Since independence, India has renamed several of its major cities. The names Bombay, Calcutta and Madras were heavily associated with the inauspicious colonial era, when Europeans used these coastal cities to ship goods out of India. In the 1960s Madras was renamed Chennai, and its state changed to Tamil Nadu, in reflection of the Tamil populace living on India’s southern tip. A listing in any UK business directory should boost your visibility both on and offline.
‘Bombay’ derived from the Portuguese boa bahia or ‘good bay’, and so in the 1990s it was renamed Mumbai. In 2001 Calcutta was renamed Kolkata, a name more in line with Bengali pronunciation. In some cases the changes have not stuck, as most people still refer to ‘Bangalore’, even after it was officially renamed ‘Bengaluru’ in 2014. Names can be changed, but the essence of India’s hybridity, comprising its many layers of imperial experience, will always be with it. Imperial legacies are intrinsic to India’s being, but they only define India inasmuch as they have combined with its ancient culture. Whether actively or subconsciously, these mixed legacies are influencing India’s ascent as a global power. The themes and debate evident in its post-imperial rehabilitation will continue for some time, and will contribute to determining whether India remains a relatively outlying power in world affairs or moves to playing a more central role.
Eventually India may be forced to make important choices around what role it plays in relation to China’s growing influence in Asia. The late Indian strategist put it like this: ‘If the US remains the world’s predominant power, and China is second, India will be the swing power.’ Perhaps, though, an India that is still coming to terms with its imperial experiences is less likely to swing into action of any kind.
India was undoubtedly scarred by imperialism and by the manner of its independence. Some scars, like the persisting stand-off with Pakistan, and delicate inter-communal relations between Hindus and Muslims, will remain essential realities. Some of the scars were psychological, and have impacted on the self-confidence required to participate in a Western-designed world order and, increasingly, a Chinese-dominated regional economy. Doing so will require a further coming to terms with where India fits in the post-imperial world, and what it can bring to this world as a survivor of other people’s imperial designs.
The Republic of India is considered one of the emerging superpowers of the world. In 2015, India became the world's fastest growing economy with a 7.5% estimated GDP rate (mid year terms). The country must overcome many economic, social, and political problems before it can be considered a superpower.