing imports, with de-escalation talks appearing to have stalled.